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“Astro City,” “Gon,” “Hellboy,” “Castle Waiting” Big Eisner Award Winners

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It was a good night to be involved with “Kurt Busiek’s Astro City” at the Eisner Awards, announced Friday night in San Diego at Comic-Con International.


Although the Homage
Comics series did not sweep all the categories it was nominated for, it did
win four awards, with cover painter Alex Ross winning an additional award for
his work on the DC/Vertigo “Uncle Sam” series.

“I know what you’re
thinking,” Busiek said, as he stepped up onto the stage to receive the award
for the Homage comic, “‘Best Continuing Series?'”

Busiek has been
in ill-health recently, with a respiratory disorder, which has delayed the next
issue of the multiple award-winning series for several months now, although
he said he is well on the way to a full recovery.

“This is perhaps
the second-best moment of the year,” he continued. “The first was in a hotel
room in Perth, Australia, when my wife said ‘the test is positive.'”

“Astro City” also
received awards for Best Single Issue (issue #10, the Junkman’s “Show ‘Em All”
story) and Best Serialized Story (the Confessor story running from issues #4
to 9). Alex Ross received awards for Best Painter for his “Uncle Sam” work and
Best Cover Artist for his “Astro City” and “Uncle Sam” work.

The absent Masahi
Tanaka won multiple awards, as well, for Best Humor Publication and Best U.S.
Edition of Foreign Material, for the Paradox Press edition of “Gon Swimmin’.”

“I think it’s
strange having a competition in art,” said Chris Ware, creator of the “Acme
Novelty Library,” when he accepted the Eisner for the Best Comics Related Product:
an “Acme Novelty Library” display stand. “Especially when I beat out the subject
of my childhood sexual fantasies: Batgirl.”

The Batgirl cold-cast
statue was one of the other nominees for the award. Ware also won the award
for Best Coloring.

Dark Horse’s “Hellboy”
series received two awards, one for Best Anthology for “Hellboy Christmas Special,”
and one for Mike Mignola’s work on the series, for which he received Best Writer/Artist.

Newcomer Linda
Medley, the creator of Olio’s “Castle Waiting” won two awards, for Talent Deserving
of Wider Recognition and Best New Series.

In addition to
a moment of silence at the beginning of the awards for Roz Kirby, who passed
away this winter, there was another somber moment at the awards, when Tim Sale
and Jeph Loeb accepted their award for Best Limited Series for “Batman: The
Long Halloween.” “This is kind of bittersweet,” Sale said, tearfully. “There’s
a reason we did this series, there’s a reason this series worked, and there’s
a reason we’re winning this award: His name is Archie Goodwin. Everything we
do good, we do because of him.”

Influential DC
Comics editor Archie Goodwin passed away this spring.

And the award
for the Best Graphic Album – New, which went to “Batman & Superman Adventures:
World’s Finest” by DC Comics, was a long time coming, according to artist Joe
Staton, who shared the award with Paul Dini and Terry Beatty:

“This is almost
exactly the comic book I got into comic books 26 years ago to draw,” Staton
said.

While the awards
ceremonies in previous years were notorious for going for hours and hours, this
year’s ceremony was relatively succinct, with the entire ceremony taking only
a little more than two hours. Most of the award recipients only said a few words,
until Evan Dworkin accepted his award for Best Short Story (for “The Eltingville
Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Role-Playing Club in: The Marathon
Man,” published in “Dork!” #4).

“Oh, Christ. As
Mr. Eisner pointed out, I have a large family. Thanks for clapping,” he said.
“If this is the best story of the year, the industry deserves to die.”

Dorkin then went
on to tell a lengthy story about how he was doing sketches of Slimer from “The
Ghostbusters” – one of his first professional assignments – at an unconditioned
New York City comic shop when a man tried to interrupt him. Dworkin grew more
and more irritated, until he finally looked up at the man – who simply wanted
to say he liked what he was doing and encourage him – and saw it was Eisner.
The mile-a-minute Dworkin claimed to have been struck speechless by coming face-to-face
with one of his idols.

“He was not speechless,”
the 81-year-old Will Eisner responded, “He looked up at me and said ‘holy shit.'”

Other awards given
out at this year’s ceremony included:

  • Best Title
    for a Younger Audience: “Batman & Robin Adventures,” Ty Templeton, Brandon
    Kruse, Rick Burchett and others (DC Comics);
  • Best Graphic
    Album – Reprint: “Sin City: That Yellow Bastard,” Frank Miller (Dark Horse
    Comics);
  • Best Writer:
    Garth Ennis, for “Hitman” (DC Comics), “Preacher,” “Unknown Soldier” (DC/Vertigo)
    and “Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty” (DC/Helix);
  • Best Writer/Artist
    – Humor: Jeff Smith for “Bone” (Cartoon Books);
  • Best Penciller/Inker
    or Penciller/Inker Team: P. Craig Russell, for “Elric: Stormbringer” (Dark
    Horse/Topps) and “Dr. Strange: What is it That Disturbs You, Stephen?” (Marvel
    Comics);
  • Best Lettering:
    Todd Klein for “Batman,” “Batman: Poison Ivy” (DC Comics), “The Dreaming,”
    “House of Secrets,” “The Invisibles,” “Uncle Sam” (DC/Vertigo), “Uncle Scrooge
    Adventures” (Gladstone) and “Castle Waiting” (Olio);
  • Best Comics-Related
    Periodical: “The Comics Journal” (Fantagraphics);
  • Best Comics-Related
    Book: “The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book” (Kitchen Sink);
  • Best Publication
    Design: “Kingdom Come” deluxe slipcover edition (DC Comics/Graphitti Design)

The Eisner Awards – named after living legend Will Eisner, creator of “The Spirit,” who also gives
out the awards at the ceremony – are decided in a several step process. First,
publishers and comic creators come up with a master list of potential nominees.
A rotating panel of judges (all comic creators) narrow the list down and submit
it to creators, retailers and distributors for the final vote.