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Milestone founders, Osamu Tezuka, and Jill Thompson to be inducted into Harvey Awards Hall of Fame

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Father of manga, creator of Static Shock and more named for one of comics’ biggest awards

The superhero Static on the cover of Static Shock #1, DC Comics (2011). Image: Scott McDaniel, Guy Major/DC Comics

At this year’s all-digital New York Comic Con Metaverse, the Harvey Awards will welcome Osamu Tezuka, Jill Thompson, and all four founders of Milestone Media to the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame, Polygon can exclusively reveal.

Named for Harvey Kurtzman, life-long cartoonist, editor, and creator of Mad Magazine, the Harvey Awards have been the comic book professional’s professional awards since 1988, when they were created to carry on the legacy of the Kirby Awards. Most Harvey Award winners are chosen by open vote among folks who work in comics — unlike, say, the Eisner Awards, in which librarians, retailers, and journalists may participate.

The Harvey Awards Hall of Fame, however, is chosen every year by the awards’ executive committee. This year’s ceremony will honor seven recipients: Osamu Tezuka, sometimes called the “Father of Manga” and the “Grandfather of Anime;” Jill Thompson, creator of Scary Godmother and award-winning artist behind Beasts of Burden; and Dwayne McDuffie, Derek T. Dingle, Denys Cowan, and Michael Davis, the founders of Milestone Media. The four started the Milestone publishing house in 1993, with a mandate to address the underrepresentation of racial minorities in superhero comics. Milestone’s indisputably most successful character is the young superhero known as Static, who is slated to return to comics in 2021.

“This is an incredible induction class for 2020, with a long overdue recognition for Tezuka, whose contributions to popular culture worldwide cannot be overstated,” said John Lind, co-chair of the Harvey Awards Steering Committee, in a statement.

“We the family of Osamu Tezuka are extremely honored that he is being inducted into the Hall of Fame of America’s esteemed Harvey Awards,” said Macoto Tezka, the Representative Director of the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Foundation. “Osamu Tezuka is called the father of Japanese comics because his works influenced many subsequent artists and established the core of contemporary manga. It’s undeniable, however, that American comics and cartoons had influenced Tezuka himself. Having soaked up the cultures of Hollywood and of Europe, he brought their elements to life in Japanese comics. As a result, our nation’s boys and girls detected a universal sensibility and store of imagery in his works and held a special regard for them. Tezuka, who revered Walt Disney and American pop culture, would have been truly happy to be awarded this recognition. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

“I am incredibly honored to be inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame,” said Thompson. “I fell in love with comics storytelling as a young girl and my dream of making comics professionally was something I worked hard to make a reality. To be included amongst the ranks of the people who have inspired and influenced me is both humbling and energizing!”

“We all grew up with the shared experience of wanting to read comic books with heroes that looked like us — multi-dimensional characters of color,” Milestone’s living members said in a joint statement. “Without sacrificing entertainment value, our comics always sought to reveal characters of dignity and humanity in a relevant, contemporary world. In short, we wanted to create ‘cool’ comic books for everyone. Never in our wildest dreams, however, did we ever imagine that our creative collaborations would one day be worthy of induction into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame. As such, we are truly humbled, honored and appreciative of this momentous occasion and extraordinary recognition that serves as validation of that vision and our union three decades ago.”

The new inductees will be recognized in a streamed awards ceremony on Friday Oct. 9 during New York Comic Con.