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2009 Eisner Award nominees


They’re up! More commentary in a bit, although we are pleased to see the judges decided to REDUCE the number of categories this year!

The Will Comic Industry Awards 2009 slate of nominees is filled with many newcomers to the ballot, from Canadian cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (writer and artist of the teen angst graphic novel Skim, published by Groundwood Books) to French biographer Emmanuel Guibert (Alan’s War, published by First Second) to graphic novelist Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole, published by Top Shelf).  

Both Skim (Best Publication for Teens/Tweens, Graphic Album–New, Writer, Penciller/Inker) and Alan’s War (Graphic Album-New, Reality-Based Work, U.S. Edition of International Material, Writer/Artist) garnered 4 nominations. Also on the ballot in 4 spots is Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy (Penciller/Inker, Cover Artist, Coloring, and Graphic Album–Reprint), Vertigo/DC’s Fables (Continuing Series, Writer for Bill Willingham, Penciller/Inker team for Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, and Cover Artist for James Jean), and Vertigo/DC’s Madame Xanadu (New Series, Writer for Matt Wagner, Penciller/Inker for Amy Reeder Hadley/Richard Friend, and Cover Artist for newcomer Hadley). Powell’s Swallow Me Whole has three nominations (Graphic Album–New, Writer/Artist, Lettering), as do Lynda Barry’s What It Is (published by Drawn & Quarterly, nominated for Reality-Based Work, Painter/Multimedia Artist, and Design) and Marvel’s Thor (Continuing Series, Writer for J. Michael Straczynski, and penciller/inker for Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales),  

The creators with the most nominations are Guibert, Barry (the 3 for What It Is plus 1 as editor of Anthology nominee Best American Comics: 2008, published by Houghton Mifflin), and Chris Ware (Short Story for “Actual Size” in Kramers Ergo, and Writer/Artist, Coloring, and Lettering for Acme Novelty Library #19). Creators with 3 nominations include Amy Reeder Hadley, J. Michael Straczynski, Mariko and Jill Tamaki, Nate Powell, and Mike Mignola (Limited Series for Hellboy: The Crooked Man, plus Graphic Album–Reprint and Design for Hellboy Library Editions, published by Dark Horse). 

The publisher emerging with the most nominations this year is Dark Horse, with 13 individual nods and 5 shared. In addition to Umbrella Academy and Hellboy, popular DH titles Usagi Yojimbo (Continuing Series) and Groo (Limited Series) made the ballot, while the company’s Herbie Archives is nominated for both Humor Publication and Archival Project. Past front-runner DC came in second for publisher nominations, with 10 plus 2 shared. Besides Fables and Madame Xanadu, other DC titles on the ballot include Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman (Continuing Series), G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker’s Air (New Series), and Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans (Publication for Kids). Marvel is right behind DC with 9 nominations plus 2 shared. Joining Thor on the ballot are Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple’s Omega the Unknown (Limited Series), Straczynski and Chris Weston’s The Twelve (Limited Series), Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca’s Invincible Iron Man (New Series), and Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Elektra: Assassin (Archival Project). Other comics publishers with 3 or more nominations include IDW (5), Viz (5, including 3 of the 5 nominees in the U.S. Edition of International Material–Japan category), and Image (3, plus 2 shared). 

Literary and graphic novel publishing houses made a strong showing: Drawn & Quarterly has 10 nominations, First Second has 9, and Fantagraphics has 7. Other such publishers with 3 or more nominations include AdHouse (5), Pantheon (4) Houghton Mifflin (3), Scholastic Graphix (3), and Top Shelf (5). In all 38 publishers are represented on the ballot. 

In the Digital Comics category, nominees range from Dash Shaw’s long work-in-progress Bodyworld and Carla Speed McNeil’s ongoing Finder series (published on the shadowline.com website) to three complete short stories: Eliza Frye’s “The Lady’s Murder,” Elan Trinidad’s “Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican,” and Joe Infurnari and Alexis Sottile’s “Vs.” 

Named for acclaimed comics creator the Will Eisner, the awards are in their 21st year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges. The 2009 judging panel consists of Amanda Emmert (owner of Muse Comics & Games in Missoula, MT), Mike Pawuk (teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga, Ohio County Public Library), John Shableski (Diamond Book Distributors sales manager), Ben Towle (graphic novelist and comics arts educator), and Andrew Wheeler (comics and manga reviewer at ComixMix.com). 

This year’s judges made a few changes to the ballot, resulting in a reduction in the number of categories from 29 to 26. They eliminated the Single Issue category, combined the Writer/Artist and Wrtier/Artist–Humor categories, and dropped the Special Recognition category. They also changed Best Publication for Teens to Best Publication for Teens/Tweens. Voting in one Eisner Awards category, Hall of Fame, is already completed. The judges chose the nominees earlier this year, and voting was conducted solely online, with voting ending on March 26. 

Ballots with this year’s nominees will be going out in mid-April to comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers. A downloadable pdf of the ballot will also be available online, and a special website has been set up for online voting. The results in all categories will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 24 at Comic-Con International. 

The Eisner Awards are presented under the auspices of Comic-Con International, San Diego, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms. primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contributions of comics to art and culture. Jackie Estrada has been administrator of the Awards since 1990. She can be reached at jackie@comic-con.com.  

More information about the Eisner Awards can be found at http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisners_main.shtml


    2009 Eisner Awards Nominees 

    Best Short Story

    “Actual Size” by Chris Ware, in Kramers Ergot 7 (Buenaventura Press)

    “Chechen War, Chechen Women,” by Joe Sacco, in I Live Here (Pantheon)

“Freaks,” by Laura Park, in Superior Showcase #3 (AdHouse)

    “Glenn Ganges in ‘Pulverize,’” by Kevin Huizenga, in Ganges #2 (Fantagraphics)

    “Murder He Wrote,” by Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto, and Andrew Pepoy, in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #14 (Bongo) 

    Best Continuing Series

    All Star Superman. by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)

    Fables,  by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy, and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)

    Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)

    Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and various (Marvel)

    Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse) 

    Best Limited Series

Groo: Hell on Earth, by Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier (Dark Horse)

Hellboy: The Crooked Man, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)

Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)

    Omega the Unknown, by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel)

    The Twelve, by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston (Marvel) 

    Best New Series

    Air, by. G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC)

    Echo, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)

    Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca (Marvel)

Madame Xanadu, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley, and Richard Friend (Vertigo/DC)

    Unknown Soldier, by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (Vertigo/DC) 

Best Publication for Kids

    Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper, by Kazu Kabuishi (Scholastic Graphix)

    Cowa! by Akira Toriyama  (Viz)

    Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Image)

    Stinky, by Eleanor Davis (RAW Junior)

    Tiny Titans, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC) 

    Best Publication for Teens/Tweens

    Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

    Crogan’s Vengeance, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)

    The Good Neighbors, Book 1: Kin, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (Scholastic Graphix)

    Rapunzel’s Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

    Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books) 

    Best Humor Publication

    Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero, by Douglas Paszkiewicz (Arsenic Lullaby)

    Chumble Spuzz, by Ethan Nicolle (SLG)

    Herbie Archives, by “Sean O’Shea” (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)

    Petey and Pussy, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics)

    Wondermark: Beards of Our Forefathers, by David Malki (Dark Horse) 

Best Anthology

    An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)

    Best American Comics 2008, edited by Lynda Barry (Houghton Mifflin)

    Comic Book Tattoo: Narrative Art Inspired by the Lyrics and Music of Tori Amos, edited by Rantz Hoseley (Image)

    Kramers Ergot 7, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)

    MySpace Dark Horse Presents, edited by Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn (Dark Horse) 

Best Digital Comic

Best Reality-Based Work

    Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)

    Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (Houghton Mifflin)

    Fishtown, by Kevin Colden (IDW)

    A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child, by Rick Geary (NBM)

    What It Is, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly) 

    Best Graphic Album—New

    Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)

    Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

    Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

    Three Shadows, by Cyril Pedrosa (First Second) 

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

Berlin Book 2: City of Smoke, by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Hellboy Library Edition, vols. 1 and 2, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)

    Sam & Max Surfin’ the Highway anniversary edition HC, by Steve Purcell (Telltale Games)

Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse)

The Umbrella Academy, vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite deluxe edition, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse) 

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips

    The Complete Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray (IDW)

    Explainers, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics)

    Little Nemo in Slumberland, Many More Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)

Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles (IDW)

    Willie & Joe, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics) 

    Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books

    Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

    Creepy Archives, by various (Dark Horse)

    Elektra Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Marvel)

    Good-Bye, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Herbie Archives, by “Sean O’Shea” (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse) 

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)

Gus and His Gang, by Chris Blain (First Second)

The Last Musketeer, by Jason (Fantagraphics)

    The Rabbi’s Cat 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)

    Tamara Drewe, by Posy Simmonds (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin) 

    Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan

    Cat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz)

    Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)

    Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)

    The Quest for the Missing Girl, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

    Solanin, by Inio Asano (Viz) 

    Best Writer

    Joe Hill, Lock & Key (IDW)

    J. Michael Straczynski, Thor, The Twelve (Marvel)

    Mariko Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)

    Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)

    Bill Willingham, Fables, House of Mystery (Vertigo/DC) 

Best Writer/Artist

    Ricky Geary, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child (NBM); J. Edgar Hoover (Hill & Wang)

    Emmanuel Guibert, Alan’s War (First Second)

    Jason Lutes, Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Cyril Pedrosa, Three Shadows (First Second)

    Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)

Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library (Acme) 

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

    Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)

    Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, Fables (Vertigo/DC)

    Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales, Thor (Marvel)

    Guy Davis, BPRD (Dark Horse)

    Amy Reeder Hadley/Richard Friend, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)

    Jillian Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books) 

    Best Painter/Multimedia Artist

    Lynda Barry, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Eddie Campbell, The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard (First Second)

Enrico Casarosa, The Venice Chronicles (Ateliér Fio/AdHouse)

    Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)

    Jill Thompson, Magic Trixie Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (HarperCollins Children’s Books) 

    Best Cover Artist

    Gabrial Bá, Casanova (Image); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)

    Jo Chen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity (Dark Horse); Runaways (Marvel)

    Amy Reeder Hadley, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)

    James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)

    Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Grendel: Behold the Devil (Dark Horse) 

    Best Coloring

    Steve Hamaker, Bone: Ghost Circles, Bone: Treasure Hunters (Scholastic Graphix)

    Trish Mulvihill, Joker (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)

    Val Staples, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)

    Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien: The Drowning, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, The Unbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Body Bags (Image); Captain America: White (Marvel)

    Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme) 

Best Lettering

    Faryl Dalrymple, Omega: The Unknown (Marvel)

    Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)

    Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)

    Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)

    Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme) 

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

    The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)

    Best Comics-Related Book

    Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, by Todd DePastino (Norton)

    Brush with Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens, edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner (Underwood)

    Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)

    Kirby: King of Comics, by Mark Evanier (Abrams)

    The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu (Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux) 

    Best Publication Design

    Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! designed by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

Comic Book Tattoo, designed by Tom Muller, art direction by Rantz Hoseley (Image)

    Hellboy Library Editions, designed by Cary Grazzini and Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)

    What It Is, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Willie and Joe, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)

  1. HOLY SPIT! Todd Klein is not nominated in the Best Lettering category!

    That means, in the seventeen years that award has been awarded, only three people have won that award. (The other was Stan Sakai, in 1996.)

  2. Torsten–That’s only because Todd was not nominated that year also. He’s the best.

    I may not be nominated for letterer, but Usagi is in there as Best Continuing Series.

  3. Kinda of sad to see Best Single Issue go away as a category. I always liked trying to find the nominees and reading those issues (and using them as gateways to more titles).

    Any idea why that category was dropped?

  4. Forgot to post earlier my annual Eisner joke:

    “Chris Ware got nominated/won for Best Lettering? Did they think the award was for Most Lettering?”

    /no disrespect meant to Chris

  5. I’m really glad to see Madame Xanadu and Matt Wagner get so many nominations. I’m really enjoying the series but I always assumed it fell beneath everyone’s radar except for diehard MW fans.

  6. Re: Best Single Issue

    The judges combined short story and single issue into a single category because they narrowed down the single issue possibilities to a very short list; when the voting was done, none of the single issues made the final list, meaning none got high enough scores, so the category was dropped this year.

  7. Air, by. G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC)


    I am so glad to see Wilson get this nomination. She’s easily one of the best new talents in comics and her subject matter is such a surreal and engaging break from the norm of even what Vertigo is putting out. And her being a young woman makes this even more incredible.

  8. Nice list!

    Though a few frowns:

    -ASS for best continueing series? Surely that was a limited series which has ended quite some time ago.

    – The Twelve for best limited series? Shouldn’t it have finished first to be able to be nominated? Because, frankly, I don’t see the remaining issues being published for quite some time.

  9. This is like the second time I’ve been mentioned on your blog. I was afraid that my only contribution to comic-dom was depicting Richard Nixon getting raped by the Comedian.

    At least I’m doing something right, despite being on hiatus.

    Anyway, just in case my bandwidth fails, I stuck Speak No Evil: Melancholy of A Space Mexican on Flickr


  10. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

    I wonder if comics ADAPTATIONS will eventually get its own category. There’s so many of them these days and it seems weird to judge original works against direct adaptations of prose novels or movies.

  11. Thanks for the kind words, Stan! I’ve just posted a brief note about this year’s Eisners on my blog, but in short, I’m fine with it, I’ve had a great run and many nominations and wins, and will be there to applaud for this year’s winner.

  12. What a collection of books to sort through! Judging was like someone gives you a bowl of your favorite ice cream and then tells you, keep shoveling that down because there are 400 gallons more you need to eat before midnight.

    The books were all pretty amazing.

    I am chalking this Eisner experience up there as one very cool moment for me. Amy, Ben, Andy and Mike are all great people and I learned a lot from their perspectives. Jackie kept us hydrated and on schedule(thank you!). It was quite an honor to serve.

  13. this list is very lackluster.

    I hope that All-Star Superman doesn’t win anything. That would be a punch in the face to books that CAME OUT ON TIME and not a 12 issue series that took well over three years to produce.

  14. I totally want to echo what Mario posted above about All Star Supes and The Twelve (I enjoy both of them) and continuing series needs to be redefined.

    Robert, have you read Blue Pills, Solanin, Monster, Alan’s War, What It Is, Unknown Soldier, or Acme Novelty Library #19? Any awards with these excellent works can’t be called lackluster. What comic works do you think should be represented here?

  15. I think EVERY category should feature the winner running out into the audience and punching the losers in the face.

    I am intrigued and would like to hear more about your incredible proposition!

  16. Mr. Sakai, your craft as a letterer is so masterful that many do not notice your skill. As a cartoonist, you tell stories which transcend genre. Congratulations.

    Geez… I was hoping for a @*&!!¥€# tirade from Mr. Klein… but he is too professional and gracious. (I still think his poster collaboration with Alex Ross shoulda been nominated.)

    Ms. Estrada, thank you for the explanantion regarding Single Issue. Are the Eisner Award rules, regulations, and procedures available for public viewing?

    Does the lack of worthy single issues foretell the death of comicbook periodicals, OR is the graphic novel anthology becoming robust enough to succeed in today’s marketplace?

  17. Here is what I don’t get–How does Invincible Iron Man (a book I LOVE by the way) get nominated for Best New Series and yet neither Fraction (the writer) nor Larocca (the artist) get nods in their individual categories? If neither of them are of the five best in their field, how is it that the book is one of the five best? It’s not on the strength of the lettering or coloring as neither of those got nods either.

    (This is a reax against a lack of noms, not that Iron Man got a nod.)

  18. Cekrypton:
    Look at the list of nominees for writer and for penciller/inker: Nearly all of them are nominated for titles that are also nominated. There are numerous categories for works, but fewer for the creators of those works. For instance, “Best Writer” can be for writer of a continuing series, a limited series, a title for kids or teens, a graphic album-new, a humor publication, or a reality-based work.

  19. Also, look at the Oscars.

    There is traditionally one Best Picture nominee that does not have director also got nominated.

  20. I think it would be great if Todd Klein brought all of the Eisners he’s won with him to the ceremony and just placed them in front of him on his table, of course he’d need a wheelbarrel to haul them around.

  21. Air, seriously?

    Isn’t Locke & Key still ongoing?

    Why take out best single issue when they would keep best reprint GN category?

    Yes, let’s award the publisher for repackaging old material that we may not have awarded when it first came out! Makes no sense to me.

  22. “Isn’t Locke & Key still ongoing?”

    Technically, it’s a series of miniseries. The current series has a different title (Locke & Key: Head Games) and a new numbering.

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