Last night on Twitter I mentioned that I was sad that due to the demise of Friends of Lulu, the organization devoted to female comic creators, that it meant the end of the Kim Yale Newcomer award.
For those of you unfamiliar with Friends of Lulu, it described itself as as organization:
whose main purpose is to promote and encourage female readership and participation in the comic book industry. Among the goals of the organization are:
1. To increase female readership of comics
2. To promote the work of women in comics
3. To offer networking opportunities and general support to women in comics
4. To facilitate communication among women and men who share the organization’s purpose
The organization was founded in 1994 and saw its official demise last year. I am not going to focus on why it died; the explanation given was tax issues.
What I want to talk about today is resurrecting one piece of it. Each year the organization would give awards to female creators in a variety of categories as well induct female creators into the Hall of Fame. The awards were a big deal at one time and would often hold their ceremony at a top comic convention. You can see a list of past winners here.
Each year one award was given to the most talented new or emerging creator and was named after Kim Yale. Yale was co-writer on Suicide Squad and was, with her husband John Ostrander, the creator who created the Oracle person for Barbara Gordon. Yale passed away from cancer in 1997. Among the creators who won the Kim Yale award are Kate Beaton, Kathryn Immonen, Devin Grayson and Carla Speed McNeil.
I hate to see an award that honors and remembers a vital creator like Kim Yale no longer exist. While one can debate whether there is still the need for an organization like Friends of Lulu, recognizing and encouraging new female creators - especially in light of the discourse that’s gone on in this market this past year - is, I believe, still very important.
For the award to exist it will also require the support and involvement of organizations far larger and influential than mine. It needs creator and publisher support, publicity and access to a database of industry participants. It could be hosted separately by one of the comics sites or it could be folded into an existing set of awards such as the Eisners. Or it could simply be open to voting by the comic community. As long as it is supported and treated with respect, I don’t think it matters.
The most expedient way is probably for one of the larger comics sites to step up and take it on. I am not going to recommend a “how” today. I just want to try and build some industry support. I am volunteering to help in any way needed.
Comics needs more Kate Beatons and Kathryn Immonens and Devin Graysons and Carla Speed McNeils. And it needs to remember Kim Yale. I hope the industry can make this happen.