July 23, 2016 at 3:00 PM
SIX DECADES ago, Congress was weighing whether comics were fostering delinquency among America's young. On Friday night, on the opposite coast, a sitting congressman was honored for his creative commitment to educating through comics.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was a cartoon-reading teenager when the Comics Code Authority began issuing its protective stamp of approval in 1954, achieved a unique milestone Friday night at San Diego's Comic-Con International, becoming the first sitting politician to win an Eisner Award.
"March: Book Two," last year's installment in Lewis's graphic memoir of the civil rights movement, was voted Best Reality-Based Work by comics pros at the 2016 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, which are widely considered to be "the Oscars of comics."
"I am delighted and overjoyed that the story of 'March' is so pleasing to so many people all over America," Lewis told The Washington Post's Comic Riffs. "This is a great honor to receive an Eisner with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell."
"I'm overwhelmed," said Aydin, Lewis's staff aide and co-author of the "March" trilogy, noting that he — like the congressman — grew up reading comics. "For the comics community to honor us this way means they believe we did justice to the story of John Lewis, his friends and colleagues in the movement, and the sacrifices of so many. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who worked to help us make these books and get them out into the world."
Powell, himself a prior Eisner winner for 2008's "Swallow Me Whole," has illustrated the entire trilogy.
"I'm so moved to have this massive, unlikely project embraced and recognized so by the comics realm and by my comics-making peers," Powell told The Post. "Our medium houses one of the most inclusive and supportive communities I've ever known — full of people focused on pushing ideas, on presenting visions of the world as it might be, and it's inspiring every day to create work alongside them."
The best-selling "March" series (Top Shelf/IDW) has previously received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award; was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; and has been added to the reading programs of many U.S. school systems and universities. "March: Book Three" will be published Aug. 2.
At last year's Comic-Con, Lewis cosplayed as his 25-year-old self as he led children through the San Diego Convention Center, marking the 50th-anniversary of his historic Selma, Ala., march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A similar convention-hall march is planned for this year's Comic-Con.
Lewis — who in 2011 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. He has said that reading the mid-'50s comic book, "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story" helped spark his interest in the civil rights movement and put him on a lifelong path of nonviolent activism. (The Eisners also continue to reward the growing body of scholarship about black comics, as Rutgers University's "The Blacker the Ink" was honored.)
The congressman said that Aydin's announcement more than five years ago that he was heading to San Diego's Comic-Con — which prompted some "geek" teasing among office staffers as well as Lewis's enlightened admonishment and sharing of his own personal history with comics — helped lead to the creation of "March." So in one aspect, Friday's Eisner Award represents coming full circle.
"March" was also Eisner-nominated for best publication for teens — a category that was won by Jillian Tamaki's "SuperMutant Magic Academy."
Tamaki's win was part of a banner night for the publisher Drawn & Quarterly, which also won: best short story for Adrian Tomine's "Killing and Dying"; best humor publication for Kate Beaton's "Step Aside, Pops!"; best U.S. edition of international material from Asia for Shigeru Mizuki's latest in the "Showa" history of Japan; and for the publisher's own remarkable silver-anniversary anthology.
Related: [Best graphic novels of 2015]
Image had a big night as well, with seven awards for its creators, including colorist extraordinaire Jordie Bellaire (whose winning portfolio also included the publishers IDW, Dark Horse and Marvel); Dustin Nguyen, who won for his art on "Descender"; writer Jason Aaron ("Southern Bastards" with Jason Latour, plus Marvel and Marvel Icon titles); Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser ("The Fade Out"); and penciler/inker Cliff Chiang, whose "Paper Girls" (with Brian K. Vaughan) also won best new series.
"I've never won anything in comics before, so I wasn't prepared for what an altogether humbling experience it is," Chiang told Comic Riffs. "Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting us and our fellow nominees. Their stellar work is what makes this an honor, and I honestly feel that the future of comics has never been brighter."
BOOM! Studios, IDW and Fantagraphics also picked up multiple trophies, and Marvel talents (including cover artist David Aja) won multiple honors.
The Fantagraphics wins included the best writer/artist trophy for "Zippy the Pinhead" creator Bill Griffith, who won for the graphic novel "Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair With a Famous Cartoonist."
"I am having fun! Didn't know about the award until 11 this morning," Griffith told Comic Riffs, noting that he was "grateful to all the voters and the judges for my first Eisner."
" 'Invisible Ink' was, indeed, a labor of love — [it's] nice to know others love it, as well," he said.
Peter Kuper won the new graphic album award, for "Ruins" from SelfMade Hero.
Voters chose Lynda Barry, Rube Goldberg, Matt Groening and Jacques Tardi for the Eisner Hall of Fame; they join the previously announced Judges' Choices for the Hall of Fame: Carl Burgos and Tove Jansson.
"I'm completely thrilled," Barry (whose re-edition of "The Greatest of Marleys" debuted at this Comic-Con) told Comic Riffs. "It's the kind of joy that has roots right back to being [age] 5 and discovering the daily comics. I'm just so very very happy.
"I think I'm only the fifth woman to be included," continued Barry, who was a finalist for the NCS Reuben Award this summer. "If that's so, I hope that changes rapidly."
Dan Mora received the Russ Manning "promising newcomer" award; Richard E. Hughes and Elliot S. Maggin received the Bill Finger award for comic book writing excellence; and "The Oatmeal" creator Matthew Inman won the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.
"I think what happened with the Tesla Museum, and my crowdfunding campaign to save it, is a terrific example of the power of cartooning," Inman told The Post's Comic Riffs. "Convincing people to raise money for a game, gadget or book is hard enough, but convincing them to raise money for a museum honoring an inventor who has been dead for 70 years is remarkably difficult — so I think it's a great testament to the power of comics and storytelling.
"Bottom line: I'm honored," Inman continued. "I'm going to hang the Clampett next to my other plaque, which I received from the National Wildlife Federation naming me the official 'Champion of Bears' in the United States of America."
Another evening highlight: Alt-weekly cartoonist turned graphic-novel rock star Derf won for his lettering on "Trashed" (Abrams).
"My first Eisner at age 56. I'm calling it my About [Expletive] Time Eisner!," John "Derf" Backderf told Comic Riffs.
"What a great night," continued Derf, who held up hand-lettered cards during his acceptance speech. "I got hugs from Lynda Barry and posed for photos with congressman John Lewis, while wearing a Ramones shirt and holding an Eisner. What's not to love?"
Here is the full list of 2016 Eisner Awards winners, which are marked in BOLD:
Best short story
"Black Death in America," by Tom King and John Paul Leon, in Vertigo Quarterly: Black (Vertigo/DC)
"Hand Me Down," by Kristyna Baczynski, in 24 x 7 (Fanfare Presents)
"It's Going to Be Okay," by Matthew Inman, in "The Oatmeal," (theoatmeal.com/comics/plane)
"Killing and Dying," by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly)
"Lion and Mouse," by R. Sikoryak, in Fable Comics (First Second)
Best single issue/one-shot
"A Blanket of Butterflies," by Richard Van Camp and Scott B. Henderson (HighWater Press)
"I Love This Part," by Tillie Walden (Avery Hill)
"Mowgli's Mirror," by Olivier Schrauwen (Retrofit/Big Planet)
"Pope Hats #4," by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse)
"Silver Surfer #11: Never After," by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)
Best continuing series
"Bandette," by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
"Giant Days," by John Allison, Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin (BOOM! Box)
"Invincible," by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn (Image/Skybound)
"Silver Surfer," by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)
"Southern Bastards," by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)
Best limited series
"Chrononauts," by Mark Millar and Sean Murphy (Image)
"The Fade Out," by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
"Lady Killer," by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich (Dark Horse)
"Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions," by Bob Fingerman (Image)
"The Spire," by Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely (BOOM! Studios)
Best new series
"Bitch Planet," by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (Image)
"Harrow County," by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook (Dark Horse)
"Kaijumax," by Zander Cannon (Oni)
"Monstress," by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)
"Paper Girls," by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)
"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)
Best publication for early readers (up to age 8)
"Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion," by Dominque Roques and Alexis Dormal (First Second)
"Little Robot," by Ben Hatke (First Second)
"The Only Child," by Guojing (Schwartz & Wade)
"SheHeWe," by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch (Lerner Graphic Universe)
"Written and Drawn by Henrietta," by Liniers (TOON Books)
Best publication for kids (ages 9 to 12)
"Baba Yaga's Assistant," by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll (Candlewick)
"Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War," by Jessica Dee Humphreys, Michel Chikwanine, and Claudia Davila (Kids Can Press)
"Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor," by Nathan Hale (Abrams Amulet)
"Over the Garden Wall," by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)
"Roller Girl," by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books)
"Sunny Side Up," by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm (Scholastic Graphix)
Best publication for teens (ages 13 to 17)
"Awkward," by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press)
"Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans," by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
"March: Book Two," by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
"Moose," by Max de Radiguès (Conundrum)
"Oyster War," by Ben Towle (Oni)
"SuperMutant Magic Academy," by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best humor publication
"Cyanide & Happiness: Stab Factory," by Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, and Dave McElfatrick (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box)
"Deep Dark Fears," by Fran Krause (Ten Speed Press)
"Sexcastle," by Kyle Starks (Image)
"Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection," by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
"UR," by Eric Haven (AdHouse)
Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain Comics/comiXology)
"Fresh Romance," edited by Janelle Asselin (Rosy Press/comiXology)
"The Legend of Wonder Woman," by Renae De Liz (DC Digital)
"Lighten Up," by Ronald Wimberly (The Nib).
"These Memories Won't Last," by Stu Campbell [memories.sutueatsflies.com/].
"Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels," edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
"Eat More Comics: The Best of the Nib," edited by Matt Bors (The Nib)
"24 by 7," edited by Dan Berry (Fanfare Presents)
"Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Vol. 3," edited by David Petersen (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
"Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz," edited by Shannon Watters (kaBOOM!)
Best reality-based work
"The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978–1984," by Riad Sattouf (Metropolitan Books)
"Displacement: A Travelogue," by Lucy Knisley (Fantagraphics)
"Hip Hop Family Tree, Book 3: 1983–1984," by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
"Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist," by Bill Griffith (Fantagraphics)
"March: Book Two," by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
"The Story of My Tits," by Jennifer Hayden (Top Shelf/IDW)
Best graphic album — new
"Long Walk to Valhalla," by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox (BOOM!/Archaia)
"Nanjing: The Burning City," by Ethan Young (Dark Horse)
"Ruins," by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)
"Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen," by Dylan Horrocks (Fantagraphics)
"The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage," by Sydney Padua (Pantheon)
Best graphic album — reprint
"Angry Youth Comix," by Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphics)
"Roses in December: A Story of Love and Alzheimer's," by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers (Kent State University Press)
"The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal Omnibus," by E.K. Weaver (Iron Circus Comics)
"Nimona," by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)
"Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father," by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)
Best adaptation from another medium
"Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewitt," by Rebecca Goldfield, Mike Short and Matt Dembicki (Fulcrum)
"City of Clowns," by Daniel Alarcón and Sheila Alvarado (Riverhead Books)
"Ghetto Clown," by John Leguizamo, Christa Cassano, and Shamus Beyale (Abrams ComicArts)
"Lafcadio Hearn's 'The Faceless Ghost' and Other Macabre Tales From Japan," adapted by Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa (Shambhala)
"Two Brothers," by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
Best U.S. edition of international material
"Alpha … Directions," by Jens Harder (Knockabout/Fanfare)
"The Eternaut," by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez (Fantagraphics)
"A Glance Backward," by Pierre Paquet and Tony Sandoval (Magnetic Press)
"The March of the Crabs," by Arthur de Pins (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
"The Realist," by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
Best U.S. edition of international material — Asia
"Assassination Classroom, Vols. 2–7," by Yusei Matsui (VIZ)
"A Bride's Story," by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)
"Master Keaton, Vols. 2–4," by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, and Takashi Nagasaki (VIZ)
"Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan," by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
"A Silent Voice," by Yoshitoki Oima (Kodansha)
"Sunny," by Taiyo Matsumoto (VIZ)
Best archival collection/project — strips
"Beyond Mars," by Jack Williamson and Lee Elias, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/LOAC)
"Cartoons for Victory," by Warren Bernard (Fantagraphics)
"The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Vol. 4," by Tom Batiuk, edited by Mary Young (Black Squirrel Books)
"The Eternaut," by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
"Kremos: The Lost Art of Niso Ramponi, Vols. 1 and 2," edited by Joseph P. Procopio (Picture This/Lost Art Books)
"White Boy in Skull Valley," by Garrett Price, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
Best archival collection/project — comic books
"Frank Miller's Ronin Gallery Edition," edited by Bob Chapman (Graphitti Designs/DC)
"P. Craig Russell's Murder Mystery and Other Stories Gallery Edition," edited by Daniel Chabon (Dark Horse)
"The Puma Blues: The Complete Saga," by Stephen Murphy, Alan Moore, Michael Zulli, Stephen R. Bissette, and Dave Sim (Dover)
"Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library, Vols. 3–4," edited by David Gerstein (Fantagraphics)
"Walt Kelly's Fairy Tales," edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)
Jason Aaron, "Southern Bastards" (Image), "Men of Wrath" (Marvel Icon), "Doctor Strange," "Star Wars," "Thor" (Marvel)
John Allison, "Giant Days" (BOOM Studios!)
Ed Brubaker, "The Fade Out," "Velvet," "Criminal Special Edition" (Image)
Marjorie Liu, "Monstress" (Image)
G. Willow Wilson, "Ms. Marvel" (Marvel)
Bill Griffith, "Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist" (Fantagraphics)
Nathan Hale, "Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor" (Abrams)
Sydney Padua, "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage" (Pantheon)
Ed Piskor, "Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 3" (Fantagraphics)
Noah Van Sciver, "Fante Bukowski," "Saint Cole" (Fantagraphics)
Best penciler/inker or penciler/inker team
Michael Allred, "Silver Surfer" (Marvel); "Art Ops" (Vertigo/DC)
Cliff Chiang, "Paper Girls" (Image)
Erica Henderson, "Jughead" (Archie), "Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" (Marvel)
Joëlle Jones, "Lady Killer" (Dark Horse), "Brides of Helheim" (Oni)
Nate Powell, "March, Book Two" (Top Shelf/IDW)
Best painter/multimedia artist
Federico Bertolucci, "Love: The Tiger" and "Love: The Fox" (Magnetic Press)
Colleen Coover, "Bandette" (Monkeybrain)
Carita Lupattelli, "Izuna" (Humanoids)
Dustin Nguyen, "Descender" (Image)
Tony Sandoval, "A Glance Backward" (Magnetic Press)
Best cover artist
David Aja, "Hawkeye," "Karnak, Scarlet Witch" (Marvel)
Rafael Albuquerque, "Ei8ht" (Dark Horse), "Huck" (Image)
Amanda Conner, "Harley Quinn" (DC)
Joëlle Jones, "Lady Killer" (Dark Horse), "Brides of Helheim" (Oni)
Ed Piskor, "Hip Hop Family Tree" (Fantagraphics)
Laura Allred, "Lady Killer" (Dark Horse); "Silver Surfer" (Marvel); "Art OPS" (Vertigo/DC)
Jordie Bellaire, "The Autumnlands," "Injection," "Plutona," "Pretty Deadly," "The Surface," "They're Not Like Us," "Zero" (Image); "The X-Files" (IDW); "The Massive" (Dark Horse); "Magneto," "Vision" (Marvel)
Elizabeth Breitwiser, "The Fade Out," "Criminal Magazine," "Outcast," "Velvet" (Image)
John Rauch, "The Beauty" (Image); "Batman: Arkham Knight," "Earth 2: Society" (DC); "Runaways" (Marvel)
Dave Stewart, "Abe Sapien," "BPRD Hell on Earth," "Fight Club 2," "Frankenstein Underground," "Hellboy in Hell," "Hellboy and the BPRD," (Dark Horse); "Sandman: Overture," "Twilight Children" (Vertigo/DC), "Captain America: White" (Marvel), "Space Dumplins" (Scholastic Graphix)
Derf Backderf, "Trashed" (Abrams)
Steve Dutro, "Blood-C," "Midnight Society," "Plants vs Zombies" (Dark Horse)
Lucy Knisley, "Displacement" (Fantagraphics)
Troy Little, "Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (Top Shelf/IDW)
Kevin McCloskey, "We Dig Worms!" (TOON Books)
Best comics-related periodical/journalism
"Alter Ego," edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
"Back Issue," edited by Michael Eury (TwoMorrows)
Comic Riffs blog by Michael Cavna (washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/)
"Hogan's Alley," edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan's Alley)
"Jack Kirby Collector," edited by John Morrow (TwoMorrows)
Best comics-related book
"Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America," by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)
"King of the Comics: One Hundred Years of King Features Syndicate," edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/LOAC)
"Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts," by Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear (Abrams ComicArts)
"Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer," by Martha Fay (Abrams ComicArts)
"Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel," by Paul Levitz (Abrams ComicArts)
Best academic/scholarly work
"The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art," edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)
"Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan," edited by Mark McLelland et al. (University Press of Mississippi)
"Graphic Medicine Manifesto," by M. K. Czerwiec et al. (Penn State University Press)
"Superheroes on World Screens," edited by Rayna Denison and Rachel Mizsei-Ward (University Press of Mississippi)
"Unflattening," by Nick Sousanis (Harvard University Press)
Best publication design
"Beyond the Surface," designed by Nicolas André, Sam Arthur, Alex Spiro, and Camille Pichon (Nobrow)
"The Eternaut," designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
"Eventually Everything Connects," designed by Loris Lora, Sam Arthur, Alex Spiro, and Camille Pichon (Nobrow)
"King of the Comics: One Hundred Years of King Features Syndicate," designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/LOAC)
"Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts," designed by Chip Kidd (Abrams ComicArts)
"Sandman Gallery Edition," designed by Graphitti Designs and Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)