A Designer’s Visual Guide to Comic-Con’s Eisner Awards Nominees

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You may have heard that San Diego’s holding its massive annual gathering of pop culture tribes this week. Comic-Con International is one of the biggest and—having launched in 1970—longest-running in the United States. And 2017’s Eisner Awards, comicdom’s most prestigious ceremonial honors event—which I covered here last year—is particularly noteworthy as it’s the birth centennial of its namesake. Will Eisner is, of course, the famed artist/writer of the revolutionary, groundbreaking Spirit newspaper strip and popularizer of comics’ marketing bonanza term “graphic novel.” More on Will Eisner at 100 here.

The Eisners are inevitably equated with filmdom’s Oscars. The Comic Industry even maintains its own Eisner Hall of Fame. There are differences, of course, most apparent in the Con crowd’s complete obliviousness to tasteful, refined dress standards. But, like the Oscars, they serve to shine a light on meritorious works from the previous year that may have been overlooked or under-recognized. And while only one of the 30 categories—“Best Publication Design”—focuses specifically on graphic design, there’s a good deal of exceptionally praiseworthy artistry to be found among the other 29. Sure, the majority of it is your routine, interchangeable superhero stuff, casually rendered alt-comics, and other such standard material, but there are also more than enough innovative, imaginative and challenging creative visions on the ballot to warrant our serious consideration. Indeed, the extraordinary “Best Anthology” category alone deserves its own Print feature … so you should look for that in the next few days.

Meanwhile, let’s survey other admirable graphic accomplishments that made the Eisner list, kicking off with links for information about those “Publication Design” contenders and then focusing in on a generous sampling from other categories.

San Diego Comic-Con 2017: A Designer’s Guide to the Eisner Awards Nominees

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, designed by Sonny Liew (Pantheon) Best Publication Design

Best Graphic Album – New

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia

Best Writer/Artist

Best Coloring Best Lettering

The Complete Wimmen’s Comix, designed by Keeli McCarthy (Fantagraphics) Best Publication Design

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old)

Frank in the Third Dimension, designed by Jacob Covey,* 3D conversions by Charles Barnard (Fantagraphics) Best Publication Design

The Realist Cartoons, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics) Best Publication Design

Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips (at least 20 Years Old)

Si Lewen’s Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey, designed by Art Spiegelman (Abrams) Best Publication Design

Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, by Dave McKean (Dark Horse)

Best Graphic Album – Ne

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

• Babybel Wax Bodysuit, by Eric Kostiuk Williams (Retrofit/Big Planet)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot

• Panther, by Brecht Evens (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Best Lettering

• Dark Night: A True Batman Story, by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC) Best Reality-Based Work

• Sir Alfred #3, by Tim Hensley (Pigeon Press) Best Single Issue/One-Shot

• David Mack, for Abe Sapien, BPRD Hell on Earth, Fight Club 2, Hellboy and the BPRD 1953 (Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist (multiple covers)

• Meat Cake Bible, by Dame Darcy (Fantagraphics)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

• Equinoxes, by Cyril Pedrosa, translated by Joe Johnson (NBM) Best U.S. Edition of International Material

• Tetris: The Games People Play, by Box Brown (First Second)

Best Reality-Based Work Best Writer/Artist

• Your Black Friend, by Ben Passmore (Silver Sprocket) Best Single Issue/One-Shot

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About Michael Dooley

Michael Dooley is the creative director of Michael Dooley Design and teaches History of Design, Comics, and Animation at Art Center College of Design and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also a Print contributing editor and author.

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