For the most part, the 2003 Eisner Awards Friday night at Comic-Con International in San Diego went home with previous award winners.
But the award will look a little different on the mantelpiece, as the 2003 Eisners are newly redesigned.
"For 14 years, we had a plaque," awards coordinator Jackie Estrada told the assembled audience. "We knew that had to go." After consulting with Will Eisner for his thoughts, a new award, inspired by an illustration of a globe covered in panels of comic book icons from Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics," was designed.
Unlike previous years, there was no clear break-out winner sweeping the categories, although several creators picked up two awards.
Mike Mignola picked up a pair of Eisner Awards, neither of which were for his "Hellboy" series. Instead, he picked up the award for Best Humor Publication for "The Amazing Screw-on Head" -- "I never thought I'd be getting this in the humor category," Mignola said – and then shared the award for Best Short Story with his daughter for "The Magician and the Snake."
"My daughter Katie couldn't be here tonight, because it's past herbedtime," Mignola said. "I now find myself in the very weird position of telling my nine-year old to go to bed and stop playing with your Eisner award."
Aside from Katie, most award winners had made trips to the podium in the past. Todd Klein picked up his 10th Best Lettering Eisner Award in 11 years.
"It's getting harder to make a living doing this," Klein said, considering his Eisner trophy, "But this is encouraging, and gives me hope that people will look for good lettering and celebrate it when they get it."
Mike Kunkel made a delayed trip to the podium, having not been present when he won the Eisner award for Best Title for a Younger Audience, and only was called up onto stage to accept the trophy over an hour later.
"I guess it would be only fitting that all of my books are late," Kunkel said, "And I'd be late for this as well."
Presenter Frank Miller paused before presenting the award for Best Graphic Album – New to opine on the future of the industry: "Our future is not in these little pamphlets that kids can barely afford. It's hobbling us in so many ways ... Our future is in books, in graphic novels. This award, I believe, will be the centerpiece of theseawards very soon."
The award went to Lynda Barry for "One! Hundred! Demons!"
Kyle Baker followed up when he was presenting later: "I'm on Frank Miller's side and graphic novels are the future and monthly books, they're dead. So, um, the nominees for Best New Series ..."
The award went to DC Comics' "Fables." The series also won for Best Serialized Story for "Legends in Exile," published in issues 1 through 5.
Series creator Bill Willingham was somewhat startled by the twin Eisner awards: "You know this is about talking bunnies and moo cows, right?"
Other award winners included:
Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition: Jason Shiga of "Fleep"
Best Anthology: SPX 2002
Best Coloring: Dave Stewart for "Hellboy: The Third Wish," "The Amazing Screw-on Head," "Star Wars: Empire," "Human Target: Final Cut," "Doom Patrol," "Tom Strong," "Captain America"
Best Publication Design: "Batman: Nine Lives" by Amie Brockway-Metcalf
Best US Edition of Foreign Material: "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
Best Comics-Related Publication: "B. Krigstein" by Greg Sadowski
Best Penciller/Inker or Best Penciller/Inker Team: Kevin O'Neill for "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist: George Pratt for "Wolverine: Netsuke"
Best Cover Artist: Adam Hughes for "Wonder Woman"
Best Archival Collection: "Krazy and Ignatz"
Best Graphic Album - Reprint: "Batman: Black and White, Vol. 2"
Best Single Issue "Stuff of Dreams" by Kim Deitch
Best Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Best Writer/Artist: Eric Shanower for "Age of Bronze"
Best Writer/Artist - Humor: Tony Millionaire for "House at Maakies Corner"
Best Limited Series: "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," volume 2
Best Continuing Series: "Daredevil"
Hall of Fame: Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Feldstein and John Severin