Rutu Modan’s The Property (Drawn & Quarterly), a graphic novel about a family trip to Warsaw and the long held secrets it reveals, (and a PW Best Book of the Year) received the Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Novel of the year at the 26th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards—the National Book Awards of the comics industry—at a ceremony held during San Diego Comic-Con International.
Probably the most surprising winner last night was The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary (Dark Horse) with art by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker, which received an Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work. Tiwary is a first-time comics author far better known as an award-winning Broadway, music and TV/film producer and the book, a biography of the closeted gay man that discovered and managed the Beatles, won against a formidable line-up in its category.
There were many highlights, if not surprises, at this year’s Eisner Awards, which once again featured a brisk and entertaining ceremony—for years the beloved event has been chided for the length of the ceremony. This year the ceremony finished about 10:43 pm, the shortest time ever, a fact noted at the Eisner after-party, which now gets started earlier and seems a bit more crowded and lively. Both Jaime Hernandez and his brother Gilbert, the team that has produced the acclaimed Love and Rockets graphic novel series for more than 30 years, won for the first time. Jaime, clearly overjoyed after the long wait for his first Eisner, won for Best Writer/Artist and Gilbert for Best Short Story, both for Love & Rockets: New Stories #6.
In another highlight that was pretty easy to pick in advance, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, the writer/artist team behind Saga, the popular and critically acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy series from Image Comics, took home several Eisner Awards. Vaughan won for Best Writer and shared an Eisner with Staples for Best Continuing Series. Staples won for Best painter/multimedia artist for Saga. In the same general “category"—critically acclaimed, wildly popular—writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarskly won for Best New Series for Sex Criminals (Image).
In the kids' and YA category, Faith Erin Hicks was awarded both an Eisner for Best Publication for Kids for The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse) and a virtual collective embrace from the Twitterverse for her tearfully joyful, moving acceptance speech. Paul Pope’s Battling Boy (First Second), a rousing tale of a super-kid (and his super T-shirts) who fights monsters, won an Eisner for Best Publication for Teens. Also in the kids’ category, Jeffrey Brown’s Vader’s Little Princess (Chronicle), another in his remarkable kids-focused parodies of the Star Wars franchise, won for Best Humor Publication.
In other book-related categories, Sheena Howard and Ronald L. Jackson won the Eisner Award for Best Scholarly/Academic Work for editing Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (Bloomsbury); IDW’s Dean Mullaney and Scott Dunbrier won Eisners for Best Design and Best Comics-related book (Genius, Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth ) and Best Archival Project Comics Strips (Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips, vol. 1) and Best Archival Project Comic Books (Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition).
This year’s Hall of Fame selection included the Orrin C. Evans (the late publisher of the 1947 All-Negro Comics, the first black owned and created comic book series), Irwin Hasen, Sheldon Moldoff and Hayao Miyasaki.
Rounding out the book-related Eisner winners, Jeff Smith’s self-published RASL (a PW Best Book of the Year) from Cartoon Books won for Best Graphic Album-Reprint (the comics industry considers moving from periodical serialization to book-format a reprint). Darwyn Cooke’s continuing adaptations of Donald Westlake’s iconic Parker crime series won Best Adaptation for Slayground (IDW). Jacques Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney’s Goddam This War!, edited by Fantagraphic’s late and much-admired publisher/editor Kim Thompson, and Osamu Tezuka’s The Mysterious Underground Men, published by PictureBox, which has now ceased publication, won separate Eisner Awards for Best U.S. Edition of International Material.