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Ben Costa’s work first caught my attention with the Xeric Award-winning webcomic Shi Long Pang, about a heavy-set, wandering Shaolin monk named Pang. The artwork had a simple elegance, with Pang’s face drawn as a round dumpling-like thing with beady eyes and a mouth. The linework imitates the wispy brushstrokes you’d find in old Chinese prints. At times, the world looks serene and dreamy; other times, it’s engulfed in unbridled chaos.
My favorite moment in Shi Long Pang — perhaps one of my favorite moments in all of webcomics — is when Pang’s ladyfriend Yang Yang is struck by a rock. Up until that moment, Pang has been nice and meek, preferring to avoid trouble when he can. This one action, however, unleashes the fury within. Pang’s muscles tighten as he becomes a flurry of fists. Costa’s art depicts the action clearly; you can follow the motions of every movement, which gives you a better sense of Pang’s speed and skill as well as the shock and unpreparedness of his assailants. To me, this is action done right. Too often, comic action comes down to characters striking a pose. In comparison, Shi Long Pang feels alive.
Nominees were selected by a panel of judges — Michael Allred, Brandon Graham, Laura Hudson, Michael Ring and Jason Leivian — from among the entries submitted earlier this year. Winners were determined by an online vote.
The winners are:
Best Artist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Writer: Aaron Renier, The Unsinkable Walker Bean
Best Cartoonist: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Best Letterer: Johnny Ryan, Prison Pit #2
Best Colorist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Publication Design: Michael DeForge, Spotting Deer
Best Anthology: Studygroup 12 #4, edited by Zack Soto
Best Small Press: I Want You #2 by Lisa Hanawalt
Best New Talent: Michael DeForge
Reader’s Choice: Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk by Ben Costa
Director’s Choice: The Sixth Gun, by Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn, published by Oni Press