"Astro City," "Gon," "Hellboy," "Castle Waiting" Big Eisner Award Winners

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


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


  • 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


  • 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.

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