Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Splash Page: 2009 Eisner Nominations Part II

[You might not understand everything that follows if you don't read the first part over at Tim Callahan's blog. Not only that, but he provides even more context about this crazy little column that he and I do nearly every week. Except not the next two weeks. Don't look for columns then, because there won't be any.]

Timothy Callahan: I don't know if it really matters. If it's a new creative team and new numbering, then I say let it qualify. But I do find the Marvel numbering system endlessly annoying. I don't mind relaunching with a new volume every few years, but I despise how they go back to the high numbers once it reaches #400 or #500 or whatever.

What about the nominations for "Best Limited Series"? Again, I've read three out of the five: Hellboy: The Crooked Man, Omega the Unknown, and The Twelve. I gave up on Groo about 20 years ago, and though I've heard that Locke & Key is good, I haven't seen it. The three I have read are good, and that Hellboy mini was probably my favorite Hellboy thing ever, and Omega the Unknown was brilliant. I really need to do some kind of essay on that series when I get a chance, because it was one of my favorite comics in the past year, definitely. The Twelve has great Chris Weston art, so that's something, but it isn't much of a story, and it seems to have completely been abandoned for the time being. I wonder if we'll ever see its final issues.

Of course, I thought Final Crisis was one of the best of last year, and I liked Marvel 1985 a lot, even though no one else seemed to. Shockingly, Trinity didn't make the cut. Maybe they're saving that for next year's nominations. (Dear readers, those last two sentences were sarcasm, but the thing with Marvel 1985 wasn't. I can be hard to figure out, I know.)

What do you think about those five nominations? You read Omega, right? But did you check out any of the others at all? Do the nominations make you want to?

Chad Nevett: I've read Omega the Unknown and nothing else. Hellboy is another one of those properties that I've long meant to get into, but just haven't yet. Honestly, the nominations don't make me want to go out and get anything. That's partly my general apathy towards awards and partly the mystifying choices in other nominations. If categories I'm more familiar with make me wonder what the hell they were thinking, my confidence in categories I'm less familiar with isn't exactly high. Given that each year, the judges for the Eisner's is a group of different people, it's hard to actually put much stock in the supposedly prestigious award. For example, how does Ed Brubaker or Todd Klein not warrant nominations despite no noticeable difference in the quality of their work or any general critical consensus that others have risen to overtake them? Is each year of this award its own beast that doesn't actually fit into any sort of continuum of "Eisner Awards?"

TC: That's a good point. We were pretty happy to see CBR nominated, and many of the comics spotlighted deserve to be recognized for their quality, but what does it mean to win an Eisner Award if the judges differ each year? How consistent is the criteria, anyway? It's like the "Best American Comics of ________" anthologies. It's just a collection of what one editor happened to like for that year, and there's almost no consistency from year to year other than "mainstream" comics are not included. With the Eisners, it's a similar problem, helped a bit by having a handful of judges instead of just one, but it's still a problem that it's such a lack of consistency.

Then again, what do any awards for these types of things mean, anyway? And would you want the same five men and women always picking the nominees each year? What if they loved Judd Winick comics?

Questions like these just end up making everything seem meaningless, and I don't think the Eisners are meaningless. They are, for whatever it's worth, the most prestigious awards in the comic book industry. They matter, to some degree at least. So, to that end, I'll highlight a few things that I'm glad they got right (besides All-Star Superman and Omega the Unknown):

I love that Tiny Titans was nominated, and that they didn't ignore Kramers Ergot 7. Kevin Colden's Fishtown got a nod, and that's awesome, and I'm glad to see that Dash Shaw got a nomination for Body World, which will probably end up with greater acclaim one it comes out in a collected edition.

Gabriel Ba is wonderful, and almost all the nominees for "Best Penciller/Inker" deserve the acclaim, and those "Hellboy Library" editions are really nice, indeed.

So as much as the selection process is probably deeply flawed and inconsistent from year to year, at least they got some things right.

CN: Yeah and I don't mean to pick on the Eisner's since all awards suffer from these sorts of problems. The only awards I never disagree with would be ones I give out -- and, even then, ask me what I think of my choices the next day and there's a good chance I'll take issue with the selections. The Eisner's do get a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong, just like every other award on the planet. The thing I like most about awards is the debate they cause. There is no right and wrong ultimately (well, there are in a few obvious places, but you get what I mean), so best not to take these things too seriously. Especially when you're not actually involved as neither of us are beyond a slight connection through CBR. Which does raise the point: can we claim to be Eisner-nominated reviewers now since we work for CBR? Because, if so, I take back all the bad things I've said in this column...