The Good Asian by Pornsak Pichetshote and Alexandre Tefenkgi (Image), a page-turning Chinatown noir graphic novel set in 1936 and in the anti-Asian bigotry of the period, was awarded the Harvey Award for Book of the Year; Squire by Nadia Shammas & Sara Alfageeh (HarperAlley), the tale of a young girl determined to be a warrior in a fantasy Middle-East, took the Harvey award for Best Children’s/YA Book; and celebrated comics writer Neil Gaiman was among four distinguished comics creators inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame during a boisterous and entertaining Harvey Awards Ceremony, held at the Javits Center on Friday night during New York Comic Con.
Named after the legendary cartoonist and editor Harvey Kurtzman, the Harvey Awards honor the best graphic works of the year. The awards ceremony returned as an in-person award ceremony this year for the first time since the 2019 New York Comic Con. This year’s gala event attracted a large and lively audience that didn’t hesitate to roar its approval of many of the evening’s emotional acceptance speeches.
Indeed, Broadway producer and comics writer Vivek Tiwary, presenter for the category, also accepted the Harvey award for Best Adaptation from a Graphic Novel, for Ms. Marvel—a streaming TV series about a Pakistani-American teen superheroine. Holding the Harvey statue high above his head, Tiwary praised the show’s depiction of Partition (the 1947 British separation of India and Pakistan), exclaiming, “my jaw dropped seeing Partition, a deeply moving event for brown people like myself, and I accept this award on behalf of brown people everywhere,” in a rousing moment that would be followed by others.
Pichetshote expressed surprise that The Good Asian—an inventive crime yarn rich in the history of Chinese American San Francisco—won, noting that Asian American history usually “only gets one month a year.” Naddia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh, cocreators of Squire, delighted the audience with their enthusiasm and passion as they left the stage after a stirring acceptance speech.
The evening reached an emotional peak during the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame inductions of Sandman creator Neil Gaiman, introduced and presented by his former Vertigo editor Karen Berger; and the induction of Marjorie Henderson Buell (1904-1993), the groundbreaking woman that created the Little Lulu comics strip in 1935, who was presented by Columbia University librarian and curator for comics and cartoons Karen Green, and by her son Fred Buell.
In her introduction of Gaiman, Berger recalled her first meeting with him during a trip to Britain in 1987 in search of new writers, describing him as “a shaggy-haired guy in a black leather jacket,” and an “innovative thinker and world builder,” who convinced her to let him create DC’s wildly popular Sandman comic (and now acclaimed TV series). Gaiman quickly had the crowd laughing, describing his experience walking through a Sandman-themed “activation,” an immersive installation at New York Comic Con, filled with smoke and corny versions of his myth-like characters: “How the fuck did we end up here?”
Green described Little Lulu, Buell’s classic girl comics character, as “one of the most powerful, female characters in comics history.” Lulu, she said, “undercut masculine superiority, outwitted exclusionary boys, rebelled against empty authority, she got her way, and she did it by her wits.” Fred Buell, a professor at Queens college, described his mother as a “social critic of the human comedy,” a “wonderful artist, and a subversive wit.”
The rest of the Hall of Fame inductees included Roy Thomas, the editor and comics writer who followed Stan Lee to become editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics; and Gilbert Shelton, a key member of the Underground Comix movement and creator of the beloved stoner-favorite The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Other Harvey winners included Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (Webtoon) for Digital Book of the Year; Sweet Paprika by Mirka Andolfo (Image) for Best International Book; and Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto (Viz) for Best Manga.