- Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
- Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn
- Sammy Harkham’s Everything Together: Collected Stories
- Spain Rodriguez’s Cruisin’ With the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Toote
- Chris Ware’s Building Stories
The winner will be announced April 19. This is the fourth year that graphic novels have been included, and not surprisingly, given that this is a book award, the selections generally have an artistic/literary bent.
Unlike the Eisners, the LA Times awards do not accept nominations from the field; the three judges in each category are responsible for making the selections. Unlike the Eisners and other comics awards, the LA Times doesn’t make a big deal over who the judges are; I couldn’t find a list anywhere, although past judges get a mention here and there.
Anyway, given that any set of awards nominations is really just a starting point for discussion, feel free to comment on what books should — and shouldn’t — have made the shortlist.
From Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter comes the sad news that pioneering alternative comix artist Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez passed away this morning. He was 72 years old.
Born in Buffalo, NY, Rodriguez built his early cartooning chops in and around New York City where in the late ’60s he contributed to nationally known underground newspaper The East Village Other. The artist was known for his muscular, inky style which was born out of artistic influences like the EC Comics of Wally Wood and real life ones like Rodriquez’s years riding with biker gang the Road Vultures.
By 1969, the artist had relocated to San Francisco where he joined with foundational underground comix artists like R. Crumb, publishing stories for a bevy of titles put out by Last Gasp Press including Crumb’s Zap Comix and Skull Comics and later contributing to other acclaimed titles including Rip Off Comix and Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.
Rodriguez was perhaps best known for Trashman – a meaty satirical anti-hero inspired by leftist political and road warrior narratives. Though in his later years, he produced a wide range of non-fiction works including the autobiographical My True Story and Che: A Graphic Biography about the life of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
News of Rodriguez’s death is scarce, apparently circulating via an e-mail to friends and supporters. In honor of his passing, The Comics Journal is representing some classic stories with the artist including a 1998 interview with his sometimes publisher Gary Groth and a profile written in April of this year to celebrate his latest release Crusin With The Hound.
Conventions | Phoenix Comicon kicks off today, drawing an anticipated 35,000 to 40,000 attendees to the Phoenix (Arizona) Convention Center. Comics guests include Brett Booth, Jim Cheung, Garth Ennis, David Finch, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Andy Kuhn, Francis Manapul, David Lapham, Bob Layton, Dan Parent, George Perez, Billy Tucci and Ethan Van Sciver. [Modern Times Magazine, Fox 10 News]
Publishing | What does it mean to be an imprint of a larger publisher? For those who are interested in how the sausages are made, Gina Gagliano explains the relationship between First Second Books and parent company Macmillan. [First Second Books]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d go all-in on AvX: Vs #1 (Marvel, $3.99). As a story format-junkie, this seems like an ideal supplemental series to the event comic series as we know it – I may have read it wrong, but this seems low on continuity and high on action – kind of a throwback to the condensed comics of the ’60s, I hope. And seeing Kathryn and Stuart Immonen on this together is a big deal – wish they’d get more chances like this! Next up would be the finale of The Twelve, #12 (Marvel, $2.99). I argued with myself about waiting for the trade at this point, but at the end of the day I’m more interested in this than a lot of everything else going on out there. Plus, I bought the eleven previous issues so I should finish it out, right? Next up would be Spaceman #6 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). I’m finding this series benefits from a deeper re-reading prior to each new issues, but it’s paying off in spades in terms of my enjoyment. This is definitely a palate cleanser after Azzarello and Risso’s run on 100 Bullets, but in a good way. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #11 (Marvel, $2.99). The Eisner Awards judges got this one right when they piled nominations on this book, because Waid, Martin, and Rivera have really made the quintessential superhero book here. The fill-ins from Khoi Pham and Marco Checchetto seem off-putting, but they’ve earned some lee-way after the murderer’s row of creators who started the book. Can’t wait to see Samnee on this, however.
If I had $30, I’d start off with an interesting looking project that’s gotten no press – Airboy: Deadeye #1 (Antarctic Press, $3.50). Chuck Dixon and Ben Dunn — what a pairing. After that I’d go back to get Supercrooks #2 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99); Mark Millar knows how to sell a high-concept, but it’s Leinil Yu that’s making me come back past the first issue. After that would be an Avengers two-fer: New Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99) and Secret Avengers #26 (Marvel, $3.99). I dropped off New a few issues back, but with this new issue covering some never-before-seen connections between Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force, I’m back in for this one. And Secret Avengers, well, Remender’s on a roll with his Marvel work and this is continuing on that without being an Uncanny X-Force retread. And guest artist Renato Guedes seems a better fit for this than his work on Wolverine.
If I could splurge, I’d lunge for a copy of The Art of Amanda Conner (IDW/Desperado, $29.99). I was fortunate enough to get a digital review copy of this earlier, and seeing it like that only made me want this more. Rather than just being a template art book plugging in her work, the design and packaging really go along with what you’d expect from Amanda’s tongue-in-cheek comic style. Reading this makes me want to go back and track down her earlier work that I missed.