Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eisner Noms - A Rebuttal

The 2010 Eisner Award Nominees were announced this week and the internet has been understandably abuzz with speculation about who will win and who will go home disappointed. Before we even speculate about who will be leaving empty handed, let's first address all the deserving creators who didn't get invited to the dance at all.

Certainly every year the Eisners leave out creators or titles that a large section of comicdom believe to be deserving of nomination. But this year seems particularly baffling. No nominations for Jason Aaron in any category? No love shown for Batman & Robin or B.P.R.D., two of the most successful and rewarding ongoing series? A nomination for James Robinson for Cry for Justice, a book widely considered to be one of the worst comics ever? And that's just a few examples.

In response to my own confusion over this list of nominees, I've decided to highlight a few categories and give you my opinion on who should have been nominated and who should have been omitted.

  • Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy et al. (Vertigo/DC)
  • Irredeemable, by Mark Waid and Peter Krause (BOOM!)
  • Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
  • The Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)
  • The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard (Image)
Where is Scalped? How about Northlanders? Maybe Batman & Robin even? Everyone knows that I'm a big fan of Mark Waid's and a big supporter of BOOM! Studios. I've even evangelized the series Irredeemable on this very blog on more than one occasion, so it would be hard for me to argue against its inclusion in this category. It's my understanding that the Eisners try to focus on the portions of a series that came out in the year in question, not simply the series as a whole. If that's the case, then Irredeemable was one of the best titles of 2009. I've had issue with the last few issues, feeling the series getting bogged down a bit in various side plots, but it's hard to argue with its success out of the gate.

Even with my misgivings about the series currently, I've certainly enjoyed what little there has been of Irredeemable more than I ever have The Walking Dead or Fables. While I'm aware both have a very large, dedicated following, neither title has ever really moved me. The Walking Dead has always had trouble holding my interest, as I don't see anything in it that I feel goes beyond the things I've already seen in the oeuvre of George A. Romero. As for Fables, my issues with the title run deep and would require more than a few sentences to address. Needless to say, I don't think it's more deserving of this nomination than either of the two Vertigo titles I mentioned above.


  • Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, by Jarrett J. Krosoczeka (Knopf)
  • The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, by Eleanor Davis (Bloomsbury)
  • Tiny Tyrant vol. 1: The Ethelbertosaurus, by Lewis Trondheim and Fabrice Parme (First Second)
  • The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (Abrams ComicArts/Toon)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz hc, by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young (Marvel)
The omission of BOOM! Studios from this category is shocking. BOOM! has gone to great lengths since acquiring the Disney brand to produce quality comics for a younger audience. While it would be simple to slap Mickey or Donald's face on a cover and let the iconography do all the work, BOOM! have been excellent stewards of their licensed publications. Not content to simply slap together a few brightly colored kids books void of much substance, they have taken the best of Disney's brands (most notably the Pixar stable of characters) and created engaging titles that bring kids (and adults) back for more each month. The Incredibles is chief amongst these titles, but you could easily have their Muppet Show titles, Monsters, Inc. or Finding Nemo here as well. Not to discount the work of other creators and publishers in this category, but the lack of any BOOM! Studios titles in this category is a major oversight.

  • Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Daredevil, Marvels Project (Marvel) Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)
  • Geoff Johns, Adventure Comics, Blackest Night, The Flash: Rebirth, Superman: Secret Origin (DC)
  • James Robinson, Justice League: Cry for Justice (DC)
  • Mark Waid, Irredeemable, The Incredibles (BOOM!)
  • Bill Willingham, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
Brubaker can stay. Waid too. Though I've not been overly moved by the last few issues of Irredeemable, the fact remains that I am still interested in the title and that his work on The Incredibles ongoing is some of the best comics of the year. Even Willingham (though I'm not a fan) can stick around, as the man continues to have wild creative success with Fables. But Robinson and Johns, the two men largely responsible for my almost complete lack of interest in major DC superhero titles currently, have no business on this list. While I won't argue that Johns has had successes in the past, I don't consider any of the books he's nominated for to be successful. Flash: Rebirth was particularly bad and my opinion on Blackest Night has been well documented. If we're nominating writers based solely on proliferation, then give Johns the award now and let's go home. But shouldn't this be about quality? One could certainly argue that the number of titles Johns is currently writing have greatly affected the quality of his storytelling.

As egregious as I may find that nomination, nothing is more baffling than Robinson's. The once great storyteller behind Starman and The Golden Age has, of late, seemed unfocused at best and unreadable at worst. His contribution to the Superman mythos over the last year had it's high points, but for the most part fell short of my (less than considerable) expectations. But Cry for Justice, a book that DC has stood so bafflingly solid behind, was one of the worst stories ever committed to the pages of our fair medium. While I may sound hyperbolic, I defy you to find evidence to the contrary. The series was panned by most major comics media outlets and the final issue even managed to net the dubious honor of a 1 Star Review at IGN . It is this title, and this title alone, that Robinson receives a Best Writer nomination for.

Certainly Jason Aaron, who has made Ghost Rider a must-read, who understands Wolverine as well (if not better) than any writer to come before him and who continues to weave a compelling story on his own title, Scalped, deserved some recognition here. But Aaron isn't the only omission. What about Rick Remender, whose ballsy turn on The Punisher has been one of the most enjoyable books on the shelf throughout and beyond Dark Reign? What about Brian Wood, who has returned recently to Demo and who puts out two consistently good titles in DMZ and Northlanders? Or how about Jeff Parker, who turns every Marvel character he touches into a must read? Is this category about guys who sell the most books, or guys who tell the best stories?

The above are the categories that bugged me most, though there are a few other issues I had with the nominations this year (no nods for Batman & Robin). One of the biggest is the complete omission of Wednesday Comics. Did the committee simply not know how to categorize it? Perhaps, though it seems to me it would have worked just fine in the Best Anthology category.

I believe I've said my piece (doubtful, actually), so I'll open this up to discussion now. I hope you've enjoyed my career suicide.

GB Williams out.

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