Monday, April 14, 2008

Heidi's got the Eisner Awards nominees posted, and since I am nowhere nearly ready to do the reviews I mentioned a week ago, and really need to post something since it's been two days since I have done so, then hey! Why don't we pretend you care what I think as I go through (most of) the categories and make comments! As a special added bonus, you get to shake your head disapprovingly at how few of these citations I actually have experienced first hand, plus, you'll get my annual anti-Hall of Fame rant as an extra special added bonus!

I won't list them all- there are many categories that I don't have an opinion on one way or the other- so you'll have to go to the Beat (I'm sure Tom and Deppey and Blog@ and CBR and...will have them up soon, too) to read the entire list. I have bolded the ones I've read, when applicable. So here I go already:

2008 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees

Best Short Story
“Book,” by Yuichi Yokoyama, in New Engineering (PictureBox)
“At Loose Ends,” by Lewis Trondheim, in Mome #8 (Fantagraphics)
“Mr. Wonderful,” by Dan Clowes, in New York Times Sunday Magazine (accessible online at
“Town of Evening Calm,” by Fumiyo Kouno, in Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (Last Gasp)
“Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hanks?” by Paul Karasik, in I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! (Fantagraphics)
“Young Americans,” by Emile Bravo, in Mome #8 (Fantagraphics)

Damn. Right off the bat my lack of reading sophistication betrays me. I have never sampled the presumed delights of critical darling Mome, nor have I read any of these besides the Fletcher Hanks story, which provided a well-done, if bittersweet, coda to the nutball comics reprinted in that volume.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Amelia Rules! #18: “Things I Cannot Change,” by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance)
Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, by Tony Cliff (self-published)
Johnny Hiro #1, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
Justice League of America #11: “Walls,” by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha (DC)
Sensational Spider-Man Annual: “To Have or to Hold,” by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca (Marvel)

Damn. I haven't read any of these either. But THIS is the best they could come up with? Meltzer? Justice League?

Best Continuing Series
The Boys, by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Andy Owens (Dark Horse)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
The Spirit, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan, Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

The only one of the two series here I've read on a regular basis that was consistently...well, good if not great- was The Boys. But it's FAR from the best continuing series. The Spirit was way inconsistent; great one month, not so the next. Y will probably get the sentimental vote, but as you may recall I stopped buying it after issue #9, so I'm not qualified to judge if it's deserving of the honor.

Best Limited Series
Atomic Robo, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegender (Red 5 Comics)
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, by Peter David, Robin Furth, and Jae Lee (Marvel)
Nightly News, by Jonathan Hickman (Image)
Parade (with Fireworks), by Michael Cavallaro (Shadowline/Image)
The Umbrella Academy, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

What? Are you kidding me? Robo is very popular, and I look forward to reading the first trade. I also have the trade of Umbrella Academy, which looks precious and twee in the time-honored Gaiman tradition, coming in a month or so as well. There must be more than this, though.

Best New Series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Andy Owens (Dark Horse)
Immortal Iron Fist, by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, and others (Marvel)
Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
The Infinite Horizon, by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto (Image)
Scalped, by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra (Vertigo/DC)

Glad I don't have to choose between Scalped and Iron Fist- solid dramatics vs. rip-roaring retro escapist adventure, with superheroes. I probably would go with the former, if it came down to it.

Best Publication for Teens
Laika, by Nick Abadzis (First Second)
The Mighty Skullboy Army, by Jacob Chabot (Dark Horse)
The Annotated Northwest Passage, by Scott Chantler (Oni)
PX! Book One: A Girl and Her Panda, by Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson (Shadowline/Image)
Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)

Oh, so the excellent Northwest Passage is a "publication for teens", huh? Coulda fooled me! That Satchel Paige book looks interesting.

Best Humor Publication
Dwight T. Albatross’s The Goon Noir, edited by Matt Dryer (Dark Horse)
Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
Lucha Libre, by Jerry Frissen, Bill, Gobi, Fabien M., Nikola Witko, Hervé Tanquelle et al. (Image)
Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, by Nicholas Gurewitch (Dark Horse)
Wonton Soup, by James Stokoe (Oni)

I'd be amazed if Sweeto didn't win this. I thought Lucha Libre was so bad, I didn't even read the second issue even though I bought it. Maybe someday.

Best Anthology
Best American Comics 2007, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Chris Ware (Houghton Mifflin)
5, by Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Vasilis Lolos, and Rafael Grampa (self-published)
Mome, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez (Villard)
24Seven, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brandon (Image)

Uh...nope, sorry!

Best Digital Comic
The Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl,
Billy Dogma, Immortal, by Dean Haspiel,
The Process, by Joe Infurnari,
PX! By Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson,
Sugarshock!, by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon,

I enjoyed Sugarshock, but never underestimate the mighty Dean Haspiel...

Best Graphic Album—New
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
Bookhunter, by Jason Shiga (Sparkplug Books)
Essex County, vols. 1-2: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories, by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
Percy Gloom, by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)

Essex County was pretty good; "best", I dunno. I guess I should read critical darling Exit Wounds one of these days.

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Agents of Atlas Hardcover, by Jeff Parker, Leonard Kirk, and Kris Justice (Marvel)
Gødland Celestial Edition, by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image)
James Sturm’s America: God, Gold, and Golems, by James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)
Super Spy, by Matt Kindt (Top Shelf)

Honestly, the critic in me says Super Spy but the Fan of the Goddess in me, even though I thought she was treated just this side of shabbily in it, says go with Agents of Atlas. I don't own the hardcover, but I read the singles.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Strips
(The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, by Winsor McCay (Ulrich Merkl)
Complete Terry and the Pirates, vol. 1, by Milton Caniff (IDW)
Little Sammy Sneeze, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press)
Popeye, vol. 2: Well Blow Me Down, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Sunday Press)

My money's on Rarebit Fiend, since Popeye got a lot of attention (don't remember if it won) last year. All of these would make a fine addition to my library, if I had the money. And a library.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, vol. 1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
Apollo’s Song, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
The Completely MAD Don Martin, by Don Martin (Running Press)
Daredevil Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Marvel)
I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! by Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

What? No Showcase Presents the Phantom Stranger? I'm betting on Hanks.

Best Writer
Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Criminal, Daredevil, Immortal Iron Fist (Marvel)
James Sturm, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)
Brian K. Vaughan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC), Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC),
Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse)
Brian Wood, DMZ, Northlanders (Vertigo/DC); Local (Oni)

Of these, I'd pick Brubaker even though I'm at my wit's end with Daredevil. Wood deserves some consideration as well, even though I don't enjoy his work as much as I do some others. Conspicuous by his absence: Matt Fraction, even though he wouldn't get my vote.

Best Writer/Artist
Jeff Lemire, Essex County: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories (Top Shelf)
Rutu Modan, Exit Wounds (Drawn & Quarterly)
Shaun Tan, The Arrival (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #18 (Acme Novelty)
Fumi Yoshinaga, Flower of Life; The Moon and Sandals (Digital Manga)

None of the above, although certainly Ware (shouldn't they just retire his jersey by now or something?) and Lemire are good. Don't know much about the other three.

Best Writer/Artist—Humor
Kyle Baker, The Bakers: Babies and Kittens (Image)
Fred Chao, Johnny Hiro (AdHouse)
Brandon Graham, King City (Tokyopop); Multiple Warheads (Oni)
Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
James Stokoe, Wonton Soup (Oni)

The only thing Baker's done that's impressed me in the last ten years or so was Nat Turner, not even close to being humor unless you really have a sick sense of same. I am a heathen infidel in regards to The Goon, and it's too late to get religion now as far as I'm concerned. I didn't recognize Graham's name at first; haven't read King City, but I thought Multiple Warhedz (I believe that's the correct spelling) was outstanding. So he gets my vote. If I had a vote.

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Steve Epting/Butch Guice/Mike Perkins, Captain America (Marvel)
Pia Guerra/Jose Marzan, Jr., Y: The Last Man (Vertical/DC)
Jae Lee, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
Takeshi Obata, Death Note, Hikaru No Go (Viz)
Ethan Van Sciver, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps (DC)

Jae Lee is excellent, but I don't read Dark Tower. The rest of these noms are ludicrous.

Best Painter or Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Ann-Marie Fleming, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group)
Eric Powell, The Goon: Chinatown (Dark Horse)
Bryan Talbot, Alice in Sunderland (Dark Horse)
Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image); 30 Days of Night: Red Snow; Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (IDW)

Templesmith does some wonderful work in service of Mr. Ellis on Fell, the only one of his credits I read...but if his other work is as good, then he's the runaway winner in my book.

Best Cover Artist
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Process Recess 2; Superior Showcase 2 (AdHouse)
J. G. Jones, 52 (DC)
Jae Lee, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
Jim Lee, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (DC); World of Warcraft (WildStorm/DC)

All of these, barring Jim Lee, are superior creators with distinctive styles. I choose Jean over Jones by a narrow margin, and suggest that they just name this particular Eisner after him and leave him off the ballot afterwards.

Best Coloring
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
Steve Hamaker, Bone, vols. 5 and 6 (Scholastic); Shazam: Monster Society of Evil (DC)
Richard Isanove, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
Ronda Pattison, Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics)
Dave Stewart, BPRD, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cut, Hellboy, Lobster Johnson, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); The Spirit (DC)
Alex Wald, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)

Damn, someone loves Amelia Rules, don't they? Of these, the only one whose work I'm familiar with (enough to have an opinion, anyway) is Stewart. I don't recall the coloring on Shaolin Cowboy as being all that exceptional, although it was nice...and it can't be easy Photoshopping Geoff Darrow's art.

Best Lettering
Jared K. Fletcher, Catwoman, The Spirit (DC); Sentences: Life of MF Grimm (Vertigo/DC)
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
Todd Klein, Justice, Simon Dark (DC); Fables, Jack of Fables, Crossing Midnight (Vertigo/DC); League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier (WildStorm/DC); Nexus (Rude Dude)
Lewis Trondheim, “At Loose Ends,” Mome 7 & 8 (Fantagraphics)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #18 (Acme Novelty)

Again, why not just name this the Todd Klein award and be done with it?

Special Recognition
Chuck BB, Black Metal (artist, Oni)
Matt Silady, The Homeless Channel (writer/artist, AiT/PlanetLar)
Jamie Tanner, The Aviary (writer/artist, AdHouse)
James Vining, First in Space (writer/artist, Oni)

I don't know exactly what this "special recognition" stuff means exactly- do they give them a gold watch or plaque or something? Anyway, I do know that Black Metal rocked my socks a lot more than First in Space and The Homeless Channel.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
Comic Foundry, edited by Tim Leong (Comic Foundry)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael (
Newsarama, produced by Matt Brady and Michael Doran (

Wow- they're pitting websites against printed publications! Of these, I gotta go with the Comics Reporter, especially because Tom links to my reviews of Tom's outstanding interviews and the fun Five for Friday feature. TCR's able to be more timely than the Journal, too. As much as I've loved the Journal over the years (I was a subscriber for about 12 years, until the early 90's), its news is always yesterday's. Newsarama is timely, but the content is sometimes lacking.

Hall of Fame
Judges’ Choices: R. F. Outcault, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

Nominees (4 will be selected by voters):
Matt Baker
John Broome
Reed Crandall
Rudolph Dirks
Arnold Drake
George Evans
Creig Flessel
Graham Ingels
Mort Meskin
Tarpe Mills
Gilbert Shelton
George Tuska
Mort Weisinger
Len Wein
Barry Windsor-Smith

My choices are in bold. And as always, I deplore this stupid lottery-style sweepstakes picking system. Just because it's a "Hall of Fame" doesn't mean that it has to follow the example of Major League Baseball or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which exist SOLELY FOR THAT REASON AND NO OTHER, and choose a set number of people every year based on some arbitrary voting system. The Eisner Awards are enough of an event in and of themselves, wouldn't you think? Why do they feel like they have to gild the lily with this nonsensical exclusionary-by-nature "honoring" of men who have certainly paid their dues and deserve the recognition while they're alive? You trying to tell me that someone like Mort Meskin didn't "deserve" to be in last year, or the year before? Why can't they put them all in, and come up with ten (or whatever number they come up with) more next year? I don't think they'll run out of deserving candidates, and so what if they do? Will they have to cancel the awards? Is this Hall of Fame voting the sole reason why the Eisners are given in the first place?

I just don't get it. Put these men in while they're still alive and able to experience the honor first hand rather than posthumously. Of course, that's probably not an issue for some of the younger people on this list, like Wein (god forbid), but none of the legendary creators who get nominated every year (and it's not like the committee chooses hacks here- even Tuska can have a case made for him, to name but one) deserve to be left off, and told (like Ron Santo in baseball) "Just wait- you'll get in next year".

And thus concludes my annual Eisner Award Hall of Fame rant. And by extension, this post. Thanks. You've been swell.

ETA 4/15/08: At the suggestion of commenter Chris Butcher, I went to the site they have set up for voting,, and registered. When it came to the scroll-down window, which asked me to provide my bona fides, i.e. am I a artist/writer/editor etc., I selected "other" and put in "journalist" (ha!) and "blogger". It allowed me to proceed! So before they could change their mind, I went in and voted for the gentlemen I bolded above, with one slight change- I selected Reed Crandall instead of Barry Smith, simply because Crandall was an older creator AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED AGES AGO. My basic objection still applies- I see no reason to limit it to five when so many are deserving and the Eisners are AWARDS and not a HALL OF FAME PER SE in and of itself. But I voted! Hopefully they'll let it stand...

No comments: