March 22nd, 2009


Eisner Hall of Fame

A few days ago, the Eisner Awards announced the nominees for this years Eisner Half of Fame. They are:

Matt Baker
Bill Blackbeard
Alberto Breccia
Reed Crandall
Rudolf Dirks
Russ Heath
Jerry Iger
Jack Jackson
Paul S. Newman
Bob Oksner
Antonio Prohias

Harold Gray and Graham Ingels were automatically voted in by the judges.

I'm always of two minds on the hall of fame, as I am with pretty much all awards programs. They all seem to be compromised and complicated and led by the heart rather than the brain. And maybe that's okay, maybe it evens out eventually. No Oscar for Cary Grant, but a legacy that kicks the living shit out of Paul Muni, Robert Donat and Roberto Benigni's. Of course, who's to say who is "best"? One fan's meat is another fan's Rob Liefeld, as we all know.

Still, I voted, and I almost always vote in these awards (I leave a lot of blanks, and/or go to write-in votes even though they're hopeless).  And I knew I wasn't voting with the highest-minded brain here, either. I'm only human. I am part of the problem. All of them. Whatever they are.


I voted for Crandall, because I'm a big fan of his E.C. and Warren work, I think he was a terrific artist, he could draw seemingly anything in style, and he knew how to work a script.

I voted for Heath, because I admire his artwork, his career output, his longevity, he's another who could draw most anything asked, and he's still alive and I'd hope he is offered a free trip out to SDCC where people can say nice things to him.

I voted for Jackson, who I think drew beautifully, wrote well, and did not only great work but admirable and arguably important work.

And I voted for Oksner, possibly the biggest "huh?" on my list for some folks, whereas the CBG crowd has probably already ticked his name off en masse. He's a terrific, solid artist, drew great humor stuff and terrific-looking dames, a rock solid cartoonist and entertainer. Didn't work on anything I'd consider seminal or important or amazing, but I have a soft spot for his stuff, so, there's where the nostalgic fan heart clouds the cynical hard-assed brain. Probably the same could be said for Heath and Crandall, and for many folks in the HOF, most likely.

I like and/or respect a number of names on the 2009 HOF list that I didn't vote for. In some ways it's apples vs oranges vs avocados, no real out-and-out rotten fruit crops up. Well, that's arguable, of course -- Paul S. Newman was a nice, nice man who wrote a hell of a lot of comics, none of which strike me as approaching excellent -- but the industry loves him because of his service, longevity, and personality. And is that really so wrong? Some would say yes, and I understand that. Some say no, and I guess that's why he's on the list. And I understand that, too. Because people are people, and awards can only be as logical and "correct" as the people who judge them and vote for them. Meaning, a broken system. A number of journeyman creators have been inducted into the HOF, based largely --imho -- on length of service, and what characters (mostly super-heroes) they created or shaped. And who has more friends in the field. And who has more friends in the field who vote in these things. And whether or not they entertained and delighted a lot of children who grew up to vote in these awards. More folks have been exposed to Bob Oksner than Jack Jackson. Jack Jackson more than likely never won the hearts and minds of too many impressionable comic book-reading kids (Gotta say, though, not much overt superhero stuff on this list this year, overall. A lot of mainstream, as usual, but a variety of genre, crime, war, etc). I don't want to pick on any one in particular, but...Len Wein? Nothing personal to the guy what created Swamp Thing (I know, folks, I know. "What legends have you created!", yelled out a member of the audience when I took a swipe at Bob Kane on a panel. I understand your anger).

Anyway, the thing is, complaints aside, I'm not hard-assed enough, or logical enough, or tasteful enough, or learned enough about every person I cave to my fan adulation, and consult my brain only if I see something that strikes me as crazy with no justification. Again, Breccia seems like a great artist, but -- I don't have time to research Breccia and decide whether he is, as might be the case, more worthy than the guy who drew that EC story with the handcuffed felon in the desert. Which was cool! And scared me as a kid! His eyeball, dude! His eyeball! Yeeecccch!

So, I vote with half a brain, and half a heart, and maybe it's all half-assed, like this hacked-out blog post, but there you go. I'm sure the awards given out at Angouleme make people nuts, too. And those are French awards. Oooooh-la laaaa!