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Voting for the 2013 Eisner Awards concludes Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop talking about them. Last year, I had the privilege of being an Eisner judge, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. This year I’m back to being a civilian, and that means once again I can complain about the judges’ choices. Let the games begin!
Actually, I thought the selections were pretty good, and I’m happy that the judges decided to continue having three categories for young readers, as we did last year. However, children’s and YA graphic novels are a burgeoning sector of the market, and there’s a lot of good work out there. Here are six graphic novels that I would have been arguing for this year had I been in the judging room. And incidentally, all of them are good reads for adults as well.
Little White Duck, written by Na Liu, illustrated by Andrés Vera Martínez: This book deserves the Eisner for the beautiful art alone, but the story is wonderful as well. It’s Liu’s tale of growing up in China in the 1970s, and she starts with her parents mourning the death of Chairman Mao. The view of Chinese life in the Communist era is very different from what we are accustomed to; Liu writes matter-of-factly about the hardships (their family had two children, so she was not allowed to go to school) but also the joys of family life. It’s a very personal and three-dimensional perspective on an era we often view in flat black and white, and both Liu and Martínez are master storytellers.
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.
Before being printed, purchased by fans and read, comics and graphic novels start off as ideas that eventually become pitches that creators try and sell to publishers. Or, as Vito Delsante, writer of FCHS, puts it, “That’s the hard part.”
Delsante and artist Andrés Vera Martínez are currently collaborating on one such pitch, for a book called Fist of Dracula that shows us what the famed vampire was up to in the 1930s. Although the book doesn’t have a home yet, they agreed to talk to me about the creative and pitching processes, as well as share some pages from the books.
JK: How did the two of you meet?
Vito: Purely by chance. I had written a kids graphic novel for Simon and Schuster (Before They Were Famous: Babe Ruth) and the artist couldn’t come through, so they (S&S) hunted down a new artist, and that artist was Andrés.
Andrés: That’s about right.
Vito: Even after that, we didn’t actually meet until Andrés was done with the book. I like to work with people I know, if only so I can see the art process, but I had to let this one go until the end. I think we kept missing each other, too…like, we’d try to meet each other at Jim Hanley’s or elsewhere, and we’d be off by a few minutes.