2014 EISNER AWARDS: From Aydin to Yang, nominees size up this year’s list

FOR TEAM “MARCH,” the journey has come full circle. Last summer, writers Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell debuted their finished graphic memoir “March: Book One” at San Diego Comic-Con. On Tuesday, the Eisner Award nominations were announced, with “March” receiving three nods; the creators will learn whether they’ve won at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con.

“SDCC was by far the biggest kickoff in terms of media,” Aydin, who is also an aide to Lewis, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs of “March’s” rollout last July. “Also, it was the first place we had the finished book available.”

Now, after a whirlwind period of tours and appearances for the acclaimed bestseller, Aydin says it means a lot to be recognized by the Eisner jurors. “I grew up in Atlanta as a nerd, so I’ve been reading about heroes in comic books and learning about the heroism of John Lewis since before I can remember,” Aydin says of the first book in a planned trilogy about Lewis’s experiences as a civil-rights leader. “Decades later, the fact that our book is now being embraced by the comics community, and considered alongside so many great works, means the world to me.”

(Disclosure: Comic Riffs will moderate a panel with Lewis and Aydin this Sunday at Awesome Con DC.)

“March: Book One” (Top Shelf Productions) was nominated for Best Publication for Teens (13-17) and Best Reality-Based Work, and Powell is also nominated for Best Penciller/Inker. Powell won the Eisner in 2009 for best original graphic novel, for “Swallow Me Whole.”

 

In the Teen Publications category, “March” will compete alongside Gene Luen Yang’s “Boxers & Saints” (First Second), a National Book Award finalist that spins opposing tales of the Boxer Rebellion in a two-volume epic.

“I’ve admired Will Eisner since I was a kid,” Yang tells Comic Riffs, so “being nominated for an award named after him is such an honor.”

Yang notes that half of the six nominees in the Teen Publications category – including “Boxers” — were published by First Second Books. “As a former high-school teacher,” he says, “I’m proud to be part of an imprint that’s serving that age demographic so well.”

 

Another publisher dominating a young-readers category was TOON Books. “Not one or two, but three out of the five nominations for that category [Best Publication for Early Readers (Up to Age 7)] — I can hardly believe it,” Francoise Mouly, the publisher and editorial director of TOON Books, tells Comic Riffs. The three nominated TOON Books works were Philippe Coudray’s “Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas,” Liniers’s “The Big Wet Balloon” and “Otto’s Backwards Day” by Frank Cammuso, with Jay Lynch.

“Publishing is bleak, but we’re thriving, expanding into schools and launching a new line in the fall,” says Mouly, the New Yorker art editor who launched TOON Books in 2008. “But then we’re at the crossroad of two expanding fields: comics and high-quality kids’ books, so there’s a lot for us to celebrate.”

Mouly’s husband, “Maus” creator Art Spiegelman, received a Best Comics-Related Book nomination for “Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics and Scraps” (Drawn & Quarterly), but he was more eager to talk about his wife’s success. “Glad to see ‘Co-Mix’ in the mix in its category,” the Pulitzer-winning Spiegelman tells us, “but [am] especially glad for Francoise and the three nominations for her TOON Books. She only published five books last year.”

Leading all publishers was Image Comics with 20 nominations (three of them shared).

“Image Comics got four out of the the five Continuing Series nominations!” Yang says to Comic Riffs. “ That really says something about a company that used to be mocked for their lack of quality writing.”

Image’s noms in that category went to “East of West,” by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta; “Nowhere Men,” by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde; “Saga,” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples; and “Sex Criminals,” by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. (The other nominee is that category is Marvel’s “Hawkeye,” by Matt Fraction and David Aja.)

“To think that a year ago, I was drawing [sexual aids] for free!” Zdarsky (aka Steve Murray of the National Post) tells Comic Riffs with his characterstic wit. “I’m ecstatic to have tarnished Wil Eisner’s good name by being nominated for one of his really nice awards. I think I speak for Matt as well when I say, we only do what we do for the award nominations.”

Fantagraphics has 18 nominations – including two for Ed Piskor’s “Hip Hop Family Tree (Vol. 1)”: Best Reality-Based Work and Best Lettering. “It’s too bad there’s not a ‘coolest comic’ category,” Piskor tells Comic Riffs, “so that I could be nominated a third time.”

Also nominated for Lettering is Carla Speed McNeil, for Dark Horse’s “Bad Houses” (with Sara Ryan) and “Finder.” “My lettering is expressive, and I like to play with pacing and balloon placement for emphasis,” McNeil tells Comic Riffs, “but right now, I’m inspired to hone my skills by digging up information from the hand-lettering greats — skills that are not studied as much as maybe they should be.”

In the Reality-Based Work category, going up against “Hip Hop Family Tree” and “March” will be Peter Bagge’s “Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story” (Drawn & Quarterly). “I know this is a clichéd thing to say,” Bagge tells Comic Riffs of his biography, “but I’m up against some pretty tough competition in my book’s category, so I won’t be too shocked or devastated if I don’t win it.”

Another particularly gifted nominee is Ben Katchor, whose “Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories“ (Pantheon) is up for Best Graphic Album – Reprint. “That ‘Hand-Drying in America’ has found an audience of serious readers in the midst of a new golden age of comics makes me very happy,” Katchor tells Comic Riffs.

Brian Fies was nominated for Best Digital/Webcomic, for his “The Last Mechanical Monster.” “The ‘whoop!’ I yelled when I found out frightened my dog,” Fies tells Comic Riffs of his nomination. “What’s especially nice about having a few years behind me is seeing good people I know get well-deserved recognition.” As for his own nod, Fies notes: “It doesn’t get old and I’m as grateful as ever — maybe more so.”

DC/Vertigo received 10 nominations (two shared), including a nod for Best Adaptation From Another Medium for “Django Unchained,” which was adapted by director Quentin Tarantino, Reginald Hudlin and R.M Guera (among others).

“I am as proud of my Eisner nomination as I was of my Oscar nomination,” Hudlin tells Comic Riffs. “I am so grateful to [DC Entertainment co-publisher] Jim Lee and everyone at DC Comics, the amazing team of artists who drew the book, and most of all, Quentin Tarantino, whose brilliant screenplay made all of this happen.

“This is an innovative book in that no one I know of had ever adapted the original script of a movie, including scenes cut out of the finished film, and scenes never even shot,” Hudlin continues. “That was Quentin’s idea, and it makes for an unique experience for the reader.”

Another DC/Vertigo book, Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s “The Wake,” has five nominations, tying it with “Hawkeye”; “Saga” received four noms. And speaking of “Hawkeye,” the title’s scribe Matt Fraction will go head-to-head in the Best Writer category against his wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick — who, like her husband, is nominated for work for both Image and Marvel.

Comics industry professionals are eligible for the voting, which begins soon at www.eisnervote.com; the deadline is June 13. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony July 25 at San Diego Comic-Con International.

“I’m pretty astounded by the 2014 list,” Yang says. “What an incredible array of cartoonists!”

Here is the full 2014 Eisners ballot:

Best Short Story

“Go Owls,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #13 (Drawn & Quarterly)
“Mars to Stay,” by Brett Lewis and Cliff Chiang, in Witching Hour (DC)
“Seaside Home,” by Josh Simmons, in Habit #1 (Oily)
“Untitled,” by Gilbert Hernandez, in Love and Rockets: New Stories #6 (Fantagraphics)
“When Your House Is Burning Down, You Should Brush Your Teeth,” by Matthew Inman, theoatmeal.com/comics/house

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

Demeter, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)
Hawkeye #11: “Pizza Is My Business,” by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
Love and Rockets: New Stories #6, by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
Viewotron #2, by Sam Sharpe (self-published)
Watson and Holmes #6, by Brandon Easton, and N. Steven Harris (New Paradigm Studios)

Best Continuing Series

East of West, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Image)
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
Nowhere Men, by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde (Image)
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image)

Best Limited Series

The Black Beetle: No Way Out, by Francesco Francavilla (Dark Horse)
Colder, by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra (Dark Horse)
47 Ronin, by Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)
Trillium, by Jeff Lemire (Vertigo/DC)
The Wake, by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (Vertigo/DC)

Best New Series

High Crimes, by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa (Monkeybrain)
Lazarus, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Image)
Rat Queens, by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (Image/Shadowline)
Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image)
Watson and Holmes, by Karl Bollers, Rick Leonardi, Paul Mendoza et al. (New Paradigm Studios)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)

Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas, by Philippe Coudray (TOON Books)
The Big Wet Balloon, by Liniers (TOON Books)
Itty Bitty Hellboy, by Art Baltazar and Franco (Dark Horse)
Odd Duck, by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon  (First Second)
Otto’s Backwards Day, by Frank Cammuso (with Jay Lynch) (TOON Books)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)

The Adventures of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks (Dark Horse)
Hilda and the Bird Parade, by Luke Pearson (Nobrow)
Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood)
The Lost Boy, by Greg Ruth (Graphix/Scholastic)
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, vol. 2, edited by David Petersen, Paul Morrissey, and Rebecca Taylor (Archaia/BOOM!)
Star Wars: Jedi Academy, by Jeffrey Brown (Scholastic)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

Battling Boy, by Paul Pope (First Second)
Bluffton: My Summers with Buster, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Dogs of War, by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox (Graphix/Scholastic)
March (Book One), by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
Templar, by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puviland (First Second)

Best Humor Publication

The Adventures of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks (Dark Horse)
The Complete Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes and Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)
The (True!) History of Art, by Sylvain Coissard and Alexis Lemoine (SelfMadeHero)
Vader’s Little Princess, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)
You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Anthology

Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
Nobrow #8: Hysteria, edited by Sam Arthur and Alex Spiro (Nobrow)
Outlaw Territory, edited by Michael Woods (Image)
Smoke Signal, edited by Gabe Fowler (Desert Island)
Thrilling Adventure Hour, by Ben Acker, Ben Blacker et al. (Archaia/BOOM!)

Best Digital/Webcomic

As the Crow Flies, by Melanie Gillman, www.melaniegillman.com
Failing Sky, by Dax Tran-Caffee, failingsky.com
High Crimes, by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa (Monkeybrain), www.monkeybraincomics.com/titles/high-crimes/
The Last Mechanical Monster, by Brian Fies, lastmechanicalmonster.blogspot.com
The Oatmeal, by Matthew Inman, theoatmeal.com

Best Reality-Based Work

A Bag of Marbles, by Joseph Joffo, Kris, and Vincent Bailly (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker (M Press/Dark Horse)
Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 1, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
March (Book One), by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, by Peter Bagge (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album—New

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, by Isabel Greenberg (Little, Brown)
Good Dog, by Graham Chaffee (Fantagraphics)
Homesick by Jason Walz (Tinto Press)
The Property, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
War Brothers, by Sharon McKay and Daniel LaFrance (Annick Press)

Best Adaptation From Another Medium

The Castle, by Franz Kafka, adapted by David Zane Mairowitz and Jaromír 99 (SelfMadeHero)
The Complete Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, adapted by by Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)
Django Unchained, adapted by Quentin Tarantino, Reginald Hudlin, R. M. Guéra et al. (DC/Vertigo)
Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground, by Donald Westlake, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, by Edogawa Rampo, adapted by Suehiro Maruo  (Last Gasp)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

The Creep, by John Arcudi and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse)
Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories, by Ben Katchor (Pantheon)
Heck, by Zander Cannon (Top Shelf)
Julio’s Day, by Gilbert Hernandez  (Fantagraphics)
RASL, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
Solo: The Deluxe Edition, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips

Barnaby, vol. 1, by Crockett Johnson, edited by Philip Nel and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Percy Crosby’s Skippy Daily Comics, vol. 2: 1928–1930, edited by Jared Gardner and Dean Mullaney (LOAC/IDW)
Prince Valiant vols. 6-7, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
Society Is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy at the Dawn of the American Comic Strip, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips, vol. 1, edited by Dean Mullaney (LOAC/IDW)
VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch, edited by Jonathan Barli (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books

Best of EC Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Canteen Kate, by Matt Baker (Canton Street Press)
In the Days of the Mob, by Jack Kirby (DC)
MAD Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

Adventures of a Japanese Businessman, by Jose Domingo (Nobrow)
Goddam This War! by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney (Fantagraphics)
Incidents in the Night, Book One, by David B. (Uncivilized Books)
Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
When David Lost His Voice, by Judith Vanistendael (SelfMadeHero)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

The Heart of Thomas, by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)
The Mysterious Underground Men, by Osamu Tezuka (PictureBox)
Showa: A History of Japan, 1926–1939, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Summit of the Gods, vol. 4, by Yemmakura Baku and Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist, by Asumiko Nakamura (Vertical)

Best Writer

Kelly Sue DeConnick, Pretty Deadly (Image); Captain Marvel (Marvel)
Matt Fraction, Sex Criminals (Image); Hawkeye, Fantastic Four, FF (Marvel)
Jonathan Hickman, East of West, The Manhattan Projects (Image); Avengers, Infinity (Marvel)
Scott Snyder, Batman (DC); American Vampire, The Wake (DC/Vertigo)
Eric Stephenson, Nowhere Men (Image)
Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)

Best Writer/Artist

Isabel Greenberg, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth (Little, Brown)
Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories #6 (Fantagraphics)
Terry Moore, Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)
Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Bird Parade (Nobrow)
Matt Phelan, Bluffton: My Summers with Buster (Candlewick)
Judith Vanistendael, When David Lost His Voice (SelfMadeHero)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

Nate Bellegarde, Nowhere Men (Image)
Nick Dragotta, East of West (Image)
Sean Murphy, The Wake (DC/Vertigo)
Nate Powell, March (Book One) (Top Shelf)
Emma Ríos, Pretty Deadly (Image)
Thomas Yeates, Law of the Desert Born: A Graphic Novel (Bantam)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Andrew C. Robinson, The Fifth Beatle (Dark Horse)
Sonia Sanchéz, Here I Am (Capstone)
Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)
Ive Svorcina, Thor (Marvel)
Marguerite Van Cook, 7 Miles a Second (Fantagraphics)
Judith Vanistendael, When David Lost His Voice (SelfMadeHero)

Best Cover Artist

David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
Mike Del Mundo, X-Men Legacy (Marvel)
Sean Murphy/Jordie Belaire, The Wake (DC/Vertigo)
Emma Ríos, Pretty Deadly (Image)
Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel)
Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)

Best Coloring

Jordie Bellaire, The Manhattan Projects, Nowhere Men, Pretty Deadly, Zero (Image); The Massive (Dark Horse); Tom Strong (DC); X-Files Season 10  (IDW); Captain Marvel, Journey into Mystery (Marvel); Numbercruncher (Titan); Quantum and Woody (Valiant)
Steve Hamaker, Mylo Xyloto (Bongo), Strangers in Paradise 20th Anniversary Issue 1 (Abstract Studio), RASL (Cartoon Books)
Matt Hollingsworth, Hawkeye, Daredevil: End of Days (Marvel); The Wake (DC/Vertigo)
Frank Martin, East of West (Image)
Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien, Baltimore: The Infernal Train, BPRD: Hell on Earth, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, The Massive, The Shaolin Cowboy, Sledgehammer 44 (Dark Horse)

Best Lettering

Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground (IDW)
Carla Speed McNeil, Bad Houses; “Finder” in Dark Horse Presents (Dark Horse)
Terry Moore, Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)
Ed Piskor, Hip Hop Family Tree (Fantagraphics)
Britt Wilson, Adventure Time with Fiona and Cake (kaBOOM!)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

Comic Book Resources, produced by Jonah Weiland, www.comicbookresources.com
The Comics Journal #302, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
Comics and Cola, by Zainab Akhtar, www.comicsandcola.com
Multiversity Comics, edited by Matthew Meylikhov, www.multiversitycomics.com
tcj.com, edited by Dan Nadel and Timothy Hodler (Fantagrapahics), www.tcj.com

Best Comics-Related Book

Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary, by Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen (Bloomsbury)
The Art of Rube Goldberg, selected by Jennifer George (Abrams ComicArts)
Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps, by Art Spiegelman (Drawn & Quarterly)
Genius, Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth,  by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell (LOAC/IDW)
The Love and Rockets Companion, edited by Marc Sobel and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)

Best Scholarly/Academic Work

Anti-Foreign Imagery in American Pulps and Comic Books, 1920–1960, by Nathan Vernon Madison (McFarland)
Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation, edited by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson II (Bloomsbury)
Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art, edited by Jane Tolmie (University Press of Mississippi)
International Journal of Comic Art, edited by John A. Lent
The Superhero Reader, edited by Charles Hatfield, Jeet Heer, and Kent Worcester (University Press of Mississippi)

Best Publication Design
The Art of Rube Goldberg, designed by Chad W. Beckerman (Abrams ComicArts)
Beta Testing the Apocalypse, designed by Tom Kaczynski (Fantagraphics)
Genius, Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (LOAC/IDW)
The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme: A Panorama, by Joe Sacco, designed by Chin-Yee Lai (Norton)
Little Tommy Lost, Book 1, designed by Cole Closser (Koyama)

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