BEST WRITER: Jason Aaron, “SCALPED”, Vertigo/DC Comics. I thought Blackest Night was a joyless, boring slog and Irredeemable isn’t much better. (Of course, at least Geoff Johns isn’t complaining about superheroes being dark and joyless while writing a dark, joyless superhero book, so he’s still ahead of Waid right now.) Diary of a Wimpy Kid isn’t my thing, although I think it’s decent work. That leaves The Walking Dead as Aaron’s sole competition for Best Writer, and although Robert Kirkman does good, steady work that cumulatively knocks your socks off over a pace of years, over any single year it’s just a good, solid comic. Aaron gets my nod, although it’s as much for Ghost Rider as it is for Scalped. Should have been nominated: Fred van Lente.
BEST ARTIST: JH Williams III, “DETECTIVE COMICS”, DC Comics. It’s hard to pick between Frank Quitely and Williams, but Batman and Robin, while a beautiful comic, isn’t even in the top ten things Quitely’s done in the last decade. What Williams did in his Batwoman arcs on Detective was simply staggering in so many ways: beautiful, original, workmanlike… you need more adjectives. Should have been nominated: Steve Dillon.
BEST CARTOONIST: David Mazzucchelli, “ASTERIOS POLYP”, Pantheon. I never get the point of this category, which exists seemingly only to make sure that Seth doesn’t have to compete with Jim Lee. Anyway, Mazzucchelli’s got this one in a walk, and that comes in an exceptional year: George Sprott is my favorite thing Seth’s ever done, Darwyn Cooke on Parker is Darwyn Cooke being Darwyn Cooke, and Roger Langridge’s Muppet Show comics are things of pure joy. But they don’t stand up against Asterios Polyp. Should have been nominated: Art Baltazar.
BEST LETTERER: David Mazzucchelli, “ASTERIOS POLYP”, Pantheon. Everybody else nominated does really great stuff, but I always judge this by the Todd Klein rule, which is “does the lettering transcend mere workmanship to become art in and of itself,” and only Mazzucchelli qualifies for me; his work on Polyp was just goddamned graceful. There’s no other word for it. Should have been nominated: Did Todd Klein do anything this year?
BEST INKER: Klaus Janson, “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN”, Marvel Comics. Klaus Janson will always get my vote whenever he gets nominated. His inks are brutal, awesome violence.
BEST COLORIST: Steve Hamaker, “BONE: CROWN OF HORNS”, Graphix. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be to colorize Bone, a work so intrinsically black and white that colors applied inartfully would only serve to destroy the overall integrity of the work. Hamaker does it so brilliantly that you could almost forget that the black-and-white version ever existed. Laura Martin’s gorgeous recoloring work on The Rocketeer is a close second and I had to decide this one over time.
BEST COVER ARTIST: Frank Quitely, “BATMAN AND ROBIN”, DC Comics. Another duel to the death between Quitely and JH Williams III, but this round Quitely walks away with the prize; his covers on Batman and Robin manage to both feel like traditional superhero covers and new-wave Morrisonia at the same time. A narrow victory, though, considering how great Williams’ covers were on Detective.
BEST NEW TALENT: Not voting; I haven’t read any of them except Chew and Power Out, and the former doesn’t impress me as much as it does other people (cute idea, but I’m far from sold thus far), and the latter is promising but in progress. So no vote.
BEST NEW SERIES: “BATMAN AND ROBIN”, DC Comics. Even with Grant Morrison more and more getting away from writing stories and getting more involved with long metaplots which don’t seem to go anywhere – and I know people can argue about this for hours at a time so let’s not start another round – this is still the most vital comic on the stands; it’s just got juice to it, you know? The two Vertigo entries are also both really strong and I had to think about it before passing them over. Also, I have no idea why Irredeemable keeps getting all these nominations because it’s not very good. Should have been nominated: The Muppet Show.
BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES: “THE WALKING DEAD”, Image Comics. Remember what I said before about how Kirkman’s real strength is simple tenacity? That’s why I vote for him here. Should have been nominated: Incredible Hercules.
BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS: “THE MUPPET SHOW COMIC BOOK”, BOOM! Studios. I am biased. Sue me.
BEST ANTHOLOGY: “FLIGHT # 6”, Villard. I love the Flight collections, each and every one. They’re gorgeous comics and I always find new things to like in every collection, which is why they always get my vote.
BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC ALBUM: “GEORGE SPROTT (1894-1975)”, by Seth, Drawn and Quarterly. After losing out to Asterios Polyp in previous categories, why do I give the nod to Seth now? Because Polyp has a horrible, horrible ending. It’s just that simple: the ending is so annoying it cuts the enjoyment value of the book in half. Seth does not do that to you with George Sprott. So he gets my vote.
BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL: “PEARLS BEFORE SWINE”, by Stephan Pastis, United Feature Syndicate. Every year it seems like this is just a list of comics people don’t actively despise, and the list gets shorter every year as the Comics Curmudgeon has ever more targets. Pearls is my favorite; it wins.
BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT: “THE ROCKETEER: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES”, by Dave Stevens; edited by Scott Dunbier, IDW. Gorgeously recolored as previously mentioned, but now all the Rocketeer stuff is in one book. The only way this could be any better is if it had a slip pocket on the inside cover to hold the DVD of the (deeply enjoyable) movie.
BEST ONLINE COMICS WORK: “HARK! A VAGRANT”, by Kate Beaton, http://harkavagrant.com. Nothing else even comes close. Sadly, Scott Kurtz is campaigning to win the award on the basis that, I dunno, it’s his turn or something. Go vote for Kate Beaton instead! She can actually write a punchline!
SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS: Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, “BEASTS OF BURDEN”, Dark Horse Books. Not so much because it’s hilarious (it’s fun, but Muppet Show is funnier), but because I can’t not vote for Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson working together at least once.
BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY: “JONAH HEX #50”, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, artwork by Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics. Putting this lovely single issue up against the likes of book-length projects like George Sprott, Asterios Polyp and Parker just seems criminally unfair; a single issue isn’t a full book and shouldn’t be judged on the same merit, just as a short story shouldn’t compete against a novel. This gets my vote out of rebellion. And because it was a really great comic.