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2004 Eisner Awards
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Judges' Comments on 2004 Nominations

The 2004 Eisner Awards judges had the following comments about the judging process and this year's nominee selections (click to view list of nominees).

Meloney Crawford Chadwick:
Five judges, one administrator and over 1500 nominated entries are brought together for one weekend in San Diego to produce a ballot representing the best of the comic book industry in 2003. It sounds like a premise for a new reality show, doesn't it? Happily, the only competition that dominated the weekend of the Eisner judging was between an abundance of excellent material in a wide variety of genres. No one was required to make fire, eat grubs, or even get badly sunburned.

Reflecting on the experience, I was impressed at how well the panel of judges worked together. Our differing interests and backgrounds were secondary to our love of comics. We all put in long hours of reading and research to make sure our decisions recognized the best work produced in the last year.

The nominees selected in every category are outstanding among a field of entertaining, emotionally moving, and well-executed art. Looking at the final list of nominees, I think every one is worthy of an Eisner Award -- I'm glad that final decision isn't up to me!

Marc Bernardin:
Serving as a judge for the Eisners is on a par with being a massive baseball fan and getting asked to throw out the first pitch for the All-Star Game (but without the fresh air). It's an incredible honor-and it's also a very tense, high-pressure scenario. For me, the experience was something of an education. This year's judge corps was an exceptionally well-read bunch (no surprise, what with a Diamond dog, a comics-store magnate, and a friggin' comics museum curator on the roster). While I read a ton of stuff, comics are just a part of my day job at Entertainment Weekly, not my entire day job. So, I found myself doing a lot of "after-school" reading to check out some of the titles that I missed-like the Spanish import Blacksad, a gem that had totally eluded my radar.

When I first agreed to be a judge, I was warned that the totally immersive, marathon weekend might sour my love for comics. On the contrary: The 48 hours that my fellow judges-professionals all-and I spent debating, deliberating, and deciding on our finalists only reinforced my love for this medium.

Andrew Farago:
Working with the other judges to determine this year's nominees was a great experience. Everyone was incredibly knowledgeable about comics (and a variety of other subjects), and everyone had strong opinions about what deserved to be on the ballot and why. In the end, we came up with a list that satisfied everyone and showcased a lot of great material from a wide variety of publishers.

It's really interesting to see the state of flux in the comics industry right now, as the undisputed dominance of superhero comics is being seriously challenged for the first time in decades. While a number of grim n' gritty crime comics made the list, so did a lot of fun, light-hearted material, which means there really is "something for everyone" among the nominees.

Filip Sablik
Awesome. In a word, my experience as an Eisner judge was awesome. It was a real honor to be asked to weigh in on which worthy titles, creators, and publishers would have the chance to receive the industry's most recognized accolade. I was thrilled (and a bit intimidated) at the thought that my opinion on what makes a great comic would affect the outcome of this year's Eisner Awards. Before leaving for my weekend trip to San Diego, I admit I was filled with apprehensive thoughts: Had I read enough? Would the other judges respect my opinion? Would we all get along? Could I really eat, sleep, and breathe comics for two days straight? All of these concerns were soon laid to rest and I can happily answer "yes" to all of them.

I had a great time with all of the other judges and I'd like to think we all made a few new friends during the Eisner weekend. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing Meloney, Greg, Andrew, and Marc again this summer at Comic-Con. Jackie Estrada and the rest of the Comic-Con staff treated us like royalty and really went the extra mile to make sure we were taken care of. The only torturous part of the entire experience was sitting in a conference room while outside the sun was shining!

In the end, I'm very happy with the list of nominations that this year's judges arrived at. I feel we made a real effort to recognize a variety of material from large publishers and small, from superhero books to alternative to European and manga, and from big-name creators to previously unknowns. I don't know if our list of nominations is perfect, but I do feel confident that it is an accurate representation of the best that comics had to offer in 2003. It wasn't an easy task, but one I relished and will always treasure.

Greg Bennett:
I found the Eisner judging experience to be surprisingly good. Initially, I found the thought of being trapped in a hotel with four other judges, none of whom I'd met, a bit daunting. But even though we all had different tastes, we were able to work together and come up with a ballot that we're all proud of. I'd like to thank the other four judges for doing their homework, sticking to their guns, and making the experience thoroughly rewarding. And thanks to Jackie for bringing us all together.

Other Articles...
Diversity Once Again Rules Eisner
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

A comic book featuring a goon who fights zombies, a kids' anthology, and a Sandman graphic novel have received the most nominations for the 16th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

Eric Powell's The Goon (published by Dark Horse) is nominated for Best Single Issue, Best Continuing Series, and Best Humor Publication, while Powell is up for Best Writer/Artist-Humor. The third Little Lit anthology from art spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night (published by HarperCollins) has two Best Short Story nominations as well as nods for Best Anthology and Best Title for a Younger Audience. And Neil Gaiman's hardcover The Sandman: Endless Nights is nominated for Best Short Story and Best Anthology and has two nominations for Best Painter (Miguelanxo Prado and Frank Quitely) as well as a shared nomination for Best Lettering (Todd Klein).

Other projects with three or more nominations include Warren Ellis's Global Frequency (Best Single Issue, Best Limited Series, Best Cover Artist, and Best Writer), Paul Hornshemeier's Forlorn Funnies (Best Limited Series, Best Writer/Artist, Best Coloring), Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido's Blacksad (Best Graphic Album-New, Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material, Best Painter), Joann Sfar's Little Vampire Does Kung Fu! (Best Title for a Younger Audience, Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material, Best Writer/Artist-Humor), Greg Rucka's Queen and Country (Best Serialized Story, Best Continuing Series, Best Writer), Sleeper (Best New Series, Best Cover Artist, plus shared nominations for Best Writer and Best Lettering), and 100 Bullets (Best Continuing Series, plus shared nominations for Best Writer, Best Penciller/Inker, Best Cover Artist, and Best Coloring).

Writers Brian Michael Bendis and Greg Rucka are the creators with the most nominations (five). Bendis's categories include Best Writer, the award he won last year, while two of the books he writes, Alias and Daredevil, are competing against each other in the Serialized Story and Continuing Series categories. Rucka is also up for Best Writer, and he, too, has two competing series up for awards, Queen and Country and Gotham Central, in the Serialized Story and Continuing Series categories. Powell clocked in with four nominations, while Brubaker, Ellis, Guardino, and Sfar all have three. Also tapped for three nominations are Kyle Baker (Best Writer/Artist-Humor, Best Single Issue for The New Baker, and Best New Series for Plastic Man), Chris Ware (Best Graphic Album-Reprint and Best Publication Design for Quimby the Mouse, and Best Comics-Related Book for The Acme Novelty Library Datebook), the late Osamu Tezuka (Best Archival Project and Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material for Buddha and Best Title for a Younger Audience for Astro Boy), and P. Craig Russell (Best Short Story and Best Anthology for The Sandman: Endless Nights, Best Graphic Album-Reprint for The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations). Creators with two nominations include Gaiman, Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Chester Brown (Louis Riel), Craig Thompson (Blankets), Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets, Batman), Robert Kirkman (Invincible, The Walking Dead), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder, Queen and Country), Paul Pope (GiantTHB), amd Derek Kirk Kim (Small Difference and Other Stories).

DC Comics and its imprints have more than twice as many nominations (35 plus shares in five others) as their closest competitor, Dark Horse (15 plus one shared). DC's nominations encompass those for DC Universe titles (such as Gotham Central, Batman, Plastic Man, Empire, Superman: Red Son, JSA: Unholy Three), Vertigo (The Sandman: Endless Nights, 100 Bullets), ABC (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and WildStorm (Global Frequency, Sleeper, Planetary, Arrowsmith).

Dark Horse's nominees besides The Goon included two for Best Anthology (AutobioGraphix, The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings), two for Best Archival Project (Al Capp's Li'l Abner, The Chronicles of Conan) as well as nods for such perennial favorites as Usagi Yojimbo, Sock Monkey, and What's Michael.

Marvel Comics's eight nominations (plus three shared) include those for Bendis projects (Alias, Daredevil) and a Best Limited Series nod for James Sturm's Unstable Molecules. Close behind Marvel is Fantagraphics with eight items on the list, three of them in the Best Graphic Album-Reprint category: Jim Woodring's The Frank Book, Gilbert Henandez's Palomar, and Ware's Quimby. Drawn and Quarterly has six nominations, including the two for Louis Riel and the one for Acme Novelty Datebook. Companies with four nominations are Pantheon (two for Persepolis, two for Chip Kidd's Mythology: The DC Art of Alex Ross), HarperCollins (Little Lit), ibooks (Blacksad and Joe Kubert's graphic album Yossel), Top Shelf (including the two for Blankets), and Image. Weighing in with three nominations each are Oni, Simon & Schuster (Little Vampire), and Absence of Ink (Forlorn Funnies). More than a dozen other publishers are on the ballot with one or two nominations.

The nominees were selected by a panel of judges: retailer Greg Bennett (Big Planet Comics), journalist Marc Bernardin (senior editor, Entertainment Weekly), consultant/editor Meloney Crawford Chadwick, museum curator Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco), and Diamond Comics project manager Filip Sablik.

Ballots will be going out in late April to comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers. The results will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 23 in Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center. Will Eisner will be on hand to give out the trophies.

Sponsors for the 2004 Eisners include:
Major Sponsor:

Principal Sponsors:
Diamond Comics Distributors
Gentle Giant Studios
Quebecor Printing

Supporting Sponsors:
Alternate Reality
Atlantis Fantasyworld
Cold Cut Distributors
Comic Relief--The Comic Bookstore

Comics Unlimited
Flying Colors and Other Cool Stuff

The Eisner Awards are presented under the auspices of Comic-Con International, San Diego, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms. primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contributions of comics to art and culture. Jackie Estrada has been administrator of the Awards since 1990. She can be reached at
2004 Eisner Award Nominees (for 2003 Publications)
Best Short Story
•"Death," by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, in The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC)
•"It Was a Dark and Silly Night . . ." by Lemony Snicket and Richard Sala, in Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night (HarperCollins)
•"It Was a Dark and Silly Night," by Carlos Nine, in Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night (HarperCollins)
•"Monsieur Jean," by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, in Drawn & Quarterly 5 (Drawn & Quarterly)
•"Same Difference," by Derek Kirk Kim, in Same Difference and Other Stories (Small Stories)
•"There Are No Flowers in the Real World," by David Lapham, in The Matrix Comics (Burlyman Entertainment)
Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Conan The Legend #0, by Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord (Dark Horse)
Finder #30: "Beware of Dog," by Carla Speed McNeil (Lightspeed Press)
Giant THB 1.v.2, by Paul Pope (Horse Press)
Global Frequency #5: "Big Sky," by Warren Ellis and Jon J. Muth (WildStorm/DC)
The Goon #1, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Usagi Yojimbo #65: "Usagi and the Tengu," by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)
Best Serialized Story
Alias #22-28: "The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones" & "Purple," by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos (Marvel)
Daredevil #46-50: "Hardcore," by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev (Marvel)
Forlorn Funnies  #3-5: "Mother Come Home," by Paul Hornschemeier (Absence of Ink)
Gotham Central #6-10: "Half a Life," by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (DC)
Queen and Country #13-15: "Operation Blackwall," by Greg Rucka and Jason Alexander (Oni)
Best Continuing Series
Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos (Marvel)
Daredevil, by Brian Michael Bendis/Alex Maleev and David Mack (Marvel)
The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Gotham Central, by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Brian Hurtt, and Stefano Gaudiano (DC)
100 Bullets, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)
Queen & Country, by Greg Rucka, Jason Alexander, Carla Speed McNeil, and Mike Hawthorne (Oni)
Best Limited Series
Arrowsmith, by Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco, and Jesús Meriño (WildStorm/DC)
Empire, by Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, and James Pascoe (DC)
Global Frequency, by Warren Ellis and various artists (WildStorm/DC)
JSA: The Unholy Three, by Dan Jolley, Tony Harris, and Ray Snyder (DC)
Superman: Red Son, by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson/Andrew Robinson, and Kilian Plunkett/Walden Wong (DC)
Unstable Molecules, by James Sturm and Guy Davis (Marvel)
Best New Series
El Cazador, by Chuck Dixon and Steve Epting (CrossGen)
Invincible, by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker (Image)
The Losers, by Andy Diggle and Jock (Vertigo/DC)
Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker (DC)
Sleeper, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (WildStorm/DC)
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore (Image)
Best Title for a Younger Audience
Astro Boy, by Osamu Tezuka (Dark Horse)
Happy Halloween, Li'l Santa, by Thierry Robin and Lewis Trondheim (NBM)
Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night, edited by art spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (HarperCollins)
Little Vampire Does Kung Fu!, by Joann Sfar (Simon & Schuster)
Peanutbutter and Jeremy's Best Book Ever!, by James Kochalka (Alternative)
Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge, by various (Gemstone)
Best Humor Publication
•Circling the Drain (The Collected Dork, vol. 2), by Evan Dorkin (SLG)
Formerly Known as the Justice League, by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, and Joe Rubinstein (DC)
The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
The New Baker, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
What's Michael vols. 7 and 8, by Makoto Kobayashi (Dark Horse)
Best Anthology
AutobioGraphix, edited by Diana Schutz (Dark Horse)
The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse)
Drawn & Quarterly 5, edited by Chris Oliveros (Drawn & Quarterly)
Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night, edited by art spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (HarperCollins)
Project: Telstar, edited by Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)
The Sandman: Endless Nights, by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, P. Craig Russell, Miguelanxo Prado, Barron Storey, Frank Quitely, Glenn Fabry, Milo Manara, and Bill Sienkiewicz; co-edited by Karen Berger and Shelly Bond (Vertigo/DC)
Best Graphic Album—New
Blacksad, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (ibooks)
Blankets, by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf)
The Fixer: A Story from Sarajevo, by Joe Sacco (Drawn & Quarterly)
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Yossel, April 19, 1943, by Joe Kubert (ibooks)
Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Batman Adventures: Dangerous Dames and Demons, by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and others (DC)
The Frank Book, by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, vols. 1 and 2, by P. Craig Russell (NBM)
Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
Quimby the Mouse, by Chris Ware (Fantagraphics)
Best Archival Collection/Project
Al Capp's L'il Abner: The Frazetta Years, by Al Capp, edited by Denis Kitchen (Dark Horse)
Buddha, vols. 1 and 2, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Challengers of the Unknown Archives, vol. 1, by Dave Wood and Jack Kirby, edited by Dale Crain (DC)
The Chronicles of Conan, vols. 1 and 2, by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, edited by Jeremy Barlow (Dark Horse)
Krazy and Ignatz, 1929–1930, by George Herriman, edited by Bill Blackbeard (Fantagraphics)
The Spirit Archives, vol. 12, by Will Eisner, edited by Dale Crain (DC)
Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material
Blacksad, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (ibooks)
Buddha, vols. 1 and 2, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Chaland Anthology: Freddy Lombard, vols. 1 and 2, by Yves Chaland (Humanoids)
Little Vampire Does Kung Fu!, by Joann Sfar (Simon & Schuster)
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Best Writer
•Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and Hard Place (Vertigo/DC); Batman (DC)
•Brian Michael Bendis, Alias, Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men (Marvel); Powers (Image)
•Ed Brubaker, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Gotham Central (DC); Sleeper (WildStorm/DC)
•Warren Ellis, Orbiter (Vertigo/DC); Global Frequency, Red, Planetary, Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth (WildStorm/DC)
•Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Smax, Tom Strong, Tom Strong's Terrific Tales (ABC)
•Greg Rucka, Queen & Country (Oni); Gotham Central, Wonder Woman (DC);Wolverine (Marvel)
Best Writer/Artist
•Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics)
•Paul Hornschemeier, Forlorn Funnies (Absence of Ink)
•Takehiko Inoue, Vagabond (Viz)
•Paul Pope, Giant THB 1.v.2 (Horse Press)
•Craig Thompson, Blankets (Top Shelf)
Best Writer/Artist—Humor
•Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); The New Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
•Tony Millionaire, Sock Monkey (Dark Horse)
•Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
•Joann Sfar, Little Vampire Does Kung Fu!, Little Vampire Goes to School (Simon & Shuster)
•Jeff Smith, Bone (Cartoon Books)
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
•John Cassaday, Planetary, Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth (WildStorm/DC); Hellboy Weird Tales (Dark Horse)
•Tan Eng Huat, Doom Patrol, JLA #91 (DC)
•Alex Maleev, Daredevil (Marvel)
•Jim Lee/Scott Williams, Batman (DC)
•Eduardo Risso, 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC); Batman (DC); Boy Vampire: The Resurrection (SAF)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
•Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (ibooks)
•Ladronn, Hip Flask: Elephantmen (Comicraft)
•Miguelanxo Prado, "Dream," in The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC)
•Frank Quitely, "Destiny," in The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC)
•Jill Thompson, "Stray," in The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings (Dark Horse)
Best Coloring
•Steven Griffin, Hawaiian Dick (Image)
•Matt Hollingsworth, Catwoman (DC)
•Paul Hornschemeier, Forlorn Funnies (Absence of Ink)
•Jason Keith, El Cazador (CrossGen)
•Patricia Mulvihill, Batman, Wonder Woman (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)
Best Lettering
•Todd Klein, Detective Comics( DC); Fables, The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC); Tom Strong, Promethea (ABC); 1602 (Marvel)
•Bill Oakley, Hawkman, JSA (DC); League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol. 2 (ABC); Sleeper (WildStorm/DC)
•Dave Sim, Cerebus (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
•Richard Starkings, Batman (DC); Planetary (WildStorm/DC);  Hulk: Gray (Marvel); Hip Flask: Elephantmen (Comicraft)
Best Cover Artist
•James Jean, Batgirl (DC), Fables (Vertigo/DC)
•Dave Johnson, Batman #620–622 (DC); 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)
•Scott McKowen, 1602 (Marvel)
•Joshua Middleton, NYX, X-Men Unlimited, New Mutants (Marvel)
•Sean Phillips, Sleeper (WildStorm/DC)
•Brian Wood, Global Frequency (WildStorm/DC)
Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition
•Derek Kirk Kim (writer/artist, Same Difference and Other Stories)
•Chrstine Norrie (Cheat)
•Jeff Parker (writer/artist, The Interman)
•Ben Towele (writer/artist, Farewell Georgia)
•Brian Wood (writer, The Couriers; Channel Zero: Jennie One, Demo)
Best Comics-Related Periodical
Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)
Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon B. Cooke (Top Shelf)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth and Milo George (Fantagraphics)
Best Comics-Related Book
•The Acme Novelty Library Datebook, 1986–1995, by Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Art of Hellboy, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
Black Images in the Comics,  by Fredrik Strömberg (Fantagraphics)
Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, by Chip Kidd (Pantheon)
Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book, by Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon (Chicago Review Press)
Best Publication Design
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Absolute Edition, vol. 1, designed by Todd Klein, Alex Sinclair, and Larry Berry (ABC)
Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, designed by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, designed by Chip Kidd (Pantheon)
Project: Telstar, designed by Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)
Quimby the Mouse, designed by Chris Ware (Fantagraphics)
Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions, designed by Brett Warnock (?) (Top Shelf)
Judges’ Choices:

Otto Binder
John Stanley

Voters will select four from:
Bill Blackbeard
Wayne Boring
Al Capp
Jules Feiffer
Lou Fine
René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
Floyd Gottfredson
Graham Ingels
Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
Don Martin
Jerry Robinson
Gilbert Shelton



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