The 2013 Eisner Awards Part 2: The Revengencing

2013EisnerWinsWritten by Charles Meier

Well, here we go again.  The 2013 Eisner Award winners were announced at San Diego Comic-Con.  As you may recall, I ran through this year’s nominations back in April, offering my personal preferences among the nominees and predicting who would win out in the end.  I was even so presumptuous as to guess at the judges’ motivations despite knowing nothing of such matters.  (Much belated thanks, by the way, to the former Eisner judge who posted comments shedding a bit of light on the situation–it was a fascinating read.)  As promised, here I am to go over the whole shebang all over again.  I’ll be more or less sticking to the categories I went over in my initial rundown, with one or two additions because I am as inconsistent as I am crabby.

Initial Impressions:

I’m quite pleased, really.  There’s no major upsets that I’m seeing–oh, some of my preferences didn’t win to be sure, but nothing here made me scream “are you CRAZY?!” at my monitor (I’m also one of those people who applauds at the end of movies).  Even better, Saga and Building Stories didn’t quite sweep the awards the way I suspected they might.  Oh, they won quite a bit, sure, but it wasn’t the shutout I had braced for.  (As a side note, I’m reading through Building Stories now.  It’s pretty much exactly what I expected.  More later.)  I’m positively tickled to see the judges had as much trouble with one category as I did.  Again, more later.

Also, Spain Rodriguez, Lee Falk, Joe Sinnott, Al Jaffee and Trina Robbins were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.  All more than deserving, Spain and Jaffee in particular.

And away we go!

Best Short Story: Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Launch, by Michael Kupperman, in Tales Designed To Thrizzle #8 (Fantagraphics)

We’re off to a great start.  The judges both the most deserving candidate (so far as I know–this is one of those categories where I’d only read one of the nominees) and made an Eisner winner of Kupperman.  It’s a hilarious story, with some innovative ideas–after all, convict labor already props up our nation’s tottering infrastructure, why not also our similarly beleaguered space program?  All kidding aside, congratulations to Mike.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): The Mire, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)

While it wasn’t my choice to win, I’m completely okay with The Mire taking it.  Cloonan puts out a lot of stuff right now, but this is the work that proves Cloonan’s the best there is at what she does–and what she does is very nice indeed.

Best Continuing Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best New Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Welp, here we go.  The first steamroller of 2013 shudders to life, crushing the worthier beneath its huge iron barrel-thingy.  As you probably gathered my first time through, this was not my choice to win these awards.  At the same time, I had no expectations that they wouldn’t win.  Oh well, can’t help but live up to low expectations, right?

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12): Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)

Best Humor Publication: Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)

Again, called it–altogether more happily these times around.  They’re both great books, though Darth Vader and Son is perhaps more of a picture book than a comic proper.  This may seem like an overly fine distinction, but if you’ve learned anything in all the time you’ve been reading me, it’s that overly fine distinctions are what the medium’s all about.  Or maybe that’s just if you’re a smart-ass who’s read too many comics like I am.  Whatever–I’m just so glad Baby Blues didn’t win this.  Seriously, what was with that?

Best Digital Comic: Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)

Because, seriously, come the fuck on.  Did anyone else even have a prayer of winning this?  I had to go back and check just to make sure there even were other nominees in this category.  This award proves Monkeybrain has won the Internet, at least the part of it full of comics you have to pay for.

Best Anthology: Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)

DHP goes for a twofer, in defiance of my prediction.  Ah well.  I’d still have given it to No Straight Lines, but this mag is so damn tasty I won’t get choked up.  I just wish the book would branch out a little, give a bit more space to work that falls outside the standard Dark Horse action/fantasy/horror scope.

Best Graphic Album—New: Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Aaaand here’s bastard #2.  Now that I’m actually reading this, I have the privilege of knowing just how much it doesn’t deserve this award.  I wonder, in fact, if it even qualifies–does a box full of shit really qualify as a “graphic album”?  It’s not really a phrase you hear in American comics a lot, but doesn’t it mean like a Tintin book or something like that?  Like a large-format square-bound book, I mean?  I dunno.

Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

All you people with your Before Watchmen blacklist?  Kiss it.  On a related note (related to the winner, I mean, not to you kissing it), the next Cooke adaptation has been announced, and it turns out it’s not The Handle after all, but rather Slayground.  That’s right, the one where Parker gets trapped in an off-season amusement park with two dozen mob enforcers and has to pick them off one by one with hastily-rigged booby traps.  The phrase “hell YES” seems appropriate.  It’s interesting to note that Slayground also led into Butcher’s Moon, which was the last Parker novel for almost twenty years.  Makes me wonder if, by choosing Slayground, Cooke isn’t thinking about bringing this project to a close.

Best Graphic Album—Reprint: King City, by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)

Yeah, here’s what I mean!  This collection is the sort of thing I think of when I think “graphic album”.  Or at least it would be if I ever thought that.  It’s certainly the format best suited to this book, and to Graham’s work in general–far more so than those manga-sized volumes TokyoPop used the first time around.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips: Pogo, vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)

Again, nailed it, and very pleased to do so.  Fair warning: I may start going off on tangents here, just because I’m going to start sounding like a broken record otherwise.  I seem to have been something of an award psychic this year.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books: David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Oh hey, one I got wrong!  Somehow I have managed the trick of overestimating Carl Barks.  Did NOT think that was possible.  Oh, well–this is one of the Frank Miller comics I like, at least.  (Actually, having read more of his Daredevil run I can say it’s consistently excellent.)  I haven’t read this edition, but I’ve seen it in stores and it is HUUUUUUGE.  Just like the title says–Mazzucchelli is the star here.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material: Blacksad: Silent Hell, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)

Called it right again, though it wasn’t my preference.  This was just one of those cases of my rooting for a nominee that hadn’t a chance in hell of actually winning, just like that time I backed Inception for Best Picture.  Still need to read this one, actually, though I’ll get to it eventually–I quite liked the first Blacksad, even though I thought the subtext was entirely too on-the-nose.

Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)

This one time my buddy Tim and I were at the movies and he mentioned his favorite X-Man is Cyclops and I was like WHAT.

Best Writer/Artist: Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

I mean, how does something like that even happen?  I’m serious, how in the actual fuck is something like that even possible?  Literally that guy’s entire superhero career is based around him doing stupid things and being a stuck-up twat.  Sure, he has his moments sometimes, but most of those are in the Claremont/Byrne/Cockrum comics (or in Joss Whedon’s run, which I kinda like even if it fell apart completely at the end) and that’s not where Tim became familiar with the character.  No, he got the Summers hook-up the same place I did originally, the 1990s Fox cartoon and the contemporary comics, which portray him uniformly as an incompetent douche-nozzle.  Even Grant Morrison didn’t bother trying to salvage this character–he just had the guy cheat on his wife with the woman who helped get her killed once.  And then more recently he got his ass thrown in ruby-quartz jail because he’d basically turned into another Magneto.  The only thing I like about The Last Stand is that this bitchwad dies in it.  FUCK Cyclops.

Best Penciler/Inker (tie): David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel), Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel); Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (IDW)

Here’s that one I mentioned earlier.  As you may recall, I didn’t even try calling a “should win” or “will win” for this one, just because the competition was so strong.  Seems the judges had the same problem.  I have no idea how common Eisner ties are, but this wound up being one.  And I have no problem whatsoever with it being split between Marvel’s two best current artists.  How do you suppose they handle this sort of thing?  Do they hand out two statuettes, or do they just have one that they cut in two and give half to each winner?  Ooh, ooh!  Or maybe they give the whole thing to the winner who’d rather give it up than see it defaced, just like in that one fairy tale I read!

Best Cover Artist: David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)

A clean miss on my part.  This one is surprising to me, actually, seeing as how Aja’s covers are my least favorite part of Hawkeye.  Oh, they’re not bad–nothing about this series is.  (As an aside–if Hawkeye #11 isn’t at least nominated for Best Single Issue next year, something is wrong.)  It’s just that, to me, nothing on the cover ever seems quite as amazing as anything inside.  But then, I’ve never really been one of those guys who buys a comic based on its cover art.  I know, I’m weird.

Best Coloring: Dave Stewart, Batwoman (DC); Fatale (Image); BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, The Massive (Dark Horse)

Very glad at this, even though I meant everything I said about Ware’s coloring.  Put on a blindfold, walk into a comic book store and pick up a book at random before the irate clerk throws you out for knocking stuff over.  Chances are, it’s colored by Stewart.  There’s a reason he gets so much work–he knows what he’s doing.

Best Lettering: Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

I didn’t even bother making predictions for this one, mostly because lettering is one of those things I only notice when it’s done really well or really badly.  (They probably want my comic-critic license back but THEY’LL NEVER GET IT NEVER I TELLS YA.)  Ware falls into neither category, though I will acknowledge that his lettering fits his work extraordinarily well.  There’s a lesson to be learned there, I think.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com

So, yeah, wow, Comics Alliance kinda-sorta un-died there.  I’m happy to have them back, but their abrupt departure likely torpedoed any chance of actually winning this award.  I wasn’t correct in my prediction either, the award going to these guys either.  I’m not at all familiar with the site, so I can’t really comment.

Best Comics-Related Book: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)

As Jesus intended.

Best Publication Design: Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Another one I had no opinion on, and while I’m not exactly surprised The White People Problems Box Set won this it still kinda burns my ass.  This bastard has spent the last twenty years putting out the exact same goddamn comic, but he puts out a random box of odds and ends and suddenly he’s an innovator all over again?  Sure, it’s eye-catching on the shelf, but should you be foolish enough to plunk down all that money to actually buy the thing, once you’ve gotten it home you’ll discover it’s just another one of those comics people who listen to This American Life read, just to convince one another they’re “hip” and “with it” with this whole sequential-art medium, maaaaaan.  If the most interesting thing about your latest project is that it comes in a goddamn box, you might be in the wrong line of work.

Well, that’s the Eisners out of the way for this year.  If you don’t mind me saying, I’m pleasantly surprised at my own facility for guessing this sort of thing, even when it led in directions I personally dislike.  Hopefully, this motivates the powers-that-be to see the error of their ways and appoint me to the judges’ panel next time around.  ‘Cuz lemme tell ya, there’s gonna be some CHANGES around here!

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