Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition: Nick Bertozzi of 'The Masochists'

[The Masochists]It's something of a cliché that creators working on serious Art with acapital A aren't always recognized for their labors until, well, afterthey're dead. Fortunately for Nick Bertozzi, he didn't have to wait thatlong: He is a nominee for the 2002Eisner Award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition.

"I was surprised and honored," Bertozzi told CBR News on Wednesday. "I wasn't hopingto get nominated, figuring that I have many, many years to go before I getto my best work."

Bertozzi is recognized for his work on "The Masochists," a graphic novelthat makes even the most morose works from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint looklike a Dick and Jane story.

"'The Masochists' is a graphic album of three beautiful tragedies. Thestories are connected very loosely in that the central theme of each is tolook at a few different ways that people torture themselves. It'smasochism, not in the sexual sense, but in a more general interpretation;drinking, self-mutilation, trying to join the 'in crowd,' and working onlyfor a paycheck."

As you might guess, "The Masochists" is dark. Very dark. Such a nomineeis somewhat out of character for the Eisner judges, who traditionallyhaven't recognized other such bleak materials into this category on aregular basis.

"It is pretty dark subject matter, but I'd been reading a lot of theLoustal/Paringaux books ('New York/Miami', 'Love Shots' ...) and theyreally focus on the bleak side of life. But their stories are so simple andbeautiful and I wanted to achieve a feeling similar to their work. Whilethe stories in 'Masochists' are fiction, they're grown from kernels oftruth and maybe the judges responded to that. Most tragedy is very false.Soap operas exist solely to keep you watching until the next commercial andI wanted to try and make something more real than that."

[Rubber Necker]Winning this Eisner might mean opening the door a bit further with thebigger comic book publishers for Bertozzi.

"I've been doing illustration in mainstream magazines and newspapers (NYTimes, Nickelodeon Mag) for a while, but as far as the comics mainstream,I've only written a couple of superhero stories (a Kamandi story in'Bizarro Stories' and a Juggernaut story for 'X-Men Unlimited') and I havea bunch of projects that are currently in at various editors."

Bertozzi also has an ongoing series from AlternativeComics, "Rubber Necker." Issue two comes out this October.

Bertozzi has a vested interest in who wins the award beyond the obvious,although it might not end well.

"Dean Haspiel and I used to be roommates and we've pledged to kill eachother if one of us wins. I know Dylan Horrocks and I'd like to see him winsince he's one of my favorite cartoonists, and is working on a very maturelevel. I've never met the other nominees but I wish them luck!"

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