SDCC: The 27th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

The 27th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are in full swing Friday night at Comic-Con International, with the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront filled with attendees and nominees -- CBR News amongst them ready to bring readers the latest information on the winners.

Hosted by Kayre Morrison and Anina Bennett, this year's awards include presenters such as Academy Award-nominated actor Edward James Olmos, Orlando Jones, Bill Morrison, Katrina Law, Jill Thompson, Michael and Laura Allred, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, Megan Hayes, J. Michael Trautmann, Michael Davis, Tara Ochs, Shane West, Kandyse McClure, Tahmoh Penikett, Johnathan Ross and Sergio Aragones.

The crowded room erupted in applause as the judges were introduced: Carr D'Angelo, Maggie Thompson, Richard Graham, Susan Kirtley, Sean Howe and Ron McFee.

Bill Morriosn, Kayre Morrison and Anina Bennett started off by informing the room about the Eisner's staying in San Diego until 2018. They then presented the first award: Best Lettering. Nominees include Joe Caramagna,

Todd Klein, Max, Jack Morelli, and Stan Sakai. Stan Sakai won the first award of the night. "This is a real surprise,' he said after taking the stage and then thanked fellow nominee Todd Klein for introducing him to lettering.

Next up was Best Coloring. Nominees include, Nelson Daniel, Laura Allred, Matthew Petz, Lovern Kindzierski, Dave Stewart, and Matthew Wilson. Dave Stewart won the award. Another artist accepted the award on Stewart's behalf.

"The Private Eye" by Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin won the award for Best Digital/Web Comic. Image's Eric Stephenson accepted the award on their behalf and said that Vaughan thanked his fellow creators on the book and the creators that work in digital.

Edward James Olmos presented the next award: the Best U.S. Edition of International Material. "Blacksad: Amarillo" by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido won the award. "I'm glad this is over early, so I can drink," joked the Dark Horse Comics editor of the book, who accepted the award on their behalf.

Olmos then presented the award for the Best U.S. Edition of International Material - Asia to "Showa 1939-1944" and "Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan." Fellow nominees included were "All You Need is Kill," "In Clothes Called Fat," "Master Keaton," "One Punch Man" and "Wolf Children."

The next award was the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Mark Evanier presented the award. Evanier discussed the history of Bill Finger and the history of the award, which stems from Bill Finger not receiving credit for the co-creation of Batman. Evanier jokingly thanked "the fine people" at DC Comics. "Little Lulu" writer John Stanley won the award and his son James accepted on his late father's behalf. James wished his daughter happy birthday in his acceptance of the award.

Don McGregor won a Bill Finger award for his work, which included such titles like "Black Panther" and "Killraven."I wish that Gene Colan could be here and BIlly Graham could be here and my mom and dad and Dwayne McDuffie. He was the best and most talented man," said McGregor.

Katrina Law and Jill Thompson announced the winner of the Best Penciller/Inker award. Nominees included: Frank Quitely, Mike Allred, Adrian Alphona, Fiona Staples, François Schuiten and Babs Tarr. Fiona Staples took home the award for her work on the critically acclaimed "Saga." The announcement was met with loud applause from the audience. Eric Stephenson accepted the award and extended Staples' thanks to Image, Fantagraphics and readers.

Best Painter/Multimedia Arts went to "J.H. Williams III" for "Sandman: Overture." Vertigo's Shelly Bond accepted the award on Williams' behalf. "I am not J.H. Williams," she joked, "I'm Neil Gaiman." She said that Williams could not be there that night but was hard at work on the next issue. She did give his speech for him on his behalf, where he thanked everyone that worked on the book and his wife.

Best Publication Design was up next and the award went to "Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream" designed by Jim Rugg. The book's editor accepted the award and said working with Rugg on the book "was a dream come true - no pun intended."

Comics Alliance took home the award for Best Comics-Relation Periodical/Journalism.

Next up was the Best Comics-Related Book. "Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, vol. 3" by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell took home the award. Dean Mullaney accepted the award and thanked everyone "for the great honor." All three Toth books have won the award.

In the category of Best Scholarly/Academic Work, "Graphic Details: Jewish Women's Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews" took home the Eisner.

The next award was the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award. His daughter Ruth gave the award to Bill and Kayre Morrison. "I was actually showing Scott McCloud to the Green Room and when I heard that introduction and I was like, 'Who are they talking about?'" said Bill Morrison. "Everything I've done - and Kayre - we've done it out of love."

"This is just a true honor, and I'm all fleklempt," added Kayre.

Mike and Laura Allred presented the next award. Mike's phone went off while in the middle of reading the list of nominees to answer the phone, which was met with applause and laughter from the audience. Laura said that "she" - referring to their daughter on the phone - was pregnant with their third grandchild. After finishing the list of nominees for the Best Archival Collection/Project - Strips, they announced the winner of the award as "Winsor McCay's Complete Little Nemo."

Then came the Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Books. "Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist's Edition" edited by Scott Dunbier won the award. "I swear that phone call wasn't staged," exclaimed Mike Allred to much laughter from the crowd while waiting for the award recipient. "I swear."

For Best Humor Publication, "The Complete Cul do Sac" by Richard Thompson won the award.

Megan Hayes and J. Michael Trautman presented the next set of awards, starting with Best Publication for Early Readers. Nominees included "BirdCatDog," "A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories," "Hello Kitty, Hello 40: A Celebration in 40 Stories," "Mermin Book 3: Deep Dives," and "The Zoo Box." The award went to "The Zoo Box" by Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke. Steinke accepted the award. "We're seeing a resurgence of comics for kids and I want to challenge those publishers out there that I'm a big fan of like Fantagraphics and Drawn/Quarterly."

For the Best Publication for Kids, Hayes and Trautman announced the winner as "El Deafo" by Cece Bell which was met with thunderous applause and cheers from the audience. "Thank you to the comics industry for being so incredibly kind to me and welcoming every step of the way. It would be in bad form not to mention all the other incredible nominees out there." Cece Bell was noticeably choked up while giving her acceptance speech. "I don't even know what to say. Thank you very, very much."

"Lumberjanes" won the award for Best Publication for Teens. Noelle Stevenson and Boom! Editor Shannon Watters accepted the award. Watters was brought to tears over winning the award and the positive response the title has received.

The judge's choice for the Will Eisner Hall of Fame included: Little Lulu creator Marge (Majorie Henderson Buell) and Katy Keene creator Bill Woggon.

The nominees for the Will Eisner Hall of Fame were John Bryne, Chris Claremont, Howard Cruse, Lynda Barry, Kim Deitch, Matt Groening, Denis Kitchen, Frank Miller, Francoise Mouly, Paul S Newman, Lily Renee Peter Phillips, Bob Powell and Frank Robbins.

Sergio Aragones announced and presented the awards to the Hall of Fame winners.

John Bryne won an award as did Chris Claremont.

"I'm sorry, against that list of people... wow," said Claremont while accepting his award. Claremont related to the crowd a conversation he had with Stan Lee when Claremont was in college and wanting to break into comics. "'So you want to work for college?' Claremont said Stan asked over the phone. 'Well we can't pay much.'" When Claremont informed Lee that he was in college and not allowed to ask for money, he said that Lee informed him, "You're hired!" "Some things haven't changed," Claremont joked.

Denis Kitchen was the next winner, and finally Jim Lee accepted the Hall of Fame award on behalf of Frank Miller. Lee updated the crowd on Miller's health, saying that the creator is doing well. Lee also added, "While he is very, very appreciative and honored, he doesn't want to be put on the mantle. His preference is to be in the trenches.

"The greatest honor anyone can give is doing their best creative work," Lee related from Miller. "He wanted to thank his mentors, the late great Will Eisner and the legendary Neal Adams."

The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award went to Packrat Comics in Hilliard, Ohio.

Maggie Thompson then took the stage and honored those in the industry we've lost. "We owe a debt to the people who entertain us. We owe a debt to the people who teach us," she said. "We pay that debt by thanking them... We thank them for what they have given us." The first honor went to the man in which the awards are named, Will Eisner. "We thank him. We miss him, and we miss those special friends of Comic-Con."

A moment was given to honor those friends, which included Sharon Sakai. Eric Caidin, Jeremy Dale, Lurene Haines, Seth Kushner, Gary Owens, Stan Freberg, Roger Slifer, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Dexter Taylor, Stan Goldberg, Irwin Hasen, Leonard Starr and Herb Trimpe.

Thompson also extended thanks to Jack and Roz Kirby.

Orlando Jones and Michael Davis took the stage to offer the next awards. "Why did they play circus music?" Jones joked about the music played as he and Davis took the stage. "I am offended sir! This is a respectable show."

"The reason I'm not part of Milestone 2.0 is because I'm a white woman," joked Davis. "Give that a second."

The nominees for Best Writer include Jason Aaron, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Grant Morrison, Brain K. Vaughan, G. Willow Wilson and Gene Yang. Gene Luen Yang won the award for his work on "The Last Airbender" and "The Shadow Hero."

"Did you see the other people on the list?!" Yang said. "There are a lot of people I need to thank and I'm pretty sure I'm going to forget some of them." Yang thanked God as well as his wife Lisa. He thanked Dark Horse and First Second and the editors who worked with him on his books. He talked the artists who worked for him as well as his agent. "Everybody who loves comics, thank you so much. Thank you for everything."

Next up was the Best Writer/Artist. Raina Telgemeier took home the award for her work on "Sisters." "I''m with Gene! What the heck? I saw those names up there," Telgemeier said. She dedicated the award to her sister.

Jones and Davis continued to riff on stage between award presentations. Their back and forth was met with a lot of laughter from the crowd. "I'm offended on behalf of everything right now," Jones said. "I'm not talking to you anymore."

The nominees for Best Cover Artist included Darwyn Cooke, Mike Del Mundo, Francesco Francavilla, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, Phil Noto and Alex Ross. Darwyn Cooke won the award and as he was not in attendance, Shelly Bond accepted the award on his behalf.

Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman took the stage for the next awards. "Who the hell is going to follow them indeed?" said Roman about following up Jones and Davis. "An Eisner winner, that's who," he said about his wife Telgemeier.

They first presented the award to Best Short Story, to which the award went to "When the Darkness Presses" by Emily Carroll, followed by the award for Best Single Issue. The nominees included "Astro City," "Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers," "Madman in Your Face 3D Special," "Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration," and "The Multiversity: Pax Americana." "Beasts of Burden" won the award and Jill Thompson took the stage to accept the award. "I dedicate this to all the cats and dogs that fight supernatural forces for us while we're sitting here and don't know about it," she said.

Then came the award for Best Anthology, which held a special place for the presenters as they first met while working together on an anthology. "Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream" won its second award for the night. "I wish I could thank individually all 140 artists that contributed to this book," said the book's editor.

Scott McCloud announced the winner for the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, which he won previously. The nominees included Jorge Corona, Leila del Luca, Vanessa R. del Rey, GABO and Greg Smallwood. A tie occurred for the first time in the history of the award. Greg Smallwood tied with Jorge Corona for the award.

Kandyse McClure and Tahmoh Penikett presented the next set of awards. The nominees for Best New Series were "The Fade Out," "Lumberjanes," "Ms. Marvel," "Rocket Raccoon," "The Wicked + The Divine." The award went to "Lumberjanes." This was the second award for the night for "Lumberjanes."

"The other nominees! Are you kidding me?" said Watters, still in tears. "God, you guys. Thank you so much!"

Someone from the audience shouted, "Friendship to the max!" the series' main motto as Stevenson and Watters gave their acceptance speech.

The nominees for Best Limited Series included "Daredevil: Road Warrior," "Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland," "The Multiversity," "The Sandman: Overture" and "The Private Eye." "Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland" by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez won the award. Rodriguez thanked IDW, which he called his family in the US, and his family and friends in Chile. "Coming from a company where we don't have an established comic book industry. So coming to this is a dream come true to me." Both Shanower and Rodriguez were visibly choked up while accepting the award.

The nominees for Best Continuing Series were "Astro City," "Bandette," "Hawkeye," "Saga," "Southern Bastards," and "The Walking Dead." Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' "Saga" won the award. This was the second win for the series tonight. Eric Stephenson once again accepted the award. "Brian and Fiona said they wanted to thank of all of you, the retailers for supporting the book and the staff at Image Comics, but I think I speak for the staff of Image Comics when I thank you."

Jonathan Ross presented the final awards for the night. "I have no idea either why they invite me back every year," said Ross. "They say that the Eisner's are the Oscars of the comic world. Well, fuck them. I tell ya, the Oscars are the Eisner's of the film world!" Ross then went on to say how incredible and defining "The Spirit" series was and they turned it into a "shitty" film.

The Best Graphic Album - Reprint went to "Through the Woods" by Emily Carroll.

The nominees for Best Reality-Based Work were "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" "Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories," "El Deafo," "Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 2," "Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood," and "To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of the First World War." "Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 2" by Ed Piskor won the award. "If I thought I had any chance, I would have worn more than a Fruit of the Loom T-Shirt," said Piskor.

Before getting to the final award, Ross complicated how the comic industry has changed and progressed. He specially talked about "Lumberjanes" and how wonderful and genuine Watters and Stevenson were. Ross then showed on the projector some old comic book covers that he found very humorous. The audience had a lot of laughs over old issues of Shazam and Superman. "That's Donald Trump's campaign poster right there." "Hansi: The Girl That Loved Swastikas."

The final award of the night was for Best Graphic Album - New. The nominees were "The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil," "Here," "Kill my Mother," "The Motherless Oven," "Seconds" and "This One Summer." "This One Summer" by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki won the award, which was met with loud applause and cheers from the audience.

Before leaving the stage, Ross thanked everyone for coming and said that he'd see them all next year.

Jackie Estrada closed out the ceremonies by thanking all the presenters, sponsors, the Hilton Bayfront, the staff and everyone that help bring the show together.

"Thank you for being in 'The Spirit' of comics and thank you for coming and goodnight!"

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