Thursday, April 19, 2007

These awards get no award from me

The Eisner nominations came out today, so I figure I can do some commentary. I'm not that impressed, to tell the truth. With all the really good comics coming out, there are some weird choices. But what the hell, I'll go into more detail as I go through them. Here we go!

Nominees, 2007, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

Best Short Story
  • "The Black Knight Glorps Again," by Don Rosa, in Uncle Scrooge #354 (Gemstone)
  • "Felix," by Gabrielle Bell, in Drawn & Quarterly Showcase 4 (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • "A Frog's Eye View," by Bill Willingham and James Jean, in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
  • "Old Oak Trees," by Tony Cliff, in Flight 3 (Ballantine)
  • "Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man," by Stan Lee, Oliver Coipel, and Mark Morales, in Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man (Marvel)
  • "Willie: Portrait of a Groundskeeper," by Eric Powell, in Bart Simpsons's Treehouse of Horror #12 (Bongo)
I've only read "A Frog's Eye View" and "Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man". The Fables story was really good, although I don't know if it was the best one from that collection. The Stan Lee story was not especially well-written, but the art was nice. I think they could have found a better choice. I like Gabrielle Bell, so her story is probably worthwhile. I haven't read the Flight story either, but it's probably good. Don Rosa's Uncle Scrooge stories are always good, but come on, it's a talking duck story! There had to be something better than that. The same goes for the Simpsons story; I love Eric Powell, but I really doubt a story about Groundskeeper Willie was one of the best stories of the year. With all the anthologies and minicomics that come out these days, there has to be something more worthy of recognition.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
  • Batman/The Spirit #1: "Crime Convention," by Jeph Loeb and Darwyn Cooke (DC)
  • A Late Freeze, by Danica Novgorodoff (Danica Novgorodoff)
  • The Preposterous Adventures of Ironhide Tom, by Joel Priddy (AdHouse)
  • Skyscrapers of the Midwest #3, by Joshua Cotter (AdHouse)
  • They Found the Car, by Gipi (Fantagraphics)
Really?!?!? Batman/The Spirit?!? I hated that issue (aside from the art, which was nice). The story was awful. The rest of the nominees are pretty good choices, as far as I know, although the only one I think I've read is Ironhide Tom, and I recall it being kind of slight. Nice enough, but again, there has to be something better. I mean, why not an issue of Fell? Or All-Star Superman? Or Seven Soldiers #1? And those aren't even the greatest choices; there must have been something better than that Jeph Loeb crap.

Best Continuing Series
  • All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
  • Captain America, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (Marvel)
  • Daredevil, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano (Marvel)
  • Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
  • The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard (Image)
  • Young Avengers, by Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, and various inkers (Marvel)
Okay, I love All-Star Superman. I haven't read Monster, but I really want to because I've heard it's great, and I like what I've read by Urasawa. But two different Marvel superhero series by Ed Brubaker? Young Avengers? Did any issues of that series even come out last year, or was it just the rapey special? The Walking Dead? I gave up on that book a while ago, but I doubt it's gotten any better; from what I hear, it featured stories with plenty of rape and torture last year. Come on. How about DMZ? Or Ex Machina? Or Fell? Or Nextwave? Casanova? Or, I dunno, Death Note or Nana? Really, people.

Best Limited Series
  • Batman: Year 100, by Paul Pope (DC)
  • The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M, by Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, and Ben Templesmith (Desperado/Image)
  • The Other Side, by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart (Vertigo/DC)
  • Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli (Dark Horse)
  • Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident, by Tony Millionaire (Dark Horse)
Out of these, I read Batman: Year 100 and The Other Side. They were both really good, so I'm cool with them. And I've heard good things about the others, so I have no beef. Finally, a category with no complaints! But let's see if I can think of anything else that I would have nominated. Maybe Polly and the Pirates?

Best New Series
  • Criminal, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
  • East Coast Rising, by Becky Cloonan (Tokyopop)
  • Gumby, by Bob Burden and Rick Geary (Wildcard)
  • Jack of Fables, by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, and Andrew Pepoy (Vertigo/DC)
  • The Lone Ranger, by Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello (Dynamite)
This category isn't too bad either. I like Criminal, Jack of Fables, and East Coast Rising, although I don't know if the latter choice fits the category that well. It's a series of three graphic novels published by Tokyopop, and the first one came out last year. It's awesome, so I guess they wanted to honor it somewhere. If I was going to complain about one that should have been nominated, it would be Casanova. Come on, how can you leave that out?!

Best Publication for a Younger Audience
  • Chickenhare, by Chris Grine (Dark Horse)
  • Drawing Comics Is Easy (Except When It's Hard), by Alexa Kitchen (Denis Kitchen Publishing)
  • Gumby, by Bob Burden and Rick Geary (Wildcard)
  • Moomin, by Tove Jansson (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, by Sienna Cherson and Mark Siegel (Simon & Schuster)
I haven't read any of these, so I won't comment, except to say that Moomin is something like 40 years old, right? There wasn't anything from 2006 to nominate? I would have nominated Polly and the Pirates. And they seem to be trying to include manga, so what about Naruto, or some other manga for kids? That's what they're reading anyway.

Best Humor Publication
  • Flaming Carrot Comics, by Bob Burden (Desperado/Image)
  • Onionhead Monster Attacks, by Paul Friedrich (Hellcar)
  • Schizo #4, by Ivan Brunetti (Fantagraphics)
  • Tales Designed to Thrizzle, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics)
  • Truth Serum, by Jon Adams (City Cyclops)
I've only read Tales Designed to Thrizzle, and it's pretty funny. Did any Flaming Carrot come out in 2006? I think Nextwave got shafted, since I don't know if anything funnier came out last year.

Best Anthology
  • Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham and various (Vertigo/DC)
  • Hotwire Comix and Capers #1, edited by Glenn Head (Fantagraphics)
  • Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, edited by Frédéric Boilet (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
  • Kramers Ergot 6, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
  • Project: Romantic, edited by Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)
Interesting. Does the Fables book count as an anthology, since all the stories were written by one person? It's the only one I've read, and it's really good, but it's part of the series, so I don't know if it really belongs in this category. I've heard the Japan book is really good, so it'll probably win. No complaints here, I guess.

Best Digital Comic
  • Bee, in "Motel Art Improvement Service," by Jason Little, http://beecomix.com
  • Girl Genius, by Phil Foglio, www.girlgeniusonline.com
  • Minus, by Ryan Armand, www.kiwisbybeat.com/minus1.html
  • Phables, by Brad Guigar, www.phables.com
  • Sam and Max, by Steve Purcell, http://telltalegames.com/community/comics/samandmax/issue-3
  • Shooting War, by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman, www.shootingwar.com
I guess they mean "webcomic" here, but whatever. My pick would be Minus; it's a great little comic strip. And I didn't know there was a Sam and Max series on the web; I'll have to check that out. So, yeah, no complaints here, I guess. It's not like they included Achewood, a series that everybody seems to love but I don't get.

Best Reality-Based Work
  • Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
  • I Love Led Zeppelin, by Ellen Forney (Fantagraphics)
  • Mom's Cancer, by Brian Fies (Abrams)
  • Project X Challengers: Cup Noodle, by Tadashi Katoh (Digital Manga)
  • Stagger Lee, by Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix (Image)
Oh, now here's a good category. Fun Home should win it, and while it's the only one I've read, I've heard the others are good. I love that the Cup Noodle book got nominated. I really need to read that. I've heard Stagger Lee is really good too. Um, nothing else to add.

Best Graphic Album-New
  • American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
  • Billy Hazelnuts, by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)
  • Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Ninja, by Brian Chippendale (Gingko Press)
  • Scrublands, by Joe Daly (Fantagraphics)
  • The Ticking, by Renée French (Top Shelf)
What does "graphic album" mean anyway? Self-contained graphic novel? Do they not want to use the term "novel" because that implies fiction? Weird. Anyway, Fun Home will probably win again. American Born Chinese is also really good, and I've heard good things about Billy Hazelnuts, The Ticking, and Ninja, although the latter seems a bit weird and artsy to be grouped with the others. I don't know about Scrublands. How about The Fate of the Artist?

Best Graphic Album-Reprint
  • Absolute DC: The New Frontier, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
  • Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)
  • Mom's Cancer, by Brian Fies (Abrams)
  • Shadowland, by Kim Deitch (Fantagraphics)
  • Truth Serum, by Jon Adams (City Cyclops)
I don't know about any of these. I've read New Frontier, but I only thought it was okay, not the masterpiece that everybody else seems to have read. I'm sure the Absolute edition is nice though. I really want to read Shadowland, and I've heard Castle Waiting is good. Whatever.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Strips
  • The Complete Peanuts, 1959-1960, 1961-1962, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)
  • Mary Perkins On Stage, by Leonard Starr (Classic Comics Press)
  • Moomin, by Tove Jansson (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Popeye: I Yam What I Yam, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
  • Walt & Skeezix, vol. 2, by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)
I haven't read any of these (except some of Peanuts, I guess). I like Peanuts, but I don't really feel the need to own the complete series. Word is that Moomin is good, and I've heard that Popeye book is really cool. But yeah, no opinion, really.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Books
  • Abandon the Old In Tokyo, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Absolute Sandman, vol. 1, by Neil Gaiman and various (Vertigo/DC)
  • Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969, by Dan Nadel (Abrams)
  • The Eternals, by Jack Kirby (Marvel)
  • Ode to Kirihito, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
I've read almost all of these (in some form or another), although I wonder what makes Abandon the Old in Tokyo and Ode to Kirihito "archival collections". Neither of them is especially good in that regard, as they're both flipped to read left-to-right, and Kirihito has the sound effects translated into English. I'm not sure why The Eternals is different from any other Marvel collection. Art Out of Time is excellent, but it's almost completely a collection of strips, so why is it in the "comic books" section? I guess that leaves Sandman, which is a really nice-looking book, with some good recoloring by the original colorist.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
  • A.L.I.E.E.E.N., by Lewis Trondheim (First Second)
  • De:TALES, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
  • Hwy 115, by Matthias Lehmann (Fantagraphics)
  • The Left Bank Gang, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
  • Pizzeria Kamikaze, by Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka (Alternative)
I haven't read any of these, but I would like to get A.L.I.E.E.E.N., The Left Bank Gang, and Pizzeria Kamikaze. De:TALES is probably also good, since Moon and Ba are both good artists. I don't know about Hwy 115. It looks like we could use more non-Japanese foreign comics imports.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Japan
  • After School Nightmare, by Setona Mizushiro (Go! Comi)
  • Antique Bakery, by Fumi Yoshinaga (Digital Manga)
  • Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
  • Old Boy, by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi (Dark Horse Manga)
  • Walking Man, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
Heh, this makes me laugh; manga would have crowded out all the other countries, so they gave it its own category. I haven't read any of these (or even heard of After School Nightmare), so it's hard to comment (like that ever stopped me!). I've heard Walking Man is good. But where's Ode to Kirihito? And I could complain about the absence of my favorite series (Death Note, Nana), but there's so much manga out there, it's easy to miss large swathes of good stuff. So I'll trust these choices, I guess.

Best Writer
  • Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Daredevil (Marvel); Criminal (Marvel Icon)
  • Bob Burden, Gumby (Wildcard)
  • Ian Edginton, Scarlet Traces: The Great Game (Dark Horse)
  • Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, Batman, 52, Seven Soldiers (DC)
  • Bill Willingham, Fables, Jack of Fables, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
The Eisners sure like Ed Brubaker, don't they? I'm predisposed to like Morrison, but his Batman work is not exactly award-worthy. Seven Soldiers and All-Star Superman make up for it though. I notice Shadowpact is not included among Willingham's credits, nor is Uncanny X-Men among Brubaker's. I guess those don't count. I would argue for Warren Ellis (Fell, Nextwave, Newuniversal, Desolation Jones) or Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina, Runaways, Y: The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad). Or Brian Wood (DMZ, Local). But whatever.

Best Writer/Artist
  • Allison Bechdel, Fun Home (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Renée French, The Ticking (Top Shelf)
  • Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets, New Tales of Old Palomar (Fantagraphics); Sloth (Vertigo/DC)
  • Paul Pope, Batman: Year 100 (DC)
  • Joann Sfar, Klezmer, Vampire Loves (First Second)
Chris Ware, anybody? Ah, it'll probably go to Bechdel again. But everybody here is a good choice. Maybe Darwyn Cooke? (although I don't think The Spirit started until 2007, so never mind). Ted Naifeh (Polly and the Pirates)?

Best Writer/Artist-Humor
  • Ivan Brunetti, Schizo (Fantagraphics)
  • Lilli Carré, Tales of Woodsman Pete (Top Shelf)
  • Michael Kupperman, Tales Designed to Thrizzle (Fantagraphics)
  • Tony Millionaire, Billy Hazelnuts (Fantagraphics); Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident (Dark Horse)
  • Lewis Trondheim, A.L.I.E.E.E.N. (First Second); Mr. I (NBM)
I've only read Tales Designed to Thrizzle, and it was pretty funny. I would suggest Eric Powell, but he's won the last few years and they probably want to keep it fresh. I do like Tony Millionaire. Again, whatever.

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
  • Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
  • Tony Harris/Tom Feister, Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC)
  • Niko Henrichon, Pride of Baghdad (Vertigo/DC)
  • Michael Lark/Stefano Gaudiano, Daredevil (Marvel)
  • Sonny Liew, Wonderland (SLG)
  • Steven McNiven/Dexter Vines, Civil War (Marvel)
Decent choices here, although the Daredevil team don't really do anything for me (otherwise I might be reading that book). I would go with Henrichon; the art in that book was amazing. And I would also suggest Frank Quitely on All-Star Superman, of course. John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men) is also pretty awesome.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
  • Nicolas De Crecy, Glacial Period (NBM)
  • Melinda Gebbie, Lost Girls (Top Shelf)
  • Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image); The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M (Desperado/Image); Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (IDW)
  • Jill Thompson, "A Dog and His Boy" in The Dark Horse Book of Monsters; "Love Triangle" in Sexy Chix (Dark Horse); "Fair Division," in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
  • Brett Weldele, Southland Tales: Prequel Saga (Graphitti); Silent Ghost (Markosia)
I don't know De Crecy or Weldele, but the others are good choices, especially Templesmith and Thompson. I would go with Templesmith; his art has gotten really good. I was going to suggest J.H. Williams III (Desolation Jones, Seven Soldiers #1) in the last category, but he would probably fit better here. Oh, and how about Ashley Wood? Did he do anything last year besided Zombies vs. Robots? Maybe next year, after the new Tank Girl series comes out.

Best Cover Artist
  • John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); The Escapists (Dark Horse); The Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
  • Tony Harris, Conan (Dark Horse); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC)
  • James Jean, Fables, Jack of Fables, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
  • Dave Johnson, 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC); Zombie Tales, Cthulu Tales, Black Plague (Boom!)
  • J. G. Jones, 52 (DC)
Didn't an issue of Planetary come out last year? Shouldn't Cassaday get credit for that one? Anyway, James Jean will probably win, but J.G. Jones has been really good this year, so he might walk away with it. Plus, Jean has won the past several years, I think. A rising star at Marvel is Marko Djurdjevic, so watch for him next year.

Best Coloring
  • Kristian Donaldson, Supermarket (IDW)
  • Hubert, The Left Bank Gang (Fantagraphics)
  • Lark Pien, American Born Chinese (First Second)
  • Dave Stewart, BPRD, Conan, The Escapists, Hellboy (Dark Horse); Action Comics, Batman/The Spirit, Superman (DC)
  • Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #17 (ACME Novelty)
American Born Chinese looked nice, but (other than being bright) I didn't think the color was too exceptional. Chris Ware's coloring was very nice, and Dave Stewart is always good. I think Christina Strain should have been nominated for Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. She's one to watch out for. Some of those guys on Marvel and DC books are pretty good, especially books like Civil War and All-Star Superman. I got nothing else to add.

Best Lettering
  • Ivan Brunetti, Schizo (Fantagraphics)
  • Todd Klein, Fables, Jack of Fables, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall; Pride of Baghdad, Testament (Vertigo/DC); Fantastic Four: 1602, Eternals (Marvel); Lost Girls (Top Shelf)
  • Clem Robins, BPRD, The Dark Horse Book of Monsters, Hellboy (Dark Horse); Loveless, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC)
  • Richard Sala, The Grave Robber's Daughter, Delphine (Fantagraphics)
  • Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #17 (ACME Novelty)
Doesn't Todd Klein always win this category? Not much point in debating, is there. That said, I think Chris Ware should win.

Special Recognition
  • Ross Campbell, Abandoned (Tokyopop); Wet Moon 2 (Oni)
  • Svetlana Chmakova, Dramacon (Tokyopop)
  • Hope Larson, Gray Horses (Oni)
  • Dash Shaw, The Mother's Mouth (Alternative)
  • Kasimir Strzepek, Mourning Star (Bodega)
I think this category used to be called "Talent deserving of wider recognition". I don't know why they changed it. Campbell seems to be a rising star, and Chmakova has the "OEL manga" thing going on, so either of them could win. Hope Larson is also good; I need to pick up that book, along with Salamander Dream. I dunno about the others. This is getting long, and I'm getting tired.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
  • Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
  • Comic Art 8, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
  • The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Dirk Deppey, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
  • The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael (www.Comicsreporter.com)
  • ¡Journalista!, produced by Dirk Deppey (Fantagraphics, www.tcj.com/journalista/)
I guess websites count as periodicals now. Maybe if I work at it, I could win this award! But it's extremely unlikely. Eh, I'll go with Journalista.

Best Comics-Related Book
  • The Art of Brian Bolland, edited by Joe Pruett (Desperado/Image)
  • Cartoon America: Comic Art in the Library of Congress, edited by Harry Katz (Abrams)
  • Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book, by John Hitchcock (Octopus Press)
  • In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, by Todd Hignite (Yale University Press)
  • Wally's World, by Steve Sarger and J. David Spurlock (Vanguard)
Ah, hell, I dunno. You can't go wrong with Brian Bolland, I always say (except I don't).

Best Publication Design
  • Absolute DC: The New Frontier, designed by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
  • Castle Waiting graphic novel, designed by Adam Grano (Fantagraphics)
  • Lost Girls, designed by Matt Kindt and Brett Warnock (Top Shelf)
  • Popeye: I Yam What I Yam, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)
  • The Ticking, designed by Jordan Crane (Top Shelf)
Eh, they all look good. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall could have worked here, as could Ode to Kirihito, or plenty of others. Whatever, I'm tired of this.

Hall of Fame
Judges' Choices (2): Robert Kanigher and Ogden Whitney

Ross Andru & Mike Esposito
Dick Ayers
Bernard Baily
Matt Baker
Wayne Boring
Creig Flessel
Harold Gray
Irwin Hasen
Graham Ingels
Joe Orlando
Lily Renée (Peters) Phillips
Bob Powell
Gilbert Shelton
Cliff Sterrett

No comment about these guys is necessary, since they've already been named "famous".

Okay, I know I did a lot of bitching, but it's fun to look over these things and agree or disagree. They're not too bad overall, and like I mentioned earlier, the sheer amount of comics coming out these days is pretty overwhelming, so it's tough to pick a few for each category. They did the best they could, I expect. So now we can wait until they announce the winners, and then complain some more.

Any comments, agreements, disagreements? Think I'm an idiot in my opinions? Want to congratulate me on my great taste? Please, let me know in the comments!