This year’s Eisner nominating panel has made their choices for automatic inclusion in the Hall of Fame: Rudolph Dirks, who pioneered the newspaper comic strip with The Katzenjammer Kids, and Harry Lucey, a long time Archie artist credited with co-creating the characters.
In addition, the judges selected 14 more nominees for the general ballot, from which four will be selected for inclusion into the Hall of Fame: Bill Blackbeard, Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Carlos Ezquerra, Lee Falk, Bob Fujitani, Jesse Marsh, Tarpé Mills, Mort Meskin, Dennis O’Neil, Dan O’Neill, Katsuhiro Otomo, Trina Robbins, and Gilbert Shelton.
Rudolph Dirks was hired by the New York Journal to create a feature which would compete with the then hugely popular The Yellow Kid in 1897. The result was the first comic strip to feature panels, repeating characters, and speech balloons. (Frankly it’s kind of amazing it took this long for Dirks to get into the Hall of Fame!) Dirks also won a court battle with William Randolph Hearst to keep control of his creations, taking the strip to a rival paper under the name of Hans und Fritz and then The Captain and the Kids. The Katzenjammer Kids version of the strip runs to this day.
Harry Lucey was a Golden Age cartoonist who was a studio mate of Bob Montana when the Archie cast was being created, and made essential contributions to the strip — including naming Betty. After serving in the Army during World War II, and doing some illustration work, Lucey returned to crawing the Archie characters in 1949 — a job he held for 20 more years. Lucey’s elegant, expressive art has made him one of the most influential Archie artists. More Lucey here.
This year’s judges panel consists of journalist Brigid Alverson (Graphic Novel Reporter, CBR, Robot 6), and retailer Calum Johnston (Strange Adventures), librarian Jesse Karp (LREI, New York), cartoonist Larry Marder (Beanworld), comics historian Benjamin Saunders (University of Oregon), and Comic-Con board of director Mary Sturhann, with the help of students from students at Center for Cartoon Studies, who helped do research on nominees.