Tag Archives: Dark Horse Comics

2020 Eisner Awards Winners

The 2020 Eisner Awards winners were announced at the end of July. I had missed the opportunity to post this when announced because I was still thinking about how to redesign ComicReaders’ Web site, but I knew it would be one of the first things I wanted to write about when the Web site had been re-designed.

What I personally enjoy about the Eisners is the variety of subject matter and the diversity of the creators represented in the nominees and winners. I also like that award-winning books come from a variety of publishers and, likewise, that award-winning creators create material for a wide variety of publishers. There is never one creator or one publisher that racks up all the awards. I think people who follow the Eisners already follow the comics industry more closely than a casual reader, but I like to think that the Eisner seal of approval exposes all readers to books, creators, and publishers with which they might not be overly familiar.

I know an Oscar-winning movie can enjoy a larger audience. I hope that is the same for Eisner winners.

The list of winners is below, with some personal comments from me where applicable.

Best Short Story
“Hot Comb,” by Ebony Flowers, in Hot Comb (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot
Our Favorite Thing Is My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

Best Continuing Series
Bitter Root, by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene (Image)
I have to admit that Bitter Root has been on my “to read” list for many, many months. I am attracted to its art style. I’ll have to bump it up the list now that it has won this prestigious award.

Best Limited Series
Little Bird by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (Image)
Gorgeous art really drives the story home.

Best New Series
Invisible Kingdom, by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
Dark Horse has had a rough couple of years with the loss of the Star Wars, Conan, Aliens, and Predator licenses, controversy around one of its leading editors, and now a slow start to releasing material during the pandemic. In light on those things it can sometimes be easy to forget what a creative force Dark Horse has been in the industry for 30+ years. Awards like this for creators is a good reminder that Dark Horse is a company that takes risks on new creators, takes the time curate a diverse line of comics across numerous genres, and is still a relevant and welcome publisher in the industry.

Best Publication for Early Readers
Comics: Easy as ABC, by Ivan Brunetti (TOON)

Best Publication for Kids
Guts, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)
Anything with the Telgemeier name on it is going to be a hit in schools, libaries, book stores and comic shops.

Best Publication for Teens
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second/Macmillan)
Here is a read that has had great success at ComicReaders Downtown.

Best Humor Publication
The Way of the Househusband, vol. 1, by Kousuke Oono, translation by Sheldon Drzka (VIZ Media)
I stocked this manga because the description sounded like it could be a bizarre read. I did not realize at the time that it was a straight up comedy.

Best Anthology
Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival, edited by Diane Noomin (Abrams)

Best Reality-Based Work
They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker (Top Shelf)

Best Graphic Album – New
Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second/Macmillan)
Here is another one that keeps finding new readers at ComicReaders Downtown.

Best Graphic Album – Reprint
LaGuardia, by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium
Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran (Dark Horse Books)
I have to be honest and say I missed ordering this one. I’ve had a few customers ask for it and I was quick to bring it in for them. Neil Gaiman still has a following.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The House, by Paco Roca, translation by Andrea Rosenberg (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
Tie: Cats of the Louvre, by Taiyo Matsumoto, translation by Michael Arias (VIZ Media) and Witch Hat Atelier, by Kamome Shirahama, translation by Stephen Kohler (Kodansha)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips
Krazy Kat: The Complete Color Sundays, by George Herriman, edited by Alexander Braun (TASCHEN)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo: The Complete Grasscutter Artist Select, by Stan Sakai, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best Writer
Mariko Tamaki, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC); Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan); Archie (Archie)
I remember many years ago when Dana from ComicReaders South invited Mariko Tamaki to the store to promote and sign her graphic novel Skim. Dana was devastated by the low turnout. Now Mariko Tamaki is one of the biggest named in comics, but even then she was a talent.

Best Writer/Artist
Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan)

Best Painter/Digital Artist
Christian Ward, Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist
Emma Rios, Pretty Deadly (Image)

Best Coloring
Dave Stewart, Black Hammer, B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know, Hellboy and the BPRD (Dark Horse); Gideon Falls (Image); Silver Surfer Black, Spider-Man (Marvel)
I’m pretty sure Dave Stewart has won this award every year since he got into colouring comics. I’m not going to fact check that though.

Best Lettering
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (IDW)
A year or so ago I had a really good conversation with a customer about the art of hand lettering comics. I wish I had a transcript of that conversation. Also related to lettering— since I’ve been involved in some comic projects as a writer I’ve worked with letterers and I’ve learned a lot about the craft of lettering, including placement of dialogue to ensure the proper flow for the reader. Lettering is one of those things you won’t notice when it’s done correctly.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Women Write About Comics, edited by Nola Pfau and Wendy Browne, www.WomenWriteAboutComics.com

Best Academic/Scholarly Work
EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest, by Qiana Whitted (Rutgers University Press)

Best Publication Design
Making Comics, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Digital Comic
Afterlift, by Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo (comiXology Originals)

Best Webcomic
Fried Rice Comic, by Erica Eng

Hellboy and The BPRD 1952

Hellboy and the BPRD 1952

Hellboy and The BPRD 1952
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
Artist: Alex Maleev
FC, 144 pgs, $19.99 US

In Hellboy and the BPRD 1952, members of the BPRD are sent to a Brazilian village to investigate a series of grisly, unexplained murders. Accompanying them is Hellboy. It’s his first mission.

I’ve been watching Hellboy beat the tar out of monsters for 25 years or more so it was refreshing to see him ask a seasoned agent, “Archie, you’ve been doing this a while. Is this…normal? I mean for what you guys do.” He and Archie– a kind solider that took a shine to young Hellboy when the demon was locked away in a U.S. Air Base– are walking through a cavernous room in the dark bowels of an old prison. The room is full of dead bodies in glass tubes filled with liquid. That kind of personal touch in dialogue is sprinkled throughout this miniseries, like when it is remarked that Bruttenholm did not say good-bye to Hellboy and Bruttenholm curtly replies that Hellboy did not say farewell either. “He hates it here, Margaret,” says Bruttenholm. “We’ve tried to make it a home for him, but he hates it.”

When Hellboy first encounters a dead body in the Brazilian village, he hangs back as the human members of the BPRD team investigate. Hellboy just does not know what to do.

The day before I started this miniseries I had finished BPRD: The Devil You Know volume 3: Ragnarok, the end of the BPRD / Hellboy saga started more than 25 years ago. That volume and everything preceding it makes BPRD / Hellboy one of the greatest achievements in modern comics. As soon as I finished that volume I dug out my Hellboy collections with the intent to start reading the saga all over again. But I remembered I had Hellboy and the BPRD trade paperbacks I had not yet read. 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956 going back to the early days of Hellboy’s career in the BPRD. New adventures populated with familiar faces from other Mignolaverse stories, including Bruttenholm and Varvara, one of the great “partnerships” in comics. “Because the professor is being my favorite. My favorite human of all.” (Chad Boudreau)

Mr. Higgins Comes Home

Mr. Higgins Comes Home
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
FC, 56 pgs, $14.99 US

I’ve read so much of the Mignolaverse that I feel like I’m running out of material. Mignola and his collaborators are still releasing new product but it was kind of nice to have a backlog of trade paperbacks and floppies on my reading pile because I could read Mignola when I wanted to read Mignola. There was no waiting for new releases.

For some strange reason I have extra time on my hands around the store these days so I wandered among the shelves and spied a Mignola book not yet in my collection: Mr. Higgins Comes Home. I bought it. Got to support local, you know.

A pair of fearless vampire hunters question a man hidden in a monastery. Meanwhile, at Castle Golga, preparations are underway for the annual celebration of the undead. The man– Mr. Higgins– has a history with Castle Golga and does not want to return. The hunters, though, need him in their fight to rid the world of vampires.

This story feels a lot like the old movie The Fearless Vampire Hunters in the best of ways. The landscape, the castle, the vampire hunters, the bits of comedy sprinkled around. The familiarity is easily overlooked when one spends time with the art as provided by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. Every panel is packed with delicious detail– the rooms filled with knick-knacks; the scenery lush. The relatively simple character faces are expressive. There is a strange flatness to some of the panels and a crookedness to others. The designs are other-worldly and sinister, and yet also whimsical without being dismissive of its subject matter.

I was not familiar with the artist but a quick Google search revealed his UK origins, where he has worked in editorial illustration, concept design, storyboarding, and narrative art of various forms. Listed among his clients is Aardman Animation!

There are many things I miss while having ComicReaders closed to the public. One of those things is watching people browse and discover comics. My love of Mignola as a writer and artist led me to Mr. Higgins Comes Home and Warick Johnson-Cadwell. I am grateful for the opportunity to make that discovery. (Chad Boudreau)

Hellsing volume 1

Hellsing volume 1Hellsing volume 1
Dark Horse Comics
by Kohta Hirano
BW, 208 pgs, $13.95 US / Higher in Canada

This action and gore-packed horror comic has just enough sly humour to take the edge off the guts and guns, putting this manga in the same territory as Trigun and Scryed. Both of those manga use both action and humour just like Hellsing, but those two series failed to put any sort of smile on my face. So, what’s the big diff, you wonder. Hellsing has two things going for it that those other two manga did not: 1. Outstanding art; 2. Wildly entertaining storytelling. Kohta Hirano is responsible for both.

I really enjoy the look of Hirano’s characters. Sure, the protagonist Alucard looks a lot like Vash from Trigun (I think it’s the red jacket, big gun and youthful, triangular face), but it’s hard to call one a knock off of the other considering the original manga ran alongside one another in Young King Ours. Where character designs of Trigun are inconsistent,  Hellsing’s are always striking and true to form. The police girl / vampire-in-training, is both sexy and scary. Alucard is both deadly and witty. I especially like the red scarf tied loosely and jauntily about his neck. For all his power and age, Alucard is a bit of a fashion plate. Continue reading Hellsing volume 1

Satsuma Gishiden volume 2

Satsuma Gishiden volume 2Satsuma Gishiden volume 2
Dark Horse Comics
by Hiroshi Hirata

BW, 280 pgs, $14.95 US / Higher in Canada

In my review of volume 1, I neglected to mention Hiroshi Hirata’s artwork. It is detailed and always ferocious, with strong inks, haggard characters, harsh landscapes, lived in locales and brutal bouts of violence.

It does indeed remind me of the artwork from other samurai epics of the era, specifically Samurai Executioner and Lone Wolf and Cub and thus I have to wonder if the style is a product of the 1970s, and if so, which artists were influencing whom. Where Satsuma Gishiden differs, however, is in Hirata’s use of calligraphy to highlight and isolate key moments of dialogue. This is used to dramatic effect, and thankfully Dark Horse has left the calligraphy untouched, opting instead to provide a translation in a smaller word balloon below. Continue reading Satsuma Gishiden volume 2