Last summer, at the San Diego Comic Convention, I was lucky enough to sit at a VIP table at the Eisner Awards, where the ceremony could be seen up close. I took the opportunity to sketch each presenter and recipient, and, whenever possible, to jot down a few of their remarks. What follows is my sketch diary of the evening. The speakers' remarks are in boldface quotes; my comments are not.
JERRY ROBINSON, presenting the Bill Finger Award:
"[Bill Finger] left no heirs, except maybe all of you."
"...the repartee between Batman and Robin was reflective of his natural humor, that he injected into the series."
"The first award for best writer goes to Jerry Siegel."
"The other award [for a living writer] is to Arnold Drake."
"I think tonight we've given new meaning to the phrase 'giving someone the finger.'"
JOANNE SIEGEL, accepting for her late husband, Jerry:
"[Jerry] used to say,'If it weren't for you, Joanne, I'd be a dead duck!'"
One of the presenters remarked that Joanne was the model for Lois Lane.
"I think the primary thing we can do for Bill is to wipe out the Bill Fingers of today -- that is, the writers who starve to do what they love."
"I'm gonna sing a song a cappella. Which means 'out of tune'."
Arnold then sang/rapped a satirical song about the industry. The following line, snatched from among the other verses, got the biggest laugh:
"Somewhere I think I read it,
That Stan Lee will take the credit
For everything from Spider-Man
To the King James Bible!"
"My only regret is that Linette wasn't here to get [the award] with me."
ERIC POWELL, accepting award for Best Humor Publication:
KYLE BAKER, accepting award for Best Title for a Younger Audience:
"I have nothing prepared. Thank you! Goodnight!"
Baker -- that rascal -- was off the stage in a flash, as you can tell by my sketch.
JACKIE ESTRADA, emceeing:
Ironically, although Jackie was MCing on-stage the entire time, I was so busy sketching the comers'n'goers that I failed to depict her with much detail or accuracy.
Those are the Eisner Awards lined up on the table near her. They're little metal globes, and they actually spin! I like to picture Eisner-winners going home and mimicking Peter Sellers' "spinning globe" gag from the Pink Panther movie. It's funnier with a tiny globe.
JILL THOMPSON & DIANA SHUTZ, presenting awards:
I was lucky enough to dine with the vivacious Ms.Thompson before the ceremony (along with the witty Steven Seagle, pictured farther down). Her sparkling charm was a reminder to me of how much we miss when we encounter creators only through their work. Yay for conventions!
MICHAEL CHABON, accepting award for Best Anthology:
DAVE STEWART, accepting award for Best Coloring:
He thanked "especially my wife."
SEAN MCKEEVER, accepting award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition:
"Thanks ... to my mom and dad, who always encouraged me to be creative."
TODD KLEIN, accepting award for Best Lettering:
"I always enjoyed getting this award from Will."
(Will Eisner, the pioneering cartoonist for whom the awards are named, had passed on earlier that year.)
CHRIS BAILEY won The Russ Manning Promising Newcomer award; it was accepted by Bailey's publisher, cartoonist JOHN GALLAGHER:
"Hi, I'm not Chris, [but he wanted me to say] he's proud of the fact that kids love comics, and hopes he'll continue to produce comics that love kids."
SCOTT MCCLOUD, presenting the award for Best US Edition of Foreign Material (for Osamu Tezuka's BUDDHA):
"It's taken years for some people to come to grips with the idea that digital comics are comics. It took Eisner about 40 seconds." Scott went on to share an anecdote about Eisner graciously changing his mind on the subject in the midst of a panel discussion.
ANN ISHII, who works for BUDDHA's publisher, accepting the award for BUDDHA:
BRIAN FIES, accepting the award for Best Digital Comic:
"Just want to say that if you haven't heard of me, it was not through any lack of effort on my part."
ERIC REYNOLDS, of Fantagraphics, accepting the award won by that publisher for Best Publication Design:
JOSS WHEDON, presenting awards:
"I was disappointed to learn that Eisner was not here tonight ... but now when I see all of you, I realize he is."
JOHN CASSADAY, accepting the award for Best Penciler/Inker (in a tie with Frank Quitely):
"I'd like to thank my writers, because it's their fault I'm here."
STEVEN SEAGLE, accepting Best Painter/Multi-Media award, for an absent Teddy Kristiansen:
Steven did a convincing impression of the foreign-born winner.
JAMES JEAN, Best Cover Artist:
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I get to [create comics and] wake up next to the most beautiful girl in the world. My wife, [who] is here for the first time."
JOE FERRARA, presenting awards, told of an encounter he had with Eisner before having known him: :
"I was alone in the Mens' Room, and Will Eisner walks in, and stands at another urinal. So there we were, and Will turns to me and says,'You know, this reminds me of a story.'" Will had evidently gone on to tell Joe a joke about collegians peeing on themselves. But what struck me more than his joke is what a natural-born storyteller Eisner was -- even to the extent of telling a story to a stranger at an adjoining urinal!
MIMI CRUZ, accepting the Spirit of Comics Retailing award:
"I'd like to dedicate this award to Bill Liebowitz." Bill was a retailer who passed away earlier that year.
MICHAEL USLAN, presenting Best Comics Publication to COMIC BOOK ARTIST MAGAZINE:
JON COOKE, accepting for CBA:
"So much of why Will was such a sweet, generous ... person, was Ann."
GERARD JONES, accepting Best Comics-Related Book award:
"Particularly, I'd like to thank those men whose stories were really the heart of the book: Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel."
MICHAEL CHABON, presenting awards, told of a warm encounter with Eisner: :
"When I left the room, he turned to Ann and said,'Fanboy.' I don't think anyone's ever called me a nicer name, and I'm trying to live up to it."
JEAN SCHULZ, wife of Charles, accepting on behalf of Fantagraphics for Best Archival Collection (PEANUTS):
"Fantagraphics did a great job in the 20th Century for a great 20th Century artist."
JEFF SMITH, accepting award for Best Graphic Album -- Reprint:
Smith said that he doesn't think something like BONE could have happened in any other industry.
DAVE GIBBONS, accepting the Best Graphic Album award:
"...and [thanks] to my wife Helen, for keeping me more or less sane throughout the two years [of working on ORIGINALS]."
MAGGIE THOMPSON, fondly remembering several recently deceased comics folk:
"When Kelly Freas...[she chokes up]...when Kelly Freas died..."
I was touched.
PIA GUERRA, presenting award for Best Writer:
"And the award goes to -- rock on, Brian K. Vaughan!"
She how she folded a rhyme into the announcement? Presenters should do that more often.
BRIAN K. VAUGHAN
In the tradition of Kyle Baker, another all-to-brief acceptance speech.
PAUL CHADWICK, Best Writer-Artist:
He thanks his editor Diane Shutz, and his agent and publisher.
KYLE BAKER, accepting award for Best Writer/Artist Humor:
"Kyle Baker couldn't be here tonight. I'm his publisher."
DAVE GIBBONS, presenting awards:
JILL THOMPSON, accepting award for Best Short Story:
"I don't own a dog, but illustrating this story has been one of the best experiences of my career."
BILL WILLINGHAM and STEVE LEIALOHA, accepting for Best Serialized Story:
ERIC REYNOLDS, accepting Best Single Issue on behalf of Clowes:
DENNIS KITCHEN, accepting Defender of Liberty Award:
JEFF SMITH presents awards:
EX MACHINA TEAM, accepting Best New Series award:
(Linked here, to keep the page format from going screwy.)
That's Tony Harris in the middle, to the right of Brian K. Vaughn. And the other two...?
DARWYN COOKE wins for Best Limited Series:
ERIC POWELL, Best Continuing Series:
"Did you guys read these other [nominated] books?! ... I just don't know what to say..."
RUTH CLAMPETT, daughter of Bob Clampett, presenting the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award to GEORGE PEREZ:
JIM MCLAUGHLIN accepted the Clampett Award for Perez because the latter raises lots of money for A.C.T.O.R., which McLaughlin was representing. Accompanying Jim were two models who know Perez; one of them is pictured below:
SERGIO ARAGONES presents a few Hall of Fame Awards:
"I met Will Eisner in 1946 -- well, not Will, but his work."
BOB FUJITANI accepts Hall of Fame Award for the deceased Lou Fine:
"When you looked at a Lou Fine drawing, you knew that he had studied every bone, every muscle ... so in my estimation, he was one of the greatest."
ADELE KURTZMAN accepts Hall of Fame award for the deceased Johnny Craig:
"[Johnny] was a very nice guy. And he was fun! Thank you."
NICK CARDY, accepting his Hall of Fame award:
"Your mother can tell you you're great, but she'll always tell you you're great; she's your mother. But when the industry you work in says you're great, it's quite a compliment. It's great getting 'the business' from the business!"
GENE COLAN, also now in the Hall of Fame:
So, there you have it! I welcome corrections.
For a second perspective on the event, see Tom Spurgeon's report, which is accompanied by several of the above illustrations.