This Friday evening is the 23rd annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards–the most significant awards in American comics, voted on by comics professionals. This year’s Eisners are being awarded in 29 categories, and since half the fun of this sort of thing is guessing in advance who’s going to win, here are my picks and notes on the nominees. (Disclaimer: I won an Eisner in 2008, and was on the nominating panel in 2001.)
Best Adaptation from Another Work
The Book of Genesis Illustrated, by R. Crumb (Norton)
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation, adapted by Michael Keller and Nicolle Rager Fuller (Rodale)
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, adapted by Tim Hamilton (Hill & Wang)
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
West Coast Blues, by Jean-Patrick Manchette, adapted by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)
Cooke already has two Eisners under his belt, and the comics community loves him. The Tardi and Crumb are both nicely done, but The Hunter is the likely leader.
Abstract Comics, edited by Andrei Molotiu (Fantagraphics)
Bob Dylan Revisited, edited by Bob Weill (Norton)
Flight 6, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (Villard)
Popgun vol. 3, edited by Mark Andrew Smith, D. J. Kirkbride, and Joe Keatinge (Image)
Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays, edited by Brendan Burford (Villard)
What Is Torch Tiger? edited by Paul Briggs (Torch Tiger)
Popgun has more ties to the Eisner-voting scene, but Abstract Comics deserves special commendation: Molotiu has effectively pieced together a whole new subgenre.
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Best Archival Collection/Project-Strips
Bloom County: The Complete Library, vol. 1, by Berkeley Breathed, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Bringing Up Father, vol. 1: From Sea to Shining Sea, by George McManus and Zeke Zekley, edited by Bruce Canwell (IDW)
The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons 1913-1940, edited by Trina Robbins (Fantagraphics)
Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons, by Gahan Wilson, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Prince Valiant, vol. 1: 1937-1938, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, Walt McDougall, and W. W. Denslow, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
Archival collections of comic strips are the best they’ve ever been right now, and almost all of these are exquisite books. But Sunday Press’s enormous, beautifully produced books are the Criterion Collection of newspaper strips, and Queer Visitors collects some fascinating work that’s never looked this good before.
Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Books
The Best of Simon & Kirby, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, edited by Steve Saffel (Titan Books)
Blazing Combat, by Archie Goodwin et al., edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Humbug, by Harvey Kurtzman et al., edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures deluxe edition, by Dave Stevens, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
The TOON Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (Abrams ComicArts/Toon)
Stevens and The Rocketeer are particular favorites in the community that votes on the Eisners, and the IDW collection did right by them. That TOON Treasury is a genuinely wonderful book, though–not just an archive but a creative piece of curation, with a lot of fantastic material that had totally fallen between the cracks.
Steve Hamaker, Bone: Crown of Thorns (Scholastic); Little Mouse Gets Ready (Toon)
Laura Martin, The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures (IDW); Thor, The Stand: American Nightmares (Marvel)
David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
Alex Sinclair, Blackest Night, Batman and Robin (DC)
Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, Umbrella Academy, Zero Killer (Dark Horse); Detective Comics (DC); Luna Park (Vertigo)
Stewart’s the obvious pick here, although Mazzucchelli gets special consideration for making his color design one of the central story elements of Asterios Polyp.
Best Comics-Related Book
Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel, by Annalisa Di Liddo (University Press of Mississippi)
The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics, by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle (Abrams ComicArts)
The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy (Abrams ComicArts)
Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater, by Eric P. Nash (Abrams ComicArts)
Will Eisner and PS Magazine, by Paul E. Fitzgerald (Fitzworld.US)
That Kurtzman book is a hell of a thing, and Kitchen and Buhle were exactly the right people to put it together.