"Building Stories" by Chris Ware won a leading four Eisner Awards on Friday.Link
"Saga," by writer Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, won three Eisner Awards on Friday night. (Fiona Staples / Image Comics)Link
"Hawkeye" writer Matt Fraction is a 2014 Eisner Award nominee. (David Aja / Marvel)Link
"Bandette," by the husband-and-wife team of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover won for digital comic. (Monkeybrain Comics)Link
Chris Ware’s innovative “Building Stories” had a lease on the Eisner Awards dais Friday night at Comic-Con International in San Diego, winning four awards — the most of any project this year.
The unconventional set — a box containing 14 related but free-standing comics about residents who share a building — took home the prizes for writer/artist, new graphic album, publication design and lettering. Times book critic David L. Ulin wrote that with “Building Stories” Ware “has upped the ante, pushing comics in a new direction while paying tribute to their history.”
Editor Chip Kidd, accepting the trophies on behalf of the absent creator, cracked early in the ceremony — the Oscars of comics — in the Hilton Bayfront’s Indigo Ballroom that “giving Chris Ware an award for lettering is kind of like giving Frank Lloyd Wright an award for doorknobs.”
“Saga,” by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, was the night’s other big winner. The wild sci-fi Image series about a couple from warring species on the run after having a child claimed three awards – continuing series, new series and writer.
Image Publisher Eric Stephenson, who accepted the statuettes on behalf of the absent winners, repeatedly thanked voters for choosing the creator-owned series but also said he thought it was “kind of a crime” that Staples wasn’t nominated for her art. (Eisner nominees originate with a small panel; finalists are then voted on by industry professionals.)
In addition to Ware and the “Saga” team, David Aja and Juanjo Guarnido also won multiple awards. The Spain-based Aja won the prizes for penciller/inker and cover artist for his work on Marvel’s “Hawkeye,” tying in the former category with Chris Samnee for his work on Marvel’s “Daredevil” and IDW’s “Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom.” Aja’s editor, Stephen Wacker, accepted on his behalf. Guarnido won painter/multimedia artist for “Blacksad” (Dark Horse) and with Juan Diaz Canales on “Blacksad: Silent Hell” (Dark Horse).
Neil Gaiman, whose “Sandman” is being celebrated at the convention to mark its 25th anniversary, presented a series of awards late in the program with British television host Jonathan Ross, who ribbed him about his new novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” saying that although it had beaten Dan Brown for a week on the New York Times bestseller list, “It’s no ‘Da Vinci Code.’ ” And Ross did a running bit about kissing Gaiman that culminated with actor John Barrowman (“Doctor Who,” “Arrow”) planting one on Ross and then Kidd — celebrating a “Building Stories” win — doing the same to Gaiman.
“I can think of no finer gentleman to have snogged on stage,” Gaiman said of Kidd.
Other presenters during the ceremony included comedian-podcaster-TV-host Chris Hardwick, who joked about geeking out over Sergio Aragones and twirling the Groo creator’s mustache backstage, and actor Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Blade Runner”), whose presence thrilled artist Guarnido. After accepting an award from the actor, he said, “I can die now that Edward James Olmos just said my name.”
Digital comic prize winners and husband-and-wife team Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s “Bandette” marked the first win for MonkeyBrain Comics, started last year by another husband-and-wife team, Chris Roberson and Allison Baker.
The sister-and-brother team of Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm won the award for publication for early readers for their “Babymouse for President” (Random House). In their acceptance speeches, Matthew Holm thanked librarians, “our biggest advocates.”
In terms of most company wins — counting ties and individuals who won for work across multiple publishers — Image led with five; Pantheon and Dark Horse both followed with four; Marvel and IDW each had three.
The legacy of the late Kim Thompson, cofounder of Fantagraphics, was evident throughout the ceremony, as he was honored in thanks from several winners — including journalism winner Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter, who said Thompson gave him his first job in comics — and in closing remarks by Gaiman.
Below is a complete list of winners.
Continuing series: “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
New series: “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
Digital comic: “Bandette” by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, “Saga” (Image)
Writer-artist: Chris Ware, “Building Stories” (Pantheon)
Penciller/inker or penciller/inker team: TIE – David Aja, “Hawkeye” (Marvel); Chris Samnee, “Daredevil” (Marvel) and “Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom” (IDW)
Cover artist: David Aja, “Hawkeye” (Marvel)
Painter/multimedia artist: Juanjo Guarnido, “Blacksad” (Dark Horse)
Coloring: Dave Stewart, “Batwoman” (DC), “Fatale” (Image), “BPRD” (Dark Horse), “Conan the Barbarian” (Dark Horse), “Hellboy in Hell” (Dark Horse), “Lobster Johnson” (Dark Horse), “The Massive” (Dark Horse)
Lettering: Chris Ware, “Building Stories” (Pantheon)
Graphic album – new: “Building Stories,” Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Graphic album – reprint: “King City” by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)
Single issue (or one-shot): “The Mire” by Becky Cloonan (self-published)
Anthology: “Dark Horse Presents” edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
Humor publication: “Darth Vader and Son” by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)
Reality-based work: TIE – “Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller” by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion); “The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song” by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)
Short story: “Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Landing” by Michael Kupperman, in “Tales Designed to Thrizzle” No. 8 (Fantagraphics)
U.S. edition of international material: “Blacksad: Silent Hell” by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
U.S. edition of international material – Asia: “Naoki Urasawa’s 20 Century Boys” by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
Adaptation from another medium: “Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score” adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
Archival collection/project – comic books: “David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition,” edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Archival collection/project – comic strips: “Pogo, Vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash” by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
Publication for teens: “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)
Publication for kids: “Adventure Time” by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb (kaboom)
Publication for early readers: “Babymouse for President” by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
Publication design: “Building Stories,” designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Educational/academic work: “Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass” by Susan E. Kirtley (University Press of Mississippi)
Comics-related book: “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story” by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)
Comics-related journalism: The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon
Hall of Fame: Judges’ choices: Mort Meskin (Vigilante, Johnny Quick), Spain Rodriguez (creator of Trashman); other inductees: Lee Falk (creator of the Phantom), Al Jaffee (creator of MAD magazine’s fold-ins, and still doing them in his 90s), Trina Robbins (co-creator of Vampirella), Joe Sinnott (longtime inker on “Fantastic Four” and other Marvel titles).
Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award: Russel Roehling, artist of “Wasteland” (Oni)
Bill Finger Excellence in Comics Writing Award: Steve Gerber (“Howard the Duck”); Don Rosa (Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck stories)
Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Chris Sparks of “Team Cul de Sac,” which raises funds to fight Parkinson’s disease
Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Challengers Comics & Conversation in Chicago
— Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon
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