The Will Eisner Industry Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the comics industry, held each year on the Friday of San Diego Comic-Con – will take up residence in the Indigo Ballroom of the Hilton Bayfront Hotel this July, and will have in attendance the great and the good of comics, hands down.
As part of this glittering affair, one of the centrepieces of the shindig will be the induction of some of the titans of the industry into the Will Eisner Hall Of Fame roster, a coveted honour which acknowledges the impact, legacy and influence of specific individuals.
Because of the limited amount of people that are added to the line-up each year, it’s safe to say that there is practically a backlog of worthy, deserving names that you’d think would have already received their golden bauble – but no, there are still some legends of the artform that are still waiting for their moment, up on stage. Today, it has been announced who it could be to grab that recognition with both hands this July.
Six names will be inducted – four names have been automatically selected for the Hall Of Fame honour (one of which it’s a particular thrill to find is being inducted, Dave Stevens, as he is a personal icon of mine and this is an amazing choice):
- JIM APARO
- JUNE TARPÉ MILLS
- DAVE STEVENS
- MORRIE TURNER
…while a veritable Who’s Who of comics legends are up for the two other slots, to be announced on the night. There’s one Brit that stands out for his nomination and it’s a pleasure to have Brian Bolland recognised for his art over the years, including for incredible books such as BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, ANIMAL MAN and anthology weekly 2000AD.
Every other name belongs on a nomination list so it would be churlish to pick out any of them… although, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, with fellow major player in the ‘British Invasion’ (and THE BRITISH INVASION: SPIRIT OF ’86 panel guest, thank you very much), Paul Levitz, included on the roster; X-MEN/NEW MUTANTS artist Bill Sienkiewicz has been put forward – about goddamn time! – and, as a LEGION fanatic, I’d love to see him on stage; and comics titans Jeanette Kahn, Wendy & Richard Pini, Kevin Eastman and regular contributor to CCI’s own Toucan Blog, Maggie Thompson (recognised here alongside her late husband Don), all of which are deserving of the honour. And if you don’t know who any of those names are, you’re probably reading the wrong website.
Who will be selected? The first and best way to find out is to be in the room on Friday 19th July when the names will be read out – although, I have to warn the recipients, they’re going to have to go some way to topping the wonderful speeches Dave Gibbons and Karen Berger dropped last year!
Here are the Judges’ Choices and the Nominees for the Will Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame 2019, courtesy of Comic-Con International:
Judges’ Choices (will be automatically inducted)
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Jim Aparo’s first comics work was at Charlton Comics in the late 1960s. He worked on several genres there and was eventually recruited by editor Dick Giordano for a move to DC Comics in the late 1960s, where he handled such features as Aquaman and Phantom Stranger before landing the art chores on DC’s premiere team-up book The Brave and the Bold (starring Batman). He then co-created (with Mike W. Barr) Batman and the Outsiders, which he drew from 1983 to 1985. Aparo went on to draw stories for Batman(most notably “A Death in the Family” storyline), Detective, and other DC titles into the late 1990s. For most of his career, Aparo not only pencilled his work but inked and lettered it as well. He died in 2005.
June Tarpé Mills
One of the few female artists working during the Golden Age of comics, June Tarpé Millswas the creator of Miss Fury, an action comic strip and comic book that first appeared in 1941. Miss Fury is credited as being the first female action hero created by a woman. The Miss Fury comic strip ran until 1951. Mills returned to comics briefly in 1971 with Our Love Story at Marvel Comics. She died in 1988.
© Estate of Dave Stevens
Dave Stevens created the Rocketeer, the retro adventure hero of 1980s indie comics and 1991 movie fame. The Rocketeer combined Stevens’ love of 1930s movies, the golden age of aviation, and 1950s pinup girl Bettie Page. Before becoming a professional artist, Stevens contributed amateur illustrations to early Comic-Con program books in the 1970s. His first professional gig was as Russ Manning’s assistant on the Tarzan comic strip in 1975. Stevens later worked as an animator at Hanna-Barbera and a storyboard artist on projects including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video. Stevens was the first recipient of the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award in 1982, and he won an Inkpot Award and the Kirby Award for Best Graphic Album in 1986. He died in 2008.
Copyright © Andrews McMeel Universal – All Rights Reserved.
Morrie Turner created the Wee Pals comic strip in 1965. When Wee Pals was first created, bringing black characters to the comics pages was by no means an easy task. At first, only five major newspapers published the strip. It was not until 1968 and the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. that Wee Pals achieved nationwide acceptance. Within three months of Dr. King’s death, Wee Pals was appearing in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. In 2012 Turner was the recipient of Comic-Con’s Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award. He also has the distinction of having been one of the handful of pros at the very first Comic-Con in 1970.
Nominees (4 will be inducted by voters’ choices)
TM & © DC Comics
After starting out in underground comics and self-published fanzines, British artist Brian Bolland made his professional debut drawing the Nigerian superhero Powerman in 1975, alternating issues with his friend Dave Gibbons. Bolland did cover art for early issues of 2000 AD magazine, then started drawing interiors, becoming one of the most popular and defining artists on Judge Dredd stories. In the 1980s he was part of the “British Invasion” of American comics, gaining note for his art on Camelot 3000, Batman: The Killing Joke, and memorable covers on everything from Animal Man to Wonder Woman. Bolland has won numerous awards, including Best Newcomer from the Society of Strip Illustration in 1977, followed by an Inkpot Award, an Eagle Award, and multiple Eisner and Harvey awards.
© 2019 Viacom
Kevin Eastman co-created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Peter Laird. The duo published it themselves as a small-press comic book starting in 1984, under the imprint Mirage Studios. The Turtles quickly made the leap to other media and went on to star in multiple movies, animated TV series, and toy lines over the years. In 1990 Eastman founded Tundra Publishing, which funded and published creator-owned comics by talent such as Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Eddie Campbell, and Mike Allred, until 1993. Eastman also owned Heavy Metal magazine for more than 20 years, until 2014, and he continues to serve as its publisher.
TM & © DC Comics
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez was born in Spain and began drawing comics professionally in Argentina at age 13. In the 1960s, he drew romance titles for Charlton Comics. Garcia-Lopez came to the U.S. in 1974 and started working for DC Comics, drawing series such as Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Tarzan, andJonah Hex. His other notable work includes Atari Force, Deadman, New Teen Titans, andOn the Road to Perdition. Since 1982, Garcia-Lopez has designed and pencilled the definitive versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and many other characters for various DC Comics style guides, which are created for licensees only. His style guide art has been seen on countless DC Comics licensed products and is still being used today.
© 2019 Lynn Johnston Productions Inc.
Lynn Johnston is the Canadian creator of For Better or For Worse. This family-based comic strip has been syndicated since 1979 and was named Best Syndicated Comic Strip in 1992. At its peak, For Better or For Worse appeared in more than 2,000 newspapers in 23 countries and was translated into eight languages for a devoted readership of more than 220 million. Johnston is the first woman to receive a Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society (1985). In 2008 Johnston retired from For Better or For Worse, at which time the comic strip was republished from the beginning.
Jenette Kahn at Comic-Con 2010, where she received the Inkpot Award. Photo © 2019 SDCC
Jenette Kahn rebranded National Periodical Publications as DC Comics, reviving the floundering company as a proving ground for both experimental titles and reboots of iconic characters. She started as publisher at DC in 1976, at only 28 years old, after having founded the wildly successful kids’ magazine Dynamite for Scholastic. Kahn became president of DC in 1981 and editor-in-chief in 1989. She pushed the boundaries of mainstream comics, publishing work such as Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, and launched the edgier Vertigo line in 1993. She grew the company from 35 employees to 200 (half of them women) and instituted more creator-friendly policies. In 2000 the Library of Congress honored Kahn as a Living Legend for her contributions to America’s cultural heritage. In 2002 she left DC to create her own film production company, Double Nickel, which produced Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino in 2008.
TM & © DC Comics
Paul Levitz began his career as a comics fan, publishing The Comic Reader. He started at DC in 1976 as an assistant editor (to Joe Orlando) and 1978 became editor of the Batman titles. He was an executive at DC for 30 years, ending as president and publisher. As a comics writer, he is best known for Legion of Super-Heroes. Most recently, Levitz has worked as a historian (75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making, Taschen, 2010) and teacher (including the American Graphic Novel at Columbia). His most recent book is Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel (Abrams ComicArts, 2015).
© Conan Properties International LLC
Alex Niño was among the Philippine comics artists recruited for U.S. comic books by DC Comics editor Joe Orlando and publisher Carmine Infantino in 1971. Niño’s earliest DC work was drawing stories for House of Mystery, Weird War Tales, and other supernatural anthologies, as well as the jungle-adventure feature “Korak” in Tarzan. In the decades since then, Niño has drawn all types of stories for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Warren Publishing (Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella), Heavy Metal, Byron Preiss, Dark Horse Comics, and other publishers. Starting in the 1980s, Niño branched out into movies and video games, doing design work and concept art for Hanna-Barbera, Sega, and Walt Disney Pictures (Mulan and Atlantis). Niño received an Inkpot Award in 1976.
Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips
Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips was the star comic artist for publisher Fiction House, where she worked from 1943 until 1948. She drew such strips as Werewolf Hunter, Jane Martin, Senorita Rio, and The Lost World. She was known for her striking covers and good girl art. She later drew Abbott & Costello Comicswith her husband at the time, Eric Peters, and Borden’s Elsie the Cow comics. She left comics in the 1950s; she is still living and was a guest at Comic-Con in 2007.
© WaRP Graphics
Wendy and Richard Pini
Wendy and Richard Pini created the much-loved fantasy series Elfquest, widely regarded as the first manga-influenced graphic novel series with a high fantasy theme published in the U.S. The Pinis were among the first independent publishers of their own comics, founding Warp Graphics in 1978. Richard ran Warp full-time from 1981 until 2003. In 2018, Elfquest concluded its 40-year run with Dark Horse Comics. The series has millions of readers around the world and continues to gain new fans. Wendy has also drawn and written comics for Marvel, DC, First Comics, and other publishers, including two graphic novels based on the 1980s TV series Beauty and the Beast. More recently, she created a graphic novel and animated webcomic based on the Edgar Allan Poe horror story “Masque of the Red Death,” which has been adapted into a musical. The Pinis received an Inkpot Award in 1980, and Elfquest has won numerous awards since 1979.
© 2019 P. Craig Russell
P. Craig Russell
Trained as a fine artist and renowned for his beautiful linework, P. Craig Russell has spent 40 years producing graphic novels, comic books, and illustrations. He entered the comics industry in 1972 as an assistant to artist Dan Adkins. After establishing a name for himself at Marvel on Killraven, Dr. Strange, and Elric, Russell began working on more personal projects, such as adaptations of operas by Mozart (The Magic Flute), Strauss (Salome), and Wagner (The Ring of the Nibelung). Russell is also known for his Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde series and his graphic novel adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Coraline, Murder Mysteries, and American Gods.Russell received an Inkpot Award in 1993 and has won several Harvey and Eisner awards.
TM & © 2019 MARVEL
Bill Sienkiewicz started drawing comics professionally at age 19, fresh out of art school. His early style on Marvel titles such as Moon Knight was heavily influenced by Neal Adams. In the 1980s Sienkiewicz broke out into a multimedia style that was revolutionary for comics, combining painting, line art, collage, mimeographs, and other elements. Sienkiewicz’s highly stylized art on Marvel’s Elektra: Assassin, The New Mutants, and his own graphic novel Stray Toasters earned international acclaim. His work has appeared in Brazil’s National Museum of Fine Arts; galleries in Paris, Barcelona, and Tuscany; and advertising campaigns for Nike, MTV, and Nissan. Sienkiewicz received an Inkpot Award in 1981, and his work has won many awards including several Eagles, a Kirby, and an Eisner.
Photo © Alan Light
Don and Maggie Thompson
Maggie Thompson and her late husband, Don Thompson, are among the legendary founders of comics fandom. Lifelong fans of science fiction and comic books, they met in 1957 and published their first fanzine, Comic Art, starting in 1961. In 1967 they launched Newfangles, one of the first fanzines devoted to the doings of comics fandom. In 1972 the Thompsons started writing a column for the Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, which later became the Comics Buyer’s Guide (CBG). They ran CBG together from 1983 until Don’s death in 1994, after which Maggie continued to manage CBG until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their direction, it became essential reading as the industry’s main fan-oriented news magazine. The Thompsons won many joint awards, including an Inkpot Award, a Kirby, a Diamond Lifetime Fandom Award, and an Eisner. Maggie has also received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and the first Friends of Lulu “Women of Distinction” Award.
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Akira Toriyama is a Japanese manga artist, game artist, and character designer who created the popular series Dr. Slump, which earned the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award, has sold more than 35 million copies in Japan, and was adapted into two anime series. His next series, Dragon Ball, was even more popular and has reportedly sold more than 350 million copies worldwide. Dragon Ball’s anime adaptations have been credited with boosting anime’s popularity in the West, and Toriyama is regarded as one of the artists who changed the history of manga. He also designed characters for several popular video games, such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger, and Blue Dragon.
© VIZ Media LLC
Naoki Urasawa is a Japanese manga artist and musician who has produced a steady stream of award-winning manga since 1981, many of which have been adapted into anime. His works include Return, Pineapple Army, Yawara!, Master Keaton, Monster, 20th Century Boys, Pluto, and Billy Bat. He has also been called one of the artists who changed the history of manga. Since 2008, he has taught manga classes at Nagoya Zokei University. Urasawa has received the Shogakukan Manga Award three times, the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize twice, the Kodansha Manga Award once, and the Eisner Award twice.