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Stan Lee Excelsior Award Ceremony

Excelsior Award Ceremony 2013

I’ve been supporting the Stan Lee Exclesior Award, a graphic novel reading scheme for 11-16 year olds, which came to its grand finale at the end of the school year, with awards ceremony itself!

What is the Stan Lee Excelsior Award?

The Stan Lee Excelsior Award is a national reading scheme with a shortlist of 8 comic books, graphic novels and manga. The 11-16 year olds read each book and give it a rating, and the books with the highest ratings overall win awards! This year over 120 schools across the country took part.

Stan Lee Excelsior Award T-Shirts

Logo and T-Shirt Design

I was asked to redesign the official award logo, and produce a range of t-shirts for them. The t-shirts are in four colours named after Marvel superheroes: Spiderman Red, Hulk Green, Rhino Grey and Iceman Blue. The legend Stan Lee himself has one of the t-shirts, in California! (He chose Hulk Green). I also designed a series of postcards, one for each of the shortlisted books, and button badges.

Cakes with Faces at the Stan Lee Excelsior Award Ceremony

Award Ceremony

I had a stall at the award ceremony in Sheffield, and got up at the painful hour of 5:30am to get there in good time to set up! 300 students from different schools came to the ceremony.

There was a keynote speech by David Lloyd, the comic artist best known for V for Vendetta. He talked about how artists and writers create their best work when they’re given creative freedom. He sees digital publishing as a way to achieve this, without the financial limitations of print publishing. By cutting out the retailers (who take a 50% cut of the cost) and distributors, and buying directly from the creator, readers can support the artist and the result will be more varied and creative original work. (Also true for Cakes with Faces – all profits from events and the online shop go straight back into bringing you more new stuff). David illustrated the creative freedom that digital publishing allows by showing a trailer for Santa Claus vs the Nazis, a comic published via his own digital channel Aces Weekly.

 David Lloyd at the Stan Lee Excelsior Award Ceremony

The awards ceremony also featured a quiz with a comic book version of the missing words round from Have I Got News for You, a raffle with comics and graphic novels as prizes, and finally the awards themselves. The school that returned the most ratings forms won an award, and there was an award for the best book cover voted by school librarians, as well as awards for the top 3 most highly-rated comics. I was invited to announce the winner of 2nd place (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Change is Constant), and David Lloyd announced the winner (SuperGirl: Last Daughter of Krypton).

Stan Lee Excelsior Award ceremony

Then it was time for visiting the stalls and queuing up to meet David Lloyd for an autograph. Sheffield Space Centre were selling graphic novels, and sold out of V for Vendetta masks, and there was a stall selling actual cupcakes topped with the shortlisted comic book covers.

On the Cakes with Faces stall the button badges were really popular, and the postcards and charms went down well too. It was fun chatting about comic cons and meeting students who were interested in becoming graphic designers or artists themselves. As someone who loves books and art, I’m really pleased to be involved with a scheme that encourages reading, and it was great to see so many young people enthusiastic about comics.

Thank you to Paul Register, the organiser of the awards, and also a big thank you to my two student helpers, who looked after me on the day, helped carry boxes, worked on the stall and pack everything up – they were really fantastic!

See my photos from the ceremony on Facebook – including the most impressive manga collection I’ve ever seen in a school library!