The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced Saturday night at the San Diego Comic Con International. Multiple winners included Brian K. Vaughan (Saga), Chris Ware (Building Stories), and artist David Aja (Hawkeye). Reaction among fans online has been very positive, as these well-deserved winners have managed to be both artistically independent and popular among casual comics readers.
Chris Ware is best known for his Fantagraphics series The Acme Novelty Library. His work has appeared in such publications as The New York Time, The New Yorker, Esquire, and the Village Voice, and he has been recognized numerous times with previous Eisners, Harvey, and Ignatz awards, as well as the Reuben Award for Excellence. Chris Ware’s Building Stories is a mix of previous published strips and original work, brought together in graphic novel form. He tells the story of the inhabitants of a century-old apartment building in Chicago. Saturday night the Eisners honored Ware and Building Stories for “Best Graphic Album–New,” “Best Writer-Artist,” “Best Lettering,” and “Best Publication Design.”
Brian K. Vaughan published his first comics work at 20 years of age, after attending the “Stan-hatten Project”–a Marvel comics class for wanna-be comics writers– in the mid 1990s. He worked first with Marvel and DC, but then went on to produce creator-owned projects including Y: The Last Man for DC’s Vertigo imprint, and Ex Machina for Wildstorm. He was writer and executive story editor for seasons 3 to 5 of the television series Lost, and in 2012 Steven Spielberg chose Vaughan to produce and adapt Stephen King’s Under the Dome for television. Saga is an epic comic book series that Vaughan and Fiona Staples publish via Image Comics. The series depicts a kind of Romeo and Juliet of warring alien races who are trying to survive with their child. Last night at the Eisners, Brian K. Vaughan won as “Best Writer” for the series, and Saga was voted “Best New Series” and “Best Continuing Series.”
David Aja is a Spanish artist currently working with writer Matt Fraction on the Hawkeye series for Marvel. His covers are like block-prints that grab you by the head and make you look and think. His co-winner (there was a tie) in the “Best Penciller/Inker” category is Chris Samnee, who is currently the artist for Mark Waid’s Daredevil, also published by Marvel. Samnee has worked on many Marvel books, including Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Captain America, and Captain America and Bucky.
Other nominees in the “Best Continuing Series” category were Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image), Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel), The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra (Image), and Prophet by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy (Image). All of these books are excellent, and any of them could have taken the “Best” award. Fans online seem the most disappointed that Manhattan Projects didn’t win.
The other nominees for “Best Writer” were Ed Brubaker for Fatale, Matt Fraction for Hawkeye, Brandon Graham for Multiple Warheads and Prophet, Jonathan Hickman for The Manhattan Projects, and Frank M. Young for The Carter Family.
The remaining nominees in the “Best Writer/Artist” category included Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon), the great Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez, for their Love and Rockets New Stories vol. 5 (Fantagraphics), Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Everything We Miss (Nobrow), and C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart (Fantagraphics).
Fellow nominees of Chris Samnee and David Aja for “Best Penciller/Inker” were Becky Cloonon, for her work on Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse) and The Muse (self-published), Colleen Coover, Bendette (Monkeybrain), Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image), and Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf).
David Aja’s competitors for “Best Cover Artist” were Brandon Graham, for King City, Multiple Warheads, and Elephantmen #43 (Image), Sean Philips for Fatale (Image), Yuko Shimizu, recognizing his consistently magnificent covers for Mike Carey’s The Unwritten (Vertigo), and J.H. Williams III for Batwoman (DC). This award could easily have been a 3-way tie. Yuko Shimizu’s covers are breathtaking, and J.H. Williams is perhaps technically the best cover artist in the business, and a particular favorite of mine. It’s no surprise that the latter two artists have both worked with writer Mike Carey on different projects. But for the year 2012-2013, voters had to choose and David Aja’s covers for Hawkeye just had an edge.
Other 2013 Eisner winners include:
“Best Single Issue,” The Mire, by Becky Cloonan. This is a self-published comic, by a long-time, talented writer/artist and might be a portent of things to come in the comic book industry.
“Best Anthology,” Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson, published by Dark Horse Comics. This is an excellent anthology that features science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories by both well-known and unknown writers and artists. Dark Horse is a small company head-quartered in Milwaukie, Oregon, that has consistently maintained the highest quality and has recently published a number of popular, commercial successes.
“Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art),” Juanjo Guarnido, for Blacksad (Dark Horse). This is a fan-favorite win, judging by the Internet reaction.
“Best Coloring,” Dave Stewart, for his work on Batwoman (DC), Fatale (Image), BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, and The Massive, all for Image.
“Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism,” “The Comics Reporter” edited by Tom Spurgeon
“Best Comics-Related Book,” “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” by Sean Howe (Harper-Collins). This is a detail-oriented account that collects anecdotes, interviews, news articles, to piece together a behind-the-scenes look at Marvel from the very beginning through the early 2000s. Some of the material has appeared in previous books, including memoirs or interview collections but Sean Howe brings all the bits and pieces together into one compelling narrative.
For a full list of the 2013 Eisner nominees and winners visit Comic Book Resources Robot 6 report.