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Countdown to the Eisners: 2020 Nominees for Best Graphic Album (New) & Best Graphic Album (Reprint)

Fanbase Press’ coverage of the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards continues with the “Countdown to the Eisners” series. From June 22 through July 14, 2020, 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 in July 2020.

Best Graphic Album (New)

From legends like Joe Kubert and Will Eisner himself, to iconic titles like The Killing Joke and Elektra Lives Again, each year this category shines a spotlight on the best new standalone books. The 2020 nominee roster is populated by stories that go from the inner city all the way to the moon, told by names that may be unfamiliar to most casual fans. Look here for the gift of discovering — or being reminded — what the comics medium is capable of.

Here are the 2020 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Graphic Album (New) category:


Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (FirstSecond)

Road trip stories are as old as fiction, but in the hands of a creator like Walden, even the tried and true can feel freshly minted. Of course, having a magical cat along for the ride in this case doesn’t hurt. In praising this tale of two women on the open highways of Texas, NPR says that “the specialness… suffuses every page thanks to Walden’s busy, nervous, versatile pen.” Walden is also nominated this year in the Best Writer/Artist and Best Lettering categories.

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Bezimena by Nina Bunjevac (Fantagraphics)

The Adults Only label isn’t there by accident; the storytelling here seems to channel a raw scream that echoes across every page of the book. Readers need not know the myth of Artemis of appreciate the way Bunjevac uses it as a jumping-off point to channel something modern, terrible, and beautiful. Publishers Weekly praises the artist’s “elegant full-page illustrations, painstakingly crosshatched and stippled to resemble woodcuts or antique photographs.” Bunjevac is also nominated this year as Best Writer/Artist.

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BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore (Fantagraphics)

This story, the title of which means “bottomfeeders,” of two girls on Chicago’s South Side may not at first seem like a horror premise. But that’s the smooth trick pulled off by Daniels and Passmore; by grounding us in the lives of real people and a real world, we’re that much more thrown off balance when the monster(s) arrive. The mixture of scares and social commentary has been compared to works like Get Out, but this does what the best graphic novels do in blending words and visuals to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

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Life on the Moon by Robert Grossman (IDW)

Remember “the Great Moon Hoax” of 1835? No? That’s okay, because Grossman’s historical fantasy takes readers back to a time when humankind gazed up at the lunar sky and wondered, “What if our moon is inhabited?” The artist, who passed away in 2018, was indeed a modern Renaissance Man whose work crossed several disciplines from sculpture to filmmaking to movie posters. Forces of Geek calls Grossman’s final, posthumous publication “a phenomenal tribute to the man and his artistry.”

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New World by David Jesus Vignolli (BOOM!/Archaia)

While many may think of the European discovery of the Americas as dry school textbook material, a creator like Vignolli can come along to show that rich narrative can be found anywhere if we look with open eyes. This multicultural blend of real and mythological — featuring a Native American, a Portuguese sailor, and an African musician — makes the new (old) world come alive in a way unique to the graphic novel medium. Pop Matters praises the “tremendous beauty and art” inside “a magical comic that is well worth reading.”

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Reincarnation Stories by Kim Deitch (Fantagraphics)

While Deitch has been making graphic novels for years now — titles like Alias The Cat and The Boulevard of Broken Dreams — to the majority of the reading public, he’s not a household name. And thus, we see one of the great benefits of the Eisners: the ability to instantly elevate unseen and underappreciated titles to “the big leagues.” The Comics Journal calls this book, in which Deitch is content to explore small subjects like the entirety of human history, “a perfect entry point for new readers [that] certainly does seem to be the most representative book of his to date.”

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Best Graphic Album – Reprint

This is where the Eisners honor collections of material previously published in other formats. Since the categories first split back in 1991, a who’s who of creators have seen their work celebrated here, including Darwyn Cooke, Frank Miller, and Art Spiegelman. The 2020 nominees range from long-established talents to new faces in the Eisner spotlight, and whether via espionage or the everyday, all of them offer unique glimpses into the human experience.

Here are the 2020 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Graphic Album (Reprint) category:

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Bad Weekend by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)

Just when we think we know Criminal, the creative team pulls a story like this out of the magic hat — and we realize they’re always one step ahead. The premise of an elderly comic creator receiving his lifetime achievement award may not sound like the typical Brubaker-Philips jam, but that’s just what it turns out to be in this sad, darkly funny tale. The team is also nominated in the Best Continuing Series category this year.

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Clyde Fans by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

First off, the title doesn’t refer to fans of someone named Clyde. Originally presented in the comic, Palookaville, over 20 years, Canadian cartoonist Seth’s look at a small family fan business is also a look at capitalism writ large. Seth plays with form and color to bring readers into both the physical and headspaces of his characters, crafting something less traditional plot-centric and more “a poignant meditation on memory and family” (The AV Club).

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Cover Vol 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack (DC/Jinxworld)

These days, Bendis’ name is so associated with DC’s Superman-related books that some readers may forget his early pro tenure doing crime comics. Here, he reunites with artist Mack (after their earlier Daredevil collaboration) for a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction-inspired story about the CIA’s foray into the world of comics. This is the kind of book that reminds us of why labels like Jinxworld are so worthwhile. Mack is also nominated this year in the Best Painter/Digital Artist category.

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Glenn Ganges: The River at Night by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)

Here is where words fail, because a surface description of this book would do it no justice at all — the magic is in the execution of something otherwise ordinary. Simple situations like a conversation between spouses, or a walk to a library, become enchanting in the hands of a master storyteller. The Comics Journal calls this “the best book by one of our best cartoonists,” and those unfamiliar with Huizenga’s work are in for a treat.

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LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

An immigration story told through the lens of science fiction, Okorafor and Ford’s series couldn’t be more timely. The writer, who has previously won both Hugo and Nebula Awards, builds a rich, vibrant setting; the artist brings it all to life, delivering readers into a place both recognizable and foreign. Named after what is probably no one’s favorite airport, says the series “is never what you expect, and that’s why we happen to love it so much.”

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Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Ware is an artist of such singular vision that one needs no more than a single page to identify his work, and Pop Matters calls Rusty Brown “among his most affecting stories.” Originally serialized over 20+ years and now collected into a beautifully designed hardcover, the book follows several characters through the recognizable ups and downs of this thing called real life. Yes, we’ve all experienced it, but the genius of a talent like Ware is in making the ordinary extraordinary.

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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 2020 Eisner Award Ceremony!

Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor



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