'Lumberjanes' leads a youth movement at Eisner Awards, and 'Saga' wins big again

Reading comics requires a suspension of disbelief, but the winning creators who make them couldn’t suspend theirs at Friday night’s Eisner Awards.

“Ashton?” asked Noelle Stevenson as she and Shannon Watters accepted the prestigious new series prize for their Boom! Box summer-camp-set supernatural adventure, “Lumberjanes,” after already winning for publication for teens. But Kutcher’s MTV hidden-camera prank show “Punk’d” hadn’t been revived, and he wasn’t there.

If there was any doubt left that those two young talents had truly arrived, the Eisners removed it.

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“Five girls running around through the woods — who knew?” Watters said amid her tears of joy and gracious thank-yous in accepting the teen publication award. She and Stevenson shared in both awards with their absent collaborators Grace Ellis and Brooke A. Allen.

A similarly surprised Ed Piskor, accepting his reality-based work award for “Hip Hop Family Tree” Vol. 2, said, “If I’d thought I had any chance, I would’ve worn more than a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt.”

In a writing nominee field that included Brian K. Vaughan (“Saga”), Grant Morrison (“The Multiversity”), G. Willow Wilson (“Ms. Marvel”), Kelly Sue DeConnick (“Captain Marvel”) and Jason Aaron (“Southern Bastards”), winner Gene Luen Yang (“The Shadow Hero”) reached the dais and incredulously exclaimed, “Did you see the other people on the list?”

Vaughan, a major winner last year, wasn’t shut out: His and Fiona Staples’ “Saga” at Image won for continuing series for the second straight year (with Staples also winning for penciller/inker), and his “The Private Eye” with artist Marcos Martin at PanelSyndicate.com won for digital comic.

The creative swell in children’s comics was highly visible among winners in categories not defined by the intended audience’s age, not just with “Lumberjanes” winning new series, but also Raina Telgemeier’s writer-artist win for the middle-grade-readers-appropriate graphic memoir “Sisters,” and cousins Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s coming-of-age story “This One Summer” (also a Caldecott honoree) winning for best new graphic album.

Aron Nels Steinke, in accepting his and wife Ariel Cohn’s publication for early readers award for “The Zoo Box,” noted “the resurgence in comics for kids” and challenged companies that reprint classic children’s comics to also publish new ones.

While the 2015 Eisners ceremony definitely celebrated comics’ future, it also illustrated the staying power of the medium’s past innovators.

FULL COVERAGE: Comic-Con 2015

The night’s big winner was arguably “Little Nemo” creator Winsor McCay, who died in 1934. Four awards went to three publishers’ projects collecting or inspired by his visionary 1900s newspaper strip: IDW’s “Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland,” written by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, won for limited series; Locust Moon’s “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream,” a tribute collection with new work by major talents including Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Allred and Paul Pope, won the anthology and publication design awards, the latter for Jim Rugg; and Taschen’s “Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo,” edited by Alexander Braun, won for archival collection/project—comic strips.

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FOR THE RECORD:

2:52 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Taschen’s “Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo” won in the comic books category for archival collection/project. The work, edited by Alexander Braun, won in the comic strips category.

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IDW had continued success with preserving comics history: Its much admired and emulated Artist Editions series, edited by Scott Dunbier, had the archival collection/project—comic books winner for the sixth straight year, this time for Jim Steranko’s “Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition,” the first in the line to be designed by the subject creator. (“It never gets old,” Dunbier said of the prize.) And Dean Mullaney, who edited the comics-related book winner “Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth Volume 3” with Bruce Canwell under his Library of American Comics imprint at the publisher, noted that they had now done three Toth books and won three Eisners for them.

But Dark Horse had the most prizes of any publisher, with four outright: for Stan Sakai’s “Usagi Yojimbo” lettering; Dave Stewart’s color work on a slew of titles, including “Hellboy in Hell,” “Blacksad: Amarillo” (U.S. edition of international material), “Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers” by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (single issue) — plus one shared with First Second in Yang’s writing win, which was also for his work on “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

Several still-working men who made major marks on the medium in both the mainstream and the fringe in the 1980s were elected into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.

Denis Kitchen, the underground cartoonist and publisher behind Kitchen Sink Press and founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, accepted his award with thanks to his idols, Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. Neither “Fantastic Four” and “Man of Steel” writer-artist John Byrne nor “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Daredevil” writer-artist Frank Miller was on hand to accept his award, but “X-Men” legend Chris Claremont, whose writing turned a moribund title into a phenomenon and heavily influenced the mutants’ movie blockbusters, did take the stage.

Claremont thanked many artists, including the late Dave Cockrum and Herb Trimpe, for making him look good, and added: “To all you guys that I haven’t worked with yet, I’m still available.”

The ceremony, never without its informal charms, included presenter Allred, decked out in a black suit covered in white star outlines, dancing to his phone’s ringtone before answering a call from a pregnant relative on stage (“We’re presenting at the Eisner Awards right now. … OK, love you,” he told her politely, ending the brief chat). Also enjoyable was an accepting-in-lieu speaker with a baby in her arms and a toddler wrapped around her leg; actor Orlando Jones’ and Michael Davis’ comedic digressions while listing nominees; and British television personality Jonathan Ross profanely joking about buying a jacket for casually attired Image publisher and writer Eric Stephenson after the latter accepted one of several awards on behalf of absent creators.

All kidding aside, Ross lauded “Lumberjanes” and praised comics for “taking on the prejudices of the past” and “being at the front of the progressive moment in this country, changing the way people think.”

Here is the full list of nominees, with the winners in bold.

Short story

“Beginning’s End,” by Rina Ayuyang, muthamagazine.com
“Corpse on the Imjin!” by Peter Kuper, in Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World (Simon & Schuster)
“Rule Number One,” by Lee Bermejo, in Batman Black and White #3 (DC)
“The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” by Max Landis & Jock, in Adventures of Superman #14 (DC)
“When the Darkness Presses,” by Emily Carroll, http://emcarroll.com/comics/darkness/

Single issue (or one-shot)

“Astro City” No. 16: “Wish I May” by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (Vertigo/DC)
“Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers,” by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
“Madman in Your Face 3D Special,” by Mike Allred (Image)
“Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration” No. 1 (Marvel)
“The Multiversity: Pax Americana” No. 1, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)

Continuing series

“Astro City,” by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (Vertigo)
“Bandette,” by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
“Hawkeye,” by Matt Fraction & David Aja (Marvel)
“Saga,” by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image)
“Southern Bastards,” by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour (Image)
“The Walking Dead,” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, & Stefano Gaudiano (Image/Skybound)

Limited series

“Daredevil: Road Warrior,” by Mark Waid & Peter Krause (Marvel Infinite Comics)
“Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland,” by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
“The Multiversity,” by Grant Morrison et al. (DC)
“The Private Eye,” by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin (Panel Syndicate)
“The Sandman: Overture,” by Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III (Vertigo/DC)

New series

“The Fade Out,” by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image)
“Lumberjanes,” by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (Boom! Box)
“Ms. Marvel,” by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (Marvel)
“Rocket Raccoon,” by Skottie Young (Marvel)
“The Wicked + The Divine,” by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (Image)

Publication for early readers (up to age 7)

“BirdCatDog,” by Lee Nordling & Meritxell Bosch (Lerner/Graphic Universe)
“A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories,” by John Martz (Koyama Press)
“Hello Kitty, Hello 40: A Celebration in 40 Stories,” edited by Traci N. Todd & Elizabeth Kawasaki (VIZ)
“Mermin, Book 3: Deep Dives,” by Joey Weiser (Oni)
“The Zoo Box,” by Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke (First Second)

Publication for kids (8-12)

“Batman Li’l Gotham,” vol. 2, by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen (DC)
“El Deafo,” by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
“I Was the Cat,” by Paul Tobin & Benjamin Dewey (Oni)
“Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland,” by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse,” by Art Baltazar & Franco (DC)

Publication for teens (13-17)

“Doomboy,” by Tony Sandoval (Magnetic Press)
“The Dumbest Idea Ever,” by Jimmy Gownley (Graphix/Scholastic)
“Lumberjanes,” by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box)
“Meteor Men,” by Jeff Parker & Sandy Jarrell (Oni)
“The Shadow Hero,” by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (First Second)
“The Wrenchies,” by Farel Dalrymple (First Second)

Humor publication

“The Complete Cul de Sac,” by Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)
“Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats.” by Jim Benton (NBM)
“Groo vs. Conan,” by Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, & Tom Yeates (Dark Horse)
“Rocket Raccoon,” by Skottie Young (Marvel)
“Superior Foes of Spider-Man,” by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber (Marvel)

Digital/Web comic

“Bandette,” by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover, Monkeybrain/comiXology.com

“Failing Sky” by Dax Tran-Caffee, http://failingsky.com

“The Last Mechanical Monster,” by Brian Fies, http://lastmechanicalmonster.blogspot.com

“Nimona,” by Noelle Stevenson, http://gingerhaze.com/nimona/comic

“The Private Eye” by Brian Vaughan & Marcos Martin http://panelsyndicate.com/

Anthology

“In the Dark: A Horror Anthology,” edited by Rachel Deering (Tiny Behemoth Press/IDW)
“Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream,” edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, & Chris Stevens (Locust Moon)
“Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It,” edited by Ann Ishii, Chip Kidd, & Graham Kolbeins (Fantagraphics)
“Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World,” edited by Monte Beauchamp (Simon & Schuster)
“To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War,” edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark (Soaring Penguin)

Reality-based work

“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
“Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories,” by MariNaomi (2d Cloud/Uncivilized Books)
“El Deafo,” by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
“Hip Hop Family Tree,” vol. 2, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
“Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood,” by Nathan Hale (Abrams)
“To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War,” edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark (Soaring Penguin)

Graphic album, new

“The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil,” by Stephen Collins (Picador)
“Here,” by Richard McGuire (Pantheon)
“Kill My Mother,” by Jules Feiffer (Liveright)
“The Motherless Oven,” by Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)
“Seconds,” by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Ballantine Books)
“This One Summer,” by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki (First Second)

Graphic album, reprint

“Dave Dorman’s Wasted Lands Omnibus” (Magnetic Press)
“How to Be Happy,” by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
“Jim,” by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
“Sock Monkey Treasury,” by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)
“Through the Woods,” by Emily Carroll (McElderry Books)

Archival collection/project, comic strips (at least 20 years old)

“Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo,” edited by Alexander Braun (Taschen)
“Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan: The Sunday Comics, 1933–1935,” by Hal Foster, edited by Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)
“Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition,” by Tove Jansson, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
“Pogo, vol. 3: Evidence to the Contrary,” by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
“Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse,” vols. 5-6, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein & Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Archival collection/project, comic books (at least 20 years old)

“The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set,” edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)
“Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition,” edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
“Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn,” by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
“Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Son of the Son,” by Don Rosa, edited by David Gerstein (Fantagraphics)
“Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics,” vols. 1–2, edited by Daniel Herman (Hermes)
“Witzend,” by Wallace Wood et al., edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)

U.S. edition of international material

“Beautiful Darkness,” by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët (Drawn & Quarterly)
“Blacksad: Amarillo,” by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
“Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn,” by Hugo Pratt (IDW/Euro Comics)
“Jaybird,” by Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen (Dark Horse/SAF)
“The Leaning Girl,” by Benoît Peeters & François Schuiten (Alaxis Press)

U.S. edition of international material, Asia

“All You Need Is Kill,” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Takeshi Obata & Yoshitoshi ABe (VIZ)
“In Clothes Called Fat,” by Moyoco Anno (Vertical)
“Master Keaton,” Vol. 1, by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, & Takashi Nagasaki (VIZ)
“One-Punch Man,” by One & Yusuke Murata (VIZ)
“Showa 1939–1955” and “Showa 1944–1953: A History of Japan,” by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
“Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki,” by Mamoru Hosada & Yu (Yen Press)

Writer

Jason Aaron, “Original Sin,” “Thor,” “Men of Wrath” (Marvel); “Southern Bastards” (Image)
Kelly Sue DeConnick, “Captain Marvel” (Marvel); “Pretty Deadly” (Image)
Grant Morrison, “The Multiversity” (DC); “Annihilator” (Legendary Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan, “Saga” (Image); “Private Eye” (Panel Syndicate)
G. Willow Wilson, “Ms. Marvel” (Marvel)
Gene Luen Yang, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (Dark Horse); “The Shadow Hero” (First Second)

Writer/artist

Sergio Aragonés, “Sergio Aragonés Funnies” (Bongo); “Groo vs. Conan” (Dark Horse)
Charles Burns, “Sugar Skull” (Pantheon)
Stephen Collins, “The Giant Beard That Was Evil” (Picador)
Richard McGuire, “Here” (Pantheon)
Stan Sakai, “Usagi Yojimbo: Senso,” “Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist” (Dark Horse)
Raina Telgemeier, “Sisters” (Graphix/Scholastic)

Penciller/inker

Adrian Alphona, “Ms. Marvel” (Marvel)
Mike Allred, “Silver Surfer” (Marvel); “Madman in Your Face 3D Special” (Image)
Frank Quitely, “The Multiversity” (DC)
François Schuiten, “The Leaning Girl” (Alaxis Press)
Fiona Staples, “Saga” (Image)
Babs Tarr, “Batgirl” (DC)

Painter/multimedia artist, interior art

Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen, “Jaybird” (Dark Horse)
Colleen Coover, “Bandette” (Monkeybrain)
Mike Del Mundo, “Elektra” (Marvel)
Juanjo Guarnido, “Blacksad: Amarillo” (Dark Horse)
J. H. Williams III, “The Sandman: Overture” (Vertigo/DC)

Cover artist

Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics Darwyn Cooke Month Variant Covers (DC)
Mike Del Mundo, “Elektra,” “X-Men: Legacy,” “A+X,” “Dexter,” “Dexter Down Under” (Marvel)
Francesco Francavilla, “Afterlife With Archie” (Archie); “Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight” (Dark Horse); “The Twilight Zone,” “Django/Zorro” (Dynamite); “X-Files” (IDW)
Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, “The Wicked + The Divine” (Image); “Ms. Marvel” (Marvel)
Phil Noto, “Black Widow” (Marvel)
Alex Ross, “Astro City” (Vertigo/DC); “Batman 66: The Lost Episode,” “Batman 66 Meets Green Hornet” (DC/Dynamite)

Coloring

Laura Allred, “Silver Surfer” (Marvel); “Madman in Your Face 3D Special” (Image)
Nelson Daniel, “Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland,” “Judge Dredd,” “Wild Blue Yonder” (IDW)
Lovern Kindzierski, “The Graveyard Book,” vols. 1-2 (Harper)
Matthew Petz, “The Leg” (Top Shelf)
Dave Stewart, “Hellboy in Hell,” “BPRD,” “Abe Sapien,” “Baltimore,” “Lobster Johnson,” “Witchfinder,” “Shaolin Cowboy,” “Aliens: Fire and Stone,” “Dark Horse Presents” (Dark Horse)
Matthew Wilson, “Adventures of Superman” (DC); “The Wicked + The Divine” (Image), “Daredevil,” “Thor” (Marvel)

Lettering

Joe Caramagna, “Ms. Marvel,” “Daredevil” (Marvel)
Todd Klein, “Fables,” “The Sandman: Overture,” “The Unwritten” (Vertigo/DC); “Nemo: The Roses of Berlin” (Top Shelf)
Max, “Vapor” (Fantagraphics)
Jack Morelli, “Afterlife With Archie,” “Archie,” “Betty and Veronica,” etc. (Archie)
Stan Sakai, “Usagi Yojimbo: Senso,” “Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist” (Dark Horse)

Comics-related periodical/journalism

Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
Comic Book Creator, edited by Jon B. Cooke (TwoMorrows)
Comic Book Resources, edited by Jonah Weiland, http://www.comicbookresources.com
Comics Alliance, edited by Andy Khouri, Caleb Goellner, Andrew Wheeler, & Joe Hughes, http://www.comicsalliance.com
tcj.com, edited by Dan Nadel & Timothy Hodler (Fantagraphics)

Comics-related book

“Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas” (4 vols.), edited by M. Keith Booker (ABC-CLIO)
“Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton,” by Greg Sadowski (Fantagraphics)
“Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth,” vol. 3, by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell (IDW/LOAC)
“What Fools These Mortals Be: The Story of Puck,” by Michael Alexander Kahn & Richard Samuel West (IDW/LOAC)
“75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen,” by Roy Thomas & Josh Baker (Taschen)

Scholarly/academic work

“American Comics, Literary Theory, and Religion: The Superhero Afterlife,” by A. David Lewis (Palgrave Macmillan)
“Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics,” by Andrew Hoberek (Rutgers University Press)
“Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books,” by Michael Barrier (University of California Press)
“Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews,” edited by Sarah Lightman (McFarland)
“The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay,” by Thierry Smolderen, tr. by Bart Beaty & Nick Nguyen (University Press of Mississippi)
“Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay,” by Katherine Roeder (University Press of Mississippi)

Publication design

“Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition,” designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti/DC)
“The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set,” designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
“Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream,” designed by Jim Rugg (Locust Moon)
“Street View,” designed by Pascal Rabate (NBM/Comics Lit)
“Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo,” designed by Anna Tina Kessler (Taschen)

Will Eisner Hall of Fame inductees

Judges’ choices: Marjorie Henderson Buell (“Little Lulu”), Bill Woggon (“Katy Keene”)
Elected: John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Denis Kitchen, Frank Miller

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL AWARDS (also presented during the Eisners ceremony)

Bill Finger Excellence in Comics Writing Award
Deceased recipient: John Stanley (“Little Lulu”)
Living recipient: Don McGregor (“Black Panther”)

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award
Bill and Kayre Morrison

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award
Packrat Comics (Hilliard, Ohio)

Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award (tie)
Jorge Corona (“Feathers” at Archaia, “Goners” at Image, “Teen Titans Go” at DC)
Greg Smallwood (“Dream Thief” at Dark Horse, “Moon Knights” at Marvel)

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