Comics: 2011 Eisner Awards Winners Announced

Comics Industry’s Annual “Oscars” Celebrate Artistic Excellence

By , Columnist

The established pros and rising stars of graphic literature gathered with the general public on Friday evening, the 22nd of July, for the 23rd annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Held in the Indigo Ballroom of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, the ceremony celebrated the best comics, collections and original graphic novels that were published during 2010.

The Eisners are held in conjunction with the annual Comic-Con International—San Diego convention. Named in honor of Will Eisner, the late, greatly beloved comics creator who is often referred to as “The Godfather of the Graphic Novel,” these awards are the equivalent of the film industry’s Oscar awards, and honor projects across 28 different categories.

Bill Morrison, creative director for Bongo Comics (publishers of The Simpsons and Futurama comics) once again served as master of ceremonies. For the first time, the show was divided into three segments, each featuring their own hosts, including actor/writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, Night at the Museum), and voice actor Phil LaMarr (Futurama, MadTV). Presenters of specific awards were a varied lot, ranging from novelist Glen David Gold (Carter Beats the Devil) to British talk show host and comics scribe Jonathan Ross and Comic-Con Special guest Dave Gibbons (co-creator of Watchmen). The ceremony was free to anyone with a Comic-Con badge.

Winners were a diverse lot, covering the gamut of genres from Best Publication for Kids (Tiny Titans by Art Baltazar and Franco), Best Humor Publication (Shannon Wheeler’s I Thought You Would Be Funnier), and Best Anthology (Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, edited by Paul Morrissey and David Petersen), to Best continuing Series (Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory), and Best Graphic Album, both Reprint (DC Comics’ Wednesday Comics) and New (a tie between Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee, and Wilson by Daniel Clowes).

Several titles won multiple awards, including Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer Artist’s Edition, which received both Best Publication Design and Best Archival Collection/Project—Comics, and Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches, which garnered the Best Reality-Based Work and Best U.S. Edition of International Material prizes.

The Eisner Hall of Fame inductees were also announced during last night’s ceremony. Those named ranged from such masters of the medium as pioneering “silent” graphic novelist Lynd Ward and Ernie Bushmiller, the creator of the Nancy cartoon strip, to Harvey Pekar, who championed modern reality comics, and Martin “Marty” Nodell, who along with Bill Finger created the original Green Lantern in the 1940s.

As in the past, several other, separately judged awards were bestowed during the Eisners gathering. These included the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, which went to Nate Simpson, of the sensational new Nonplayer comic; the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, given to Patrick McDonnell, of Mutts fame; the Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award, presented to prolific Silver Age scribes Del Connell and Bob Haney; and, finally, the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which went to Israel-based Comics and Vegetables store.

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