BY JEN VAUGHN – Trolling the internet while on vacation, I was chilled down to the bone (impressive given the 100+ temperatures in Texas) to see on the announcement on the Center for Cartoon Studies website that the Xeric Award would be no more. Since 1992, Peter Laird of the amazeballs black and white comic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (self-published in 1984) has granted two awards a year to a cartoonist or project for its excellence.
This grant has been an important, even pivotal, part of the mini-comic and self-publishing movement. Try walking through the Small Press Expo, Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival or the Alternative Press Expo (our Sundances as Douglas Wolk puts it) without seeing a sign boasting “Xeric Award Winner 1998″ “Printed thanks to a Xeric Grant 2004!” So many projects have seen the light of day with the monetary help to publish them, some of your favorite indie cartoonists like Adrian Tomine, Jessica Abel, Lauren Weinstein and Farel Dalrymple have received the Xeric Award. I mentioned CCS because the school has averaged one award recipient a year since the school started in 2005 (like Alexis Frederick-Frost, Sam Gaskin and most recently, Melissa Mendes) and because Laird was so giving of his time when the school would visit the former Mirage Studios in Massachusetts.
Peter Laird signs my TMNT notebook while Mark Bilokur waits with his action figures.
Fear not, for there is ONE cycle left for the Xeric Grant, May 2012; the Fall 2011 award was canceled to give cartoonists extra prep time. Go to the Xeric Foundation website for details and I can guaran-damn-tee that this last round of comics will be the best the Xeric Committee has ever seen. I know I am applying! Good luck to you all.
We leave you with one final image: a Turkish Teenage Mutant Ninja Poster! For more photos from the former Mirage Studios, click here!
Jen Vaughn is a nib-friendly cartoonist and curses on Sundays. She is catching up on drawing unicorns in the woods of Texas.