The big winners at the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, sponsored by Syfy, were Chris Ware’s Building Stories (published by Pantheon) and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Saga (published by Image). Building Stories was awarded Best Graphic Album–New and Best Publication Design, and Ware was chosen Best Writer/Artist and Best Letterer. Saga received the awards for Best Continuing Series, Best New Series, and Best Writer. The only other titles with multiple wins were Marvel’s Hawkeye (Best Penciler/Inker and Best Cover Artist for David Aja) and Dark Horse’s Blacksad: Silent Hell (Best U.S. Edition of International Material and Best Painter for Juanjo Guarnido).
The publisher taking away the most awards was Image, with five total, while Pantheon had four. Dark Horse scored three awards plus one shared, while IDW and Marvel both had three and Fantagraphics received two. Other publishers taking home trophies included Abrams, BOOM!, Disney/Hyperion, FSG, HarperCollins, Monkeybrain, Random House, the University Press of Mississippi, and VIZ Media. DC Comics shared in Dave Stewart’s award for Best Coloring.
The awards, considered the “Oscars” of comics, were presented in a gala ceremony at the Indigo Ballroom of the San Diego Hilton Bayfront on Friday July 19. The audience was entertained by such celebrity presenters as Oscar-nominated actor Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), bestselling author Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Ocean at the End of the Lane), British talk show host Jonathan Ross, actor John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Arrow), TV host Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist, Talking Dead), actor James Marsters (Buffy, Angel, Torchwood), and voice actors Maurice LaMarche (Pinky and the Brain, Futurama), Lauren Tom (Futurama, King of the Hil), and David Herman (Office Space, Futurama).
Sergio Aragonés presented the Hall of Fame Awards. The six inductees were comic strip creator Lee Falk (The Phantom, Mandrake), cartoonist Al Jaffee (MAD magazine), Golden Age artist Mort Meskin (Vigilante, Starman, Johnny Quick), underground comix legend Spain Rodriguez (Zap, Trashman), Marvel inker Joe Sinnott (Fantastic Four, Thor), and cartoonist and “herstorian” Trina Robbins, who was on hand to accept her award.
Among the other awards given out over the evening were the Comic-Con’s Clampett and Manning awards. The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, presented by Bob’s daughter Ruth, went to Chris Sparks and Team Cul de Sac for producing an anthology to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award (co-sponsored by the West Coast Comics Club) went to Russel Roehling (artist of Wasteland, published by Oni) and was presented by past Manning Award winner David Petersen.
The ninth annual Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing was presented by Mark Evanier to Don Rosa (The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck) and to the late Steve Gerber (Howard the Duck), whose daughter accepted the award on his behalf. Maggie Thompson (editor of Comics Buyers Guide) introduced the special In Memoriam video salute.
The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, given to a store that has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large, went to Challengers Comics + Conversation of Chicago, Illinois.
The title sponsor for this year’s Eisner Awards was Syfy, and the major sponsor was mycomicshop.com. The principal sponsors were comiXology, Gentle Giant, and Lebonfon Printing. Supporting sponsors were Alternate Reality Comics of Las Vegas, Atlantis Fantasyworld of Santa Cruz, CA, Diamond Comics/Geppi Entertainment Museum, Flying Colors Comics and Other Cool Stuff of Concord, CA, Strange Adventures of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tate’s Comics+Toys+Videos+More of Lauderhill, FL, Warp 1 of Edmonton, Alberta, and Mel Thompson and Associates. DC Comics was the major sponsor of the Finger Award, with Heritage Auctions and Maggie Thompson as supporting sponsors. Baby Tattoo, publishers of books for kids and adults, sponsored the retailer award.