While the internet was bombarded by a barrage of trailers, the best and brightest in comic books gathered in San Diego on Friday to hand out the medium’s highest honor, the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Awarded at San Diego Comic Con every year, the Eisners recognize the year’s outstanding works and creators in 30 categories, as well as acknowledging the industry’s past with inductions into the Hall of Fame, and recognizing excellence in comic book retailing with the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award.
Torchwood and Arrow actor John Barrowman hosted the ceremony, and presenters included Samurai Jack voice Phil LaMarr, MAD and Groo artist Sergio Aragonés, Congressman John Lewis — whose autobiography March won Best Reality-Based Work — and new Hall-of-Famer and Simpsons creator Matt Groening, among many others. The publisher that took home the most trophies was Image Comics, whose titles earned a total of seven awards, with two each going to Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s deep-fried crime-noir Southern Bastards and to Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s '80s-inspired sci-fi adventure Paper Girls. The next most successful publishers were Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics, who netted four and three awards, respectively.
If you want to read the best single issue of a comic book published last year, according to the Eisners, you need to track down Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer #11, which fashioned its page layouts into that of a giant Möbius strip, creating a story that narratively and visually looped back upon itself in fascinating ways. And if you’re in the market for the year’s best graphic novel, it's Peter Kruper’s tale of butterflies, history and Mexican culture, Ruins. My personal favorite book of the year, Israeli cartoonist Asaf Hanuka’s abstract autobiographical comic, The Realist, took home the award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material. There was an incredible number of great comics published in the last year, and fans are sure to have a lot of great reading ahead of them as they catch up on the award winners that they missed.
Did any of your favorite nominees miss out unfairly? Are there any on the list that you can’t wait to read? And what books from this year do you think are on the road to next year’s awards? As always, let us know in the comments.
2016 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Winners
Best Short Story: “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Single Issue/One-Shot: Silver Surfer #11: “Never After,” by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)
Best Continuing Series: Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)
Best Limited Series: The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
Best New Series: Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8): Little Robot, by Ben Hatke (First Second)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12): Over the Garden Wall, by Pat McHale, Amalia Levari, and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)
Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17): SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Humor Publication: Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Digital/Webcomic: Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)
Best Anthology: Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Reality-Based Work: March: Book Two, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
Best Graphic Album—New: Ruins, by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)
Best Graphic Album—Reprint: Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)
Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Two Brothers, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material: The Realist, by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia: Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips: The Eternaut, by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books: Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)
Best Writer: Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards (Image), Men of Wrath (Marvel Icon), Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Thor (Marvel)
Best Writer/Artist: Bill Griffith, Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics)
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team: Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls (Image)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist: Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)
Best Cover Artist: David Aja, Hawkeye, Karnak, Scarlet Witch (Marvel)
Best Coloring: Jordie Bellaire, The Autumnlands, Injection, Plutona, Pretty Deadly, The Surface, They’re Not Like Us, Zero (Image); The X-Files (IDW); The Massive (Dark Horse); Magneto, Vision (Marvel)
Best Lettering: Derf Backderf, Trashed (Abrams)
Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: Hogan’s Alley, edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan’s Alley)
Best Comics-Related Book: Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created MAD and Revolutionized Humor in America, by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)
Best Academic/Scholarly Work: The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)
Best Publication Design: The Sandman Gallery Edition, designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)
Hall of Fame: Judges’ Choices: Carl Burgos, Tove Jansson. Voters’ Choices: Lynda Barry, Rube Goldberg, Matt Groening, Jacques Tardi
Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Dan Mora
Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Matthew Inman
Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing: Richard E. Hughes, Elliot S! Maggin
Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Orbital Comics and Games, London, UK
Art from Silver Surfer, The Realist, Bandette, and Paper Girls.