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Virtually every year, there’s a high-concept Eisner nominee that utterly baffles me. In 2009, it was Speak No Evil, the undocumented-immigrant parable where a guy has a hole for a mouth, and last year, it was the weird Ant Comic. This year, it’s probably going to be Brian Fies’ The Last Mechanical Monster.
It’s based on Fleischer Studios’ 1941 animated Superman short “The Mechanical Monsters,” probably best known as the first time, in any medium, Clark Kent stepped into a phone booth to change clothes. The first few pages of Fies’ comic look like screen shots of the original cartoon. After that intro, the the story picks up 60-plus years later. We’re already in some strange territory: a fan fiction is now in Eisner Award consideration. Only … this isn’t fan fiction about Superman or Lois Lane; it’s about the villain.
We’re also informed that “The Mechanical Monsters” is in the public domain (a factoid that took me back to when I first watched the cartoon, on a VHS purchased for cheap at Woolworths that stopped functioning after two viewings). That gives the comic an added layer of trickiness, but maybe this is as legit an adaptation as, say, CBS’s Elementary.
Comic-Con International has announced the nominees for the 2014 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, given annually to a store that has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics medium in both the industry and in the local community.
This year, a record 37 stores were nominated from across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore. The finalists will be announced the week before Comic-Con International, and the winner revealed July 25 during the Eisner Awards ceremony. The 2014 nominees are:
Comic-Con International is fast approaching, and so too is the deadline for online voting for the 2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards: It’s midnight Friday (June 13).
Among those eligible to vote — you can do so here — are comics creators (writers, artists, colorists and letterers), editors, publishers, retailers, graphic novel librarians and scholars, and all nominees. The full list of nominees, which again includes Comic Book Resources for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism, can be found here.
This year’s judging panel consisted of retailer Kathy Bottarini, author/educator William H. Foster, reviewer Christian Lipski, Comic-Con International board member Lee Oeth, library curator Jenny Robb and Eisner Award-nominated cartoonist/critic James Romberger.
Comic-Con International will be held July 24-27 in San Diego. The Eisner winners will be announced Friday, July 25 during the annual awards ceremony.
Manga | The 13th volume of Hajime Isayama’s hit dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan sold 1.4 million copies in Japan during its first week of release: 1.13 million copies of the regular edition, and 270,000 of a special edition that includes the original video animation. Kodansha ordered a 2.75 million-copy initial print run, a record not only for the series but for the publisher as well. The 66th volume of One Piece holds the record in Japan for highest sales in the first week with nearly 2.3 million copies. [Crunchyroll]
Publishing | Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions, talks about the evolution of his company and the origin story of its Female Force bio-comics line: “[W]e saw a comic book done of Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 elections, and my partner joked and said, ‘Why don’t we do Hillary?’ And I thought, oh my God, that’s a brilliant idea.So I thought, let’s do this, but let’s do it differently. Let’s not do it like everyone else, with a boring biography. We did it with a female empowerment angle. We released Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin at the same time, and whether you like Sarah Palin or hate Hillary Clinton, you have to respect both of them for where they came from and who they are.” [The Beaverton Leader]
One of my favorite times of the year is here: the announcement of the nominees for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. I love poring over each category to look for surprises, seeing books I never heard of or never got a chance to read. I guess when you get right down to it, I love getting to celebrate awesome comics.
It seems that with each year, the Eisners get better at reflecting the comics art form and industry at that moment. The judges not only hit the fan favorites and critical darlings, but also unexpected choices and hidden gems that truly benefit from this kind of recognition. It’s where quality instead of sales rule, as it should be for an award recognizing the very best of the industry.
This year’s Eisner Awards nominations were dominated by two publishers, Fantagraphics and Image Comics, with the former earning 18 and the latter 17 (plus three shared). To celebrate the occasion, Image is holding a 50 percent-off sale on digital editions of all 10 nominated titles, for a limited time. That means you’re getting single issues for just 99 cents each.
Whether you’ve fallen behind on some of the series or want to see what all the hubbub is about, now is pretty good time to check out East of West, Lazarus, The Manhattan Projects, Nowhere Men, Outlaw Territory, Pretty Deadly, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals and Zero.
Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]
The Eisner Awards judges have selected trailblazing publisher Orrin C. Evans and Golden Age artists Irwin Hasen and Sheldon Moldoff for automatic induction this summer into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame.
Evans, who passed away in 1971, edited and published the first all-black comic book, 1947’s All-Negro Comics. Hasen, who created the comic strip Dondi with Gus Edson, drew the Golden Age adventures of such heroes as Green Lantern, Wildcat, the Flash and the Justice Society. One of Bob Kane’s primary ghost artists, the late Moldoff co-created such Batman characters as Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and the original Batwoman and Bat-Girl.
The judges also chose 14 nominees from which voters may select four to be inducted into the 2014 Hall of Fame:
Tentative categories — they may be altered at the discretion of the judges — are: best short story, best single issue, best continuing comic book series, best limited series, best new series, best publication for kids, best publication for teens, best humor publication, best anthology, best digital comic, best graphic album–new material, best graphic album–reprint, best reality-based work, best archival collection, best U.S. edition of foreign material, best writer, best writer/artist, best penciler/inker (individual or team), best painter (interior art), best lettering, best coloring, best comics-related book, best scholarly/academic work, best comics journalism periodical or website and best publication design.
Publishers who wish to submit entries must send one copy each of the comics or graphic novels, along with a cover letter that includes what’s being nominated, and in what categories, and the names of the creators. Creators may submit works for consideration if their publisher is no longer in business or is unlikely to submit nominations itself.
Entries should be mailed to: Jackie Estrada, Eisner Awards Administrator, Comic-Con International, P.O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112. Submissions for the best digital comic category can be emailed to Estrada. The full list of nominees will be announced in April.
Additional details can be found on the Eisner Awards website.
Publishing | ICv2 continues its look at August’s direct market numbers, declaring Marvel’s Infinity #1 a million-dollar book, the third this year to top $1 million in sales, thanks to its $4.99 cover price and estimated orders of 205,000 (DC Comics’ Justice League of America #1 and Superman Unchained #1 are the other two). However, it’s also important to note that Infinity #1 was offered to retailers at a deep discount (up to 70 percent). [ICv2]
Digital comics | Jeff DiBartolomeo explains why he left his job at HBO (he was one of the developers of their HBO Go app) to become chief technical officer at comiXology: “What’s interesting to me is seeing this market, which is one I’m not vary familiar with, and seeing the potential. It’s proving to be useful to have me come [to Comixology] with a different set of eyes, at a different angle.” [TechHive]
Creators | Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker received messages from the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and Prince Albert II of Monaco ahead of his 90th birthday today. The cartoonist, who introduced Beetle Bailey in 1950, still supervises daily work on the strip at his Stamford, Connecticut, studio. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Gene Luen Yang discusses his newest work, Boxers and Saints, a 500-page, two-volume set that examines China’s Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of two very different characters. [Graphic Novel Reporter]
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards celebrated its 25th anniversary this year at Comic-Con International in San Diego. For a quarter century, the most prestigious award in comics has been recognizing the best — or, depending upon your perspective, getting it wrong for two and a half decades. However you feel about the results, the Eisners are established as our most respected and classy way for the industry to recognize excellence and put its best foot forward to the larger world.
It didn’t seem like there was a lot of acknowledgement of the anniversary, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to dive into the archives, sift through way too many numbers and names, and present 25 fun facts, figures and random whatnots.
So here now are 25 fun facts about the Eisner Awards:
On the heels of winning the Eisner Award for best digital comic, Bandette creators Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover have released a fifth free installment of Bandette: Urchin Stories, this time teaming Tobin with cartoonist Erika Moen (DAR!, Bucko).
If, for some reason, you’re not yet familiar with Bandette, the Monkeybrain Comics series follows the adventures of a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. A print collection will be published in November by Dark Horse.
Launched in October 2012 to supplement the main series, Urchin Stories, as the title suggests, focuses on the supporting cast, with each short tale drawn by a different art. The latest installment turns the spotlight on the newest, and youngest, urchin, Belda. The previous stories can be found on the Monkeybrain website.
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.
The 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were presented tonight in San Diego in conjunction with Comic-Con International, with Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja and Building Stories by Chris Ware taking home multiple awards.
You can find the complete list of nominees, with the winners bolded, below.
Best Short Story