Official Press Release
The Harvey Awards Committee announced that no formal awards banquet will be held in 2003. The banquet had been held in conjunction with Pittsburgh Comic Con the past three years. This will not affect the 16th annual awarding of the Harveys themselves.
"The nomination process, the final voting, the announcement of winners and the physical Harvey awards will be unaffected by the banquet cancellation," said veteran Harvey Committee Administrator Paul McSpadden.
"The keynote speaker for 2003 was to have been Neil Gaiman," Harvey Committee Chairman Denis Kitchen explained. "But Neil was forced to cancel his appearance when the April 25-27 Pittsburgh convention conflicted with a European book tour arranged by his publisher. We were unable to come up with a suitable replacement speaker in time."
Pittsburgh Comic Con promoters Michael and Renee George have, for the past three years, subsidized the annual deficit of the Harvey Awards, whose total costs are often not fully covered by sponsor donations and sales of banquet tickets. Without a popular keynote speaker to fill seats, an awards banquet can lose a lot of money.
"Renee and Michael have been very generous to the Harveys in the past, but we didn't want to saddle them with the substantial cost of a banquet this year without an offsetting star speaker," McSpadden said. "So the committee has relieved them of the financial obligation to host the event."
The Harvey awards, named after legendary cartoonist and MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman, are awarded annually for excellence in various creative categories in the comic book field. The award ceremonies have previously been hosted by Wonder Con (1997-1999) and Dallas Fantasy Fair (1989-1996) after an initial debut at Chicago Comic Con in 1988.
Kitchen noted that Adele Kurtzman, Harvey's widow, had granted Pittsburgh a three-year lease to host the event from 2000-2002, with a one-year extension for 2003. He said that the committee would be addressing the issue of venue going forward, along with other matters, during meetings in the near future.
The Harvey Award Committee currently consists of Todd Scott, Nellie Kurtzman, Anthony Bozzi, Dave Bissel, Jim Titus, McSpadden and Kitchen. Cartoonist Evan Dorkin has been the Master of Ceremonies at the past three events, at which Jeff Smith, Frank Miller and Tony Millionaire have given keynote addresses. Jamie Riehle oversees the official web site at http://www.harveyawards.org
The committee also announced that it is actively seeking new members. Serious comics fans and industry professionals who are not directly eligible for Harvey awards and who are interested in participating should e-mail HarveysPR@aol.com or write to: Harvey Awards, P.O. Box 329, Northampton MA 01061-0329.
The following is a separate statement from Pittsburgh Comic Con....
We are disappointed to announce that Neil Gaiman has had to cancel his appearance at the 2003 Pittsburgh Comicon due to a conflict with his European book tour. Because so much of our pre-convention advertising has focused on Mr. Gaiman's appearance, we felt it was important to let all of our and his fans know of this change. An unfortunate consequence of Mr. Gaiman's cancellation is the cancellation of the Harvey Awards banquet for which Mr. Gaiman was to be the keynote speaker. The Harvey Award nominations and award presentations plan to go on as scheduled but without the added feature of a banquet. This was a cooperative decision between the Harvey Awards Committee and the Board of the Pittsburgh Comicon. This is in NO WAY a condemnation of Mr. Gaiman or the Harvey Awards Committee. We appreciate and are flattered that Mr. Gaiman wanted to come to Pittsburgh and we are hopeful that we can have him at a future Comicon. Likewise we are proud of our three-year association with the Harvey Awards and we look forward to working with them in the future. Are we disappointed? Of Course! But we our still VERY upbeat about our tenth anniversary. We still plan to give the fans a comic book spectacular, including first time guests such as Adam Hughes, Bill Morrison, Terry Austin and Erin Gray as well as returning favorites such as George Perez, Michael Linsner, Jim Balent, Michael Turner and many, many more. (An updated list of our guest list can be found at http://www.pittsburghcomicon.com . Plus, our tenth anniversary coincides with the tenth anniversary of Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise and the twenty-fifth anniversary of Dawn of the Dead, both of which will be celebrated at the show. Other huge surprises are in the works for April. Continue to watch our website and advertising for announcements. We are sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment caused by the cancellations and we look forward to seeing you at the show.
Michael & Renee George