Chris Ware’s extraordinary graphic novel-in-a-box, Building Stories (Pantheon), won four Eisner Awards including Best New Graphic Novel and Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga (Image) received three Eisners during a brisk and entertaining gala awards ceremony at the 25th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards—the National Book Awards of the Comics Industry—held last night during the San Diego Comic-Con International. In addition, Hope Larson’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time (FSG) won for Best Publication for Teens and Jennifer and Matthew Holm’s Babymouse for President (Random House) won Best Publication for Early Readers.
Among other book-related awards, Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido’s Blacksad: Silent Hell (Dark Horse) won Eisners for Best U.S. Edition of International Material; and Naoki Urasawa’s 20thCentury Boys received an Eisner for Best U.S. Edition/Asia. In a tie for Best Reality-Based Work, Joseph Lambert’s Annie Sullivan and The Trials of Helen Keller (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney) and The Carter Family: Don’t Forget this Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts) both received Eisner Awards.
Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Son (Chronicle) won for Best Humor Publication; Fantagraphics won an Eisner for Best Archival Collection for Pogo. Vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash by the late Walt Kelly, edited by his daughter Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson, the late copublisher of Fantagraphics who died earlier this summer. In addition, Eisner Awards were presented to two prose works: Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (HarperCollins) for Best Comics-Related Work; and Susan E. Kirtley for Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass (University Press of Missisippi) for Best Aademic Work.
This year’s ceremony was entertaining and once again featured bestselling novelist and Sandman creator Neil Gaiman, acting as straight-man to the antics of U.K entertainer (and sometimes comics writer) Jonathan Ross, in an literary/comedic award presenting tandem that definitely left the crowd in stitches. Over the past few years Ross and Gaiman have become something of comedy team at the Eisners. This year, with a little help from actor John Barrowman, they took their schtick to new levels of hilarity with a goofy reprise of their on-stage man-kiss from a few years ago. Much laughter ensued. This year’s awards ceremony also clocked in at a manageable and enjoyable 2 ½ hours. The last award was presented at about 10:30 p.m.
Nominated in five categories Ware’s Building Stories almost swept the table, losing out only in the Best Coloring category. Ware was not at the ceremony and his ever-growing pile of Eisner Awards were accepted by the ever-so-droll Pantheon editor, author and designer Chip Kidd—a multiple Eisner Award winner himself—whose repeated trips to the podium also generated much laughter throughout the evening. He capped off the evening by mentioning that one of Ware’s four Eisners that evening was for Best Lettering, and said, with evident and cheerful agreement from the audience, “giving Chris Ware an award for best lettering is like giving Frank Lloyd Wright a prize for designing door knobs.”