Saturday, July 31, 2010
by Jeffrey O. Gustafson
Last week at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were given out in recognition of the best that the comics medium had to offer over the last year. The Eisners are an ideal starting point for those who want to try something new, and Jim Hanley's Universe is the perfect place to pick up these great award-winning ongoing comics, graphic novels, and collections! Our friends at The Beat have a full list of nominees here, and the good folks at CCI have the full list of winners here. Below is the list of this year's winners with product at JHU, as well as commentary and links to our own reviews.
Best Graphic Novel, Best Writer/Artist, and Best Lettering
Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzuccheilli (Pantheon)
This is no surprise, as the universally heralded Asterios Polyp is one of the supreme masterpieces of the comic medium. A synthesis of design and art, of idea and execution, there has never been quite anything like it. The lettering win is especially appropriate for the astonishing way that even the lettering plays a role in the interpretation, look, and feel of the story. See my review here.
A no-brainer recommendation for anyone who enjoyed Asterios Polyp is, of course, the work of Chris Ware. Similar in his daring use of design, color, and lettering to re-imagine the language of comics storytelling, Ware and Mazzuccheilli both offer a satisfying challenge to those who are looking for more advanced us of the comic art form.
Best Continuing Series
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard (Image)
Walking Dead is consistently the most shocking, most gripping serialized story produced by anyone in comics. The continuing story of survival horror set in the zombie apocalypse is sure to draw even more attention as the hotly anticipated television adaptation premiers on AMC in the fall. Both JHU Locations always have the graphic novels in stock, so if you haven't given this emotional roller-coaster a try, now is the time!
Best New Series
Chew, by John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image)
Chew is a great new series featuring a high concept, off-beat clever storytelling, and awesome art. In a world where chicken is banned worldwide, Agent Tony Chu of the FDA is a cibopath, someone who can get psychic imagery from consumed food. This very funny, very cool series follows Agent Chu as he investigates an underworld of murder and chicken smuggling. Really great stuff! We've got volumes 1 and 2 in stock as well as many of the recent issues.
Also worth checking out are nominees The Unwritten, the superb literary-fantasy-thriller by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, and Jeff Lemire's surprising and affecting post-apocalyptic solo effort Sweet Tooth, both from Vertigo.
Best Limited Series and Best Publication for Kids
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)
One of my personal favorites, it is a delight to see this truly great series get some wider recognition! L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young from Marvel is an uplifting delight! The storytelling is uncomplicated, distilled to the core elements yet told with a respect, knowledge and love like only Eric Shanower could pull off. The art by Skottie Young is some of the best in mainstream comics, stylish and beautiful, with superb colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu. We've got both the hardcover of the first series, Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as well as issues of the most recent series, Marvelous Land of Oz in stock at JHU! Look for the hardcover of volume 2 next month! See more of my review here.
Best Humor Publication
Scott Pilgrim vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni)
No surprise here as Volume 6 and the upcoming movie sets the world on fire! Right now you can get the first five volumes of the Scott Pilgrim saga for 30% Off Exclusively at JHU while supplies last!
Best Reality-Based Work and Best U.S. Edition of International Material (Asia)
A Drifting Life, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
Last year, I had the unexpected thrill of reading Yoshihiro Tatsumi's fascinating, revelatory 800+ page opus on the rise of manga in post-war Japan one day followed by meeting the master the next. This graphic memoir is a must read for anyone wanting to learn about the history of comics in Japan, post-war Japanese culture, or a look at the creative process from one of the masters. Click here to read my original review of this important work, as well as to see pictures of Tatsumi at JHU!
Best Single Issue
Captain America #601: “Red, White, and Blue-Blood,” by Ed Brubaker and Gene Colan (Marvel)
Keep in mind I haven't read every nominee in this year's list, but of the nominees for Best Single Issue, despite my love of J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Diaz's The Brave and the Bold (nominated for issue 28) I'd have to say I am especially partial to Unwritten #5 by Carey and Gross. The best issue of one of the best new series of the year takes a break from the central mystery at the heart of the Vertigo thriller to focus on a literary giant of a prior time in an unexpectedly gripping done-in-one period piece.
Best Short Story
"Urgent Request," by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim, The Eternal Smile (First Second)
Best Publication for Teens
Beasts of Burden, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
Popgun vol. 3, edited by Mark Andrew Smith, D. J. Kirkbride, and Joe Keatinge (Image)
Best Adaptation from Another Work
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
Evidence of the neo-noir renaissance lies in this taut little adaptation of one of the all-time greats by one of the all-time greats, Darwyn Cooke. See my review here and See Vito's review here!
Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Daredevil, Marvels Project, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel)
Brubaker could have easily won this based on the strength of Criminal and Incognito alone. We're big fans of Brubaker's noir at JHU - See my review here and Vito's review here!
Best Writer/Artist (Nonfiction)
Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza (Metropolitan/Holt)
Best Penciller/Inker and Best Cover Artist
J. H. Williams III, Detective Comics (DC)
Vito's comic of the year for 2009 was Greg Rucka and JH Williams' "Batwoman" from Detective Comics. I came in late to this, but I am so glad I finally read the new hardcover collection of their work on the series. The selling point is obviously Williams' extraordinary art - he utilizes at least three different art styles and truly mind-bending layouts all in the greatest singular artistic effort by anyone producing work for the Big Two in 2009. If you are a fan of Williams' previous work on Seven Soldiers, Desolation Jones or Promethea, then you will surely enjoy this. If you are reticent to try it like I was (being unfamiliar with the DCU and the Batwoman character), don't be! It's worth the buy and you won't be disappointed.
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
Jill Thompson, Beasts of Burden (Dark Horse); Magic Trixie and the Dragon (HarperCollins)
Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Detective Comics, Luna Park (DC)
I am a big fan of nominee Laura Martin, and David Mazzuccheilli's achievement in Asterios Polyp is probably the single best coloring work in terms of effect on story ever produced. But the most versatile colorist working in mainstream comics, the prolific Dave Stewart had one hell of a year in 2009 and played a vital role in the creative success of Mignola's BPRD-verse (another title from my best-of list) and the aforementioned Rucka/Williams Detective.
Best Graphic Album (Reprint), and Best Publication Design
Absolute Justice, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithewaite (DC)
Best Archival Collection/Project
The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures deluxe edition, by Dave Stevens, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Reading the Rocketeer for the first time in this deluxe edition from IDW was a definite treat. Dave Stevens sure knew how to draw, and his art really pops thanks in part to colorist Laura Martin's always superb work.
Best Archival Collection/Project (Strips)
Bloom County: The Complete Library, vol. 1, by Berkeley Breathed, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The Photographer, by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre, and Frédéric Lemerier (First Second)
While not nominated, our own resident cartoonist supreme Rachel Freire turned me on to reprints of Enrique Sánchez Abulí and Jordi Bernet's stunning 1980's European crime-noir Torpedo, reprinted in gorgeous hardcover volumes by IDW. The story of anti-hero/murderer/thug Luca Torelli in 1930's New York, each little vignette is like watching a contemporary gangster flick with none of the restrictions. Sure to be nominated next year is Dark Horse's new reprint of Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido superb anthropomorphic detective noir Blacksad.
Best Comics-Related Book
The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics, by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle (Abrams)
And one coda: as with any awards, there are always glaring omissions, and I would be remiss to not mention Jason Aaron and RM Guerra's continuing masterpiece Scalped (see here and here). The best character drama currently being produced in any medium, the Vertigo crime drama was not even nominated, and it should be pointed out in cases like this that awards are fine and good, but they are not always the be-all, end-all in the discussion of quality work. In 2010, Scalped has gotten even better (!) and awards or not, the series is going strong and promises to be near the top of my best-of list for 2010 when the deadline comes.
Looking for further recommendations from the best comic store on the planet? Feel free to come in and ask one of our friendly, super-knowledgeable staff! We've always prided ourselves not only in the depth and breadth of our staggering selection here at JHU, and we know what we're talking about: from mini comics to manga, modern superhero comics to cutting edge independents, all-ages to mature-readers, JHU is your one-stop shop to get the best recommendation tailored to your own likes and needs. All at Jim Hanley's Universe in New York City, for Over 25 Years and Counting, Where Art and Literature Meet!
Update 8/31: The 2010 Harvey Awards were held this past weekend - see the full list of winners from Heidi at The Beat!