Being a judge in the Eisner Awards meant making hard choices. It’s like being an admissions officer at Harvard: You could make a top-notch set of picks, throw them away, and still have a strong field for the second set. With six judges each having a different voice, sometimes a book that one or two of us think is the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn’t make the final cut.
Here’s my short list of comics that, if it were up to me, would have gotten Eisner nominations.
Best Limited Series
One of my favorite series of 2011 was Spontaneous, by Brett Weldele and Joe Harris. It’s a great crypto-mystery about spontaneous human combustion, with a nerdy know-it-all played off against an aggressive reporter. The story has its flaws, but I couldn’t put it down.
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Nina in That Makes Me Mad: We had an unusually strong field of children’s books, even after we split the category into two age groups, but this book was my first choice for a nomination. The writing is sharp and perceptive, and Hilary Knight’s illustrations are amazing. Even the page layouts are awesome. This is a book that speaks directly to children, in a voice they can understand, yet does it with an elegance that adults can appreciate as well.
Koren Shadmi’s webcomic The Abaddon is like nothing else in comics today. Loosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, it is the story of a man who is trapped in an apartment with four very dysfunctional roommates and no way out. Shadmi’s hero, Ter, arrives at the door with a bandage around his head and no backstory, although little bits of memories start flashing through as the story progresses. Part I of the story is complete and available as a webcomic, and Shadmi is raising funds for Part II via Kickstarter. He reached his goal today, but there are still some pledge awards left, although the big one—being drawn into the comic, which would basically immortalize the donor as an embodiment of Sartre’s famous line “Hell is other people”—has been taken.
I was curious about the genesis of this comic and where Shadmi plans to go with it, so I fired off some questions. .
Robot 6: In your Kickstarter intro, you say that The Abaddon was inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit. Can you explain what interested you about it and how you developed it into this very different story?
Koren Shadmi: When I was in college I took an existentialism class and we read No Exit. When I read it something really struck a chord in me, it’s very minimal and eerie, unsettling in a very subtle way. In the play hell is just a room with three people who make each other miserable. There are little hints to that the characters are not really in ‘the real world’, but those are really understated – which makes for a disturbing setting. I thought I would take the core of the play – a group of dysfunctional roommates locked in the same place together – and elaborate on it. It’s not clear though if they are in hell in my version, and I think the mystery about what exactly is The Abaddon, and who the characters are, that helps propel the story.
Koren Shadmi’s new webcomic The Abaddon is only up to Page 8, so it’s a good time to start reading, and it passes my eight-page rule: I really want to know what happens next. The action seems a little slow — it starts with a prospective roommate looking at an apartment — but there’s something slightly off about the whole thing, which makes it intriguing. Shadmi’s art is sweet and easy to look at, with a limited palette of brick red and dull blue that would be difficult for a lot of artists to pull off. The comic updates on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Via Scott McCloud, who mentions something I appreciated as well: The comic is in a “web-friendly” format. Actually, it fits very nicely into my browser; not only is it horizontal, but the presentation is sleek and uncluttered, with everything hidden except the title and the navigational aids. It’s classy and elegant and makes the comic the most important element on the page, something that should be obvious but that seldom happens in practice.