Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Fanlad's Guide To The Eisner Nominations 2010

Hi folks, and welcome to this easy to follow and simple guide to what the 2010 Eisner nominations are and what we here at The Weekly Crisis think about some of them. This won't read like some Wiki article about the history of the awards, more like we'll open a few envelopes, see who's nominated, and then get our fanlad chat on. And there'll be plenty to chat about as some of these noms are pretty controversial.

Feel free to join in after the jump.

The Eisner Awards, for those who don't know, are what are most likely viewed as the highest esteemed awards within the comic industry. These are the Oscars and to have one is usually a large selling point for most creators. To be nominated is a huge honour. To discuss the nominations is just pure fun so I'll work my way through what I can. I can't guarantee I'll touch on everything, just the things that inspire great love, or...indifference would be the polite way of putting it.

Best Continuing Series

Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy et al. (Vertigo/DC)
Irredeemable, by Mark Waid and Peter Krause (BOOM!)
Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
The Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard (Image)

I'm interested that Irredeemable got a nom here. It seemed to be doing well but I didn't realize it had this much clout. Fables seems to be a real staple of these awards and I wonder what it would take to knock it out of the noms. I hear nothing but absurdly good things about 20th Century Boys and The Unwritten but it is The Walking Dead that shocks me. I don't know if it has ever been nominated before but I am exceedingly happy that it got a nom now. This past year for TWD has been a stellar ride with Rick's descent into what can only clinically be called madness and then the arc with The Hunters. It really hit a good stride and it is awesome to see it get recognition for this brilliance in storytelling. I don't know how many will agree with my TWD love but I'd be really happy to see it take out the award, though I'll be happy with any of these titles taking it home, they're all good.

My Lock For The Win: The Walking Dead - I think it's got the legs to run away with this one. It's a sneaky entrant into the field and who doesn't want to see TV ads about 'the Eisner winning comic'?

Best Limited Series or Story Arc

Blackest Night, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Oclair Albert (DC)
Incognito, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka, by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki (VIZ Media)
Wolverine #66–72 and Wolverine Giant-Size Special: “Old Man Logan,” by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven, and Dexter Vines (Marvel)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)

Wow. This field is so incredibly spread. Blackest Night inspired fanlad rage, fanlad lust, and fanlad Care Bear stares. I find it interesting that it gets an Eisner nom, that's a big wrap. From all accounts and reviews I don't think it deserves to be there but I'm sure there'll be plenty that will love that it's included. What I can speak for, in intimate knowledge, is why Old Man Logan should absolutely positively not be included in any list of excellence. This was fan-fic and not terribly good stuff either. A story about a trip that has no real meaning other than to show off cool sites, this should have been called 'Old Man Logan's Tour Guide To The Stars and Other Cool Shit He Won't Actually Be Interacting With But He'll Look At It From The Distance Of A Big Splash Page'. I guess the Eisners are now massive fans of what equates to nearly half an issue's worth of Spider-Buggy panels. The fact that this got a nom when other stories like Hickman's FF opener 'Solve Everything' got snubbed makes me want to wretch. However, in other related news, they absolutely nailed it with noms for Incognito and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, both perfect examples of how the form can be used for good of mankind, and Naoki Urasawa seems to be someone who knows how to get an Eisner nom all the time for everything.

My Lock For The Win: Incognito - It's was pulpy, it was beautifully drawn by Sean Phillips, it was an example of a great premise/idea but then also pitch perfect execution, unlike other noms on the list... Incognito drew me into it's world and I'm still waiting to go back. Ed Brubaker deserves this one, so bad.

Best New Series

Chew, by John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick, art by Tony Parker (BOOM!)
Ireedeemable, by Mark Waid and Peter Krause (BOOM!)
Sweet Tooth, by Jeff Lemire (Vertigo/DC)
The Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)

It says something about the industry that two of the overall nominated best comics are also included in the list for best New comic. Is all our old stuff that bad? Or is all the new stuff really that good? None of last year's noms for New Series have made an appearance this year. Do comic creators only have enough in them for one or two truly good arcs and then they need to shuffle off? Food for thought... As for these noms, it's a field of differences with sci-fi up against pure superheroics, or supervillainy, and a bit of mystical Americana thrown in for good measure. All seem like really good inclusions, though Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep seems like the one weak choice. It's looked like a good comic but has it been great? Chew would appear to be the overall fan favourite, what with it selling a million variations of its first issues, but I don't know if it'll have the stamina to pass the finish line first.

My Lock For The Win: The Unwritten - I would have picked Sweet Tooth but the fact that The Unwritten is up for the big award too makes me think it'll take this one home as a consolation. Unless, the double barreled nom splits its votes, then I revert back to Sweet Tooth as my lock. Ha, covered my bases there didn't I? ("I absolutely guarantee someone will win this award, you wait and see!")

Best Writer

Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Daredevil, Marvels Project (Marvel) Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)
Geoff Johns, Adventure Comics, Blackest Night, The Flash: Rebirth, Superman: Secret Origin (DC)
James Robinson, Justice League: Cry for Justice (DC)
Mark Waid, Irredeemable, The Incredibles (BOOM!)
Bill Willingham, Fables (Vertigo/DC)

What, no Mark Millar? All I ever hear about James Robinson's Cry For Justice is that it is terribly terribly, and on an off day might reach horribly horrible. It's constantly chewed out for being pretty all-round shit and yet it earns Robinson a nom for his writing. It's like the Eisners just want to court controversy this year to up the press about it all. It's the equivalent of the Oscars nominating Carrot-Top next to Daniel Day-Lewis. Now, I haven't read any Robinson work before, I only go off what I hear, and I am sure some people love him, and I know he's done some good stuff in his past, but you can't excuse him writing threesome chat into his comics. That's not good. Ed Brubaker always seems to be the Marvel representative in this field, and he's always deserving, but I would have loved to see Jonathan Hickman get his recognition in this field. Oh well, perhaps another year he can go up against Jeph Loeb, who knows? Geoff Johns must be here by pure force of will alone, though I do hear good things mostly about his work, but he just strikes me as the DC-Bendis, the mainstream go-to guy and I don't know if that should inspire an Eisner nom. I get the feeling the Eisners have also included more mainstream fare because fans were sick of seeing awards go to indie and international creators who they had no idea about. Fans want to see awards go to comics they know and pick up regularly, though to be fair old man Eisner is usually pretty good with doling out the love to mainstream stuff. Bill Willingham is a staple, and the winner from last year, so good eyes would be on him still, though Brubaker won it the year before. Will this year see it swing back?

My Lock For The Win: Ed Brubaker - I wasn't going to choose him but when I broke it down it certainly isn't going to be James Robinson. Mark Waid has been good but possibly not beyond any other nominee. Bill Willingham got it last year with two titles, I'm not sure he can make one title work. Brubaker seems like such a piece of the furniture that we forget he wrapped up Daredevil really well, his Captain America continues to shine (with an Eisner nom for single issue) even if Reborn turned people off a bit. just because The Marvels Project isn't selling huge doesn't mean it isn't monumental, and Criminal and Incognito are always of the highest standard. I'll stick by Brubaker for the W but addend by thinking that if he doesn't get it Geoff Johns might just slip in.

Best Writer/Artist

Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter (IDW)
R. Crumb, The Book of Genesis Illustrated (Norton)
David Mazzuccheilli, Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
Terry Moore, Echo (Abstract Books)
Naoki Urasawa, Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka (VIZ Media)

I find it very telling that there are no names here for a mainstream book. Is there any fantastic mainstream book being written and drawn by the same person...I'm drawing a blank from here. All of these names are the much more erudite selection, hailing from the indie crowd and I feel that each one could take home the gong. Terry Moore had Echo nominated last year for New Series, but David Mazzuchelli and Darwyn Cooke both brought critical darlings to the table this past year. R. Crumb is an absolute stalwart of the medium and Naoki Urasawa gets name-checked everywhere. It's a good field, and we can at least rejoice that there's no dud pick as filler for the five.

My Lock For The Win: Naoki Urasawa - With noms everywhere it seems pretty deserving to take this one out. Chris Ware took it last year and presents no competition this year so it's an open spread but my money stays on Urasawa to break away from the pack.

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

Michael Kaluta, Madame Xanadu #11–15: “Exodus Noir” (Vertigo/DC)
Steve McNiven/Dexter Vines, Wolverine: Old Man Logan (Marvel)
Fiona Staples, North 40 (WildStorm)
J. H. Williams III, Detective Comics (DC)
Danijel Zezelj, Luna Park (Vertigo/DC)

Though I hate to see the words old and man and Logan strung together I do have to admit that Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines did make it all look insanely cool. I respect them as an art team and value what they did but still do not want to see any Eisner award, in fact any award, go to this steaming pile of a story. Nice to see a female name in here, and just after Women's Month ended too. DC is really packing the field with the talent here and across a variety of genres too. I honestly feel the award could go to anyone but a decision must be made, I shall throw my hat into the ring...

My Lock For The Win: J.H. Williams III -It's one thing to be one of the best artists of your time but it's another to get nominated for some of the best work of your career. It may seem like a cliche but it's earned that reputation in just a year and I honestly think it deserves it.

Best Cover Artist

John Cassaday, Irredeemable (BOOM!); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
Salvador Larocca, Invincible Iron Man (Marvel)
Sean Phillips, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon); 28 Days Later (BOOM!)
Alex Ross, Astro City: The Dark Age (WildStorm/DC); Project Superpowers (Dynamite)
J. H. Williams III, Detective Comics (DC)

Another field with mostly mainstream credits. Cassaday has lost me with his covers lately, they're good, but he needs to bring more than just character poses to the table (and why don't they list S.W.O.R.D. as one of his efforts, where he did 3 covers, is that the kiss of death?). Alex Ross rarely sits well with me so I'll just be nice and move on. I'm not sure if Salvador Larocca did those awesome Invincible Iron Man covers that were heavily designed and had the helmet with the pics in them. If he did then I'll take back my choice and put him in but I'm sure those covers were Rian Hughes. It comes down to Sean Phillips' excellent painted Criminal/Incognito covers that are always a pulpy blast from the past, and J.H. Williams III's great pieces for his Batwoman run on Detective Comics. It could go either way but I'll stamp my foot down and make a choice.

My Lock For The Win: Sean Phillips - Perhaps it's not fair because I love Incognito too much but you have to admit that his covers were pretty phenomenal, even if just character shots. They had a feel, a smell, an absolute array of emotions to them and I loved them for that. His 28 Days Later work is also really good and should get him across the line.


These are the major awards that I wanted to talk about. I'm not going to discuss every award because then I'd have to profess to be an expert in every field, and I am most certainly not. I just know what I like and like to stay in what I know. I also didn't want to try and sound like I know more, that only gets embarrassing for all involved.

Snark and lust aside, I always enjoy award season because it's always fun to play the betting game of who you think will win. It's also nice to be exposed to some new titles and creator names that you can then check out. I really hope that people take this for the fun it really is, it's not the end of the world, it's just one award. For a comic. So, take it easy out there fanlads and fangals. No need to end your life over something that should be a celebration. I hope everyone simply enjoys the chatter this sort of thing creates, the opening of dialogue is always fun, especially when the internet is involved. Please feel free to open your own dialogue about the awards below in the comments section, but play nice.

However if Old Man Logan wins anything I'm streaking the quad in protest.

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Ivan said...

There's no only Best Penciller and only Best Inker award?

Klep said...

Has Brubaker ever been involved with something that was just straight-up bad? I've loved pretty much everything of his I've ever read.

CasinoGrande said...

I think Larroca did the actual illustrations on the Iron Man covers, while Rian Hughes did the trade dress and overall design (so fonts and those extra circles, maybe?)
At least, I think the Tony here is drawn by Larroca:

And while I love Hickman and wish he had gotten more of a nod, he has at least been nominated in the past, with Nightly News up for Best Limited.

J. Arnett said...

You pretty much summed up my thoughts when I heard Old Man Logan was nominated. I'm also baffled as to how Irredeemable is up for anything, considering we're up to issue 12 and all we've seen is that the Plutonian could give Superboy Prime a run for his money as the whiniest comic character ever.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Ivan - nah, there's no separate category for pencillers and inkers...make of that what you will. When I interviewed Steven Snaders recently he said inkers need their own category.

@Klep - I know I've generally loved most of Brubaker's stuff, but apparently his X-Men run isn't perfect, and I didn't think Books of Doom was very impressive.

@CasinoGrande - Nightly News was pretty good but Hickman is now doing Secret Warriors and FF and doing them both damn well, perhaps next year with the S.H.I.E.L.D. feather in his cap as well he'll get a nod.

Jonathan M Perez said...

Cap Reborn was straight up bad

Marc said...

It's nice to see Wonderful Wizard of Oz get nominated for some legit awards, rather than just the ones for kids' books. I think it probably has an advantage over Incognito for the Best Limited Series or Story Arc award, but really, every other nominee (other than Blackest Night) is award-worthy and deserves to be there. I'd say this is a pretty strong year, and other than a very small number of strange nominations (James Robinson for Cry Justice? Really?) the Eisner Awards have done a good job of honoring that.

Lucho said...

Thank gawd you´re not in the betting business! lol!

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