12 Mar 2011

Here we are at year four and I’m excited about a few things that I wanted to share. One very good sign that we may actually be getting better at what we do and that the public is beginning to accept us is that for the first time, upon revealing the award results for last year, we didn’t receive or find the very vocal criticism from traditional sources such as a popular blogger or a fellow inker in our community (who actually complimented us in a public forum). We found that very rewarding in light of the fact that we had a few challenges in 2010. For one thing, we had a sponsor who didn’t live up to all of their promises. We extended our voting system from June all the way to October to accommodate their show which would host our first live awards presentation. And while we certainly received some exposure from this sponsor, the awards event was not to be and put me in the unenviable position of apologizing to all of the award recipients who’d agreed to attend the show and now were told that they wouldn’t be brought in after all in the eleventh hour. But I won’t dwell on that because this nightmare led to Shelton Drum, promoter of the legendary Heroes Con, to offer us the space and partial funding we’d need to make this dream a reality….and it all takes place back in the month of June, the normal month of our voting! The new, annual Nomination Committee was formed, the ballots are out, and operations are up to speed with the truncated time table.

Membership-wise we had shake-ups once again. We burned through two contributors for our website maintenance within two months! But we gained new committee member Kris Fenol who I sought out to help us troubleshoot a consistent efficiency problem with our site and that relaunch of the Inkwell Awards sight is now official and probably being updated, renovated and fine-tuned as this is being posted. And good thing that Kris joined on, too, as founding committee member Danny Best decided that he needed to temporarily drop out of the committee and instead assist us as a contributor for writing whatever needs writing. We weren’t going to let him slip away from what he does best, after all, because that would mean more text from me and that’s honestly not a pretty site.

Ms. Inkwell has been a constant hurdle but we’re learning on that front, too. We saw lots of one-shot, albeit fetching, models breathe life into our spokesperson such as Chrissy Cutler, Amy Fletcher, and last-minute save Bethany Marino and I expect more new, pretty faces in 2011, as well as some familiar ones, thanks to the invaluable time and efforts of Louis Small, Bob Shaw, and Erick Korpi. These developments will be recorded, finally, by our Ms. Inkwell site section, long-ago promised and almost reaching fruition. And I haven’t forgotten about the much-discussed Ms. Inkwell Gallery Donation Book, still in development with several donations already submitted.

I was pleased to see, after some staff alterations, that two of comicdom’s primary online news venues agreed to finally run our press release announcements for the first time in 2010 but, after running a couple of articles, both dropped the ball when it came to posting the mega-important award results announcement. But that fake out further reminded us who our supporters really were, including, nut not limited to, fledgling news source First Comics News.

Fundraising has been a regular but vital adventure in order to fund our promotion items like t-shirts, donation drive books, brochures, and more like our ongoing Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for students in financial need at the Joe Kubert School and our COMPliments Program that pays for collected material of an ink artist’s work that the publisher may send to their writers and pencillers but not to the inkers . Donations have been pouring in from numerous, generous and dedicated artists but the auction block has been fluctuating and revealed to us diminishing returns this year compared to our first couple of years, most-likely due to the shaky global economy. We are creating a store page on the site for this reason as one additional alternative from eBay.

And yet, with all of the struggles, we have new and ongoing ideas and events in the works as I type. There’s the Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge debuting this year after being conceived a couple of years ago, to educate about inking via comparison with inks from various veteran inkers over Joe’s pencil art (to be posted at our Comic Art Fans gallery) and to help fund us through auction sales of the inked art. There’s the approaching annual Inkwell Round Table Interview by our selected moderator Charles Edward Sellner. There’s the support of various shows that we’ll be attending thanks to their support like Pittsburgh Comicon and, of course, Heroes Con. But, after some frequent edits in the first years, it’s the same ‘ol ballot of categories for the time being and we also have the same passion and mission as we did our freshman year premiere. We’re dedicated to making our site all the better and our appreciation to the artists and art form of inking that much clearer as it’s sole non-profit advocacy organization. And that will not ever change.

Bob Almond