Thursday, May 05, 2005

Comics this week: a microcosm of comics in general

So this week's purchases was a weird, varied group. But, really, I think they kind of represent comics these days. Half of them were superhero books, and two thirds of those superhero books were bad. The other half jumps all over the place, content-wise, but tended to be more consistently well-done. IT IS FUN TO TALK IN GENERALITIES. So before my neighborhood starts going crazy for Cinco de Mayo, let me type this stuff.

First lets get the cape books out of the way. So the Englehart/Rodgers Batman run was really significant, huh? That's cool. But it really shows how insular this stuff is that Batman: Dark Detective was given a greenlight just because people liked the Batman story these guys did, what, thirty some years ago? Jesus. I was reading the old JLA synopses at Movie Poop Shoot and it really reinforced that the IDEAS of old comics were really fun and awesome . . .it's just that the writing technology is so outdated that they're pretty much unreadable now. Maybe that's what this Englehart/Rodgers stuff is. Because holy CRAP this was a bad comic book. The art was spotty, weird, and, frankly amateurish. The writing was unexciting, unfunny, uninteresting . . .it was pretty much what the average person probably thinks comic books always are. I guess if you loved the last run these guys did you might like this . . .I certainly didn't.

So that was Oldschool Bad Superhero Comics. Representing New School Bad Superhero Comics is Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. Now this book isn't without its merits. The character work is decent. The dialogue works. And the art is absolutely gorgeous. And let me just say that Lee Bermejo draws the best looking Bruce Wayne I've ever seen. The slightly-longer hair works perfectly. God, he's hot in this book. And the wealthy characters' clothes LOOK expensive. That's not easy to do. And either Azzarello's a foodie or he did his research, because Wayne's dialogue in the restaurant was impressively spot on. Maldon salt . . .that's a hell of a detail. Plot-wise, though, nothing really happens and what does happen doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's typical of the decompressed style we're stuck in these days that the events of this issue could have been a couple pages in a tightly-written story. But, BOY, that art. Wow.

Speaking of WOW, Shining Knight. The first issue was impressive in that I liked a fantasy book. That's pretty uncommon. But this one . . .wow. Beautiful art. Amazing story. Every little thing works. There's a lot going on here, from one of the Seven Unknown Men to a Guilt monster to . . .geez, there's just so much awesome in this book. Are they all going to keep getting better like this? Unbelievable. Is there seriously anyone out there who's not buying this because it's "not the original Shining Knight"? If so, you're an idiotard and I don't mind saying so. It's like those people that think Morrison is "weird for weird's sake." These are the people that are afraid of ideas and want to read Dark Detective.

Now that we're talking good, fun comics, let me talk about felt. Jim Mahfood (who I heart) was approached by underground hip-hop group felt about doing a comic project to be read while listening to their new album. Well, the album isn't out yet, due to a timing screwup, but you really get the feel of the group and the album, and I'll damn sure be buying it. The art is fun and the jokes generally work. It's a unique experience in comics, and I hope more people try it.

Johnny Ryan is damned hilarious and that is that. You may disagree, but you are wrong or my mom or something. Blecky Yuckarella is what Johnny Ryan fans expect and what Ryan-not-liking losers will hate. I will quote a few parts of these strips for you. If they crack you up, you will like this book (and you are awesome). If they don't, buy the book anyway so Johnny will become rich. Anyway: "Caution, Wet Taint!"; "a documentary about fartheads who play with their buttholes;" "the thinnest turd I've ever seen."

This is a bit of a cheat, as I'd started reading the next book before, but finished it this week. It's The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Fransico, 1904-1924. And the title is pretty explanatory, really. Four friends from Japan come to America at the turn of the century. One of them, for whatever reason, decides to do an auto/biographical comic strip about it written in a mixture of Japanese and English and drawn in a style more "Bringing up Father" than Astroboy. And, by damn, is it fascinating! True stories, usually about a page in length, of an era and a group from whom we hear too little in the mainstream media. We see the casual racism, taken with generally good humor by its recipients. We see the social strata, the politics of the time . . .just great stuff that I hope to write more on later.

So, yeah, that's a microcosm of comics. Half superhero comics, which are mostly bad; but a varied landscape of greatness outside of those confines.

The Best Comic Writers? Artists.

So last night, ol' Alex and I were having dinner and a few beers. Talk turned, inevitably, to comics. We discussed Kyle Baker's great interview, linked previously here. Specifically, we started talking about a part I didn't copy and paste, wherein Mr. Baker talks about how he hates collaborating with writers. Writers unthinkingly as artists to draw things, that, if they drew themselves, they'd know not to ever do. Alex mentioned a try-out comic a friend had done for DC, written by Mark Waid. There was a bit in the script that said something like "800 people appear from another dimension. You're the artist, you figure it out." It might seem reasonable at first, but do you go to the TV repairman and ask for him to make your TV fly? Then Alex said, "Almost all great writers also draw."

I protested. At first. But then we looked into it. We started listing the best comic writers. We started with five. They were all artists. Then we went to ten. Artists still. More and more and more, all of them at least CAN draw, whether they draw comics or not. Many of them have laid out pages in at least sketch format when writing. Don't believe me? Check this list and TRY to deny it.

Alan Moore
Grant Morrison
Dan Clowes
Chris Ware
Frank Miller
Art Spigelman
Neil Gaiman
Peter Bagge
Mike Mignola
Jaime Hernandez
Gilberto Hernandez
Ed Brubaker
Charles Schultz
R. Crumb
Will Eisner
Dave Sim
Paul Pope
Darwyn Cooke
Kyle Baker
Matt Wagner
Mike Allred

You can even go down to the Willinghams, the Scott Morses . . .heck, I don't care for Bendis, really, but when he's on, he's on.

All these guys either are artists or have been before. Doesn't it blow your mind? This isn't to say it's impossible to be a good comic writer without being an artist. Garth Ennis and Bryan K. Vaughn are probably the best two examples of non-artist writers. When they bring their A-game, they're probably better than a few guys on the list above.

But the evidence is pretty overwhelming. Writers that can't draw at all tend not to be the best comic writers. You cannot deny, can you?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

How To Alienate All Blogfolk Everywhere; Or: I Liked Sins Past Just Fine

So the internet is losing its shit again about the Amazing Spider-Man story, "Sins Past." In case you don't know (like, if you just pressed that "go to the random next blog" button or have a severe memory problem), it was a story that ran through that comic last year wherein two adults tried to kill Spidey. They were later revealed to be fast-aging offspring of the Green Goblin's secret ID (Norman Osborne) and Peter's late ex, Gwen Stacy. The internet immediately went berserk, as only true fans of something can. People were comparing it to DC's pet dungheap, Identity Crisis. On the surface, I can see why. There was a retcon involving a villain and a beloved supporting character having sexual contact. Comics from a more innocent time were revealed to have "between-the-panel" moments of more (im-)mature content.

But I want to point out where the comparison fails, because I think the reason I liked Sins Past and loathed Identity Crisis lies within the differences.

1. The Differences Between Silver Age DC and Marvel

We all pay lipservice to the idea that DC was the home of gods with secret identities and the main idea Marvel housed was humans with superpowers. DC heroes led shiny, sci-fi lives in satellites. Marvel heroes got the crap beat out of them and they lived in bunkers and cramped apartments with their aunt. Specifically, the JLA were near-infallible gods and Spider-Man lived a life of pain and tragedy. Peter Parker's story is better-suited to handle a blow like this story. Tragedy fits into his archetypal arc. His is a world where teenagers do dumb things and make mistakes, and then pay for them. The JLA's world is one where SuperBigBrother will protect you from any harm. Identity Crisis is an antithesis of what those comics were and should be. Sins Past fits in much better.

2. Consensuality

I can critique Identity Crisis for dozens of things, but most of it falls back to bad writing, which most superhero books have, anyway. What I took offense at was the rape scene. It was graphic, it was unnecessary, it was crude, it was never again addressed, and it was blatantly manipulative and misogynistic. Contrast that rape with the consensual (if obviously poorly-thought-out) sex between Gwen and Norman. A powerful, charistmatic older man and an inexperienced teenager. Immoral? Yes. Unfortunate? Yes. But it's not rape. It's a mistake, and teenage girls make them all the time. It's a mistake that I'd not judge my female friends for making. A lot of the ire directed at Sins Past online seemed to come from guys who took it personally that "Gwen" "slept with" "Norman." By no means was this ALL the ire, but there was a heavy dose of "Dirty slut!" in the complaints. Again, a teenager screwing up and later trying to make up for it and dying makes sense in the world of Peter Parker. Graphic rape in the JLA satellite doesn't.

3. Story mechanics

I've not been nor am I yet a fan of anything else Straczynski has written. But he writes a damn charming Spider-Man, with a good three-act structure to his stories, plot development, sharp-but-not-overpowering dialogue, and a decent mix of drama and humor. I've NEVER liked Spider-Man before this, really, other than the requisite "I'm seven and Spider-Man looks awesome" stuff. Sins Past wasn't costant awfulness. Parker was still Parker and he'd still crack wise. Other things would happen. Identity Crisis is 24-Hours-A-Day-Awfulocity. The dialogue is bogus fan-fic junk. The art would only be considered good in mainstream comics. And the plot made NO SENSE. Now "better than Identity Crisis" is faint praise akin to "better than my mom being cannibalized in front of me." Sins Past was solid comic storytelling that took a very unpopular turn. (Though I will freely admit that the panel focussing on Osborne's "O-face" was gross as hell and unnecessary. But I mostly chalk that up to art I already didn't like.)

I just think the Identity Crisis comparisons don't hold up. Was it the greatest Spider-Man story? No. Was it even Straczynski's greatest? No. But in no way does it deserve the rampages it seems to constantly get, nor the awful punishment of having PAD coming on instead. You may not have liked it, but with at least the above three points, surely you'll see why it doesn't deserve THAT company.

This is for Willie Maxwell

It's also for me. And it's for blogpal ADD. And it's for everyone else. The Bluesman site is up and kicking. I'm looking forward to reading this, as an old blues man was actually my own personal life-changing sensei once, when I was a British rockstar. Check it out, it's worth checking.

Monday, May 02, 2005

In the continuing tradition of posting links of great Kyle Baker interviews . . .

Read it now. Read it. OK, fine, just read what I quote. Then read the rest. I know you're lazy like that, oh audience of five. Link via the saucy Tom Spurgeon, interview by Andrew Farago.

On comics often looking out-of-date:

BAKER: Comic books are one of the few -- it's gotten a lot better, but it's one of the few places where the artwork doesn't reflect what's going on in every other media. Television graphics, sports graphics, on sports television shows, those look like hip-hop album covers. And they've got hip-hop music. They know that they've got to stay current. You even go to Starbucks, and they've got the same kind of cool graphics that you can see on MTV. [laughs]

FARAGO: Do you think comics will ever figure this out?

BAKER: I think some people do. There are guys doing it, and a lot more of them then there used to be. Also, there are a lot of people coming in from some other area, which I think helps. When I started comics, it was such a rotten business that it was the place you started. You'd get out of college, then go to a comic-book company, get some experience, then you'd go get a real job. Like in advertising, or television, or something. Most of those guys end up in animation, the guys who leave comics. And that was pretty much the way it went. But now you've got people who have success in some other area, doing graphic design for magazines or something like that, and then they come in and want to do a comic book. Like, I know Prince's designer was working for Karen Berger for a while, because he's just a big comic-book fan, and he's always wanted to do it. You never saw that before, because, for one thing, the rates weren't competitive. That's why Jack Davis, once he got out of comics, never went back. They couldn't afford him.

Excellent point. Comics art, well, mainstream comics art is so STAID and never-changing it frustrates me. People are still aping Neal Adams. Neal Adams, people. Sure, he was neat and new in the sixties but it's been FORTY YEARS. Imagine if all television shows looked like, I dunno, the Brady Bunch? That's not even the sixties, is it? Shit, the Brady Bunch is more up-to-date than most comics.

Baker is more generous with the time line, but it's still sad:

BAKER: Here's the problem: people have been doing the exact same thing, even swiping his panels, for the last 20 years! Every comic I've picked up is a Frank Miller Batman. Jim Lee's Batman is a Frank Miller Batman, with the big square fists. And Jim will tell you that; I'm not knocking him. It's a tribute. When you see something that works, you do it. You keep it until it's gone. You draw Superman like Curt Swan as long as people are responding to that. And in the eighties, they say that people aren't responding to Curt Swan, they like the John Byrne look. Let's get the comics to start looking like John Byrne. Things come and go, and the guys that don't come up with new material, you get tired of them. The whole world's tired of Michael Jackson. [laughs] 'Cause he's still doing the same dance.

I just like this anecdote of what almost was:

BAKER: They had suggested The Creeper. 'Cause I don't read DC Comics, really. I'm familiar with them from when I was a kid, and I'll read the ones I work on, but that's normal. There's no way anyone can read everything they put out these days. A lot of creators have to be briefed before they start a job. So, they sent me a package of Creeper stuff, and the Creeper, his power is, as created by Steve Ditko -- because there's a new version now, I know -- his power is that his clothes change. [laughs]

FARAGO: Right.

BAKER: So I said, "What a lousy power! I can't do anything with this!"

On the change-no-change paradox:

BAKER: You can't keep stuff the same; they don't like it. People claim they do, and you get a lot of complaints whenever there's some kind of change in these comic books, but if nothing changes, the comic books don't sell. You have to kill some guy's wife. It's getting outrageous. You have to kill them and rape them and cut the heads off of them, and have the villain turn out to be one of the top heroes in the DC Universe. [laughs]

Kyle Baker, Man of Taste:

BAKER: Yeah, they reprinted it in paperback. I get all these free comic books. I get the DCs for free, so I do look at a lot of them. The good stuff, like the Jack Kirby stuff and the Walt Simonson stuff, I'm up on that. And I've been reading this Identity Crisis, just because I'm doing Plastic Man, and I have to see if there's anything there to work on.

FARAGO: Make sure that he's not the murderer?

BAKER: No, not that, but, for example, I just lifted... oh, golly. [laughs] When's this coming out?

FARAGO: Not until February.

BAKER: I just lifted some dialogue from Superman/Batman #13, because it was such funny dialogue that I just had to take it. [laughs] Have you read any Superman/Batman?

FARAGO: I read the first story...

BAKER: I have to keep up on it, because it's DC's top characters. Superman thinks Supergirl got killed, so he's beating up Darkseid, and he's making this big speech for like, two pages. Literally. Two-and-a-half pages of, "She's dead! There's so many things she'll never know! The thrill of eating ice cream, and being asked to the prom!" He goes on for page after page! "Her first kiss! Thanksgiving dinner with the family! Sunny days and puppy dogs!" [laughs uncontrollably]

FARAGO: I might have to pick that one up.

BAKER: It's hilarious! [laughs] Just read it at the newsstand. It's just the funniest damn thing. And I got this the same day that I got the Identity Crisis with Batman crying on the cover. [laughs] That's the thing, you've got to look at this stuff.

I dunno . . .I avoid trainwrecks and reality TV, too . . .

In the "their loss" category:

FARAGO: In stories like the one where you undid the "Plastic Man's a deadbeat dad" story, are the hardcore DC fans angry at you for doing stories like that?

BAKER: Hardcore DC fans don't read Plastic Man. They dropped the book around issue one, because they were very offended that I dared to do an origin story in the first issue.

About the superhero continuity audience:

BAKER: Anyway, I wasn't familiar with this audience, the comic-book superhero audience, since I hadn't done superhero comics in 20 years. When I was doing it, we were dealing with children at 7-11s, fifty-cent comic books. That's not the audience anymore. From that, I got the feeling that fans really didn't like too much shakeup. Then I started reading the top superhero books, because I wanted to figure out what was going on, and what appealed to people. I do this with every job I do, not just comic books. If you work for somebody, you see what else they make, and what their audience likes. If I want to be in The New York Times, I check to see what sort of style other artists in The New York Times are using. That kind of thing. So I read Batman: Hush. This story, it seemed to me... and this is someone who hadn't read a copy of Batman in years, probably since Dark Knight. So I'm reading Hush, and I can't make heads nor tails out of it. People show up, and apparently, the way it's played, the way it's staged, I should be happy they showed up.

FARAGO: Uh-huh.

BAKER: I can tell, because the guy got a whole page. He'll open the door, and they'll go, "Oh, my goodness! It's DOCTOR JONES!" Or whatever. And it's staged in such a way that I should be really thrilled. I should be wetting my pants that Doctor Jones is in the doorway, except I never heard of Doctor Jones. [laughs] This stuff is obviously targeted at people who read every fricking issue of Batman, for the last 50 years. That's another thing; I should be thrilled when some obscure character who hasn't been in the book since the fifties... I mean, there are guys who sit there and try to find the most obscure details to put in that book, to thrill some guy who's been reading it since 1938.

Or, more likely, has been reading since the sixties or eighties but has obsessively read everything before and after that point, too.

On his own "continuity" story:

I had already started Plastic Man by that time. I'd already been working on the first paperback, so I knew that whole story. I'd already pitched it to Joey and everything. Then, I'm reading the comic books now, and I realize that I'm completely going down the wrong trail here, and I really want to give people what they want. I will do a story that will address all the continuity issues, because that seems to be what people most respond to. That's selling books, the ones where some "major change shakes up the DC Universe," just like we were talking about. So, in the press, when I was doing the promotion for Plastic Man, I was telling people, "Yeah, I've got this first story, but when that's done, I've got this whole 'continuity thing' going." [laughs] Because I wanted people to not drop the book. I was going to give them what they wanted in four issues. But people were so hostile toward the book that by the time I got to that storyline, none of those idiots were left! So I said, "Screw it, let's have some fun!"

About the lack of comics for young girls:

BAKER: I mean, what the hell's wrong with the world, where I can't give my five-year-old a copy of Wonder Woman? What the hell's that about? . . .What the hell's a five-year-old girl supposed to do? Buy Power Rangers. And that's how you lose your fanbase. When you make Wonder Woman a book that appeals to grown men, what the hell are you doing? Supergirl, same thing. I keep looking up Supergirl's skirt. I shouldn't know about Supergirl's panties, I really shouldn't. But I do. And so do you. What's that about?

FARAGO: You should have to guess, you should have to use your imagination.

BAKER: I've seen Supergirl's ass. She's like fourteen. (laughs uproariously) We've really gone off on a tangent this time.

True story: I give comics away to my seven or eight year old students for good behavior. I also had one of those DK reference books for Superman. So last year, one of my girls was looking through it and saw some old Supergirl covers. Flying horses, adventure, the whole shebang. She asked, "Why don't you have any comics like this?" practically salivating. I had to tell her that they don't make them anymore. What I didn't tell her was they were too busy making Supergirl comics featuring her and other teenage girls bathing.

On the bi-monthly change for Plastic Man:

FARAGO: Is that to accommodate other projects from you?

BAKER: No, it's because there ain't nobody buying the book, but they don't want to cancel it, because they think it's a good book. They want to keep it going.

That's very good to hear, I think you'll agree.

Some quick quote-lets about supercomics today in the Identity Crisis era:

BAKER: It's out of character, it's bad writing.

BAKER: So if people are fantasizing about their heroes becoming murderers, that's just what's in their heads right now. That's what they want to see. That's what they're dreaming of.

BAKER: Every time people buy it, they're going to do another one. That's common sense. If the biggest book of the year features brutal rapes, you're going to have to top it next time. You're going to have to come up with, what's worse than that? What's worse than raping and killing a character's wife? We're going to have to top that. Maybe we can cut Lois Lane's head off and shove it up her ass. That's what'll be at the next meeting. We're going to have to figure out how to brutalize the rest of the DC universe.

BAKER: Yeah, I keep thinking I'd like to do one of those. Just photorealistic butchery. Maybe I'll mutilate and torture Black Canary for twelve months.

So, yeah, he's down on shitty comics. But he's got, at least, a good sense of humor about it. Aware but not zealous, I'd say. As always, a really interesting interview. Great stuff about his upcoming projects (I'm really interested in Nat Turner, for one) and why he doesn't like collaborating. Check it out and read the rest.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Harvey Award Nominations Announced

From the Beat but with NECESSARY COMMENTARY from Joe Rice (me).

Best New Talent
Samuel Hiti / End Times – Tiempos Finales / La Luz Comics
Christopher Reilly / Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Andy Runton / Owly / Top Shelf
Leslie Stein / Yeah, It Is / Alternative Comics
Bryan Lee O’Malley / Scott Pilgrim / Oni Press

Shit. This is like a list of things I've meant to read but haven't. Except for Owly. I don't trust Eliot and his Owly obsession. So, uh, no commentary, just me looking like a dumbass.

Best New Series
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist / Dark Horse Comics
Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days / DC Comics/Wildstorm
Or Else / Drawn & Quarterly
Owly / Top Shelf
1602 / Marvel

I like Ex Machina, I really do. But, Jesus, is it really THAT great to deserve all these nominations? Huh. I guess it's smart and I like it every month . . .it just never hit me as "Award Material." And 1602 was more boring than a thousand comic review blogs written only as synopses. That's boring.

Best Letterer
Daniel Clowes / Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Todd Klein / Wonder Woman / DC Comics
Seth / Palookaville / Drawn & Quarterly
Dave Sim / Cerebus / Aardvark-Vanaheim
Richard Starkings / Conan / Dark Horse Comics

Was Klein's work on Wonder Woman better than anything else he's ever done? Huh. I'd go with Clowes here. He can letter like a mother.

Best Writer
Brian Michael Bendis / Daredevil / Marvel
Daniel Clowes / Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Alan Moore / Promethea / DC Comics/Wildstorm/America’s Best Comics
Christopher Reilly / Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Judd Winick / Green Arrow / DC Comics

"Hello, Alan, you deserve to be here."

"Thank you, Daniel! You do, as well."

"I"m not sure who you are, Christopher."

. . .

. . .

Best Artist
Charles Burns / Black Hole #2 / Fantagraphics Books
John Cassaday / Planetary / DC Comics/Wildstorm
Darwyn Cooke / DC: The New Frontier / DC Comics
Juanjo Guardino / Blacksad 2 / ibooks/Komikwerks
Jaime Hernandez / Love and Rockets / Fantagraphics Books

What a great category. Shit. How do you pick between Burns, Cooke, and Hernandez? I almost see those guys splitting a vote and Cassaday getting in there. (He's great, but not like the others.)

Best Cartoonist
Kyle Baker / Plastic Man / DC Comics
Daniel Clowes / Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Batton Lash / Supernatural Law / Exhibit A Press
Bryan Lee O’Malley / Scott Pilgrim / Oni Press
Jeff Smith / Bone / Cartoon Books


Best Cover Artist
Charles Burns / Black Hole / Fantagraphics Books
Juanjo Guardino / Blacksad / ibooks/Komikwerks
James Jean / Fables / DC Comics/Vertigo
Scott McKowen / 1602 / Marvel
Humberto Ramos / Spectacular Spider-Man / Marvel

If anything was gooda bout 1602, it was the covers, so no problem there. But Humberto Ramos? Really? James Jean, I think. Amazing work that keeps getting better.

Best Single Issue or Story
Batman: Room Full of Strangers / DC Comics
Black Hole #12 / Fantagraphics Books
Dogs and Water / Drawn & Quarterly
Identity Crisis #1-4 / DC Comics
Eightball #23 / Fantagraphics Books
Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Supernatural Law #101 / Exhibit A Press

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is different. Seeing Eightball and Identity Crisis not only as words near each other, but NOMINATED for the SAME CATEGORY makes me kick my mom in the nuts. Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? Who let the Wizard boys vote this year?

Best Domestic Reprint Project
Krazy and Ignatz / Fantagraphics Books
B. Krigstein: Comics / Fantagraphics Books
The Last Heroes / ibooks/Komikwerks
Marge’s Little Lulu Vol. 1 / Dark Horse Comics
The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 / Fantagraphics Books
The Spirit Archives Vol. 14 / DC Comics

Hello worthy category about which I've nothing to say other than, "Keep it up!"

Best Continuing / Limited Series
Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Identity Crisis / DC Comics
Love and Rockets / Fantagraphics Books
The New Frontier / DC Comics
Supernatural Law / Exhibit A Press

Is Supernatural Law as good as the rest of the things in this list? If so, I really should be buying it. Because three of my favorite comics of all time are on this list. And one comic where rape gets used to PUMP UP SOME SUPERHEROES!!!!!!!

Best Inker
Charles Burns / Black Hole / Fantagraphics Books
Danny Miki / Ultimate Fantastic Four / Marvel
Andy Parks / Green Arrow / DC Comics
Seth / Palookaville / Drawn & Quarterly
Steve Leialoha / Fables / DC Comics/Vertigo

Best Colorist
Daniel Clowes / Eighball / Fantagrahpics Books
Laura Martin / Astonishing X-Men / Marvel
Patricia Mulvihill / 100 Bullets / DC Comics/Vertigo
Stefani Renee / Ant / Arcana Studio
Dave Stewart / DC: The New Frontier / DC Comics

All these folks seem good at what they do.

Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work
American Elf: Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka / Top Shelf / James Kochalka
Bone: One Volume Edition / Cartoon Books / Jeff Smith
Clyde Fans: Book 1 / Drawn & Quarterly / Seth
Locas / Fantagraphics Books / Jaime Hernandez
R. Crumb’s Kafka / ibooks/Komikwerks / Robert Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz

Hard to go against Crumb, but LOCAS! LOCAS! LOCAS!

Special Award for Humor in Comics
Kyle Baker / Plastic Man / DC Comics
Jimmy Gownley / Amelia Rules! / ibooks/Komikwerks
Roger Langridge / Fred the Clown / Hotel Fred
Christopher Reilly / Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Johnny Ryan / Angry Youth Comix / Fantagraphics Books

Baker makes me giggle, and I love his artwork. Ryan makes me actually laugh as if I were talking to a person in front of me. That's quality funny.

Best Anthology
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventure of the Escapist / Dark Horse Comics / Diana Schutz, Editor
Fight #1 / Image Comics / Kazu Kibuishi, Editor
Kramer’s Ergot #5 / Gingko Press / Sammy Harkham,Editor
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13 / McSweeney’s Books / Chris Ware, Editor
Nickelodeon (Comic Book Section) / Viacom/Nickelodeon / Dave Roman, Editor

Escapist would have a chance if the best pieces from the entire run were put together in one book. As it is, each issue has some good and some not-so-good.

Best Graphic Album of Original Work
Blacksad 2 / ibooks/Komikwerks / Juajono Guardino, Juan Diaz Canales
Carnet De Voyage / Top Shelf / Craig Thompson
Jimbo in Purgatory / Fantagraphics Books / Gary Panter
Owly / Top Shelf / Andy Runton
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 / Oni Press / Bryan Lee O’Malley

Shit, I even OWN some of this stuff and haven't read it.

Best Syndicated Strip or Panel
Doonesbury / Garry Trudeau / Universal Press Syndicate
Tom, the Dancing Bug / Ruben Bolling / Universal Press Syndicate
Maakies / Tony Millionaire / Self-Syndicated
Mutts / Patrick McDonald / King Features Syndicate
Underworld / Kaz / Self-Syndicated

I feel like Mutts is the odd-man-out here, unless I've totally misread that strip the few times I've seen it.

Special Award for Excellence in Presentation
In the Shadow of No Towers / Pantheon
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13 / McSweeney’s Books
Mr. X Collected / ibooks/Komikwerks
The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 / Fantagraphics Books
Valerian: New Future Trilogy / ibooks/Komikwerks

This will one day be called the Ware/Kidd Memorial Award.

Best American Edition of Foreign Material
Blacksad 2 / ibooks/Komikwerks
Buddha / Vertical Inc.
Metabarons / Humanoids Publishing
Persepolis 2: Story of a Return / Pantheon
Valerian: New Future Trilogy / ibooks/Komikwerks

I'd say this comes down to Buddha versus Persepolis 2. (Who'd have thought a legit work could have "2" in its name?)

Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation
Comic Art Magazine / M. Todd Hignite / M. Todd Hignite, Editor
Comic Book Artist / Top Shelf / Jon B. Cooke, Editor
The Comics Journal / Fantagraphics Books / Gary Groth and Dirk Deppey, Editors
Indy Magazine / Alternative Comics / Bill Kartalopoulos, Editor
Men of Tomorrow / Basic Books / Gerard Jones, Author

I've not read Comic Art yet, but the way I've heard, it's the only competition TCJ really has in this category.

Overall, these were much better nominations than the Eisners, I think. But aren't they, usually? I don't know how the fuck Rape Comix got in there, but, hey, shit happens. My only real complaint is the lack of Morrison, Quitely, and We3 in there. Each of those three things would fit in nicely where an unworthy nomination now sits. But I ain't sweatin' it. I think I'm going to eat some LAMB CHOPS now, yeah.