Every industry has their award show to honor and grant prestige to talented individuals. The comic industry has the Eisner Awards. The Eisner Award is inspired by American cartoonist and one of the pioneers of the graphic novel: Will Eisner. More of his biography and accomplishments can be seen at the official website here. This annual ceremony is held at San Diego Comic Con. Anyone with a comic con badge is able to attend.
To be honest, the Eisner awards were only something I just recently paid attention to. The more I find myself devouring graphic novels, the more I started noticing the proud designation of an Eisner award winning novel. This has become a great way to discover new works. Very similar to how I glean my next science fiction/fantasy book by the Nebula awards or my next romance book by the Rita awards.
Prior to attending San Diego Comic Con, a personal challenge was created. Challenge: read the all of the graphic novels (or graphic albums as they are officially titled in the nominee section) and see if I can predict the winner. The list of nominees were available from the San Diego Comic Con website.
The following is a ranking and description of the graphic albums:
6: Kill My Mother by Jules Feifer
Description: A pulp noir inspired graphic novel involves a slew of characters including a sullen teenager, three femme fatales and, of course, a cop. A story with no simple plot
Review: I could not make it past the second page. For all the hype and praise the novel received, I could not get beyond the squiggles that made up the characters. It may have been a bit too abstract which I would have been able to plow on through and get to the good pulpy stuff but I could not stand the jitterbugging Anne. She was so upset with her mother for getting a job and sustaining her lifestyle that she actually wanted her mother to die. Two many negatives that did took me away from the novel.
5. The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
Description: This one is kind of weird to explain. The Motherless Oven is a teenage story where knives fall out of the sky instead of rain and appliances have lives. The main character, Scarper, has lost his father. Scarper enlists the help fo the new girl in town and the weirdest kid in town to help him.
Review: The description I gave would have been much easier to comprehend if I was able to read the novel. Just like Kill My Mother, I could not get past the first two pages. The art is actually a style that I usually adore seeing. For some reason, the style was too sinister and disturbing by the second page. I haven’t even got to the knife storm!
4. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, by Stephen Collins
Description: This book has been described as an off beat comedy in the style of Roald Dahl and Tim Burton. In a town that is very orderly and quiet, Dave is one of the proud fastidious ones. One day, his life is uprooted by a magnificent beard.
Review: This was another miss and did not read.This was also the most disappointing miss, for I adore Roald Dahl and Tim Burton. The simple and detailed black and white style really reminded me of all my favorite Roald Dahl books. It was just too slow going in the beginning for me to stay in the book. If my time wasn’t being divided between so many books, then maybe I would gave given it a more a chance. Unlike the bottom two, The Gigantic Beard that Was Evil is one that I would love to re-visit at an unhurried leisure.
3. Here by Richard McGuire
Review: That is a very short and accurate description of the graphic novel. It is a story that spans over years, decades, or even billions of years. An even better description is a corner that that occupies the same space of a gazillion stories. There are stories before that corner was built, while it was being built, after it was destroyed. The pages contain bits and pieces of dialogue and action of strangers. There is no apparent reason for this graphic novel other than pondering. This may have been too abstract for me to get the plot but I did enjoy going through this book. It became a great visual representation of my own pondering of came before and what will come after me. Even through the changes of time, the room is drawn in a very crisp and clear fashion. It is the humans that creatures that haze on through. It was overall a very unique experience and a strong contender for the Eisner award.
2. Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Description: Katie is a great cook and owns one of the most popular restaurants in town. Stress and anxiety has current reign on her life since she opening a second restaurant that has multiple reasons for being delayed. After a strange dream involving a dresser and a mushroom, Katie awakens to a day fraught with disaster. As strange as that dream was, Katie is a given an even stranger gift: the ability of a do-over in her life.
Review: This was such a great read! This was the same creator responsible for the graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley.I’ve watched the movie so this was my official tasting of a work by O’Malley. I couldn’t have picked a better one. This novel was drawn in a really adorable style, the story speaks to me personally ( I sorely wish I could pick mushrooms and write a do over), and had a very cute message by the end. This story truly does resonate with those in mid 20’s to mid 30’s range who feel like everything they do is failing even though they’re doing a pretty decent job. Seconds quickly reminded me of the Deathnote anime series with the use of writing the do-over in a notebook. Other than that, it was a unique, fun, and great read. It was a welcome relief to see an art style that was cute and clean along with a story that was easy and fun to follow.
1. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Description: Every summer, Rose and her family travel to Awago beach She always meets up with Windy and both girls pick up their friendship as if uninterrupted by seasons. This summer is a bit different. Rose’s mother has withdrawn into herself and has placed quite a strain on the family. This pushes Rose to spend more time with Windy and to discover people around her.
Review: As much as I had enjoyed Seconds, I truly loved This One Summer. It was this amazing, beautiful, profound work that leaves such a deep mark in the memories. Reading it immediately brought back memories of watching Now and Then. The movie that spurred up memories and This One Summer created the same sense of how important this one particular time becoming the pivotal point in your development.Alot of attention is focused on the antics of Rose and Windy, which is beyond cute and true to the girls of that age. The real heart of the story doesn’t emerge until much later but it is worth the reveal for it is pretty heartbreaking and memorable at the same time. Overall it was so beautiful. I can honestly see this being made into a movie. This is my strong contender for the Eisner Award.
The Eisner winner is…………………………….THIS ONE SUMMER! I chose right! I definitely support this selection.The style was beautiful, the story was touching, overall it was amazing and well worth the honor. Congratulations to the creators and their team.
I highly recommended picking up these reads and judge for yourself. They were popular and held in high enough esteem to be nominated.
Reading through unfamiliar works of high regard paid off. Out of the six books, three left an impression. I will definitely do this challenge again next year.
All of these graphic novels can be purchased at your local comic book retailer.