2013 Eisner Award Nominations, and My Picks

The 2013 Eisner Nominations are in, and it is a big year for IDW with their gorgeously designed archival material and reprints, Image with their plethora of quality new creator owned works, and Chris Ware for his masterpiece Building Stories. All of the nominees are deserved and unlike last year's debacle, there are no glaring omissions (except for maybe Fiona Staples, see below).

Now, I'm not an Eisner voter, so I have as much say in this as a potato. Well, I just found out I can vote in the Eisners. So here is this year's list of Nominees for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards to be given out during the 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego, as well as my picks for each category, in order of ascending importance (with a few I have no clue about at the bottom).

Best Comics-Related Book
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura (Abrams ComicArts)
Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics, by Dewey Cassell (TwoMorrows)
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)
Mastering Comics, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s, edited by Chris Sparks (Andrews McMeel)
Woodwork: Wallace Wood 1927–1981, edited by Frédéric Manzano (CasalSolleric/IDW)

I respect Daniel Clowes, but I'm not a fan, per se. But Abrams' art book on him was amazing, so as much as I loved Marvel Comics: The Untold StoryThe Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist gets the win.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
ComicsAlliance, edited by Joe Hughes, Caleb Goellner, and Andy Khouri
The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon
Robot Six, produced by Comic Book Resources
tcj.com, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)
Spurgeon's Comics Reporter is an indispensable resource, The Comics Journal online has some truly top-notch commentary, but ComicsAlliance has the best of all worlds with up-to-date news, entertaining columnists, good commentary and interviews, and a broad range of coverage. <br />

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7) 
Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
Benny and Penny in Lights Out, by Geoffrey Hays (Toon Books/Candlewick)
Kitty & Dino, by Sara Richard (Yen Press/Hachette)
Maya Makes a Mess, by Rutu Modan (Toon Books/Candlewick)
Zig and Wikki in The Cow, by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler (Toon Books/Candlewick)

All of the Toon Books young readers comics are consistently amazing. Any one of these deserves it.

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
Amulet Book 5: Prince of the Elves, by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic)
Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse, by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos (Archaia)
Crogan’s Loyalty, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson (Nobrow)
Road to Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)

Kazu Kibuishi is incredible, Adventure Time is Adventure Time, and Cow Boy was pretty neat, but I'm a huge fan of the Shanower/Young Oz books, so they get my vote.

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens, by Meredith Gran (kaboom!)
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)
Ichiro, by Ryan Inzana (Houghton Mifflin)
Spera, vol. 1, by Josh Tierney et al. (Archaia)
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

A Wrinkle in Time is a remarkable achievement by Larson, a labor of love very faithful to the source material. But my choice is Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran, one of 2012's best comics, period.

Best Humor Publication
Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
BBXX: Baby Blues Decades 1 & 2, by Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman (Andrews McMeel)
Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)
Naked Cartoonists, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Again, I dig North, Paroline and Lamb's Adventure Time, but not enough to give it a vote - Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown takes this one.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Crime Does Not Pay Archives, edited by Philip Simon and Kitchen, Lind & Associates (Dark Horse)
David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Wally Wood’s EC Stories: Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man, by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, edited by Michel Gagné (Fantagraphics)

Any Carl Barks collection is reason enough to celebrate, and Kirby and Simon's romance work is an important part of the medium's history. But Dunbier's wogboggling Artist Edition of Mazzuchelli's Born Again is the absolute high-water mark of deluxe archival collection projects, a superb story by one of comics modern masters in one of the most attractive and well-put together hardcovers ever made. It's hard to argue with the Wally Wood edition, but all the extras in Born Again bring the victory home.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Abelard, by Régis Hautiere and Renaud Dillies (NBM)
Athos in America, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
Blacksad: Silent Hell, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
The Making of, by Brecht Evens (Drawn & Quarterly)
Monsieur Jean: The Singles Theory, by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian (Humanoids)
New York Mon Amour, by Benjamin LeGrand, Dominique Grange, and Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

Blacksad: Silent Hell just didn't quite hold up to the previous installments. Athos in America is Jason at his best. Athos it is.

Best Reality-Based Work
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)
The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)
A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Ôtié (Self Made Hero)
The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, by Julia Wertz (Koyama Press)
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, by Ellen Forney (Gotham Books)
You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

Marbles, hands down.

Best Adaptation from Another MediumChico and Rita, by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal (Self Made Hero)
Homer’s Odyssey, adapted by Seymour Chwast (Bloomsbury)
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
Road to Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

Road to Oz and A Wrinkle in Time were both phenomenal, but Cooke's continuing series of Parker adaptations steals the cake.

Best Anthology
Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall (Fantagraphics)
Nobrow #7: Brave New World, edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (Nobrow)
2000 AD, edited by Matt Smith (Rebellion)
Where Is Dead Zero?, edited by Jeff Ranjo (Where Is Dead Zero?)

Dark Horse Presents. Quality and quantity give them the win here; DHP could almost take it on the strength of Carla Speed McNeil's Finder: The Third World and David Chelsea's Girl With The Keyhole Eyes alone.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Lose #4: “The Fashion Issue,” by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
The Mire, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)
Pope Hats #3, by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
Post York #1, by James Romberger and Crosby (Uncivilized Books)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics)

Pope Hats made it to my Best Of List for 2012 on the strength of issue 3 alone.

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Cruisin’ with the Hound, by Spain (Fantagraphics)
Ed the Happy Clown, by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
Everything Together: Collected Stories, by Sammy Harkham (PictureBox)
Heads or Tails, by Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics)
King City, by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)
Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel (First Second)

Ed the Happy Clown is a nice early Brown work that's nice to see back in print, but Brandon Graham's glorious and innovative cartooning in his superb King City is packaged in a gorgeous, oversized (and affordable) presentation.

Best Graphic Album—New
Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Goliath, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Hive, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Unterzakhn, by Leela Corman (Schocken)
You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

Unterzakhn's nomination is not surprising, but it just isn't very good. Goliath is fun, but rather slight. The Hive is one of Charles Burns' best single works, and much better than X'ed Out, but this is the year of Building Stories, Chris Ware's towering graphic achievement. Everything else sits in its literal and metaphorical shadow.

Best New Series
Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Saga, of course, but there's a huge overlap in this category with Best Continuing. Hawkeye may split the vote and take the win, which would not be a bad thing at all. Adventure Time has been decent and entertaining, but it is not in the same league as the other nominations, and it takes the spot that should have gone to Marceline and the Scream Queens.

Best Continuing SeriesFatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
The Manhattan Projects, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra (Image)
Prophet, by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy (Image)
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Sophie's choice, essentially. All of these series were on my Best of List for 2012, except for Fatale which is a bunch of fun but has had a stronger 2013 than 2012; Prophet's a bit too uneven to rank. It seems like the obvious choice is Saga, but Manhattan Projects and especially Hawkeye come very, very close. Saga for the win, though. It's just so wogbogglingly amazing.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Brecht Evens, The Making Of (Drawn & Quarterly)
Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)
Teddy Kristiansen, The Red Diary/The RE[a]D Diary (MAN OF ACTION/Image)
Lorenzo Mattotti, The Crackle of the Frost (Fantagraphics)
Katsuya Terada, The Monkey King vol. 2 (Dark Horse)

While the story was not as strong this year, Juanjo Guarnido's art in Blacksad was still fantastic.

Best Cover Artist
David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
Brandon Graham, King City, Multiple Warheads, Elephantmen #43 (Image)
Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image)
Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)
J, H. Williams III, Batwoman (DC)

Just like with Best Penciler below, Fiona Staples deserves a nomination here and David Aja deserves the win.

Best Coloring
Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon)
Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads (Image)
Dave Stewart, Batwoman (DC); Fatale (Image); BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, The Massive (Dark Horse)
Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Every conceivable aspect of what Chris Ware accomplished in Building Stories represents an unparalleled mastery of the comic medium: writing, illustrating, coloring, lettering, and design. But it's hard to argue with the quality and prodigious quantity of Dave Stewart's work, so he gets the win.

Best Publication Design
Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Dal Tokyo, designed by Gary Panter and Family Sohn (Fantagraphics)
David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition, designed by Randy Dahlk (IDW)
Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
Wizzywig, designed by Ed Piskor and Chris Ross (Top Shelf)

Best Lettering
Paul Grist, Mudman (Image)
Troy Little, Angora Napkin 2: Harvest of Revenge (IDW)
Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf)
C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart (Fantagraphics)
Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Chris Ware for lettering and design. One of the many astonishing aspects of Building Stories is that it is clearly hand lettered throughout. Most of the nominees here present hand-lettered work, but none that reach the artistic heights that Ware accomplishes. And the production design and packaging of the work is completely, utterly unique.

Best Penciller/Inker
David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
Becky Cloonan, Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse); The Muse (self-published)
Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image)
Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf)
Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel); Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (IDW)

The lack of a nomination for Fiona Staples for Saga is befuddling. She is just as an important key to Saga's phenomenal success and extraordinary quality as Vaughan is. In a year without Hawkeye, Samnee and Phillips would be neck and neck, but David Aja will be taking home the award this year.

Best Writer
Ed Brubaker, Fatale (Image)
Matt Fraction, Hawkeye (Marvel); Casanova: Avaritia (Marvel Icon)
Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads, Prophet (Image)
Jonathan Hickman, The Manhattan Projects (Image)
Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)
Frank M. Young, The Carter Family (Abrams ComicArts)

Oof, another tough one. Fraction and Hickman had banner years and deserve the nominations - which don't even include Fraction's Iron Man and Hickman's Fantastic Four. If not for Prophet which he just wrote, Brandon Graham deserves a nod for Writer/Artist. I'm going with Brian K. Vaughan - he has crafted a stunning, fun, epic science fiction saga (pun, yes) that is, from my experience, one of the easiest selling, most accessible and fresh books on the stands. It's also just plain the best ongoing comic being published.

Best Writer/Artist
Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon)
Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories, vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories, vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
Luke Pearson, Hilda and The Midnight Giant, Everything We Miss (Nobrow)
C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart (Fantagraphics)
Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Odd to see Los Bros getting nominated this year for Love and Rockets New Stories Volume 5 which was an expectedly superb publication from the masters, but it wasn't as seismic as Volume 4. Maybe it's a make-up nomination, but they can only hope to split the vote. Can anyone honestly look at Building Stories and not give this to Chris Ware? Maybe, but then I'd seriously doubt their standards. Chris Ware is this country's finest cartoonist (Jaime Hernandez a close second) and Building Stories is his finest achievement... so far.

For the official list of nominees, click here.

The following categories I cannot vouch for as I have not read enough of the nominees to make an educated decision. I do plan on catching up with the Digital Comic nominees, though. And Best International-Asia should just go to Naoki Urasawa because he's Naoki Urasawa (which I know is unfair to everyone who is not Naoki Urasawa).

Best Educational/Academic Work
Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, by Elisabeth El Refaie (University Press of Mississippi)
Comics Versus Art, by Bart Beaty (University of Toronto Press)
Crockett Johnson & Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature, by Philip Nel (University Press of Mississippi)
Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, by Susan E. Kirtley (University Press of Mississippi)
The Poetics of Slumberland, by Scott Bukatman (University of California Press)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, vol. 2, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin, by Johnny Gruelle, edited by Rick Marschall (Fantagraphics)
Percy Crosby’s Skippy, vol. 1, edited by Jared Gardner and Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Pogo, vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
Roy Crane’s Captain Easy: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips, vol. 3, edited by Rick Norwood (Fantagraphics)

Best Short Story
“A Birdsong Shatters the Still,” by Jeff Wilson and Ted May, in Injury #4 (Ted May/Alternative)
“Elmview” by Jon McNaught, in Dockwood (Nobrow)
“Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Launch,” by Michael Kupperman, in Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 (Fantagraphics)
“Moving Forward,” by drewscape, in Monsters, Miracles, & Mayonnaise (Epigram Press)
“Rainbow Moment,” by Lilli Carré, in Heads or Tails (Fantagraphics)

Best Digital Comic
Ant Comic, by Michael DeForge, http://kingtrash.com/ants/index.html
Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, http://www.comixology.com/Bandette/comics-series/8519
It Will All Hurt, by Farel Dalrymple, http://studygroupcomics.com/main/it-will-all-hurt-by-farel-dalrymple/
Our Bloodstained Roof, by Ryan Andrews, http://www.ryan-a.com/comics/roof.htm
Oyster War, by Ben Towle, www.oysterwar.com

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
Barbara, by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga)
A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Ôtié (Self Made Hero)
Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
Nonnonba, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Thermae Romae, by Mari Yamazaki (Yen Press/Hachette)

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