HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!! Before we get started, we'd like to thank all of our customers for supporting Destination Venus through 2019, and all the comics creators, editors, printers and publishers who make comic stores possible. We know we wouldn't be here without you, and we're more grateful than we can ever possibly say.
But let's get on with the awards - welcome everybody to the Second Annual Saucer Awards the awards for the comics, writers, artists, characters and publishers that YOU, the Destination Venus customers voted the best in 2019. We're going to stick our logo ihn here, just so that the cimage for this blog entry doesn't give any spoilers:
And now, without further ado, let's get on with our first award of the evening:
BEST UK COMICS EVENT!
There were only two nominees in this category - The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal and The Thought Bubble Festival which has events across Yorkshire, but culminates in a two day comics convention in, um, Harrogate.
That being the case, given that most of the people voting on these awards are customers of a comic store in Harrogate we guess it's hardly surprising that the the 2019 Saucer Award for BEST UK COMICS EVENT goes to The Thought Bubble Festival!
It should be noted, however, that this is not mere favouritism. Thought Bubble is a remarkable event. It wasn't just in Harrogate - there were events in Leeds, and elsewhere in Yorkshire. It worked with Universities, Schools, Libraries and anyone else who wanted them to. The sheer scope of the festival's vision is breathtakingly ambitious.
From small beginnings in Leeds Town Hall to it's current county spanning presence Thought Bubble has grown into something truly unique. The focus is entirely on comics - if you want movie stars and the chance to sit on the big chair from Game of Thrones this is not the event for you - and it celebrates the medium in all its glorious variety.
Of course, if you attended Thought Bubble this year - or ever - you already know what we're talking about. We've been to a lot of conventions in our time, and we can say that TBubs has a different atmosphere and a different energy. It is the most positive, most creative, most joyful of any event we've ever experienced.
A huge congratulations to the entire Thought Bubble team - you're all pretty darned awesome!
BEST LIMITED SERIES
This was a slightly more fiercely contested category, with three nominees in the running. We had the erotic thriller with anthropomorphic animals Unnatural - a concept which absolutely shouldn't work but really, really did, the Messiah/Superhero flat share sitcom Second Coming, which again really, really shouldn't have worked but is in fact tremendously respectful of scripture, hilarious and thought provoking and TV spin-off Stranger Things: Six.
All were great, but in the end there was a clear winner. The 2019 Saucer Award for BEST LIMITED SERIES goes to Second Coming written by Mark Russell, with art by Leonard Kirk and Richard Pace, published by Ahoy Comics.
Gonna be honest, this one was unexpected - not because it isn't good, it really is, but because at Desties sales have been disappointingly low. We're guessing that some of you have been reading it digitally - it's OK, we don't judge...
We're kinda pleased at the result though, becasue Second Coming isn't just good, it's incredibly good, because it's clever.
When this was solicited (originally with DC Vertigo, who got cold feet when there was a whiff of controversy - massive kudos to Ahoy for picking it up) I sort of expected something in the vein of Preacher, irreverant, uncompromising and in your face, with perhaps a touch of shock for the sake of shock.
Not a bit of it. The use of the literal Jesus Christ and God the Father as characters in a fictional story aside (for many people of faith these are always unacceptable) there really isn't anything here that a Christian would be offended by - as evidence by some of the correspondence in the letters page from devout Christians - even Ministers. Faith and religion are never the targets of the humour, and in this story Christ never, ever deviates from the teachings you'll find in the New Testament.
This isn't really even a comic about religion, it's about power, responsibility and compassion. While Sunstar, our Superman analog character, meets criminals with violence and agression, Christ meets them by trying to understand why they do the things they do and help them meet the needs that drove them to crime.
It's not subtle, but it's incredibly satisfying and a truly thought provoking satire on religion and hypocracy. It is also laugh out loud funny in places, which is always a bonus.
So on we go to:
BEST ONGOING SERIES
The final nominees here were interesting. There was the self published NPC Tea, the big names from the big two in the shape of Batman and The Immortal Hulk alongside the more esoteric indies Animosity and Gideon Falls.
The final result was very, very close. First and last place were separated by seven votes - but we're very, very happy about the winner. Beating Batman by one single point, and NPC Tea by just two, the winner of the 2019 Saucer Award for BEST ONGOING SERIES is Animosity written by Marguerite Bennet, with art by Rafael de Latorre and Rob Schwager.
Our elevator pitch for this book is "The Walking Dead, but with talking animals instead of Zombies". It's been one of our favourite comics since it launched in 2016, and it's been consitently Saga levels of brilliant. De Latorre's art has been constantly gorgeous and Bennett's narrative is always engrossing.
If you don't know the book, essentially at a single moment in time ever animal on the planet - right the way down to plankton - becomes self aware, with human levels of intelligence and the ability to speak. Nothing else has changed, if you're a dog you still have a sixteen year or so life span, if you're a mayfly you have 24 hours, with intellectial development scaled accordingly.
The consequences of "the wake" are of course profound. There are more animals than humans, and they remember how we treated them - and there is no reason whatsoever for them to tolerate our continued control. Society crumbles instantly.
Against this backdrop we have Jesse, a little girl who has lost her parents (what happened to them has not yet been revealed, although there have been hints) and Sandor, her dog. He's sentient, but he's still a dog, and he loves his little girl, because he's a dog and that's what dogs do. So, the two of them set out to cross America from New York to California, where the only family Jesse has left, her much older half-brother, lives.
The book is the story of their journey through a world that has been profoundly changed. It's glorious and now the results are in and we don't have to be impartial, we're glad it won.
Just three more awards remain - Best Character, Best Artist and Best Writer.
To find out who won those, join us next Wednesday!