Con jobs

A dust-up seems to be brewing over the inaugural American Anime Awards, to be debuted this year at the New York Comic Con. At MangaCast, Ed Chavez takes a moment from his travels in Japan to look over the ballot, particularly the manga nominees, and he finds it wanting. Anime News Network interrogates ICv2’s Milton Griepp over the conception of the awards program and what could be construed as ADV’s undue influence.

The awards have struck me as a rather odd fit for this particular con since they were announced. Anime isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the NYCC, and the impression was reinforced by the closing remarks from this week’s PWCW interview with con organizer Greg Toplian:

“What I’m told is that we’re the literary show. This is New York City, and it’s about comics and book publishing. Editorial staff or the licensing departments can all stop by the convention for the price of cab fare. The Friday trade day also helps. We’re a more bookish show than others and getting Stephen King to attend as a guest of honor is the perfect illustration of that.”

(Dedicated conspiracy theorists will undoubtedly note that the interview is illustrated with a photo of Toplian and ADV’s Chris Oarr. The snark-centric will undoubtedly note the dangerous proximity of “literary” and “Stephen King.”)

Aside from the overcrowding issue, the general impression that emerged from last year’s NYCC was one of wider publisher interest in the category – book publishers scouring the con floor for talent and contemplating ways to slice off their own piece of the graphic novel pie. And while anime is certainly a driver in graphic novel sales, it doesn’t seem like an intuitive fit. Back at the ANN interview, Griepp provides some background:

“New York Comic Con was actively searching for an awards program from one of its categories to be associated with the convention, so a venue and supporting event became available. The association with New York Comic Con allowed the awards program to take advantage of the location in the media capital of the world, with a very large press corps already attending.”

The PWCW interview had plenty on its plate without delving into the new awards program, and Calvin Reid did address another issue that’s been simmering:

“We’ve heard some complaints about a lack of women creators being invited officially to be a part of the show. When I checked the guest list at the Web site, there was one woman out of about 31 invited guest artists. While I understand there are more women involved in some of the as-yet-unannounced programming, this still seems like an unfortunate message to send out. Particularly since the mainstream New York comics industry has a long history of excluding women.”

One out of 31? That’s an even worse percentage than San Diego.