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Stan Lee Excelsior Award announces 2015 shortlists

image-rocket girlThe shortlist has been announced for the 2015 Stan Lee Excelsior Award and the new Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior, whose winners are selected by students at secondary and primary schools, respectively, across the United Kingdom.

Established in 2011 by Paul Register, a school librarian in Sheffield, the Stan Lee Excelsior Award is designed to promote comics and to encourage children and teenagers to read. The Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior is being introduced this year.

The winners — first, second and third place — will be announced in July. The nominees are:

Stan Lee Excelsior Award

  • All-New Ghost Rider: Engines of Vengeance, by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore (Marvel)
  • Barakamon, by Satsuki Yoshino (Yen Press)
  • Rocket Girl, Vol. 1, by by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder (Image Comics)
  • Red Baron: The Machine Gunners’ Ball, by Pierre Veys and Carlos Puerta (Cinebook)
  • Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Couple, by by Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel (DC Comics)
  • Moonhead and the Music Machine, by Andrew Rae (Nobrow)
  • Alone: The Vanishing, by Bruno Gazzotti and Fabien Vehlmann (Cinebook)
  • Ms. Marvel: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel)

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Comics A.M. | How one manga publisher is expanding into China

Kodansha's Jinmanhua magazine

Kodansha’s Jinmanhua magazine

Publishing | Keiko Yoshioka explains how Japanese publisher Kodansha is getting into the Chinese market, not by selling Japanese products but by publishing a magazine in China that’s geared toward Chinese audiences — and using Chinese creators as well. The article puts a special focus on the two-woman team known as Navar, whose suspense series Carrier: Xiedaizhe now runs in Japan as well. [The Asahi Shimbun]

Academia | Northwestern University Prof. Irving Rein discusses why superheroes have secret identities, ticking off several superhero comics tropes and then going a bit deeper: “The usual script of a superhero episode revolves around a threat occurring in which the superhero is the victim of the decision making of the criminals. The hidden identity is a standard form of the superhero narrative and it allows the creators to use the formula and still deviate from the script. Throughout the comic book or movie there are a series of fundamental questions. Will the superhero be identified? When and under what circumstances will the superhero become a superhero? How will the superhero get back into his civilian identity without being identified?” [Daily Herald]

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Comics A.M. | At long last, ‘Blake and Mortimer’ gets a prequel

The Staff of Plutarch

The Staff of Plutarch

Graphic novels | The long-running Belgian comic Blake and Mortimer, created by Herge contemporary Edgar P. Jacobs and currently the work of Yves Sente and Andre Juillard, will get a prequel. The series launched in Tintin magazine in 1946, and when they re-read the first episode, Sente and Juillard found themselves asking a lot of questions — so they answered them in their latest volume, The Staff of Plutarch. [Agence France-Presse]

Creators | Kelly Sue DeConnick discusses her new Image Comics series Bitch Planet. [Paste]

Creators | HOW magazine interviews artist Kody Chamberlain (Punks, Sweets). [HOW]

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Winners announced for 2014 British Comic Awards

BCA LogoThe winners of the third annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. Two of the four awards went to titles published by Image Comics; all four of the winning works are readily available in the United States. Here are the winners:

Best Comic: The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)

Best Book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)

Young People’s Comic Award: Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

Emerging Talent: Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and “Shadows” from the In The Dark anthology (IDW Publishing)

Hall of Fame: Posy Simmonds

Two years ago, when the first awards were announced, there was some discussion about the gender balance of both the committee that chose the books and the nominations themselves. Last year’s awards all went to men. This year, there were more women on the committee and more women on the shortlist, and the awards were split, with Simmonds giving the women the edge.

Comics A.M. | Was Marie Duval the real creator of Ally Sloper?

Ally Sloper

Ally Sloper

Creators | A U.K. researcher argues that Marie Duval was the real creative force behind the wildly popular 19th-century British comic Ally Sloper, which is largely credited to her husband Charles Ross. Duval, the pen name of French cartoonist Emilie de Tessier, drew the character at the height of his popularity in the 1860s and ’70s, but historian David Kunzle now questions what role Ross actually played in his creation. [The Guardian]

Commentary | Chase Magnett pushes back on Chris Suellentrop’s statement, made in a column about GamerGate, that comics are “a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (Maus, or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.” [Comicbook.com]

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Comics A.M. | Alexis Deacon wins Observer/Cape/Comica prize

From "The River"

From “The River”

Awards | Alexis Deacon has won the 2014 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize for “The River,” “a luscious, tangled, whispering kind of story” that earned him £1,000 (about $1,611 U.S.). The runners-up were Fionnuala Doran’s “Countess Markievicz” and Beth Dawson’s “After Life.” The short-story competition has been held annually since 2007 by London’s Comica Festival, publisher Jonathan Cape and The Observer newspaper. [The Observer]

Publishing | Mark Peters spotlights Archie Comics’ recent transformation from staid to startling, with titles like Afterlife With Archie and the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [Salon]

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Comics A.M. | Roz Chast wins Kirkus Prize for nonfiction

Roz Chast

Roz Chast

Awards | The winners of the first Kirkus Prize were announced last night, and Roz Chast took top honors in the nonfiction category for her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast is also a finalist for the National Book Award, marking the first time a graphic novel has been nominated in one of the adult categories. [The Washington Post]

Legal | A Turkish court acquitted cartoonist Musa Kart on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stemming from a cartoon Kart drew last year portraying the then-prime minister as complicit in covering up government corruption. “Yes, I drew it [the cartoon] but I did not mean to insult,” Kart said. “I just wanted to show the facts. Indeed, I think that we are inside a cartoon right now. Because I am in the suspect’s seat while charges were dropped against all the suspects [involved in two major graft scandals]. I need to say that this is funny.” If convicted, Kart could have faced nearly a decade in prison. [Today’s Zaman]

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Finalists announced for 2014 British Comic Awards

wicked-divine1The finalists have been announced for the third annual British Comic Awards, culled from a longlist of eligible titles submitted by creators, publishers and readers. From here, the judging panel will select the winner in each of the four categories, to be announced Nov. 15 in a ceremony during the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds.

In addition, the judges named Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drewe creator Posy Simmonds to the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame, where she joins previous entrants Leo Baxendale and Raymond Biggs.

Here’s the 2014 shortlist:

Best Comic
Dangeritis: A Fistful of Danger – Robert M Ball and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Great Beast)
In The Frame – Tom Humberstone (New Statesman)
Raygun Roads – Owen Michael Johnson, Indio!, Mike Stock and Andy Bloor (self-published)
Tall Tales & Outrageous Adventures #1: The Snow Queen & Other Stories – Isabel Greenberg (Great Beast)
The Wicked + The Divine #1 – Kieron Gillen, Jaime McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)

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Comics A.M. | Two GNs among inaugural Kirkus Prize finalists

From "El Deafo"

From “El Deafo”

Awards | The finalists for the inaugural Kirkus Prize literary awards include two graphic novels: Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is one of six nominees in the Nonfiction category, and Cece Bell’s El Deafo is one of the picks for the Young Readers award. The winners in all three categories, who will receive $50,000 each, will be announced during a ceremony held Oct. 23 in Austin, Texas. [The Washington Post]

Manga | A prequel to Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy manga is in the works for the Japanese magazine Monthly Hero’s. Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka, is supervising the production of the story, which focuses on the time before the “birth” of the iconic robot boy. [Anime News Network]

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Winners announced for 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards

rat queens1The winners of the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards were announced Saturday in Toronto. Named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator Superman, the awards recognize the best of the Canadian comics world.

In addition to the traditional awards, this year’s event included the introduction of the T.M. Maple Award, which honors “someone (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who have had a positive impact on the community.” The first recipients were the late Jim Burke, aka T.M. Maple, who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994, and the late Debra Jane Shelly, longtime volunteer at Toronto conventions and comics events.

The winners are listed in bold below. The Beat has photos and audio from the ceremony, held at Back Space Toronto.

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Comics A.M. | Sherlock Holmes copyright case appealed to high court

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon #2

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon #2

Legal | The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a June decision by the Seventh Circuit affirming that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain. The estate had long insisted licensing fees be paid for the characters and story elements to be used in movies, television series and books, but author, editor and Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 for an anthology of new stories. In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.

In its petition to the high court, the Doyle estate continues to cling to its argument (gleefully dismantled by Posner) that Holmes is a “complex” character that he was effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States; therefore, the entire body of work remains protected by copyright. Hoping to draw the interest of the justices, the estate points to a circuit split on the matter of extending copyright. The lawyers also repeat the unsuccessful argument that Klinger’s case shouldn’t have been heard until after his book was published. In June, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan refused to issue a stay to prevent the Holmes stories from officially entering the public domain. [TechDirt]

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales up 10% in bookstores this year

Saga, Vol. 1

Saga, Vol. 1

Graphic novels | Sales of graphic novels are up 10 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to Neilsen BookScan, which tracks sales in bookstores and other general retail channels. In terms of unit sales, that’s about 5.6 million books sold this year, as opposed to 5.1 million in 2013. The trend is echoed by Diamond Comic Distributors’ numbers for the direct market, which show graphic novels up 3.8 percent in dollars and 5.8 percent in unit sales year to date. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | Alison Bechdel is having a busy week: Following the news that she has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, she announced her new book: The Secret to Superhuman Strength, a memoir of her obsession with exercise and a history of American fitness fads, to be published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [The New York Times]

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Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples’ ‘Saga’ leads Harvey Awards

saga17As many predicted, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga dominated the 2014 Harvey Awards, winning for Best Continuing or Limited Series, Best Writer, Best Artist and Best Cover Artist.

Presented Saturday in a ceremony at Baltimore Comic Con, the awards are named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, and selected entirely by creators. Longtime Batman film producer Michael Uslan served as the emcee, and writer Gail Simone delivered the keynote address.

The special awards were presented: the late Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz was the first recipient of the Harvey Kurtzman Hall of Fame Award; longtime Archie Comics cartoonist Stan Golberg, who passed away Aug. 31, received the Dick Giordano Humanitarian of the Year Award; and seminal Incredible Hulk artist Herb Trimpe was given the Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award.

The winners can be found in bold below:

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Comics A.M. | Warner Bros. plans buyouts, possible layoffs

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]

Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Mimi Pond wins PEN Center USA Literary Award

Over Easy

Over Easy

Awards | Mimi Pond’s Over Easy has been recognized with a PEN Center USA Literary Award for Graphic Novel Outstanding Body of Work. Previous category winners are Gilbert Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Joe Sacco and Matt Fraction. [PEN Center USA]

Publishing | Dark Horse is planning to beef up its lineup of children’s graphic novels, which already includes such successful titles as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Plants vs. Zombies and Itty Bitty Hellboy. Four new titles are slated for 2015: Rexodus, a story about dinosaurs from outer space, and three older properties, Rod Espinosa’s Courageous Princess, Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park’s Veda: Assembly Required, and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Return of the Gremlins. [Publishers Weekly]

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