Wednesday, July 31, 2013
COMIC-CON 2013: FRIDAY PART TWO
It was one of the best times of my life. I’ve been blogging about
it for a week and I’m still discussing Friday. Aren’t you glad I
don’t have vacation slides to show you?
There was only one downside to Comic-Con and that was that I could
not see and talk with all the people I wanted to see and talk with.
I never saw Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, John Lustig, Rich
Koslowski, Peter Kuper, Ramona Fradon and two dozen others. I only
had a few minutes with my friend and mentor Roy Thomas as we rushed
to separate panels.
I never saw Michael Davis, who invites me to appear on his renowned
“Black Panel” every year. This year, when I was actually at Comic-
Con, that panel was scheduled for the same time as my own spotlight
panel. If I’d been scheduled for anything other than my spotlight
panel at that time, I’d have made apologies and gone to Michael’s
panel instead. If the fates and my income are kind, I’ll try to be
on Michael’s panel next year.
My Friday evening plans revolved around attending the 25th Annual
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. My son Eddie wanted to attend
the awards, forgoing some of his beloved anime programming to join
me for the buffet and ceremonies. The event was being held in the
Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and was presented
Neither Eddie or I had eaten all day, so we went to the Fox Sports
bar at the Hilton for sliders and fries. That was enough for me,
so I later passed on the Eisner buffet, delicious though it looked.
My 26-year-old son had no such concerns. He’s the Matter-Eater
Lad of the Isabella family.
Eddie was concerned that he and I were under-dressed for the Eisner
Awards. While we couldn’t possibly approach the sartorial splendor
of Batton Lash, who, as previous noted in these reports, is the Jim
Steranko of my generation, we weren’t the only attendees who came
directly from the convention to the ceremonies. I do see Eddie’s
point and, if I attend the Eisner Awards in the future, I’ll do my
best to “clean up” for the occasion.
We were seated with Tom Batiuk and his family and Dan Parent and
his family. Tom is a fellow Medina resident and I guess the Eisner
Awards count as our monthly lunch for July. Dan is not from Medina
and so it counted as a chance to talk with a cartoonist whose work
I admire. Wonderful company all around.
If I may digress...Dan Parent’s creation of Riverdale High student
Kevin Keller and Archie Comics’ support of this landmark character
are two of the most major events in recent comics history. When Archie
and his gang are so accepting of gays, others follow that welcome
trend. It’s a great thing.
I love talking to Dan because he always seems to anticipate my very
minor Kevin Keller quibbles. When I was concerned that Kevin was
too perfect, Dan began showing the kid could be just as error-prone
as the rest of the Riverdale gang. When I commented that writing
one gay character was easier than showing Kevin dating, Dan added
that bit of character development. Like Kevin, Dan is way ahead of
the curve portraying a positive and likeable character that no one
would have predicted appearing in Archie Comics titles, much less
becoming such an important and popular player in those books. He
and Archie deserve the accolades they have received. Thus ends the
The Eisner Awards ceremonies were professional and very friendly.
It made me wonder if those attending other industry awards, movies
and television and the like, feel the same sense of kinship that we
in the comics industry enjoy at the Eisners. I hope so. It’s one
heck of a good feeling.
The production values of the Eisners were incredible. I was often
awed by Comic-Con, but never more so than watching how wonderfully
the comics industry honors its own. The presentations went smooth
as silk with the music and video backdrops enhancing the event.
About those presenters...and also those who accepted the awards for
themselves or other...what a warm and funny collection of people.
Jonathan Ross, Neil Gaiman, John Barrowman, Bill Morrison, and so
many others had me smiling and usually laughing out loud. Sergio
Aragones, presenting the Hall of Fame awards, was so indicative of
the heart that drives our comics art form and, when we are our best
selves, the kindness that is part of our makeup. I’d mention Mark
Evanier as well, but, since he’s like a brother to me, I might be
accused of nepotism.
I was delighted to watch the Bill Finger Award given to my friends
Steve Gerber and Don Rosa. Whether the “talking ducks” theme was
intentional or not, I can’t think of two more deserving recipients
of this award. Of course, the irony of DC Comics being a sponsor
of the Bill Finger Awards was not lost on my son. I now choose to
look at DC’s participation as perhaps the first step on its road to
The Hall of Fame choices were outstanding: Lee Falk, Al Jaffee,
Mort Meskin, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez and Joe Sinnott. Every
one a true legend in our community.
Another digression. Watching Trina accept her award and knowing of
her landmark work in identifying and honoring women cartoonists, I
came to the realization that there’s someone else who deserves to
be in the Hall of Fame company. Impertinent as I certainly am in
bringing this up so close to this year’s awards, I will nonetheless
submit for the consideration of next year’s judges and voters, the
great color artist Adrienne Roy. She was one of the best colorists
our field has ever seen. She amassed an incredible body of work in
her career. She was cruelly cast aside by DC Comics at the height
of her magnificent abilities. End of digression.
Most years, I try to read as many of the Eisner nominees as I can.
This year, because I was doing so many other things, I don’t think
I did more than scratch the surface. I’m still hoping to read as
many of the winners and nominees as I can before the next batch of
nominees. As I do, I’ll likely write about them in future bloggy
On a related note, Eddie mentioned a few times during the Eisners
that he wanted to check out this or that winner or nominee. If he
gets them before I do, maybe he’ll loan them to me.
If I had to pick my favorite presenter or acceptor at the Eisners,
it has to be Chip Kidd. I’ve loved much of Kidd’s design work, but
I never knew anything about him. After the Eisners, I knew he was
a gay men...that he was a flamboyantly gay man...and that he was,
hands down, one of the funniest people in comics. When I reported
I occasionally laughed out loud during the Eisners, it was usually
because of Kidd. Well done, sir. Well done.
In my usually state of awe, I almost forgot to mention the amazing
Jackie Estrada, the administrator of the awards. I was an Eisner
judge many years back and the complicated process was made so much
easier because of Jackie’s expertise and skill. That expertise and
skill is evident in the Eisner Awards ceremonies.
If you ever attend Comic-Con, you should attend the Eisner Awards.
Comic-Con shows our comics world at its best and the Eisners show
Comic-Con at its best. I promise you an unforgettable evening with
some of the greatest comics creators of all time.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more of this Comic-Con report. Will I
finally be able to cover one day in one bloggy thing? I wouldn’t
bet on it, but I’ll give it a shot.
© 2013 Tony Isabella