They've been called the comic industry's version of the Oscars, and this year's Eisner Awards definitely did their best to live up to the comparison, offering those that attended emotional acceptance speeches, awkward celebrity appearances, meandering speeches and even sad memorials to recently-departed industry figures. Oh, and Jane Weidlin leading a troop of Stormtroopers to the stage while the Imperial March played over the PA system.
Another similarity between the two awards ceremonies was the lack of ability to stick to running times; as MC for the evening Bill Morrison - writer and artist for Matt Groening's Bongo Comics - said at the end of the evening, "I'd really hoped to bring this to a close before 11pm, but gave up on that idea somewhere around 9:30. At least I brought it in before midnight!" Nonetheless, from the opening speech from a potentially inebriated Frank Miller (who - ironically for a man who's abandoned comics for Hollywood - told the audience, "If you're trying to do comic books: Forget the movies, forget the games. Don't try to do three things at once. Give me a really good comic book.") to the closing appearance by Miller's Spirit leading man Gabriel Macht (The Spirit was the main sponsor of the ceremony), the event was a questionably enjoyable mix of everything that makes up the comic industry these days... including the unexpected celebrity endorsements.
While the crowd went wild when Samuel L. Jackson appeared to present three awards - displaying a much-needed self-aware humor when winners took awhile to walk the long distance from their seats to the stage in silence - Jane Weidlin's attempts at humor were much less successful, if only because making jokes like "Get these motherfrakking snakes off this motherfrakking plane" wouldn't even have been funny when Snakes On A Plane was released two years ago. That said, her accompanying troop of the Empire's Finest provided some much needed spectacle to what was, otherwise, a fairly dry affair despite the best efforts of co-hosts Gerard Way, Tom Kenney (the voice of Spongebob Squarepants - which doesn't seem to be that unlike his own voice, really) and Reno 911's Tom Lennon and Ben Garant, who at least offered those who didn't win awards some much-needed solace:
We've all heard people say that 'if you're nominated, then you're a winner.' Usually that's bullshit. But tonight, everyone who's nominated for the Best Penciller/Inker of Penciller and Inker Team award really is a winner, because if you don't win, you'll go home with a George Foreman grill. The cash value of the grill may be higher than that of the award, we should warn you.
The best acceptance speech of the night came from Best Writer Ed Brubaker - the man who killed Captain America - who seemed genuinely shocked by his win:
I was texting somebody because I was so sure I wouldn't win... I'm gonna get out of here, because [Y: The Last Man writer] Brian K. Vaughan should've won. And don't you guys know who Joss Whedon is? I mean, Jesus Christ.
Joss probably didn't feel so bad, however; his indie webcomic Sugarshock won the Best Digital Comic award, while the Buffy The Vampire Slayer series won Best New Series.
The award winners in full:
Best Writer: Ed Brubaker for Captain America, Criminal, Daredevil and The Immortal Iron Fist
Best Writer/Artist: Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library
Best Writer/Artist (Humor): Eric Powell for The Goon: Chinatown
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team: Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan Jr. for Y: The Last Man
Best Painter of Multimedia Artist: Eric Powell for The Goon: Chinatown
Best Cover Artist: James Jean for Fables, The Umbrella Academy, Process Recess 2 and Superior Showcase 2
Best Coloring: Dave Stewart for BPRD, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy, The Spirit and many others
Best Lettering: Todd Klein for Justice, Fables, League of Extraordinary Gentlement: The Black Dossier, Crossing Midnight and many others
Best Continuing Series: Y: The Last Man
Best Limited Series: The Umbrella Academy
Best New Series: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Best Single Issue: Justice League of America #11, by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha
Best Anthology: 5 by Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Vasilis Lolos and Rafael Grampa
Best Publication for Kids: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152
Best Publication for Teens: Laika by Nick Abadzis
Special Recognition: Chuck BB for Black Metal
Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Strips: The Complete Terry And The Pirates, Vol. 1
Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Books: I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!
Best Humor Publication: The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories
Best US Edition of International Material: I Killed Adolf Hitler
Best US Edition of International Material - Japan: Tekkonkinkreet: Black and White
Best Comic-Related Periodical/Journalism: Newsarama.com
Best Comics-Related Book: Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk
Best Publication Design: Process Recess 2, designed by James Jean and Chris Pitzer
Best Digital Comic: Sugarshock by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon
Best Short Story: Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Clowes, from the New York Times Sunday Magazine
Best Reality-Based Work: Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow
Best Graphic Album - Reprint: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
Best Graphic Album - New: Exit Wounds
The Bill Finger Excellence In Comics Writing Award: Archie Goodwin and Larry Lieber
The Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award: Cathy Malkasian, for Percy Gloom
The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Brave New World in Santa Clarita, CA
The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Paul Levitz, President of DC Comics
Image by Marvel Comics' Agent M.