We’re back! And we have had no dinner and nothing to eat, so this may be very, very rocky.
The evening gala starts with the introduction of host Bill Morrison, who lets on that “Somewhere there is a very small area that sells comics; look for it, search it out, and find some of the fantastic projects that have been here tonight.” Good advice, Bill even if we need a microscope and a Foursquare account to find those comics.
Bill introduced the other co-host, voice actor Maurice LaMarche, who comes up and admits he’s a comics book geek who shops at Golden Apple and Earth 2. After running through a vocal medley of his best known characters– like the Brain — he then introduces the “Queen Mother” of the Eisner Awards, Jackie Estrada.
Jackie runs through the history of the award from the great Olbrich/Fantagraphics Kirby Awards rift of the ’80s that gave rise to the Harveys and Eisners. She also explains the rules, introduces the judges and explains that this is her 20th year doing the Eisners. Congrats to Jackie!
Denis Kitchen announces that A CONTRACT WITH GOD will be made into a movie with four stories being adapted by four directors including Alex Rivera, Tse Tung and two others whose names we didn’t get. Among the group of producers is one Bob Schrec!! The main producer dude comes up and gives a humble speech about how cool it it is to be doing this.
Morrison and LaMarche introduce the 13 stars of SCOTT PILGRIM with some awkward schtick — but is there ever any other kind at an awards show? Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong introduce The Best Publication for Kids and the winner is…
• The Wonderful Wizard of Oz HC, by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young (Marvel)
Eric Shanower and Skottie Young come up to accept and thank Marvel and everyone. Eric is well dressed.
GIANT BEAUTIFUL HUMAN Brandon Routh comes up to give the award for Best Publication for Teens to Beasts of Burden, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson.
Jill comes up and jokes that she’ll be holding on to Routh — you and everyone else, MEORWWWR. Jill thanks the fans for making this unlikely blend of animal, detectives and the supernatural a success.
Satya Baba is up to present Best Humor Publication. Baba has an awesome accent and delivery and everyone is thrilled to present it to Bryan Lee O’Malley for Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, a popular win. O’Malley inexplicably calls up Thomas Jane which really makes the night complete. O’Malley is also humble and surprised and says he isn’t funny. We say different.
The beautiful young movie stars leave the stage, taking their innocence and wonder with them and we are left with Jillian Tamaki and James Sturm who bring us back to the warm and familiar world of comics and present the Best Cover Artist award to J. H. Williams III for Detective Comics, a pretty good choice. James Sime accepts with a natty look.
They also present Best Letterer to David Mazzucchelli. Stephen DeStefano accepts with another natty look. He says David told him to deliver the message “Who is Bryan Lee O’Malley.” De Stefano also lauds Mazzucchelli’s wife, Richmond, who is a fine artist and inspiration in her own right.
Best Digital Comic goes to Sin Titulo, by Cameron Stewart. Who is thrilled with his win and thanks his other Transmission-X Canadian cohorts.
Jerry Robinson and Mark Evanier come out to present the Finger Award to Gary Friedrich, who is very excited and humble and a bit hard to understand.
The Reno 911 guys are up and feign a skype video where the one guy pretends to be drunk and complains about Eric Powell being a jerk and Frank Miller doing something stupid and grand pappy of all jerks Bill Morrison. And his red-headed wife who dresses like a mink in heat. Oh my! Back to Best Coloring. The young Reno 911 who wrote Night in the Museum present the award to Dave Stewart for a bunch of wonderful comics. Scott Allie comes up and apologizes that the page shown for Stewart was “the sodomy page” from the books.
J.H. Williams III wins for Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team, despite being only one man, one brave brave man.
And Best Painter/Multimedia Artist goes to Jill Thompson for Beasts of Burden! Thompson, bubbly in a red dress, comes running up and picks up the young Reno 911 guy. “I have no idea what to say,” and pretends to faint. She also thanks her cohorts at the Academy of Arts. Thompson totally took a dive and hurt her head! JILL, BE CAREFUL! WE NEED YOU!
Up next, James Robinson and Jann Jones, introduced as a writer and an editor, natural enemies. Sadly James is solo as Jann is indisposed. JANN, FEEL BETTER! WE NEED YOU! James Robinson says he was encouraged to come back to comics by his friend Geoff Johns and is more creatively happy than he’s ever been. Robinson’s first award is Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism which goes to The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon. Congrats to Tom for a well-deserved win. Kooky screwball movie music plays for about 8,000 minutes while the winners get to the stage, BTW.
“If I’d have known I was going to win I would have thrown more food on my shirt,” he quips. Spurge thanks Bart Beaty and Dave Welsh and Jordan Raphael.
Best Comics-Related Book is won by The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics, by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle. Kitchen comes up and says it’s fitting that a book about Harvey Kurtzman would win an award named after Will Eisner as they were great friends. He thanks his co writer and Charlie Kochman, whose name gets a few whoops.
NEXT, we have Best Publication Design which is presented to Absolute Justice, designed by Curtis King and Josh Beatman (DC) kind of a surprise win in a tough category, but a beautiful book, to be sure.
BOB CLAMPETT AWARD TIME. I have not said anything funny because everything has been pretty normal so far. I did run off and get a Met-Rx bar and some peanuts, so I don’t pass out from starvation. Feeling better now. Marley Zarcone is saving me a seat, but I am sitting in the back by the power outlet!
Ruth Clampett comes up to salute the strong dynamic women behind male creators. The winner has produced two documentary awards, volunteered endlessly and knows how to trapeze. In case you haven’t guessed, the winner is Jeannie Schulz, wife of Charles. She is a tiny, tiny woman and obviously very energetic! Her speech is short also.
LaMarche comes up to introduce Thomas Jane and calls him one of the HARDEST working men in show business too. Hee hee. This could be weird. It is. Jane is a nerdlebrity with comics cred and he knows how to pronounce most of the names. Jane presents Best Anthology to Popgun vol. 3, edited by Mark Andrew Smith, D. J. Kirkbride, and Joe Keatinge. Keatinge does a nice thank you to Image Comics, which is very classy.
Jane is easily the funniest presenter yet, just by being…himself. That is a wonderful gift. He is also having problems with the name “Gahan Wilson” …Go, Tom, you can do it!!!! He does and presents Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips to Bloom County: The Complete Library, vol. 1, by Berkeley Breathed, edited by Scott Dunbier .
Dunbier thanks his wife who helped sort through the strips. Breathed says Scott had to talk him into the reprints, for which he’s grateful. He’s at his first Comic-Con after 30 years and he’s happier than a pig in mud, and he’s genuinely excited by it all.
Jane is very excited by Best Archival Collection/Project –Comic Books. “Jack Kirby! Gosh darn it! These names invoke a real sense of awe in me!” Jane says he reads his daughter the TOON Treasury. Oh no, time out for a story. “In LA, there was a fistfight in a parking lot between Archie Goodwin and Alex Toth. They got into a fistfight over a young student named Dave Stevens and they fought over who would get him. It warms my heart to know that story is out there living in the universe and all of you can carry it out.” That’s because the winner is The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures deluxe edition, by Dave Stevens, edited by Scott Dunbier. We seem to recall that Jane was a good friend of Stevens. IDW’s Scott Dunbier is two for two here! Go, Scott.
Scott is trying not to tear up. Dave’s mom, Carolyn, who has his eyebrows, and is a fantastic lady is also up there. This is a really nice moment. Carolyn is quietly grateful and she’s grateful he had the opportunity to share his love of comics and art. “We thank you for everything you’ve done for us as a family, and Dave for helping him though the hard times and becoming the person he was. We all miss him. It is is a true honor for the whole family.”
Morrison comes up and says what a lot of us are feeling about missing Dave but says we’re happy that Carolyn can be here. We do miss you, Dave.
Our next presenters are the comics equivalent of those awkward couples who give out an award to promote their next movie: it’s Chris Claremont and Italian comics LEGEND Milo Manara of X-WOMEN/TIGHT BUTTS. Claremont gives out Best U.S. Edition of International Material and is having a hard, hard time with those names! The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert is the winner. And Manara doesn’t speak English. So it’s awesome.
Mark Siegel from First Second accepts and speaks to the amazing renaissance of comics in France.
As night follows day, Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia follows. Claremont is not doing well with any of these Japanese names. Even Tezuka. OH BOY. The winner is Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life. I am sad my beloved Urasawa didn’t win, but you can’t argue with the great, great Tatsumi. Peggy Burns comes up to accept and delivers the best speech of the night so far . She talks about how excited Tatsumi was to come to the show in 2006 and his biggest observation was that he had never even signed a book for a woman in Japan. She says over 60,000 books of Tatsumi’s have been sold in North America. He has had the sales and acclaim he has never had in Japan, although it is beginning to come.
Retailer Joe Ferrara is out to present the Eisner Spirit of Retailing award to The Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor. Midnight, congrats!
And now Sergio is up to begin the Hall of Fame Festivities. The first Judges inductee is Burne Hogarth. His son Ross comes up to accept. The younger Hogarth mentions his father’s challenging nature, but speaks of how his father captured Tarzan’s nature and makes a case for Hogarth to be recognized as one of the great fathers of how Tarzan appeared. “He synthesized the aspects of popular cinema with his fine art training to bring respect to an art form that had known few masters.”
Sergio shares an anecdote about how he was on a panel when nature gave an urgent call. A question about the nature of art was fielded to Hogarth and Sergio went to the bathroom, signed autographs, wandered around and came back and Hogarth was still answering the question.
Bob Montana is the next winner and two of his kids are here to accept. His daughter says he would have been “startled” by some of the artwork out there. She says she’s rooting for Betty if Archie grows up. Some smattering of applause.
And now the winners as voted on. The first winner is Steve Gerber, his daughter Samantha and writing partner Mary Skrenes accept. Steve was a wonderfully witty and intelligent guy who was interested in everything from ancient history to politics, says Skrenes,. “He read constantly blog and news feeds and comic books and watched the news. The only person he could have a real conversation with was Mark Evanier. Mark was a really good friend to Steve and now keeps Steve’s blog alive. Also, Billingham gave Steve a van when his beloved Subaru couldn’t be repaired any more.” She also thanks the Hero Initiative, which was a big help to Gerber in his last days. Samantha Gerber mentions that Mary has been there for her and she calls her all the time. Very touching. “My dad was a fabulous writer and what a genius he was and what he created. To me, he was just my dad, and that’s what I miss.”
The next winner is Dick Giordano. Pat Bastienne, his long-time companion accepts. “He was a special man. Thanks. Here’s one for the Dick,” she says.
The third Hall of Fame winner Mike Kaluta. Shelly Bond accepts. Rats that Kaluta couldn’t be here! Shelley says Mike will be psyched and we agree.
and finally……MORT WEISINGER!!!! His daughter accepts and she is not wearing a turtle costume. But she does bring Paul Levitz, who says “Mort helped with the first science fiction conventions and fanzines from which much descended. He had a legendary first day on which he wrote scripts for Green Arrow and Aquaman.” Weisinger made it to the Hall of Fame, not because he was beloved, but because his work was beloved, says Levitz after describing Weisinger’s devotion to Superman for two decades. “Mort was beloved by his family, certainly,” says Levitz. Getting the idea Mort was a pain to work for!
Joyce then speaks. She did like her dad because he didn’t make her dress like a giant turtle! I made that up, BTW. She is happy he is being recognized.
Maggie Thompson is up to do the In Memoriam section. Art Clokey died after a series of infections, it is revealed. Maggie totally starts to cry when she gets to Al Williamson. Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, George Tuska, Howie Post…we lost so many good people this year.
Back to the Awards and Peter Bagge is up! He gives the award for the easiest and least important part of comics, the Writing. and the winner is…. Ed Brubaker! The Brub! Sean Phillips accepts.
Best Writer/Artist, slightly more important, the winner is David Mazzuccheilli for Asterios Polyp. Incongruous surf music is now accompanying the winners. Chip Kidd comes up, Stephen DeStefano having passed out. That reminds me; I hope Jill is alright! Chip talks about comics falling into the spaces. And finally, Best Writer/Artist–Nonfiction. Peter, you are rocking these names. The winner is Joe Sacco for his amazing Footnotes in Gaza. Mark Siegel accepts once again.
Maurice LaMarche, I regret to say, is going over like a lead balloon. Carol Tyler and Laurie Sandell are up next to present. Carol Tyler looks radiant as always.
They are up to give out Best Short Story which goes to “Urgent Request,” by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim, in The Eternal Smile. Good choice but I loved all the nominees! Gene and Derek come up. Derek appears to have a big bandage on his ear. Okay. Lot of jokes now about people being sleepy. I am yawning myself, although I am thrilled for the winners. Derek DOES have a big bandage on his ear. WOW. He apologized but doesn’t explain so we make up story. HAD FIGHT IN PARKING LOT WITH ARCHIE GOODWIN OVER WHO WOULD GET TO KEEP THOMAS JANE.
Best Single Issue or One Shot goes to Captain America #601: “Red, White, and Blue-Blood,” by Ed Brubaker and Gene Colan beating out the eclectic pack.
Best Adaptation goes to Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter, adapted by Darwyn Cooke Scott Dunbier is three for three! They will be celebrating in chez Dunbier after they wake up! The win has netted Dunbier a steak dinner on a bet from Cooke. Dunbier goes back to congratulate Dean Mullaney for his great design work.
The Russ Manning Award is the last of the “stand alone” awards. Former Manning winner Eric Shanower is back to present. The award goes to Marian Churchland, who is not present but her good bud Marley Zarcone is there and she is equally awesome.
Phil LaMarr and and Berkeley Breathed are the next odd couple presenters. LaMarr suggests nominees put on their shoes when their names are announced to pick things up. SIX AWARDS TO GO. I CAN DO IT. SO CAN YOU ALL. Best Reality-Based Work goes to A Drifting Life, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Big win on a stacked category. Peggy thanks Tatsumi-sensei, the most humble generous man. “He really is the embodiment of everything that is great with comics. He went to the drawing board every single day and drew what he believed in.”
Okay the big ones! Best Graphic Album—Reprint goes to Absolute Justice, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithewaite. Well. Okay. Paul Levitz accepts.
LaMarr and Breathed have some awesome chemistry up there! They need to take this on the road.
The always prestigious Best Graphic Album—New completes the triumph of Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuccheilli — it was the year of Polyp, no questions.
Kidd is making fun of the drawn out proceedings as well, but you know that happened at EVERY awards show. The problem with the Eisners is that it takes forever to get to the stage. The stage is so big because…well I don’t know why it is so big. They do TV panels here during the day so maybe it has to be big enough to hold a huge cast.
Dave Gibbons comes up and pledges to be as debonair as possible. Best New Series goes to Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. Wow, a nice capper for a fantastic year for the Chew team. I hope I can still make the UTA party!
Best Limited series goes to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young. Work done with love which deserves the recognition. Skottie Young said he was humble the first time but “this time it kicked ass!”
FINAL AWARD! WE MADE IT! Best Continuing Series is The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard (Image) Yeah, Robert and Charlie. We made it through another Eisner Awards. Please make Drunk Thomas Jane a regular! Also. thanks for all the amazing comics that make being in this business a pleasure.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.