Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Eisner Award Nominees

The Eisner Awards released the official list of nominees for the 2009 awards today; I saw it posted first by Comics Reporter.

Edit, the next day: I've added some thoughts and comments, in italics after nearly every category. Short version: these are some really, really, good things, which I hope more people will search out and read.

And those nominees are:

Best Short Story
  • "Actual Size," by Chris Ware, in Kramers Ergot 7 (Buenaventura Press)
  • "Chechen War, Chechen Women," by Joe Sacco, in I Live Here (Pantheon)
  • "Freaks," by Laura Park, in Superior Showcase #3 (AdHouse)
  • "Glenn Ganges in Pulverize," by Kevin Huizenga, in Ganges #2 (Fantagraphics)
  • "Murder He Wrote," by Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto, and Andrew Pepoy, in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #14 (Bongo)
The Chris Ware story particularly impressed me here; it's got all of the formal brilliance his work usually has but also hints of more positive, happy emotions, which is not typical.

Best Continuing Series

  • All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
  • Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy, and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)
  • Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
  • Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and various (Marvel)
  • Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)
Thor gets my nod as the best thing I was completely surprised by; I didn't have high hopes for mainstream superhero stuff, but it's a layered, complex story with interesting characters and art I actually liked. Maybe I should check out more by that Straczynski guy, huh?

Best Limited Series

  • Groo: Hell on Earth, by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier (Dark Horse)
  • Hellboy: The Crooked Man, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)
  • Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Omega the Unknown, by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel)
  • The Twelve, by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston (Marvel)
I'm beginning to think there's nothing that Joe Hill can't do; Locke & Key was deeply creepy and excellent.

Best New Series

  • Air, by G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC)
  • Echo, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
  • Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca (Marvel)
  • Madame Xanadu, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley, and Richard Friend (Vertigo/DC)
  • Unknown Soldier, by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (Vertigo/DC)
Best Publication for Kids
  • Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper, by Kazu Kabuishi (Scholastic Graphix)
  • Cowa!, by Akira Toriyama (Viz)
  • Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Image)
  • Stinky, by Eleanor Davis (RAW Junior)
  • Tiny Titans, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC)
Aw yeah Titans! All of these are a lot of fun -- and Amulet is deeper and more complex than that -- but Tiny Titans is my sentimental favorite for its silly take on the DC Universe.

Best Publication for Teens/Tweens

  • Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children's Books)
  • Crogan's Vengeance, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
  • The Good Neighbors, Book 1: Kin, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (Scholastic Graphix)
  • Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale (Bloomsbury Children's Books)
  • Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
This is a really strong category, in my humble opinion; there's a lot of great books being published for younger readers these days. And most of these are just as good for most adult readers as well.

Best Humor Publication

  • Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero, by Douglas Paszkiewicz (Arsenic Lullaby)
  • Chumble Spuzz, by Ethan Nicolle (SLG)
  • Herbie Archives, by "Sean O'Shea" (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)
  • Petey and Pussy, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics)
  • Wondermark: Beards of Our Forefathers, by David Malki (Dark Horse)
There was only one woman on our panel, and it may show the most in this category, where the rest of us might have overwhelmed her with our enjoyment of horribly funny books like Peter & Pussy. All of these books are really, really funny in their own way, and I'm happy at how diverse and odd this category turned out.

Best Anthology

  • An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, Vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
  • Best American Comics 2008, edited by Lynda Barry (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Comic Book Tattoo: Narrative Art Inspired by the Lyrics and Music of Tori Amos, edited by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
  • Kramers Ergot 7, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
  • MySpace Dark Horse Presents, edited by Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn (Dark Horse)
I'm very glad I was an Eisner judge this year; I got to read Kramer's Ergot 7 without having to worry about how to afford (or store) the darn thing myself. It's a monument to comics, in more than one way.

Best Digital Comic

  • Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw
  • Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil
  • The Lady's Murder, by Eliza Frye
  • Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican, by Elan Trinidad
  • Vs., by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari
Speak No Evil is much, much better than that subtitle might lead you to believe. And I really need to take some time and dig back to the beginning of Finder one of these days. I struggled a bit with this category, since my preference in webcomics is gag-a-day stuff, and the Eisner category is explicitly meant to honor works that are more like comic books -- longer-form, usually laid out as pages rather than strips. (So I wasn't as ahead on my reading as I thought at first.)

Best Reality-Based Work

  • Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
  • Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Fishtown, by Kevin Colden (IDW)
  • A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child, by Rick Geary (NBM)
  • What It Is, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)
Another really strong category -- What It Is is an amazing, almost indefinable work, Fishtown is a really powerful true crime story; and I doubt I would have read either of them if not for the Eisners.

Best Graphic Album -- New

  • Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
  • Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
  • Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
  • Three Shadows, by Cyril Pedrosa (First Second)
A great, completely overstuffed category, in a great year. We probably could have chosen another five books, only slightly below these five. (And there's one particular book I know many people are suprised not to see here.) Swallow Me Whole in particular is more and more impressive the more I look back at it and think about it.

Best Graphic Album -- Reprint

  • Berlin Book 2: City of Smoke, by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Hellboy Library Edition, Vols. 1-2, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
  • Sam & Max Surfin' the Highway Anniversary Edition HC, by Steve Purcell (Telltale Games)
  • Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse)
  • The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite, deluxe edition, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba (Dark Horse)
This category is for the package almost as much as the content, and it's another one with interesting juxtapositions of material. It was great to see Sam & Max come back into print -- great funny stories in a wonderful package. And Skyscrapers of the Midwest is, for me, easily one of the best books of the year.

Best Archival Collection/Project -- Strips

  • The Complete Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray (IDW)
  • Explainers, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics)
  • Little Nemo in Slumberland, Many More Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
  • Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles (IDW)
  • Willie & Joe, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics)
Another category full of great stuff, led by the absolutely stunning Willie & Joe (which looks better the closer you examine it; it's not only a great collection of important cartoons, but a lovingly designed book with a very appropriate design sense). Explainers is also a wonderful package of a toweringly important work.

Best Archival Collection/Project -- Comic Books

  • Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
  • Creepy Archives, by Various (Dark Horse)
  • Elektra Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Marvel)
  • Good-Bye, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Herbie Archives, by "Sean O'Shea" (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)
Another category that shows the bredth of what's being published today, all in great, carefully-designed packages.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

  • Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
  • Gus and His Gang, by Chris Blain (First Second)
  • The Last Musketeer, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
  • The Rabbi's Cat 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
  • Tamara Drewe, by Posy Simmonds (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin)
There's a lot of amazing work coming across the Atlantic these days, and I'm glad there's a category like this to honor it. This also reminds me that I really need to read more of Jason's work.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material -- Japan

  • Cat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz)
  • Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
  • Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
  • The Quest for the Missing Girl, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
  • Solanin, by Inio Asano (Viz)
And we all know about the flood of manga -- most of it is entertaining but not particularly ambitious, but the fact of the flood has allowed quirkier, odder things to be translated and widely known as well.

Best Writer

  • Joe Hill, Locke & Key (IDW)
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Thor, The Twelve (Marvel)
  • Mariko Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)
  • Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
  • Bill Willingham, Fables, House of Mystery (Vertigo/DC)
I've already mentioned Hill and Straczynski, and I've read Willingham and Wagner on and off for a couple of decades now -- but discovering Tamaki and Skim was wonderful; that's a touching, closely imagined story told precisely the right way.

Best Writer/Artist

  • Rick Geary, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child (NBM); J. Edgar Hoover (Hill & Wang)
  • Emmanuel Guibert, Alan's War (First Second)
  • Jason Lutes, Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Cyril Pedrosa, Three Shadows (First Second)
  • Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
  • Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library (Acme)
Look at that line-up! It's the Murderer's Row of comics; there's no one you could pitch around here.

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

  • Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
  • Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
  • Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales, Thor (Marvel)
  • Guy Davis, BPRD (Dark Horse)
  • Amy Reeder Hadley/Richard Friend, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
  • Jillian Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
  • Lynda Barry, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Eddie Campbell, The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard (First Second)
  • Enrico Casarosa, The Venice Chronicles (Atelier Fio/AdHouse)
  • Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
  • Jill Thompson, Magic Trixie, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (HarperCollins Children's Books)
All of these people had really gorgeous, inventive art, on some very different projects.

Best Cover Artist

  • Gabriel Ba, Casanova (Image); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
  • Jo Chen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity (Dark Horse); Runaways (Marvel)
  • Amy Reeder Hadley, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
  • James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
  • Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Grendel: Behold the Devil (Dark Horse)
Best Coloring
  • Steve Hamaker, Bone: Ghost Circles, Bone: Treasure Hunters (Scholastic Graphix)
  • Trish Mulvihill, Joker (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)
  • Val Staples, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)
  • Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien: The Drowning, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Body Bags (Image); Captain America: White (Marvel)
  • Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)
One of the things I was looking for in this category was work that didn't just color skies blue and grass green, but helped to set a mood or define characters -- coloring that was willing to choose unusual palettes and bold transitions of colors when that's what the story needed. Mulvhill and Staples did that particularly well, and Stewart's always been great at setting mood through color.

Best Lettering

  • Faryl Dalrymple, Omega: The Unknown (Marvel)
  • Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
  • Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
  • Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
  • Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)
I think it's pretty clear what we were reponding to in this category -- real drawn lettering that works as art, both in itself and as part of the larger page, instead of being imposed by a computer program. All of these people did great work in that area, with very expressive lettering that complemented and strengthed their stories.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
  • Comic Book Resources, produced by Jonah Weiland
  • The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
  • The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael
  • Comics Comics, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (PictureBox)
Best Comics-Related Book
  • Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, by Todd DePastino (Norton)
  • Brush with Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens, edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner (Underwood)
  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
  • Kirby: King of Comics, by Mark Evanier (Abrams)
  • The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu (Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
I'll say it again: DePastino's Bill Mauldin is a great biography. I won't say that it deserves to win in this strong and mixed category...well, maybe I will. (Maybe that shows that I still have a lurking sense that words are more important than pictures? I hope not.)

Best Publication Design

  • Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! designed by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
  • Comic Book Tattoo, designed by Tom Muller, art direction by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
  • Hellboy Library Editions, designed by Cary Grazzini and Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
  • What It Is, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Willie and Joe, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)

These are some stunning-looking books; What It Is is one of the most interesting comics objects in many years and Willie and Joe is simply amazing.

Any complaints can be addressed here; I was one of the judges this year. (And it was a very different experience from my previous judgeship, for the World Fantasy Awards in 2006 -- not merely because the Eisners have four times as many categories, either.)

More thoughts on nominees may follow, but there's a lot of great work up there; nearly all of it will reward the reading attention of nearly anyone.


Matt C said...

You didn't provide a link for where complaints can be addressed. Otherwise, was it your attention for complaints to be brought up here?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Matt: No, do it right here -- I'm one-fifth of the responsible party, so complaining to me is about as good as it gets. (Since we judges were never all in our place before in our lives and probably never will be again -- all good people though, so I'd be happy to be proven wrong.)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see reviews of these, especially the webcomics. I prefer long, complex stories over gags, but the only nominee I'd even heard of before is Finder (which I didn't like).

Andrew Wheeler said...

Konrad: I've reviewed many of those books, either here or at ComicMix. (Though not the webcomics or floppies.) Using the search box at the top of the page should bring up any particular thing that I did review, since I always link to the ComicMix stuff here.

The rest I probably won't review, since those are things that I don't have on hand -- a lot of stuff I looked at during the Secret Judging Weekend (TM), and it stayed behind when I left.

If I have time, I may add links to the ones I did review, but that probably wouldn't be for a couple of days at best.

Matt C said...

Ok. My one complaint is that All-Star Superman was in the Continuing Series category. Way back when the series was initially was being discussed, it was only a twelve issue story. As a self-contained story, opposed to a true ongoing title, All-Star Superman would come across stronger than the other titles. My impression anyway.

I guess my concern is I'm not sure I understand how the awards define 'ongoing' and 'limited' series.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Matt: We weren't entirely governed by the category a publisher submitted a book in, but we were pretty strongly influenced by it. And I have to admit that I don't really read floppies myself anymore, so I had to rely on others' knowledge of them.

So I wasn't personally aware that All-Star Superman was supposed to run just twelve issues, and I read the 2008 stories in a hardcover which didn't make any note of that fact. And I don't recall that coming up in our discussions -- DC said it was an ongoing series, so we voted for it in that category.

(We started with twenty-eight categories, and had probably at least a hundred things nominated in nearly all of them, so there was a long, long list of projects to go through over the weekend.)

Matt C said...

Ah, publishers submit works for specific categories. Good to know. Guess DC considered All-Star Superman an ongoing until recently - based on your comment. Then again, I could be remembering things wrong.

Anyway, thanks for providing a glimpse of the Eisner Award judging process.

So you had to read over a 100 comics stories per all 28 categories?

Post a Comment