This year, there were a number of Eisner nominees from Portland, and though only a few brought the coveted award back to the Rose City, all can be proud to represent their town.
Bill Morrison, co-founder of Bongo Comics, opened the Eisner Award ceremony with gratitude.
“I want to thank you all… for not going to see Captain America tonight.”
Despite the competition, the Bayfront Hilton’s Indigo Ballroom was well-populated Saturday night for the distribution of the comics industry’s highest honors.
“We have a lot of new awards this year,” Morrison continued. “52 to be exact. They’re being given out for the first time, so we’re calling them ‘first issues.’
“So… 52 first issues…”
Cue laughs from the audience.
Jackie Estrada, the administrator of the Awards since 1990, introduced the show’s title sponsor, Advanced Micro Devices, and announced that one attendee would receive an AMD computer signed by Robert Rodriguez. This is the first time in recent memory that a sponsor has attached its name to the title of the ceremony, but it may also be the largest sponsor the show has had.
The hosts of the first segment were Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant from Reno 911!, and they explained the “classy” opening they had originally intended for the show. In fact, they acted it out, complete with showgirls dressed as superheroines and flying effects.
Accepting the award for Best Publication for Kids with co-writer Franco Aurelliani, Art Baltazar thanked everyone he could think of.
“Thanks to Geoff Johns, even George Lucas… Adam West!”
Portland artist Joelle Jones presented the award for Best Humor publication to fellow Rose Citizen Shannon Wheeler for I Thought You Would Be Funnier, Wheeler’s second Eisner award.
Local artist Dave Stewart (Hellboy) took home the Eisner for Best Colorist, an award he seemed unable to believe he had won.
Presenter Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics), who ostensibly had instructed Lennon and Garant to describe him as “genius,” announced the receipients of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Intended to recognize writers who may be overlooked, the award went posthumously to Bob Haney, and to Del Connell.
Connell, whose comic Space Family Robinson was translated into the TV hit Lost In Space, spent some of his speech taking shots at the television industry. Which television industry members Lennon and Garant did not fail to note, talking about the “lazy television writers” with obvious sarcasm.
Segment two was hosted by Comic-Con special guests (and Portlanders) Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, whose patter was polished and professional. In announcing presenters Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, Guinan was confused at the inclusion of a turn-of-the-century labor activist until his identity was clarified by wife Bennett.
Stumptown writer and Stumptown resident Greg Rucka presented the award for Best US Edition of International Material to It Was the War of the Trenches for Europe, and to Naoki Urusawa’s 20th Century Boys for Asia.
Inductees elected to the Hall of Fame this year were Mort Drucker, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, and Harvey Pekar. Standing on stage with her daughter, Pekar’s widow Joyce Brabner talked about a motion to erect a statue to her husband in Lake View Cemetery. Not wanting to have public money spent on such a monument, Brabner announced plans to use Kickstarter to collect donations from Pekar’s many fans.
“If there’s one person who has the money to do this,” she continued, “they should be donating that to cancer research.”
Martin Nodell, co-creator of Green Lantern, was one of the judges’ picks for the Hall of Fame, and his son Spencer accepted in his father’s memory. In an amusing story, he recalled his father admonishing him for being loud with his friends:
“He came to the doorway and said, ‘Keep it quiet; keep it simple; keep it legitimate.’ I don’t know exactly what he meant!”
As with the Academy Awards, there was also a short segment memorializing those recently passed away who contributed to the world of sequential art. Among those honored were Dwayne McDuffie, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Bill Blackbeard, and Jeff Alexander.
Phil LaMarr (MADtv, Futurama) hosted the final segment of the show, keeping the audience laughing. He introduced presenters Glen David Gold (novelist, Carter Beats the Devil) and Patrick McDonnell (Mutts).
Accepting the award for Best Writer, Joe Hill proudly displayed his metal Boilerplate pin on his shirt, a fact which did not escape the notice of Paul Guinan, the robot’s creator.
Presenter Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Millennium) showed his comics pride by wearing a shirt for The Goon, and proceeded to mangle most of the nominees’ names.
Winning the Eisner for Best Short Story was local author and rabid Portland Timbers fan Greg Rucka, who with artist Michael Lark produced “Post Mortem” in I Am an Avenger #2.
Henriksen also presented the Russ Manning Award for the Most Promising Newcomer to Nonplayer‘s Nate Simpson. In his acceptance speech, Simpson promised that there would be an issue 2 to the series, before assuring the crowd that he meant he was actively working on that issue.
Presenters Walter and Louise Simonson gave Eisners for Best New Series to American Vampire, Best Limited Series to Daytripper, and Best Continuing Series to Chew.
Rounding out the night’s presenters were British talk show host (and Turf writer) Jonathan Ross and artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, Give Me Liberty).