Hey there, Richmond readers! It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s once again time for the annual Eisner Awards, otherwise known as the comic book industry awards. If you’re looking to get into a new genre, now would be an opportune time to look into comic books and graphic novels, considering the RPL has a number of former Eisner winners and current nominees on our shelves. Here are a few:
Anya’s Ghost was the 2012 Eisner winner for Best Publication for Young Adults. It was a debut effort by Vera Brosgol, an animator who had formerly contributed to only a few series and anthologies. Tellingly, Brosgol also previously worked on the animated adaptation of Coraline.
Anya’s Ghost bears some resemblance to Coraline in terms of plot elements: both are tales of snarky young heroines who form friendships with seemingly innocuous supernatural beings—with unsettling results. However, Brosgol’s engaging artwork and Anya’s relatable high school struggles make Anya’s Ghost a really fun, accessible read. At the outset of the story, Anya is a fairly typical high school student; she struggles to reconcile the aspects of herself she deems “uncool” (her appearance, her uneasy relationship with her Russian heritage) with her perception of perfection. The story really starts to take off when Anya falls into an old well in the forest and befriends Emily, a ghost who cannot venture far from her bones.
For those of you more interested in your classic comic book heroes, All-Star Superman is a safe bet. All-Star Superman was a twelve-issue series by Grant Morrison, originally published between 2005 and 2008. It’s also probably one of the most celebrated Superman arcs in recent history, having garnered three Eisner awards during its run (winning once for Best New Series and twice for Best Continuing Series, which isn’t too shabby).
The series was created with the intention of allowing Morrison to write Superman stories that wouldn’t affect the continuity of DC’s normal Superman series. In other words? What happens in All-Star Superman stays in All-Star Superman. This freedom enables Morrison to explore scenarios not normally encountered in the Superman series, namely: what would Superman do if he had only a year left to live? As our story begins, we discover that villain Lex Luthor has finally succeeded in poisoning Superman, who, in the limited amount of time he has left, must complete twelve great labors. Superman must, among other things, answer an Unanswerable Question, create a serum that replicates his powers, and conquer Death.
This Neil Gaiman-penned series is a personal favorite of mine. It combines myth, folklore, literature, and philosophy all in one trippy ride through the Dreaming, wherein our protagonist is the Lord of Dreams himself (a personification of dreams, basically).
The Sandman ran between 1989 and 1996 and accumulated numerous awards during that time, as well as holding the distinction of being one of the few comic book series ever to make it to the New York Times Best Seller List.
Any of these would be a great introduction to the world of comics, but we’ve also got a number of other great Eisner winners on our shelves (including Robert Kirkman’s incredibly popular series, The Walking Dead, and Ramon Perez's Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand. Come on by and check them out!