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The Eisner Awards have another chance to get it right re "The Love Bunglers."


There is always some shock when the Eisner Award nominees for the year are announced. This thing got included, that thing was left off. It’s natural. In recent years the judges have seemingly gone the way of recognizing more things in more categories and spreading around the wealth then singling out a few books/creators for TITANIC-level encomiums. Even the PR for this year’s nominees praised the list’s diversity—and 26 different publishers were mentioned, 15 with one nomination each.

But as always, there was one omission that seemed to stun a lot of people, us included.

Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers” was not nominated even a single time.

As the graphic novel review editor for PW, I’ve read an awful lot of the books on the Eisner list, even the ones in the kids and academic categories. And there are a lot of them. And they are very good. The judges were fair and balanced and recognized some good honest work. But this good, honest work is not even in the same continent as Jaime Hernandez and “The Love Bunglers.”

Dan Nadel called it, “A piece of art that says that you should allow fear and sadness into your life, but not let those things cripple you.”

Bob Temuka wrote: “While it’s no surprise that Jaime Hernandez is still producing magnificent and beautiful comics, it is also still incredible to see how big his storytelling balls are, man.”

Adrian Tomine said: “Concise, moving, and incredibly bold, it’s like a cartooning master class in the span of fifty pages, and a tremendous reward to the long-term reader.”

Rob Clough wrote:

“The last chapter of “The Love Bunglers” was a tour-de-force, a walk-off grand slam of a story that was thirty years in the making. I doubt there were any dry eyes on the part of long-time fans of the series while reading this, yet every single moment was completely earned organically.

I read “The Love Bunglers” on the train from San Diego to Los Angeles and I cried. Douglas Wolk texted me that he had cried while I was crying. It encompasses the mysteries of life, the mistakes we make, and the joys we can find out of the ashes as well as any work of art in any medium ever produced.

But no Eisner nomination.

Now, however, by chance, it turns out one of the short stories that was nominated is not eligible:

The Guy Davis short story “The Phototaker” has been removed from the 2012 Eisner Awards ballot after it was determined to be ineligible. “The ‘Phototaker’ Eisner nomination was a mix up,” Davis wrote on Twitter. ” Jackie Estrada messaged me after I posted asking about the original English version, which came out in Metal Hurlant #9 (2003). So it’s not eligible for the 2012 Eisner nomination and has been removed. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday, but I’m happy to clear this up and have it removed from the running.”

So there are only FOUR short story nominations now. Will another story be called on to fill the hole?

Another chance to get it right, Eisner judges?

I dunno, maybe the mysteries and wonder of “The Love Bunglers” are only apparent to long time Jaime readers. Maybe people who never read LOVE AND ROCKETS before can’t appreciate a master cartoonist at the peak of his powers. It’s kind of a weird mirror world funhouse view of the superhero industry….continuity has us all blinded.

Maybe. Whatever happens, I know what I’m writing in!

  1. No offense to my many fiends who do this work, but Jaime is the most talented comics creator of the past 30 years, the one whose work surprises and delights us in ways we didn’t know were possible with words and pictures until he did them. Hope Eisners will recognize his achievement.

  2. Articles like this are only there to create controversy. As usual, I pose two points:

    1. Are we the public even sure if Jaime Hernandez bothered to enter it. Just because we may want something, if the actual work is not submitted, it is not in contention.

    2. If Guy Davis’ short story “The Phototaker” was still in it… which of the total five nominees aren’t good enough to be on the list. The article needs to state the math… you want to add one, you gotta take one away.

    The Great Larry Marder very eloquently addresses the issue of titles/creators not making the list:


    Thank You for your time,
    the Tiki

  3. The absence of Sergio Aragones and SERGIO ARAGONES FUNNIES from any category is just as heartbreaking as the aforementioned LOVE BUNGLERS.

    But Mr. Marder’s essay about the nomination process is insightful, and very much a must-read. It salves the wounds and explains much.

  4. For what it’s worth, I don’t see any conceivable way that Fantagraphics didn’t submit Love and Rockets, vol. 4 for every possible category. The chances that it was omitted because no one submitted it or that no one involved in the judging thought to submit it are very, very slim.

    I think that people like the Hernandezes, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware, to name a few, do such consistently great work that they get taken for granted by the Eisners. I think Jaime’s a pretty consistent nominee in the Harveys, but I’m not sure that Love and Rockets has racked up very many Eisners over the years.

  5. This year is proof that the Eisner committee is out of touch and that the awards are meaningless. “The Love Bunglers” will be read and reread and loved a hundred years from now while whatever wins whatever Eisners they choose to award will be moldering and forgotten.

    Sergio’s Funnies is an awesome series as well, and highly recommended.

  6. Larry’s piece is indeed a good one to read. And of the judges I know personally, they are all comics lovers extraordinaire, people of taste and integrity.

    I think Todd Klein was taken off because well, he has a lot of awards. What more is there to say? I think the same applies to perennials like Ware and Clowes. Like Andrew I’m not sure how many actual Eisners Jaime has won.

  7. Tiki:

    “Just because we may want something, if the actual work is not submitted, it is not in contention”

    Unless they changed the rules, that’s not true. The judges are actually EXPECTED to bring their own additional considerations over and above what might be submitted — at least that was firmly the case when I was a judge.


  8. “The Love Bunglers” is so, so beautiful, and I don’t really care what led to its being overlooked before; I just hope there’s some way to get it put on the list now.

    I’m choked up just writing this message. What a beautiful piece of work, on a par with WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT and all that stuff (stuff I really love, BTW), and in my opinion, exceeding it. It would be a real shame if something so great were to go unrewarded by an industry that is so eager to show its appreciation of art and story.

    Fuck it, they should rename them “The Jaimes”.

  9. I just looked up the past Eisner winners, and unless I’m missing something, Love and Rockets has never won an Eisner. Not for best continuing series, not for best black-and-white comic (that was a category for a while), not best writer/artist, not best writer/artist (drama), not best individual issue, not best short story, not best penciler/inker, not best cover artist, not best publication design, not best archival project or best new graphic album…nothing.

    I’m sure that L&R has picked up some nominations over the years, but I’m going to guess that Los Bros never winning a single Eisner is the biggest oversight in the history of the award.

  10. Each item on this list has more Eisner Awards than Los Bros:

    * 1992 Sandman statue, by Randy Bowen (DC)
    * 1994 Death Statue, by Chris Bachalo, et al. (DC)
    * 1995 Sandman Arabian Nights statue, designed by P. Craig Russell and sculpted by Randy Bowen (DC/Graphitti Designs)
    * 1996 Comic strip stamps (U.S. Postal Service)
    * 1997 Hellboy bust, Randy Bowen (Bowen Designs)
    * 1998 Acme Novelty Library display stand, designed by Chris Ware (Fantagraphics)
    * 1999 Sandman Pocketwatch, designed by Kris Ruotolo (DC/Vertigo)
    * 2000 Lunch boxes: Milk & Cheese, Sin City, Bettie Page, Hellboy, Groo (Dark Horse)
    * 2002 Dark Horse classic comic characters statuettes, sculpted by Yoe Studio (Dark Horse)

    Best Comics-Related Sculpted Figures

    * 1999 Hellboy statue, sculpted by Randy Bowen, produced by Bowen Designs

  11. You guys know there’s a “write-in” field for every category, right? Go register to vote and tell your Los Bros Bros. If the love is out there then show it!

  12. What was the product in 1992 that got him nominated for “Best Comics-Related Product” (He lost to the Sandman statue, the generic Morpheus all-in-black design).

    He won a Kirby Award in 1986 for Best Black-and-White Comic. (Kirby Awards are listed on the CCI site along with the Eisner Awards.)

    Nominated in:
    1988 Best Continuing Series, Best Black-and-White Series
    1989 Best Continuing Series
    1991 Best Writer, Best Writer/Artist or Writer/Artist Team
    1992 Best Continuing Series, Best Graphic Album: Reprint, Best Writer/Artist or Writer/Artist Team, Best Comics-Related Product
    1993 Best Continuing Series, Best Penciller/Inker, Black & White Publication
    1994 Best Publication Design
    1998 Best Short Story
    2004 Best Writer/Artist
    2005 Best Graphic Album–Reprint

    Jaime Hernandez (and his brothers) will be eligible for the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2016 (1981+35).

    To answer the other question, here are the other nominees for Best Short Story:
    “A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly)
    “Harvest of Fear,” by Jim Woodring, in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)
    “The Seventh,” by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)
    “The Speaker,” by Brandon Graham, in Dark Horse Presents #7 (Dark Horse)

  13. Why would Jamie care (in even the smallest way) if he were nominated for an Eisner?
    Here is how I’d like to imagine Jamie (or anyone) being told they had just been won an Eisner award (or any “award”).
    “Jaime, have you heard? You have been awarded the Eisner.”
    “Damn, the cat just produced one of those huge hair-balls.”
    “…But it’s an Eisner award.”
    “Say, have you seen the paper towels?”

  14. @Patrick Ford–for me it’s not about whether Jaime (by the way, it’s spelled “Jaime”, not “Jamie”–and it’s pronounced “Hi-may”; I say that not to be snarky or insulting, only to let you know, since I mispronounced his name for years) would be honored by the nomination or receipt of the award.

    To me, it’s about someone so deserving of recognition receiving that recognition, and that comic fans all over the country (and the world) seeing “The Love Bunglers” recognized as the best story of the year. Both Hernandez brothers produce such amazing work, and I’m holding my breath for the day comics fans at large realize they belong in the same class as Kirby and Eisner and Moore.

  15. I, too, was surprised to see The Love Bunglers left off the nominations list.

    But, as a former judge myself, I can tell you that no amount of letter-writing will affect what gets to replace Guy Davis’ story. The slot will simply be filled with whatever title got the next highest number of votes.

  16. Matthew thanks for not pointing out I also said “…just been won…”
    My advice is don’t hold your breath. As you know Welles never won an OSCAR for best director, and that award is voted on by other directors.
    These awards are strongly oriented towards what are called “mainstream comics” I assume? So is there anything surprising about the long list of people (aside from Jaime) who weren’t nominated? Or anything surprising about the list of people who were?

  17. BTW: As to the idea an Eisner would recognize Jaime in a way which would translate to a wider appreciation of his work, consider what Heidi wrote in the comments:
    “I’m not sure how many actual Eisners Jaime has won.”
    Heidi, who is a news editor, doesn’t recall if Jaime has won an Eisner in the past. It sounds almost like she thinks he might have won a few.
    Is assuming Jaime has won an Eisner in the past any different from him actually having won one (or several), in terms of the award bolstering his work?

  18. @Patrick–

    The Welles example is an interesting one; dunno if you’ve heard me blathering on about him before, but I’m a major MAJOR Orson fanatic.

    In OW’s case, CITIZEN KANE (which was nominated for nine Oscars but won only Best Screenplay, for which Welles shared credit with longtime screenwriting insider Herman Mankiewicz) was the result of intense scorn and envy and outright hatred. Welles had irritated everyeone with his arrogance, his brilliance, and most importantly with his incredibly permissive contract that gave this 24 year old kid final cut, etc.

    In the years that followed, the popular story on him was that he was a one-hit wonder (and that KANE didn’t even make any money), etc. and most of his films thereafter were compromised in some significant way. Personally I love all of them–I think when you open the dictionary and look up “genius”, it’s just a full-page photo of Orson Welles with his pipe.

    But in the case of both Hernandez Brothers, as far as I know, there has never been any incident whatsoever, and they’re both very well-liked (they’ve been very “well-likable” when I met them) and highly regarded. There just seems to be some weird blind spot.

    Your point about the wider appreciation that an Eisner may or may not translate to is well-taken. There might not be any residual recognition of it, though I think there’s at least some within the industry.

    At the very least, I hope everyone talking here in this comment thread will buy LOVE AND ROCKETS, NEW STORIES #4 and give it a read. You couldn’t find a better comic book.

  19. I completely agree about Welles. I actually think Kane is his least interesting movie in many ways. Not to say it isn’t great.
    Reading up on the Eisners, and the selection process is really bizarre. A select group of six (six!??) people lock themselves up in a room and read 100’s of comics one after the other, sounds like a very strange way of winnowing a field. Sounds more like a form of torture.
    Despite Welles (and Kubrick) never having won an Oscar I do think the selection process is logical. Only directors select the “Best Director” only actors vote for “Best Actor.”
    I think (I’m really not sure) only “Best Picture” is voted on my the whole Academy.

  20. I will say that I know one of this year’s Eisner judges, Benjamin Saunders, and he’s a major lover of all kinds of comics and smart as hell. I haven’t asked him anything re: this year and Jaime, but I assume that it’s just some weird blind spot.

    The Hernandezes (for some reason I never got comfortable calling them “Los Bros”!) do serialized comics (serialized, like superhero books!) that are focused on adult themes (like graphic novels!) that are 30-year ongoing stories (like soap operas!) that read like novels or novellas, and they’re under a title, “Love and Rockets”, that sort of indicates it’s science fiction.

    Those are strange sort of marketing niches that may somehow lead to their falling into a crack? I don’t know.

  21. Oh, sure I know who Jaime and Gilbert are, I even bought five copies of Love and Rockets #1 because I convinced the shop owner to order it and he gave me a hard time when no one bought a copy except me. I’ve still got three of them, the other two I gave away.
    Jaime is great, but it’s Gilbert’s material which is closer to my heart.
    How is the selection panel for the Eisners selected? Who selects the selectors?

  22. I realize that these things are very subjective, but when there are this many people that feel this strongly about how historically superlative a story like this is, and it is completely ignored by arguably the most prestigious award in the medium, it does merit further review. I’m not suggesting there’s any wrongdoing here, but it is pretty unbelievable to me that the people who are responsible for making this decision have a collective opinion that is so vastly different than mine (and clearly, that of many others), and I’m just curious why.

    Maybe there’s something to the idea that the story has greater resonance for longtime L&R readers, but frankly if the people in charge of the nominations haven’t been reading L&R consistently over the years, that speaks volumes also. Besides, my wife has only read the most recent series, and she also thought “The Love Bunglers” was amazing.

    I think Matthew Southworth made a great observation: I, too, get choked up just discussing the story. I really can’t think of too many other pieces of art that I can say that about.

  23. Aside from the story Jaime should logically be nominated for best penciler and best inker every single year. How many of the pencilers nominated this year think they are in Jaime’s class?

  24. Thanks to this controversy, I will look for the Love Bunglers.

    Patrick Ford: I don’t know who you are, so I don’t know if you’ve ever been nominated for an industry award as prestigious as the Eisner Award, but as someone who has been nominated for (and received) an Origins Award for game design, I feel pretty damn confident in saying that he would be VERY HONORED to be recognized by his peers for something this prestigious. This is in spite of the fact that I don’t know him at all beyond what I’ve read in a few interviews. But in those interviews, he seemed like a nice guy and I do not imagine that he is so arrogant not to care about the honor (and thrill) it would be to win an award like this.

  25. (1) Tiki, yes, obviously we submitted Jaime’s story in every category for which it was eligible. We’re not idiots.

    (2) Tiki, who says adding Jaime had to boot any of the five nominees? There are several categories with six nominees this and every year.

    (3) If you’re still going to insist on the “can’t be more than five” idea, I think Jim Woodring is one of the living gods of comics, but I find it hard to believe there are five people out there with any claim to aesthetic judgment who think Jim’s (charming, hilarious) SIMPSONS story was better than Jaime’s story, and I’m pretty sure Jim would agree in a heartbeat. (Anyway, Jim got his deserved Eisner nomination for CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS.)

    (4) Every set of Eisners is a mixture of smart choices, respectable choices, and a heavy dose of palm-to-the-forehead dunderheadedness (both in what’s included and what’s omitted). The balance moves right and left according to the specific jury, and this is by no means the worst jury I’ve seen. (And no, I don’t judge them according to how many nominations Fantagraphics gets.) I’ve learned to graciously accept the nominations and wins (last year’s double Tardi win was nice, thank you jurors and voters) and to shrug off the absurd omissions. Jaime has been around long enough to feel the same way: I’m sure he’s pleased when he’s nominated and doesn’t give a crap when he isn’t. In half a century at least 95% of the comics on this list will be utterly forgotten; Jaime’s work will be read as avidly as… well, as Will Eisner’s SPIRIT stories created half a century ago, and people will still be crying their eyes out when they reach the last few pages of “The Love Bunglers,” as I did when I read the it for the first time about a year ago. By the way, tomorrow I get to read Jaime’s story for LRNS #5, which he just finished. I can feel the envy radiating from all of you now.

    (5) I think using the write-in option is a fine idea.

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