The Eisner Awards judges have selected six individuals to automatically be inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame for 2021.
Breccia (1919–1993) was an Argentinean artist who worked from the 1940s through the 1980s. Starting out in commercial illustration for magazines, juvenile tales, and genre stories, His first major character, a detective named Sherlock Time, appeared in the late 1950s and was written by Héctor German Oesterheld, who would become a long-time collaborator. Their “masterpiece” is considered Mort Cinder, produced from 1962 to 1964. Breccia worked with and was influenced by Hugo Pratt and was made a member of the “Venice Group” that Pratt and other European artists created. One of Breccia’s last works was a series called Perramus, a critique of life under dictatorship, that was begun when Argentina was still under the control of the dictatorship that was very likely responsible for the disappearance of Oesterheld. This act of artistic courage led to an award from Amnesty International in 1989.
Stan Goldberg (1932–2014) started his career in 1949 at the age of 16 as a staff artist for Timely (now Marvel), where he was in charge of the color department. Goldberg continued to color Marvel comics until 1969, creating the color designs for many Silver Age characters, including Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and The Hulk. He also drew such Marvel titles as Millie the Model and Patsy Walker. After leaving Marvel he drew some of DC’s teen titles, including Date with Debbie, Swing with Scooter, and Binky, and began a 40-year career at Archie Comics, with his work appearing in such titles as Archie and Me, Betty and Me, Everything’s Archie, Life with Archie, Archie’s Pals n Gals, Laugh, Pep, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. From 1975 to 1980 Goldberg drew the Archie Sunday newspaper strip.
Editor and publisher Francoise Mouly founded Raw Books and Graphics in 1978. With her husband Art Spiegelman she launched Raw magazine in 1980, which is perhaps best known for serializing Spiegelman’s award-winning Maus. A lavishly produced oversize anthology, Raw published work by Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Kim Deitch, Ben Katchor, Richard McGuire, Lorenzo Mattotti, Gary Panter, Joost Swarte, Jacques Tardi, and Chris Ware, to name but a few. When Mouly became art director at The New Yorker in 1993, she brought a large number of cartoonists and artists to the periodical's interiors and covers. In 2008 she launched TOON Books, an imprint devoted to books for young readers done by cartoonists.
Lily Renée Phillips
Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips was the star artist for comics publisher Fiction House, where she worked from 1943 until 1948. She drew such strips as Werewolf Hunter, Jane Martin, Senorita Rio, and The Lost World. She was known for her striking covers and “good girl” art. She later drew Abbott & Costello Comics with her husband at the time, Eric Peters, and Borden’s Elsie the Cow comics. She left comics in the 1950s; she is still living and was a guest at Comic-Con in 2007. She turns 100 on May 12.
Editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902) is often considered to be the "Father of the American Cartoon." He started out as an illustrator in 1856 while still a teenager and became a staff illustrator for Harper’s Weekly in 1860. His cartoons advocated the abolition of slavery, opposed racial segregation, and deplored the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1870s he used his cartoons to crusade against New York City’s political boss William Tweed, and he devised the Tammany tiger for this crusade. He popularized the elephant to symbolize the Republican Party and the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic Party, and he created the "modern" image of Santa Claus.
Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer (1799–1846) is known for his histoires en images, picture stories that are considered predecessors to modern comic strips. His works included Histoire de M. Jabot (1833), Monsieur Crépin (1837), Monsieur Pencil (1840), and Le Docteur Festus (1846). These works were distinctively different from a painting, a political cartoon, or an illustrated novel. The images followed clear narrative sequences over a course of many pages, rather than just a series of unrelated events. Both text and images were closely intertwined. Originally ,he drew his comics purely for his own and friends’ amusement. One of his friends, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, liked them so much (especially the Faust parody) that he encouraged Töpffer to publish his littérature en estampes ("graphic literature"). His stories were printed in various magazines and translated into German, Dutch, English, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.
Ruth Atkinson (1918–1997) was one of the many female comics artists who worked for publisher Fiction House. She pencilled and inked such features as Clipper Kirk, Skull Squad, and Suicide Smith. She became the company's art director, a job which she quit because it did not leave her time to draw. She became a freelancer, creating the first issues of Millie the Model and Patsy Walker (co-created with Stuart Little) for Stan Lee at Timely/Marvel. Atkinson later drew for some of the first romance comics, including Lev Gleason Publications' Boy Meets Girl and Lover's Lane, through the early 1950s.
Comics artist Dave Cockrum (1943–2006) was known for his inventive costume designs. A prolific fanzine artist, he began his professional career in 1971 doing work for Warren Publishing, followed in 1972 by the Western strip, "Shattuck," for Wally Wood. He soon found inking work as Murphy Anderson’s assistant on DC’s Superman and Superboy titles and then became the artist on the “Legion of Super-Heroes” feature. After he left DC for Marvel, he and Len Wein co-created the new X-Men, including such characters as Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. He also co-created the Spider-Man character Black Cat with Marv Wolfman. Cockrum left a staff position at Marvel in 1979 but continued to freelance for Marvel, DC, and other companies, which included a return to the X-Men in 1981. He produced his own title, The Futurians, in 1983, first for Marvel, then published by Lodestone/Deluxe, where he also worked on the mid-80s revival of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. From 1995 to 2000, he was the regular artist on Soulsearchers and Company for Claypool Comics.
Writer/artist/publisher Kevin Eastman co-created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Peter Laird. The duo published the comic themselves starting in 1984, under the imprint Mirage Studios. The Turtles quickly made the leap to other media and went on to star in multiple movies, animated TV series, and toy lines over the years. In 1990 Eastman founded Tundra Publishing, which funded and published creator-owned comics by talent such as Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Eddie Campbell, and Mike Allred, until 1993. Eastman also owned Heavy Metal magazine for more than 20 years, until 2014, and he continued to serve as its publisher until 2020.
Highly successful author Neil Gaiman broke into comics in 1986 with some short “Future Shock” strips for 2000 AD. But he really attracted notice with his and Dave McKean’s graphic novel Violent Cases, published in 1987. DC brought him on to write the limited comics series Black Orchid, which was followed in 1989 by the groundbreaking series The Sandman for DC’s Vertigo line; the series lasted 75 issues, through 1996, and had several spinoffs and one-shots. Gaiman’s other comics work has included the series Death, Marvel 1602, and Miracleman, as well as the graphic novels Signal to Noise, Mr. Punch, and How to Talk to Girls at Parties.
In 1933, Maxwell Gaines (1894–1947) devised the first four-color, saddle-stitched newsprint pamphlet, a precursor to the color comics format that became the standard for the American comic book industry. He was co-publisher (with Jack Liebowitz) of All-American Publications, a seminal comic book company that introduced such enduring characters as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Hawkman. He went on to found Educational Comics, producing the series Picture Stories from the Bible. He authored one of the earliest essays on comic books, a 1942 pamphlet titled Narrative Illustration: The Story of the Comics. After Gaines' death (in a motorboating accident) in 1947, Educational Comics was taken over by his son Bill Gaines, who transformed the company (now known as EC Comics) into a pioneer of horror, science fiction, and satirical comics.
Justin Green is most noted for the 1972 underground title Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. This solo comic book detailed Green's struggle with a form of OCD known as scrupulosity, within the framework of growing up Catholic in 1950s Chicago. Intense graphic depiction of personal torment had never appeared in comic book form before, and it had a profound effect on other cartoonists and the future direction of comics as literature. The underground comix pioneer was also a contributor to such titles as Bijou Funnies, Insect Fear, Arcade, Young Lust, and Sniffy Comics. In the 1990s, Green focused his cartooning attention on a series of visual biographies for Pulse!, the in-house magazine for Tower Records. It ran for ten years and was later collected as Musical Legends.
Moto Hagio is one of a group of women who broke into the male-dominated Japanese manga industry and pioneered the shōjo (girls’ comics) movement in the early 1970s. Hagio’s 1974 work Heart of Thomas, inspired by the 1964 film This Special Friendship, was one of the early entries in the shōnen-ai (boys in love) subgenre. Hagio’s linework and dramatic imagery have influenced many manga artists, and she helped shape the style of emotional and symbolic backgrounds that many manga artists draw today. Her major works include A Drunken Dream, They Were Eleven, and Otherworld Barbara. She’s won the Japanese Medal of Honor with the Purple Ribbon (the first woman comics creator to do so), received Japan’s SF Grand Prize, the Osamu Tezuka Culture Award Grand Prize, and an Inkpot Award, among other accolades.
Don Heck's (1929–1995) first comics work was in the early 1950s, for publishers such as Comic Media, Quality, Hillman, and Toby Press. He then became a staff artist for Stan Lee at Atlas, contributing stories to such pre-superhero titles as Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Strange Worlds, World of Fantasy, and Journey into Mystery. Heck is credited as the co-creator of Iron Man, who premiered in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963). He was the artist co-creator of several characters in the "Iron Man" feature, including The Mandarin, Hawkeye, and the Black Widow. Heck succeeded Jack Kirby as penciller on The Avengers with issue #9 (Oct. 1964), which he drew through issue #40 (May 1967). Elsewhere during the 1960s, Heck penciled The X-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and other titles. In the 1970s, Heck went over to DC, where with writer Gerry Conway he co-created the cyborg hero Steel, the Indestructible Man, then became regular artist on The Flash, and in 1982 reunited with Conway to draw the Justice League of America. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Heck returned to Marvel, where his work included features for the superhero anthologies Marvel Comics Presents and Marvel Fanfare. Heck also did work for such independent publishers as Topps Comics, Hero Comics, Vortex, and Millennium Publications.
Since the early 1970s, artist Klaus Janson has worked on nearly every title for Marvel and DC. Most notably, he inked and then eventually drew Daredevil from 1975 to 1983, working with writer/penciller Frank Miller. He then went on to ink Miller’s landmark title Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in 1986. He continued to work on a variety of Batman and other titles for DC, as well as Spider-Man, Punisher, and many other series for Marvel. Janson has taught sequential storytelling at the School of Visual Arts in New York City since the 1990sand has written both The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics and The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics.
Jeffrey Catherine Jones
Jeff Jones (1944–2011) began creating comics in 1964. While attending Georgia State College, Jones met fellow student Mary Louise Alexander; the two began dating and were married in 1966. After graduation, the couple moved to New York City but split up in the early 1970s. (Writer/editor Louise Jones Simonson was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2020.) In New York Jones found work drawing for King Comics, Gold Key, Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, as well as Wally Wood’s Witzend. Jones painted covers for more than 150 books, including the Ace paperback editions of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and Andre Norton's Postmarked the Stars, The Zero Stone, Uncharted Stars, and many others. In the early 1970s when National Lampoon began publication, Jones had a strip in it called Idyl. From 1975 to 1979 Jones shared workspace with Bernie Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Michael Wm Kaluta, collectively named The Studio. By the early 1980s Jones had a recurring strip in Heavy Metal titled I'm Age. In the late 1990s, Jones started taking female hormones and had sex reassignment surgery. She passed away in May of 2011.
Hank Ketcham (1920–2001) created Dennis the Menace as a daily comic panel in 1951; by the end of the decade, it was syndicated in more than 1,000 newspapers. Ketcham received the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 1952. A live-action situation comedy starring Jay North as Dennis ran on television from 1959 to 1963, followed over the years by a number of animated specials and series and a 1993 live-action movie. After Ketcham’s death, the daily panel and Sunday strip were carried on by his assistants, Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand, to whom he had turned over the cartoon’s creation in 1994.
Scott McCloud came on the comics scene with his series Zot!, published by Eclipse Comics from 1984 to 1990. Subsequent comics included Destroy!! and The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln. He is best known as the creator of the award-winning Understanding Comics, his 1994 treatise on the comics medium done in graphic novel form. He produced two follow-up books: Reinventing Comics (2000) and Making Comics (2006). His graphic novel The Sculptor was released in 2015. McCloud was furthermore one of the early promoters of webcomics and the principal author of the 1988 Creator's Bill of Rights. He is also the originator of 24-Hour Comics Day, an annual event in which cartoonists finished a complete 24-page comic book in 24 hours.
Grant Morrison started writing comics in the early 1980s on various titles for British publishers, including Warrior, Dr. Who, and 2000 AD. Morrison’s first U.S. hit was Animal Man for DC, followed by Doom Patrol. In 1989 DC published Morrison and Dave McKean’s highly successful graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. In the 1990s Grant produced several titles for DC’s Vertigo line, including The Invisibles, Sebastian O, Flex Mentallo, The Mystery Play, and Kill Your Boyfriend. Also at DC, they wrote JLA, The Flash, and DC One Million. In 2000–2001 Morrison moved over to Marvel, writing Marvel Boy, Fantastic Four 1234, and New X-Men. Grant’s DC works in recent decades include The Filth, W3, Seaguy, Seven Soldiers, Final Crisis, the award-winning All-Star Superman (with Frank Quitely), The Multiversity, the graphic novel JLA: Earth 2, and the ongoing Batman title. Morrison’s most recent projects have included Happy! (Image, 2012), Nameless (Image, 2015), Klaus (BOOM! Studios, since 2015), and Green Lantern (DC, 2019). Grant was editor-in-chief of Heavy Metal magazine from 2016 to 2018.
Alex Niño was among the Filipino comics artists recruited for U.S. comic books in 1971 by DC Comics editor Joe Orlando and publisher Carmine Infantino. Niño’s earliest DC work was drawing stories for House of Mystery, Weird War Tales, and other supernatural anthologies, as well as the jungle-adventure feature “Korak” in Tarzan. In the decades since then, Niño has drawn all types of stories for DC, Marvel, Warren (Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella), Heavy Metal, Byron Preiss, Dark Horse Comics, and other publishers. Starting in the 1980s, Niño branched out into movies and video games, doing design work and concept art for Hanna-Barbera, Sega, and Walt Disney Pictures (Mulan and Atlantis). Niño received an Inkpot Award in 1976.
P. Craig Russell
P. Craig Russell has spent nearly 50 years producing graphic novels, comic books, and illustrations. He entered the comics industry in 1972 as an assistant to artist Dan Adkins. After establishing a name for himself at Marvel on Killraven, Dr. Strange, and Elric, Russell began working on more personal projects, such as adaptations of operas by Mozart (The Magic Flute), Strauss (Salome), and Wagner (The Ring of the Nibelung). Russell is also known for his Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde series and his graphic novel adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Coraline, Murder Mysteries, and American Gods. His most recent project has been Gaiman’s Norse Mythology for Dark Horse. Russell received an Inkpot Award in 1993 and has won several Harvey and Eisner awards.
Gaspar Saladino (1927–2016) worked for more than 60 years in the comics industry as a letterer and logo designer. According to former DC publisher Paul Levitz, “His work on Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing run established a new level for what lettering could do to add to storytelling in periodical American comics, bringing more drama with his innovative style.” Saladino began as a letterer at DC in 1949. Titles he worked on included Justice League of America, The Flash, Strange Adventures, Mystery in Space, G.I. Combat, Hellblazer, and Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. He also designed and lettered the DC house ads and hundreds of covers. Among logos that Saladino designed were Green Lantern, House of Mystery, Batman, Swamp Thing, Teen Titans, Metal Men, Adam Strange, and Phantom Stranger. For Marvel he did the logos for The Avengers and Captain America and the Falcon, among others. He was active until around 2002.