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One of the signs of a quality comic book or graphic novel is the designation that it has been nominated for an Eisner Award. The Eisner Awards have been given to creative achievement in comic books and graphic novels since 1988. It’s also become an important fixture of San Diego Comic Con. The six judges for this year’s Eisner Awards include comic journalists, professors, comic retailers, and cartoonists. The 2014 Eisner Awards winners were announced at San Diego Comic Con on Friday, July 25th.
There were many awards given out at the Eisner Awards Ceremony on Friday. Big winners included Saga, Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, Love and Rockets, and the Parker series. Saga from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples won three of the biggest awards of the year. Staples was awarded “Best Painter/Multimedia Artist.” Brian K. Vaughan won “Best Writer,” and Saga was named “Best Continuing Series.” Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye won two awards: David Aja was named “Best Cover Artist” and Hawkeye #11 (“Pizza Is My Business”) by Matt Fraction and David Aja was named “Best Single Issue (Or One-Shot).”
Matt Fraction was also honored with another of the biggest awards, as his Image Comics series Sex Criminals, created by Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, was named “Best New Series.” Love and Rockets, the longtime series from the Hernandez brothers, was awarded two Eisners. The story “Untitled” from Love and Rockets: New Stories #6 won “Best Short Story” and Jaime Hernandez won “Best Writer/Artist” for New Stories #6. The Parker series won two awards, as well. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke won “Best Adaptation From Another Medium” and Cooke won “Best Lettering” for Parker: Slayground.
Other titles that won multiple awards include The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy from Vertigo/DC Comics. Murphy won “Best Penciler/Inker” and The Wake won “Best Limited Series.” The book Genius Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell won Eisners for “Best Publication Design” and “Best Comics-Related Book.”
Dark Horse Comics won a couple other big awards at the Eisners. “Best Anthology” went to Dark Horse Presents and “Best Reality-Based Work” was given to The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Beyond Dark Horse, some of the other big awards included “Best Coloring” to Jordie Bellaire (The Manhattan Projects, Pretty Deadly, Nowhere Men, Captain Marvel, and others), “Best Graphic Album-New,” which went to The Property by Rutu Modan, “Best Graphic Album-Reprint” to RASL by Jeff Smith, “Best Publication for Teens” to Battling Boy by Paul Pope, “Russ Manning Promising Newcomer” went to Aaron Conley (Sabretooth Swordsman), and “Best Digital Comic” to The Oatmeal.
The Eisners honor not just the best in contemporary comics but the best in comics past. The following luminaries were elected to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame: Orrin C. Evans, Irwin Hansen, Sheldon Moldoff, Hayao Miyazaki, Alan Moore, Denny O’Neil, and Bernie Wrightson. The Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing went to Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo and Jack Mendelsohn.
It’s hard to argue with many of these awards, as the quality of the work made by these winners is outstanding. Some of the more prestigious categories, such as “Best Writer,” “Best Penciler/Inker,” “Best Series,” “Best New Series,” and even “Best Cover Artist,” had extraordinary competition, and the awards could very deservingly be given to other nominees. In some ways, it’s unfortunate that such good work can’t all be winners, but that’s how creative awards go. Hopefully, the Eisner Awards bring these titles and creators the attention they deserve. Comic book readers should seek out the winners (and nominees) of Eisner Awards to see some of the best work comics is producing today.