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Countdown to the Eisners: 2019 Nominees for Best Reality-Based Work

Fanbase Press’ coverage of the 2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards continues with the “Countdown to the Eisners” series. From Wednesday, May 29, through Wednesday, July 10, 2019, Fanbase Press will highlight each of the Eisner Awards’ 31 nomination categories, providing comic book industry members and readers alike the opportunity to learn more about the nominees and their work. Stay tuned for Fanbase Press’ continued coverage of the Eisner Awards, including live coverage of the ceremony at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, July 19.

Not all comic books are fictional. The Best Reality-Based Work category honors the year’s best graphic memoirs and historical non-fictions. The five nominees drew from real-life events to tell stories that engage, educate, and inspire. Reality-Based Work is a relatively new Eisner category, first awarded in 2006 to Kyle Baker for his historical non-fiction title, Nat Turner. Last year, Tillie Walden won for her figure skating memoir, Spinning, published by First Second.

Here are the 2019 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Reality-Based Work category:

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All the Answers: A Graphic Memoir by Michael Kupperman (Gallery 13)

In this humorous, but profoundly emotional, memoir, writer and artist Michael Kupperman documents the life of his father Joel Kupperman. During World War II, the elder Kupperman became one of the most famous kids in America as a contestant on the game show, Quiz Kids. But his meteoric rise to fame was followed by an equally tragic fall. “Something happened,” writes Joel Weldon in his review for NPR. “Something that caused the adult Joel Kupperman to pull a mental curtain across the youthful experience that shaped him, and refuse to discuss it with his friends, his colleagues, his wife and, especially, with his son. All the Answers is his son Michael’s attempt to discern, through the steady accretion of research and interviews, the shape of that mysterious something.”

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All the Sad Songs by Summer Pierre (Retrofit/Big Planet)

Summer Pierre’s graphic memoir is a thoughtful and deeply personal meditation on identity, nostalgia, and music. All the Sad Songs is about a young woman discovering herself while discovering the music, and making the mix tapes, that would define her formative years. Pierre chronicles various important moments in her life, as well as her struggles with anxiety and depression. Known for her short-form comic, Paper Pencil Life, this is Pierre’s first full-length comic book. In an interview with Smash Pages, Pierre said, “With this project, I was interested in taking more time with the art and doing something with more care. All my favorite comics are ones that clearly have time in the work – I wanted to see if I could make something that rich.”

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Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown (First Second)

In his latest graphic biography, acclaimed writer and artist Box Brown captures the complicated personality of the incomparable comedian, Andy Kaufman. Very few entertainers were as groundbreaking, or controversial, as Andy Kaufman. Brown traces Kaufman’s short but multifarious career, giving particular emphasis to his time as a professional wrestler and provides some new insights on his life outside of the spotlight. In his review for Seattle PI, Jeff Provine said, “The complex story of Andy Kaufman’s life is made approachable through Brown’s clean, cartoon style. Everyone is a perpetual audience, and Kaufman plays them just as a crooning wrestler. Yet there is something pure inside it.”

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Monk! by Youssef Daoudi (First Second)

The true story of Thelonious Monk and his decades-long friendship with writer and jazz patron Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter. She was an heiress of the Rothschild family, casting off the social norms of the day. He was the explosively talented, but perpetually troubled, “high priest of bop.” Writer and artist Youssef Daoudi immortalizes their unique relationship while tackling themes like gender, class, and race in the post-war world. In his review for XS NOIZE, Michael Barron said, “Monk! is a cryptic graphic novel true to the art and genre of jazz; from the outset, Monk! keeps the reader in suspense. Daoudi’s use of improvisation with a little melody as well as Kerouac’s Spontaneous Prose makes it impossible to predict what happens next.”

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One Dirty Tree by Noah Van Sciver (Uncivilized Books)

In his first graphic memoir, renowned cartoonist Noah Van Sciver details his life growing up in a large, poor Mormon family. The house where they lived, nicknamed “one dirty tree” by his brothers, was filled with chaos and creative energy. Van Sciver connects these accounts to the present day, where his relationship with his girlfriend is deteriorating. One Dirty Tree is a sharp and humorous examination on how our families and past experiences resonate throughout our lives. In his review for The Comics Journal, Leonard Pierce wrote, “It’s the kind of a work that often gets described as ‘charming,’ but it’s a bit too heavy for that: As his father’s personality disintegrates in the past and his own relationship does the same in the present, it leads to some introspective moments that weigh down the charm with a lot of sorrow.”

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Stay tuned to the Fanbase Press website each day as we continue our “Countdown to the Eisners” coverage! Plus, follow Fanbase Press’ Facebook, Twitter (@Fanbase_Press), and Instagram (@fanbasepress) with the hashtag #FPSDCC to stay up to date on our SDCC and Eisner Awards updates, including a live-tweet of the 2019 Eisner Award Ceremony from the Hilton Bayfront Hotel at San Diego Comic-Con on the evening of Friday, July 19th!


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