The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards nominees for 2013 have been announced! We reviewers here at No Flying No Tights decided to gather together and do what comes naturally to any fan: debate the choices, consider this year’s categories, speculate about titles missing from the roster, and give out kudos to all the nominees (highlighting our favorites.)
Note from the editor: Having been on the inside of this award as a judge, and just as a librarian using the list every year, I frequently feel that the nominations are ultimately more useful even than the winners. The nominees are all worth our time and consideration, which is part of why considering this list is so much fun.
First, the kudos
Robin: I’ll start. I was pleased as punch with the kids comics categories (both of them). I was so glad to finally see Babymouse nominations (and am a bit amazed it took so darned long), and I’m happy that the TOON/Candlewick books are getting strong notice.
Snow: My main focus, as you all know, is kids’ comics, so I was THRILLED with the kids nominations, especially in the Early Reader category. I can’t believe that it’s taken the comic industry this long to realize that Babymouse is brilliant (or that it exists, even, but that’s a different rant), but at least they’ve finally joined in the love. I was also very excited that Kitty & Dino got a nod. I really love that beautiful, almost wordless picture book graphic novel. It’s funny and gorgeous and the recognition is well-deserved.
Sheli: Fantagraphics and Image should be so stoked right now. They took the lion’s share of the nominations, with Marvel making an appearance (largely for Hawkeye) and DC just getting a cover nod.
That’s crazy and awesome.
Jennifer W.: I loved Hilda and the Midnight Giant and I was surprised and thrilled that the kids agreed with me. Usually they won’t check out oddly shaped or different graphic novels. The Oz adaptations have also gone really well – I have a group of elementary-aged girls reading them and I just got some boys interested who liked the “scary pictures”.
Jenny: As for things I’ve read, I’m happy to see King City, Saga, Sailor Twain, Blacksad: The Silent Hell, The Unwritten, Nononba, and Amulet and their various creators nominated.
I’m eagerly looking forward to reading many of the other titles on the list when I can (I’ve got New York, Mon Amour at home right now, am on hold for A Chinese Life, and look forward to seeing how the Adventure Time comic compares to the cartoon), but it would be nice to see more variety.
Traci: I am super excited about Hawkeye – I just got and read the trade paperback at my library, and wow is it funny. I was lol-ing all over the place! And, I really love the Adventure Time comics and Darth Vader and Son, too.
And, I was super, super excited to see that Julia Wertz’s book The Infinite Wait and Other Stories was nominated. What a really awesome book.
And…Wizzywig…and Comics Alliance!
And now, for the criticism
Robin: While I loved Ichiro, Annie Sullivan, and the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation, and am very happy to see those titles pulled out for notice, I felt that in general the teen category was 1) generally a good bit younger than most titles teens actually read and 2) once again woefully lacking in manga. No one at the Eisners seems to remember that teens read a whole lot of manga, of all the age categories.
Snow: I’m okay with the teen nominations, in general. I haven’t read any of the Adventure Time comics yet, but the others in the teen category were ones I liked, even if I still don’t think the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation is really necessary. (But it is pretty!) I do agree with Robin, though, that manga just isn’t being given the attention it merits based on usage by the target audience.
Sheli: I read a post earlier that noted how odd it was that Saga makes such a clean sweep, but then there’s no love for Fiona Staples in the art category.
As always it’s a bummer that manga is regulated to the Best US Adaption of International Material. Then again, with the manga craze having calmed down, I’m having a hard time thinking up 2013 series that my teens fell in love with. Any reminders would be appreciated.
Gail: As I love Saga and we are publishing an article on Fiona Staples in our upcoming book on Canadian Identity in Comics, I was pleased to see how many nods went to that title but dismayed that she was shut out of the illustrator category.
Jennifer W.: I don’t think of A Wrinkle in Time and Annie Sullivan as teen titles – I put them both in juvenile. The teens at my library read manga and superhero comics. It’s really hard to get them to read graphic novels (except Faith Erin Hicks, who’s always popular)
Russ: I’ll chime in and agree that the teen list is a little wonky. How do the Adventure Time titles (which I otherwise dearly love) get nods in both the kids and teen lists? Of the things listed there, I would only put Ichiro and Spera in teen.
Jenny: But I, too, frown at the lack of individual recognition for Fiona Staples and at the big gaping hole that is manga. A huge percentage of what I read (for me, for fun) is manga, and I read A LOT. There is so much wonderful stuff out there! Why isn’t it better represented?!
Robin: One thing about the lack of manga, at least from my own experience judging, is that judges are selected with different interests and experiences in mind, including having someone who’s a manga fan or at least significantly aware of manga. If you look at this year’s panel of judges, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who stands out as a manga fan per se, but that could just be the bios.
My year the judges created the manga category (Best U.S. Edition of International Material — Asia) for the first time, in 2007, and I’m glad its there, but I do sometimes wonder if it makes it more likely for judges to leave manga out of other categories. But that is just speculation — I also know that so much is discussed during judging that we will never know, and I trust the judges to have done a considerate job.
Jenny: From what you and other Eisner veterans have said before, Robin, judging sounds like a lot of hard work! I imagine it probably is just a matter of not having a big manga reader on the panel this year. I know my own reading habits have some pretty sizeable interest gaps (superheroes! horror!), so I’m sympathetic. We’ve had some really swell manga titles come out already in 2013, though, so hopefully there’ll be a bigger field recognized next time. *crosses fingers*
I’d wondered about the separate category for manga being both a big plus and a little minus, too. But I’m glad it’s there, as well.
Traci: I wished that the TOON book of Benjamin Bear had been nominated; it’s been my favorite of the Toon books so far.
I was surprised that none of the New 52 was nominated for anything? Did I miss something? I just really enjoyed the Court of Owls storyline and Animal Man and Swamp Thing, so I was just surprised that my opinion doesn’t dictate award nominations.
Robin: Super excited to see both Sailor Twain and Crogan’s Loyalty pulled out for recognition as well — I’ve a personal connection to both creators at this point, and I couldn’t be happier for them!
And, probably like everyone else in the world, I’m totally excited to see all the love for Hawkeye and Saga.
In terms of art, I’m particularly glad to see David Aja recognized for Hawkeye and Becky Cloonan for Conan and The Muse.
Sheli: I loved seeing Bandette, Adventure Time, and Sailor Twain make the cut. Really, there’s not a lot I’m not supportive of. It’s no shock to say I loved Saga and Hawkeye. I also love Hickman and Brandon Graham, so it’s celebration times all around!
Robin: Even if Snow may not want this aired, I am sad to see that her and Scott Robin’s excellent A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids Comics did not pick up a nomination. I’m biased, I know, but I believe it deserved the nod at the very least!
Gail: Absolutely love Hilda and the Midnight Giant — rooting for her!
I want to echo Robin’s comment about A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids Comics — it definitely deserved to be nominated.
Allen: My brother did one of the comics in the Where Is Dead Zero anthology 🙂
Traci: First off – just to echo everyone else – A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids Comics should have been nominated! I put our reference copy in my Juv Comics section, and it gets so much use! Parents and kids really love it!!
Jenny: I am extra impatient to read Hawkeye now, thanks to all the excited reactions from the NFNT crew. I hope my hold comes in sooooon.
Snow: Jenny, I’m with you! Where’s my Hawkeye? *runs off to check library hold list…again*