Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Somebody doesn't want me to write reviews, I don't think; after last night's debacle, I had geared myself up for the task once more, clicked on the bookmark for "manage posts" (I did have a few lines saved)?and once more, Blogger is down for maintenance. Bah.

So, in the meantime, I see where the Eisner nominations have been announced, and like any comics blogger worth his/her salt I will run through the categories and pick the one that I would vote for, if I had a vote of course. Which is, as always, not to say that I think it's the best- I know, I know, just once, you say, I wish JB would pick the BEST of something- but it's the one that I liked the most, assuming I've read it, of course.

Enough with the preamble, here we go:

MASTER NOMINEE LIST, 2006 Eisner Awards

Best Short Story

"Blood Son," by Richard Matheson, adapted by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood, in Doomed #1 (IDW)
"Monster Slayers," by Khang Le, in Flight, vol. 2 (Image)
"Nameless," by Eric Powell, in The Goon #14 (Dark Horse)
"Operation" (story #5), by Zak Sally, in The Recidivist #3 (La Mano)
"Teenage Sidekick," by Paul Pope, in Solo #3 (DC)

Right off the bat, my authori-tie is called into question; of the five nominees, I,ve only read two of them- the Le story in Flight and the Paul Pope story in Solo- and I wasn't particularly impressed (even though it wasn't bad) by the latter. Problem is, the Pope story wasn't my favorite in that issue either- the OMAC remix was. So here's a qualified selection, right off the bat.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

The Bakers, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Ex Machina #11: "Fortune Favors" by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
The Innocents, by Gipi (Fantagraphics/Coconino Press)
Promethea #32: "Wrap Party" by Alan Moore and J. H. Williams III (ABC)
Solo #5, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)

Again, of the five, I've only read two. The Promethea issue was wonderful, but somewhat anticlimactic. The Cooke Solo was indeed outstanding, so that's my pick. I still fail to see what's so impressive about Ex Machina, besides the art.

Best Serialized Story

Desolation Jones #1-5: "Made in England," by Warren Ellis and J. H. Williams III (WildStorm/DC)
Fables #36-38, 40-41: "Return to the Homelands," by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)
Ex Machina #12?14: "Fact v. Fiction," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Y: The Last Man #37-39: "Paper Dolls," by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka, and Jose Marzan Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

Wait, shouldn't there be five nominees? Anyway, at least I've read a couple of them. Desolation Jones is head and shoulders above the rest of this lackluster quartet.

Best Continuing Series

Age of Bronze, by Eric Shanower (Image)
Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Fell, by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith (Image)
Rocketo, by Frank Espinosa (Speakeasy)
True Story, Swear to God, by Tom Beland (Clib's Boy Comics)

I wish I had read Rocketo; I keep thinking I?ll pick up a trade eventually. TS: STG is always a delight, but I've only read the second and third trades and not the first or the non-collected issues so I can't really cast a vote for that. Fell has been consistently good, so that's my pick.

Best Limited Series

Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Ocean, by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story (WildStorm/DC)
Seven Soldiers, by Grant Morrison and various artists (DC)
Smoke, by Alex de Campi and Igor Kordey (IDW)
Another short list! Turner is powerful, but unfinished, and the shoddy paper it's printed on colors my enjoyment. Ocean started strong but limped to the finish line. Seven Soldiers is also incomplete; that leaves the one I'd vote for anyway, Smoke, which was one of my best of 2005.

Best New Series

All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
Desolation Jones, by Warren Ellis and J. H. Williams III (WildStorm/DC)
Fell, by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith (Image)
Rocketo, by Frank Espinosa (Speakeasy)
Young Avengers, by Alan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, and John Dell (Marvel)

Edges out Fell and All Star Superman by a nose.

Best Publication for a Younger Audience

Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance Press)
The Clouds Above, by Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)
Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius, by Chris Eliopoulous and Mark Sumerak (Marvel)
Owly: Flying Lessons, by Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
Spiral-Bound, by Aaron Renier (Top Shelf)

I think Owly should just be placed in a Hall of Fame, given a lifetime award, or something in this category, 'cause it's a perennial. Spiral Bound was good, but a bit overlong.

Best Anthology

The Dark Horse Book of the Dead, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse Books)
Flight, vol. 2, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (Image)
Mome. edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Solo, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)
24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005, edited by Nat Gertler (About Comics)

Haven't read Mome. Yeah, I know, I know. Also have skimmed, but haven't purchased, the DH Book of the Dead- usually I wait until my LCS has a sale before I get these hardcovers. Flight was a vague disappointment (and I never did get around to giving it a proper review), so gotta go with Solo, which was always (until the last couple of issues) strong.

Best Digital Comic

Copper, by Kazu
Jellaby, by Kean Soo
ojingogo, by matt forsythe
PVP, by Scott Kurtz

Uh...Scary-Go-Round. Since that isn't nominated, I'll go with Kazu's Copper, which is nicely done.

Best Reality-Based Work

Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Epileptic, by David B. (Pantheon)
Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly)
True Story, Swear to God (Clib's Boy Comics), True Story, Swear to God: This One Goes to Eleven (AiT/Planet Lar), by Tom Beland

OK, here's a vote for True Story. Gotta get that first trade someday.

Best Graphic Album - New

Acme Novelty Library #16, by Chris Ware (ACME Novelty)
The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore and Gene Ha (ABC)
Tricked, by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
Wilmbledon Green, by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

Top 10 was excellent, which I'll discuss as soon as I can get some frigging reviews written. I liked Wimbledon Green and Tricked, too. Rabbi's Cat looks kinda interesting.

Best Graphic Album - Reprint

Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Black Hole, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Feast of the Seven Fishes, by Robert Tinnell, Ed Piskor, and Alex Saviuk (Allegheny Image Factory)
Ice Haven, by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)
War's End, by Joe Sacco (Drawn & Quarterly)

Ice Haven, at least the version that appeared in Eightball, was one of the best comics I've ever read, and while I haven't read the collection I'll bet it didn't lose much, if anything.

Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Strips

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)
The Complete Peanuts, 1955-1956, 1957-1958, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)
Krazy and Ignatz: The Komplete Kat Komics. by George Herriman (Fantagraphics)
Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)

Ooh, this one's a toughie. And to be honest, I haven't actually perused any of these (which is not to say I haven't read the strips collected therein) but the handsome Peanuts volumes, so here's a qualified vote for the Little Nemo volume- those were some amazing comics.

Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Books

Absolute Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC)
Buddha, vols. 5-8, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
The Contract with God Trilogy, by Will Eisner (Norton)
DC Comics Rarities Archives, vol. 1 (DC)
Fantastic Four Omnibus, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel)

I'm a little reluctant to endorse the umpteenth repackaging of Watchmen, outstanding as I'm sure it was. I know those FF stories are great fun, as are the odds-and-sods contained in the DC Archive. Eisner's post-Spirit work has never really grabbed me, and I never finished Contract With God when it came out ages ago. Never been moved to investigate Buddha, the religious figure or the manga. Guess I'll have to abstain.

Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material

Cromartie High School, by Eiji Nonaka (ADV)
Dungeon: The Early Years, vol. 1, by Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, and Christophe Blaine (NBM)
Ordinary Victories, by Manu Larcenet (NBM)
The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
Six Hundred Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer, by Killoffer (Typocrat)

Haven't read any of these, either, darn it! The Killoffer volume looks interesting- I like his art. Pass again.

Best Writer

Warren Ellis, Fell (Image); Down (Top Cow/Image); Desolation Jones, Ocean, Planetary (WildStorm/DC)
Alan Heinberg, Young Avengers (Marvel)
Alan Moore, Promethea, Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (ABC)
Grant Morrison, Seven Soldiers, All Star Superman (DC)
Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC); Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC); Runaways (Marvel)

Gotta go with Interwub Jesus, for sheer volume even though Top 10 was better than anything Ellis did.

Best Writer/Artist

Geof Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Guy Delisle, Pyongyang (Drawn & Quarterly)
Eric Shanower, Age of Bronze (Image)
Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve #10 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)

Ware is facile and accomplished, but his work comes across as sterile and uninvolving to me. Which is not to say that I don't wish I had a set of Acme Novelty Library. The other three don't move me much, so by default my nod goes to Darrow.

Best Writer/Artist - Humor

Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); The Bakers (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Paige Braddock, Jane's World (Girl Twirl)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Oni)
Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
Seth, Wimbledon Green (Drawn & Quarterly)

By a nose over O'Malley. I don't laugh so much at Scott Pilgrim as I observe with bemusement. Baker's Plastic Man got so dull and hackneyed I couldn't stand it anymore, and I have yet to sample The Bakers. Not familiar with Braddock's work, and I have yet to sample The Goon.

Best Penciller/Inker

John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (WildStorm/DC)
Gene Ha, Top Ten: TheForty-Niners (ABC)
J. G. Jones, Wanted (Top Cow/Image)
Frank Quitely, All Star Superman (DC)
J. H. Williams III, Promethea, Desolation Jones (WildStorm/DC)

Williams is already one of the greats, as far as I'm concerned, and he's done nothing to change my mind yet. Strong field.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Paul Guinan, Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate (IDW)
Ladronn, Hip Flask: Mystery City (Active Images)
Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image)
Kent Williams, The Fountain (Vertigo/DC)

Wish I'd gotten a copy of Heartbreakers, which I liked in floppy format back in the late '90s; Ladronn's work is lovely, but for some reason as he's progressed as an artist after his early Kirby-meets-Moebius style, he's grown less and less interesting to me. It doesn't help that I have no interest whatsoever in reading the exploits of a Hippopotamus private eye. Templesmith, out of all this group, has entertained me the most so I choose him. K. Williams is an accomplished illustrator as well.

Best Cover Artist

Frank Espinosa, Rocketo (Speakeasy)
Tony Harris, Ex Machina (Wildstorm/DC)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); Runaways (Marvel)
Jock, The Losers (Vertigo/DC)
Eric Powell, The Goon; Universal Monsters: Cavalcade of Horror (Dark Horse)

I love Jock, but Jean is the Lord God King of Cover Artists.

Best Coloring

Jeromy Cox, Teen Titans (DC); Otherworld (Vertigo/DC)
Steven Griffen, Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (Image)
Steve Hamaker, Bone: The Great Cow Race (Scholastic Graphix)
Jose Villarrubia, Desolation Jones (WildStorm/DC)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)

Hello? Dave Stewart? Oh well, Griffin's work was stellar on the tardy Hawaiian Dick.

Best Lettering

Chris Eliopolis, Ultimate Iron Man, Astonishing X-Men, Ultimates 2, House of M, Franklin Richards (Marvel);
Fell (Image)
Todd Klein, Wonder Woman, Justice, Seven Soldiers #0 (DC); Desolation Jones (WildStorm/DC); Promethea, Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, Tomorrow Stories Special (ABC); Fables (Vertigo); 1602: New World (Marvel)
Richard Starkings, Conan, Revelations (Dark Horse); Godland (Image); Gunpowder Girl and the Outlaw Squaw, Hip Flask: Mystery City (Active Images)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)

No comment, really- I like Klein's stuff a lot.

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition

Dawn Brown (Ravenous, Little Red Hot)
Aaron Renier (Spiral-Bound)
Zak Sally (Recidivist)
Ursula Vernon (Digger)

Renier's the only one I'm all that familiar with, which I suppose is why these people are listed. I HATED Little Red Hot, IIRC, so I guess I've heard of her too.

Best Comics-Related Periodical

Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)
Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon Cooke (Top Shelf)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth and Dirk Deppey (Fantagraphics)
Draw!, edited by Michael Manley (TwoMorrows)
Following Cerebus, edited by Craig Miller and John Thorne (Aardvark-Vanaheim/Win-Mill Productions)

Gotta go with the Journal, which is still too expensive for me to pick up on a regular basis but seems to be having a real renaissance lately, thanks to Young Mahster Deppey. Sure wish I could write for it someday-!

Best Comics-Related Book

The Comics Journal Library: Classic Comic Illustrators, edited by Tom Spurgeon (Fantagraphics)
Eisner/Miller, interviews conducted by Charles Brownstein (Dark Horse Books)
Foul Play: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s EC Comics, by Grant Geissman (Harper Design)
Masters of American Comics, edited by John Carlin, Paul Karasik, and Brian Walker (Hammer Museum/MOCA Los Angeles/Yale University Press)
RGK: Art of Roy G. Krenkel, edited by J. David Spurlock and Barry Klugerman (Vanguard)

Foul Play is the only one I've read from cover to cover, but I'm gonna go on a limb and cite the Krenkel volume- I've always loved his art and there's a ton of it in there. He was a major influence on one of my absolute faves, Mike Kaluta.

Best Publication Design
Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Little Nemo in Slumberland, designed by Philippe Ghuilemetti (Sunday Press Books)
Promethea #32, designed by J. H. Williams III and Todd Klein (ABC)
Walt and Skeezix, designed by Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
Wimbledon Green, designed by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

Although it reminded me more than a bit of a Southern Baptist church hymnal, I gotta go with Green- that was a swell-looking package.

Hall of Fame

Judges' Choices: Floyd Gottfredson, William Moulton Marston

Voters will choose four from among:
Matt Baker
Vaughn Bode
Wayne Boring
Reed Crandall
Creig Flessel
Ramona Fradon
Harold Gray
Graham Ingels
Robert Kanigher
Russ Manning
Mort Meskin
Marty Nodell
Gilbert Shelton
Jim Steranko

Shelton would be my fifth choice. So what happened to some of the nominees from last year that didn't make the cut? Are they forever ineligible now? I seem to recall Nick Cardy, Gene Colan, and Frank Robbins in that number. And once more, I ask- why does it have to be four and four only? Don't they ALL deserve to be honored? Effing hall of fames...

Hey, I see that Blogger's back up, so disregard what I said in the first paragraph. I'll try to squeeze out some reviews tomorrow night, if you can stand the wait (he says, rolling eyes)

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