Woot! We’re doing it again because we’re NUTS. Jackie Estrada is introducing Bill Morrison. This year’s theme is MAGIC and every table is covered with magic tricks. Maybe the big trick will be finding the comics at Comic-Con!
Bill has introduced the keynote speaker, Frank Miller, who is folding a newspaper to illustrate the importance of comics and newspapers and Max Gaines.
“This is the first opportunity in a very long day to talk about the subject of comic books,” says Miller. Miller recalls his youth and the tribal past of San Diego. “A bunch of people in a vast field holding onto an artform thinking it would soon be forgotten.”
After talking about the importance of Eisner, Miller segues to the topic of comics and Hollywood. “As we work with new expanded horizons and new people and new money the biggest danger we face to my mind is of splitting our focus. So my advice if you’re setting out to do a comic book is forget the movies, forget the games, Just do a damn good comic book and in time who knows what will happen. Here’s to comic books and here’s to Will Eisner.”
The always lovely Kaare Morrison is the award girl in a stunning green sequin ensemble. Jackie introduces the judges to muted acclaim and the sponsors to great acclaim, especially Comic Relief. She also explains the voting procedure, including the CALL FOR ENTRIES, which if our email is any indication, a lot of publishers forget about.
Bill Morrison claims to have forgotten the envelopes in a suitcase backstage. Some shtick ensues involving a bowling ball. Wait — how did that fit into that suitcase?
The RENO 911 guys are back and they say how shameful it is that TV people are coming to Comic-Con and associating themselves with work. They say last year’s ceremony was a beautiful event which just ended at 2 this afternoon. The first award is Best Penciller/Inker Team. The winners are Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan! Woot! Woot! Woot! Oh, and she thanks…uh, someone named Heidi MacDonald. Yay, Pia! You are class and I love you.
Next up…Best Painter, and it’s Eric Powell! Eric says he poured his blood, sweat, and years into CHINATOWN and he’s very gratified.
Best Cover Artist…James Jean…big shock! No one saw that one coming.
Our next presenters…adorable Paul Dini and Misty Lee! But Misty isn’t here — what the….Paul goes off to call her…and brings out a big giant empty box…and next thing you know….MISTY LEE was in the box all along? How did that happen? Is it…MAGIC?
The first award they present is Best Coloring and Dave Stewart wins the popular vote in the hall and the award.
Best Lettering…without whom you would get a lot of passed balls….will Todd Klein win his 19th award in a row? (We made up that stat but he has won a lot.) By the way, Misty Lee has stunning enunciation. We’re profoundly jealous.
WOW! TODD KLEIN WON. The one thing about these repeat winners is that even if they win every year, they still deserve it. Todd thanks his wife, Ellen.
Next is Best Anthology. The surprise winner (and we mean that in a totally NON-ironic way) is 5 by Becky Cloonan, Rafael Grampa, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba and Vasilis Lolos. We should all be proud of these kids. They look like a rock band coming up to the stage and they high five like a rock band. Gabriel gives a moving speech about coming to the con for 12 years. This is a very popular winner.
Next up…Jerry Robinson and Mark Evanier to present the Bill Finger Award. Robinson praises the unassuming and unheralded Finger, who many feel should be credited as co-creator of Batman, as he wrote the origin and named the characters and wrote the first Batman scripts. Robinson tells a story about Batman being potentially gay.
Evanier introduces Archie Goodwin and mentions that he was one of the few totally undespised people in the business. True enough. Then come Archie’s widow, Anne Murphy, and son Sean. Anne, a very classy, smart lady whom we are always happy to see, delivers a fiery speech about writers. She mentions how Archie drew thumbnails on his scripts, and how storytelling was the foundation of his writing and editing. Anne thanks the awards committee and DC and Dark Horse for honoring Archie’s memory. She mentions publishers who claim that work is in the public domain and hopes that families of the departed can eventually have some redress for this kind of thing. She concludes, “He would love being here tonight, and in some ways I think he is.”
Mark then introduces the man who wrote the first Iron Man story…Larry Lieber, who is brief and gracious in winning.
Then of all people…Mace Windu comes out to present several awards, including Best Single Issue won by JUSTICE LEAGUE of AMERICA #11. Brad Meltzer comes up to accept. He dedicates the award to “all the losers, all who are different; that is who this is for because we come here year after year, like those guys from Brazil who try and try.” He dedicates the awrad to Siegel and Shuster, who lost a lot. “I believe that ordinary people can change the world. People so poor they wrote on wallpaper, they gave us Superman.” He also shouts out Bob Schreck for being the daring editor who was the first to believe in him. Meltzer also dedicates the award to his mother, who passed away three months ago due to breast cancer.
Next, Best Limited Series…very funny to hear ATOMIC ROBO pronounced by Samuel L. Jackson. The winner is UMBRELLA ACADEMY. Wow, Gerard Way, a celebrity comics writer, comes up and says how he and his brother grew up in a place where comics were their escape. and he is happy to be back to the group. He also says he’s nervous with large groups of people, to much laughter. Gabriel gives another moving speech about coming to the show and thanks the colorist. SLJ says he likes colors too.
Best Continuing Series is won by Y THE LAST MAN — a nice kudos in its final year. Pia once again comes up to accept and thanks the whole crew, many of whom we worked with, so that was nice.
Next up, Bill makes a drawing moves its mouth. And the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, Tom Kenny, comes out and announces the first nominee for Best Publication for Kids — LOST GIRLS? Big laffs. The real winner is MOUSE GUARD — leading to a “Holy cow!” from David Petersen.
Next up is Best Publication for Teens, won by Nick Abadzis’s LAIKA, the story of a dog who died in space. Nice call. Abadzis is in the house and thanks Mark Siegel, First Second editor, and Gina and Danica, and we all know who they are.
You know, at this point last year we were having some problems, but this year, the Eisners are growing up a little bit, we have to say. They are still only a quarter of the way through an hour in, but that’s not too bad.
Special Recognition, the catchall for people who need an award, is next and Chuck BB wins for BLACK METAL. He thanks the metal heads. Yeah, youth movement of ’80s music!
The Russ Manning award is next, Bill Stout somberly points out that both Manning and and the first winner of the award, Dave Stevens, died at the age of 52. Very sad.
On to more cheerful matters, namely, the nominees, who are all very talented. We’re rooting for KORGI, but the winner is Cathy Malkasian, a former animator, who drew PERCY GLOOM for Fantagraphics, Gary Groth comes up to accept since Malkasian isn’t present. She did write a statement replete with general and widespread thanks.
Next presenters…Al Jaffee and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson. Jaffee says the word “Okay” and makes it deeply comic somehow. Jaffee presents the award for Best Archival Collection/Project. Wow! It is a treat to hear Jaffee say “Walt and Skeezix,” but the winner is the COMPLETE TERRY AND THE PIRATES, which Dean Mullaney comes out to accept. Yay, Dean and Milton Caniff! Dean thanks IDW for giving him a safe landing place after 12 years away from the field, and Bill Blackbeard for saving old comics and dedicates the award to his wife, who passed away last year.
Best Archival Comic Book Collection…presenter Wheeler-Nicholson is baffled by the difference between this and previous winners. Man alive, we never heard Al Jaffee speak before and he’s positively STENTORIAN. Gotta stop by his table tomorrow and ask him to say random words. The winner is Fletcher Hanks, and editor Paul Karasik goes through a list of people he’d like to thank, but won’t, including his mom and his publishers, but ends up thanking that cantankerous drunk, Fletcher Hanks.
Best Humor Publication is Nicholas Gurewitch for PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP. Gurewitch says he’s glad comics are slow because he’s a slow person and he wants more panels and more page breaks and he wants comics to be slower. Trust us, it’s funnier when he says it.
Anne Marie Fleming and Rutu Modan now storm the stage to present Best US Edition of International Material won by I KILLED ADOLF HITLER by Jason….yeah! Our man Jason! Kim Thompson is happy to accept in the style of Jason with only “Thank you.”
Now the Manga Award…wow, these are all great nominees….hearing the lists of nominees in many of the categories again reminds us what a faboo year for comics it was…esp. with the winner TEKKONKINKREET. The woman who accepts is Tracy Todd, Editorial Manager at Viz Media ….(“I love her pants,” one of our table mates whispers.)
AND NOW, a break for the Spirit of Retailing Award, and Joe Ferrara who introduces Joe Field to talk about Rory Root. Field remembers Rory’s endless generosity and wisdom, and his nurturing nature. One of his favorite sayings was, “First one’s free, kid.” So true. The tribute is punctuated by the first standing O of the evening.
A brief break while the Spirit of Retailing Award is presented to power up at an outlet. The winners are Portlyn and Atom! Freeman, who recount that last year Rory Root told them their store was what Will Eisner envisioned a store should be.
NEXT — the Hall of Fame…Sergio arrives to great acclaim and he introduces Mike Peters to introduce R.F. Outcault into the Hall of Fame. Outcault — the first of two judges’ selections — created The Yellow Kid, the famous early comic strip character. The next winner is the mysterious Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson Brown. Introduced by his son and granddaughter. It turns out Wheeler-Nicholson started DC and created the comics industry as we know it. Wow. His son says there is some misinformation about what really happened out there, but a book is forthcoming which will set the record straight. (Eddie Campbell knew all this, we’re just saying.) The son touts the book as telling the REAL STORY for this “history-minded community.” Hm, you got that right, son.
OKAY, now the FOUR inductees chosen by YOU, the voters! The first inductee is JOHN BROOME, creator of Green Lantern. Mike W. Barr steps up to speak, pointing out how much of the Flash and Green Lantern legends are due to John Broome, and current writers are standing on the shoulders of giants like John Broome. The second inductee is Arnold Drake, a highlight of past Eisners ceremonies but sadly no longer with us. A picture of Drake in his signature hat is shown on screen. Jerry Robinson accepts for Drake, praising him as a lovable curmudgeon, and creator of the Doom Patrol. Drake was the biggest supporter of the Finger Award. If Arnold were here, he would have asked, “What took you so long?”
The third inductee is Barry Windsor-Smith and…Gary Groth steps up to accept. Gary never ages, seriously. Gary mentions Barry’s generosity over the years. Gary reads a statement from Windsor-Smith. Wow, it is weird to hear Gary reading out names like Archer and Armstrong, Daredevil and Weapon X. This is the day I never thought I would see! Windsor-Smith says the work for hire contract is a morally unscrupulous document. YES! TELL IT, BROTHER.
The final inductee is Len Wein, who is there to accept his own award. Yay, Len! A seminal figure, a fabulous creator and the writer of the first Marvel comic we ever read. His breathless speech, “In my mind, I’m still a 19-year-old kid trying to tell a story to Joe Orlando so to think I’ve been in the business longer enough for you to remember my name, let alone win this award,” is surreal. Len is stunned. Len is also resplendent in a tailcoat. and we couldn’t be happier for him.
It’s another break with Maggie Thompson on hand to list the people we’ve lost in the past year. It’s a long list, and a sad one — walking around the hall, we still find ourselves missing Dave Stevens at odd moments, and Maggie’s voice breaks when she comes to his name. We miss you, Dave.
Bill Morrison introduces Jane Weidlin as the next presenter, but she is not present…and Morrison is forced to tell a story. It is a long one, and it involves driving. There is a dad. The dad is young and a bad driver and hits a minister. Okay where is this going? Schenectady? Well, NO, it turns out THEY ARE IN TOLEDO!!!! Well, that story didn’t go anywhere, really.
Okay, Jane Weidlin comes in, accompanied by a full escort of Stormtroopers and the Imperial March. And she delivers the Best Comics-Related Periodical or whatever, a category we;ll never be nominated in, for certain. And the winner is…NEWSARAMA, well, fair play to Matt, who arrives to a full Stormtrooper salute.
Best Comics-Related Book goes to READING COMICS — yay, Douglas, you deserve Stormtroopers and a Go-Go! Douglas looks completely shocked and it’s adorable.
Best Periodical Design is won by PROCESS RECESS 2, deisgned by James Jean and Chris Pitzer. Every time someone wins, the Stormtroopers stamp on the stage in unison and it’s funny as HELL, as hell, we tell you. James thanks publisher Chris Pitzer, and he says to Chris Ware, whom he idolizes, “I drink your milkshake.” Oh snap!
Lively Len Wein and Joltin’ Joe Staton come up next to present some awards. Wow, we were just bantering with Joe and Terrence Griepp this afternoon about our haunted hotel. They present the Best Writer award, won by THE BRUB. Was this award really for BEST HAT, perhaps? You go, Captain America killer. Ed has removed his hat to accept the award, a bit of an upset over BKV, and thanks his wife Melanie. Ed winds up his speech by saying it’s wrong and BKV should have won.
Best Writer/Artist, an eagerly awaited category, and it’s CHRIS WARE, who is not present but D&Q’s Rebecca Rosen accepts for him. Wow! Short! Good!
Best Writer/Artist — Humor is taken home by ERIC POWELL, one of the night’s few multiple winners.
Ruth Clampett comes out for the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, a reminder of an older version of the con, where Milton Caniff drew a caricature of Bob Clampett. This year’s winner is…hm, someone who runs a company? Someone who rights wrongs…must be Paul Levitz and it is. Applause is muted for this choice, oddly. Clampett praises Levitz for his many actions taken not for any financial reasons but because it is the right thing to do. Paul is also praised for moving into the world of digital media, and supporting the CBLDF and writing the Legion. Paul gets a standing O and breaks up while speaking of Joe Orlando and Phil Seuling who taught him about the value of artists and treating people properly. “This industry didn’t start the right way,” says Levitz. “It started in a different time and different level of principle. Principles based more on survival than on longterm partnership. A lot of people and a lot of places, a lot of companies, a lot of effort went into making it a better place. I’m honored to be recognized for my small part of it but more honored to be working in an industry that worries about these factors.”
Following this, Way and Ba return to present Best Digital Comic, won by…JOSS WHEDON AND FABIO MOON! Presenter Ba is happy for his brother. Moon delivers the inspirational speech of the night. “I’ll never stop doing comics…EVER!”
Best Short Story goes to…”Mr. Wonderful” by Dan Clowes. Kim Thompson steps up to accept and taunts the New York Times for once vowing never to publish comics.
Best New Series goes to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER…wow, it is Dark Horse’s night! Too bad their party ends at midnight or we’d be there to help celebrate at the after-party.
AND THE FINAL THREE AWARDS! We are the winners! For real. The presenter is…Gabriel Macht? Huh, who? Oh, THE SPIRIT! Macht is in an unfamiliar millieu but like a trooper, he carries on saying names like James Sturm and M.F. Grimm. SATCHEL PAIGE by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso is the winner, a bit of a surprise but a nice one.
Best Graphic Album Reprint goes to MOUSE GUARD, not too surprising, given its vast popularity plus everyone loves cute meeses. Petersen thanks “librarians and teachers and girlfriends and wives who read comics and push them onto other people.”
AND THE FINAL AWARD….Best Graphic Album-New — won by…EXIT WOUNDS and Rutu Modan. Yeah! She is very emotional at winning, and pledges, “I will go and drink something.”
Yes, as will the Beat! Morrison is proud to have brought the awards in at under three hours. Yes we salute you as well, Bill! And thanks Misty Lee! And Jackie Estrada. And Comics. Never forget the comics. We love you.