April 24, 2015

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Weekend Pattering--- And the Nominees Are...



** I imagine a world where the Eisner nominee announcements are as big as the Oscars.  Imagine instead of being released as a press release, the announcements would be on television and all of the pundits would start making the rounds dissecting what a group of people put together as the best comics of the past year.  And then we would spend the next couple of months poring over the nominees, holding office pools and talking around the water cooler about who we think are going to win.  The awards themselves would be black tie affairs (as if any comic creator owns a black tie) but we would all be let down by the celebrity host.

You may call me a dreamer.  But I'm not the only one.

** In case you missed it, the 2015 Eisner Award Nominations were released this week.  The actual awards will be given out on July 10th this year. These awards are given for books published in the previous calendar year, although it's hard to find that stated anywhere on the Eisner Awards site.  I think it speaks the the depth of comics right now that there aren't a lot of comics or books nominated for multiple categories.  Jason Aaron and Jason Latour's Southern Bastards is nominated as "Best Continuing Series" but not for "Best New Series," a category it's more than qualified for and would be one of the strongest contenders for.  Digital books are getting more than their fair share of nominations in more than just the ghettoized "Best Digital/Web Comics" group.  Two of the "Best Limited Series" nominees are digital comics (Daredevil: Road Warrior and The Private Eye.)

Of course, there are things to quibble about.  Why didn't Richard McGuire get a "Best Painter/Multimedia Artist" nomination for Here (I know he's nominated for best "Writer/Artist" and I hope he wins but I'm also going to be greedy and want that book to get more attention) or why isn't Mariko Tamaki celebrated as a "Best Writer" for This One Summer, from beginning to end one of the strongest books of 2014.?  It's all subjective as the Eisner's have always walked a line between popularity and true merit-based recognition.  While Southern Bastards is great, Original Sin should have been enough to argue against Jason Aaron being one of the best writers of the year.  As with all awards, it's all subjective.

And then there are the snubs.  No Box Brown and Andre the Giant?  No Bumberhead by Gilbert Hernandez?  No Lucy Knisely or Gabrielle Bell?  I'm not saying that these would be the winners as the best of 2014 but I think these are names that are missing from this list this year.  And honestly, I would have put up Fantagraphics EC artist-based collection before Hermes Press's Pogo comics collections as "Best Archival Collection/Project."

Maybe I'm a bit elitist but I wish some kind of aesthetic could be figured out by looking at the Eisner nominees and winners.  Ideally an awards ballot like this would set forth some kind of vision of comics and the year that was.  But much like the Academy Awards, the Eisners offer more of a summary than a summation of what we liked.  It's as reflective of the times as most "Top 10" lists are.  And the Eisners have to envelop all of comics.  That's a lot to cover.

** As a bit of prognosticating, is this the year that Grant Morrison wins "Best Writer?"  He's actually never won an Eisner award and is nominated for Annihilator and Multiversity.  Could the voters actually give it to him this year to cap off the victory lap that is Multiversity?  If we were more like the Oscars, we would be trying to figure out how people are going to vote and this would be a valid discussion point.

** James Kaplan on this years Eisners:
It's a really strong field but there are a few points I find puzzling. Mostly the inclusion of Hawkeye and Saga in the best continuing series category. Hawkeye?  I love that book but how many issues actually came out last year?* And Saga, I also love Saga but nobody who reads that book thinks this has been its strongest period. I also don't regularly read the Walking Dead so I'm not sure it's really something that belongs on this list.

If I were in charge I would've included Mind MGMT (ridiculous that Matt Kindt isn't nominated as a best writer/artist, or Michel Fiffe on Copra for that matter) and Lazarus, which is about as good as mainstream comics get. Of course I also would've included East of West but I know not everyone loves Hickman's work as much as I do.

I do think the best new series is such a strong field. Ms. Marvel, the Fade Out, Lumberjanes and The Wicked + The Divine (even though I'm not a huge fan) are among the best comics has to offer. If I had to pick one I'd probably go with Ms. Marvel if only for social impact, but my heart would be with Lumberjanes.

I also would have a hard time deciding between Multiversity: Pax Americana and Madman special. So very different but both such amazing single issues.
* Scott's note: according to Comixology, it looks like six issues of Hawkeye were released.   

** Emilia Packard quickly chimes in as well.
I have read all of the Graphic Album - New! Category. Almost all of
them are pretty great (I thought Kill My Mother was kind of a
snoozer/not a very good transition from Fieffer's previous
illustration work).

I think they could have done way better in Kids Comix - Early Reader
especially - where are the Toon Books?
Also, hooray Gene Luen Yang! He should win everything, always. He's so
great at using established genres and putting a totally original spin
on them.
** And finally the boss Rob McMonigal has his thoughts as well.
I preface this by noting that I am on record as saying that awards are not something that matters greatly to me. They do not, for instance, make me more likely to read a comic I haven't already tried, nor do I think "Wow, I'm reading the wrong things!" if the Eisners (or Harveys or Hugos) come out, and very few things I personally liked are on the list.

However, in my decade or so of paying attention to the Eisners, I am hard-pressed to name a year in which there were more choices that personally aligned with my own reading. Beyond the personal friends who made the list, I can look at nearly every category and nod my head saying, "Yup, those were good books." Maybe not the books *I* would have chosen, but if they won, I could see the argument for them.

What's even better, in my opinion, is that it feels like this a group of nominees who are pushing the traditional Eisner boundaries. This really started in 2012, when Brigid Alverson was part of the Judges, but I feel like it's in full bloom here. Sure, you've got some of the usual suspects on there, but it's not because they just were out there--it's because they wrote or drew (or in some cases, both) really damned good books.

But the real question for me is this: If Stan Sakai manages to edge out Sergio Aragones, can he finally get out of that Groo lettering contract?
** All the Pattering that was worth the patter last week: