The Eis­ner Awards

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Named for comic-book pi­o­neer Will Eis­ner, the Eis­ner Awards are rec­og­nized as the high­est honor in the comic-book field, with nom­i­na­tions made by a panel of ex­pert judges and the win­ners voted on by pro­fes­sion­als and re­tail­ers in the comic-book in­dus­try.

The win­ners in 30 cat­e­gories will — as al­ways — be an­nounced in a cer­e­mony at Comic-Con In­ter­na­tional.

This year saw huge gains for fe­male comics cre­ators, with 49 women re­ceiv­ing a record 61 nom­i­na­tions, up from 44 last year.

Women are rep­re­sented in 27 of the 30 cat­e­gories and form the ma­jor­ity of nom­i­nees in seven cat­e­gories: Best New Series, Best Pub­li­ca­tion for Early Read­ers, Best Pub­li­ca­tion for Kids, Best Adap­ta­tion from An­other Medium, Best Graphic Al­bum–Re­print, Best Col­or­ing, and Best Aca­demic/ Schol­arly Work.

Those women with the most nom­i­na­tions are artists Colleen Coover ( Ban­dette) and Joëlle Jones ( Lady Killer, Brides of Hel­heim) with three each. Earn­ing two noms each: Erica Hen­der­son (pen­ciller/inker, The Un­beat­able Squir­rel Girl, Jug­head), Lucy Knis­ley (writer/artist, Dis­place­ment: A Trav­el­ogue), Mar­jorie Liu (writer, Mon­stress), and Syd­ney Padua (writer/artist, The Thrilling Ad­ven­tures of Lovelace and Bab­bage).

In ad­di­tion to the awards, this year’s judges have named Moomins cre­ator Tove Jans­son to the Will Eis­ner Hall of Fame.

Fin­land-born Jans­son cre­ated the Moomins in 1945, and went on to fill dozens of books trans­lated to­day into 33 lan­guages. The Moomins live on in print and in an­i­ma­tion, most re­cently in the 2014 fea­ture film Moomins on the Riviera.

Mean­while, vot­ers will choose four Hall of Fame mem­bers to be an­nounced at the cer­e­mony. Among the can­di­dates: Lynda Barry, some guy named Matt Groen­ing, Françoise Mouly and Ru­miko Taka­hashi. [

Although best known for play­ing Star Wars hero Luke Sky­walker, ac­tor Mark Hamill has gar­nered yet an­other le­gion of fans thanks to his an­i­mated in­car­na­tion of The Joker, a role he first played over two decades ago in Bat­man: The An­i­mated Series.

“I didn’t re­ally do an­i­ma­tion un­til The Joker and it opened up a whole new world for me,” Hamill said dur­ing a re­cent ap­pear­ance at Ox­ford Univer­sity in Eng­land, where he was shoot­ing the lat­est in­stall­ment of Star Wars. “I’ve had so much plea­sure do­ing not just The Joker but so many char­ac­ter parts you would never get on cam­era be­cause of the lim­i­ta­tions of how you look.”

Hamill is repris­ing Joker in Bat­man: The Killing Joke, an orig­i­nal DC Universe an­i­mated fea­ture based on the clas­sic 1988 story by Alan Moore and Brian Bol­land. The fea­ture will have its world pre­miere Fri­day night at Comic-Con and will de­but July 26 on dig­i­tal HD and Aug. 2 on Blu-ray and DVD.

When he first au­di­tioned for the role of the Bat­man bad­die, how­ever, Hamill, a for­mer teen heart­throb, was con­vinced he wouldn’t get it.

“There’s no way they’re go­ing to cast the guy who plays Luke Sky­walker to be this icon of vil­lainy,” he re­called think­ing. “I said, ‘You know what? I’m go­ing to go in there and give them the best damn Joker they’ve ever heard. And they’re go­ing to re­ally re­gret the fact that they can’t hire me.’ I had this ar­ro­gance when I did it which worked well for the part.”

That ar­ro­gance, com­bined with the “ar­se­nal of laughs” he’d ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing his time play­ing Mozart in the 1983 Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Amadeus (“Mozart was de­scribed as hav­ing a ghastly laugh,” the ac­tor says) soon per­suaded pro­duc­ers they had found their Joker. Hamill, mean­while, was equally blown away by what he de­scribed as Paul Dini’s “melan­choly and poignant” script.

The series, which was one of the first to be aimed at both adults and chil­dren, also proved to be the be­gin­ning of a long-stand­ing part­ner­ship with Bat­man voice ac­tor Kevin Con­roy.

“We’re al­most like a dou­ble act, if Kevin is go­ing to do Bat­man — it’s Lau­rel and Hardy — if he’s Bat­man, y’know, he’s my guy, he’s my fa­vorite. He’s one of the nicest guys in show busi­ness,” says Hamill, who is team­ing up with Con­roy again on the up­com­ing, younger-skew­ing, DC/Car­toon Net­work series Jus­tice League Ac­tion. “When I don’t play Joker then it’s usu­ally a dif­fer­ent Bat­man, it’s just the way it is. But it’s like a dif­fer­ent role ev­ery sin­gle time.”

Ap­proach­ing each new man­i­fes­ta­tion of The Joker as though play­ing him for the first time is one way in which Hamill keeps his per­for- mances fresh. His in­spi­ra­tions for the char­ac­ter, he re­vealed, are Claude Rains in The In­vis­i­ble Man crossed with The Blue Meanie from Yel­low Sub­ma­rine, although he ac­knowl­edges: “I have so many dif­fer­ent in­flu­ences that some­times you’re not even con­scious you’re do­ing them un­til some­one points it out later.”

When first step­ping into the role, Hamill had only one man­date from the pro­duc­ers: “I went in, there was just a black and white draw­ing of The Joker and all it said was, ‘Don’t think Nicholson,’ be­cause they didn’t want you to just im­i­tate” – he briefly mim­ics Nicholson’s lan­guid drawl – “they didn’t want Jack. ‘Cause he’d al­ready done it for the movie and was bril­liant.”

And de­spite jok­ing that voice act­ing is the “lazy ac­tor’s dream” be­cause it doesn’t re­quire him to mem­o­rize lines or even shave, Hamill was keen to em­pha­size that it’s of­ten hard and un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated work.

“A lot of peo­ple come up to me and say, ‘Lis­ten, I do The Joker, too.’ And some­times they do him great and they say, ‘I can do funny voices — can you get me into voice over?’ And you think, well, you know, you don’t want to em­bar­rass them, but what peo­ple don’t un­der­stand is it’s not about do­ing ‘funny.’ These are re­ally good ac­tors. Now, they’re play­ing char­ac­ters that are ex­ag­ger­ated and some­times you do sound very car­toony, but it’s not a mat­ter of be­ing able to make funny sounds and voices. And, I think, a lot of the time, they don’t get the credit that they’re due.” [

Join pro­duc­ers Butch Lu­kic ( Jus­tice League), Alan Bur­nett ( Bat­man: The An­i­mated Series) and voice cast mem­bers Kevin Con­roy ( Bat­man: The An­i­mated Series) and Diedrich Bader ( Bat­man: The Brave and The Bold) for a Q&A and exclusive sneak peek. Room 25ABC.

– Re­turn to New York. Ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Ciro Nieli and Bran­don Au­man share sneak peeks of the epic ad­ven­tures and new char­ac­ters that await the Tur­tles when they re­turn to the streets of New York. in sea­son four. Room 6A. 6:30-7:30 p.m. She Made That?: Nick­elodeon hosts Women in An­i­ma­tion. Join this group of in­no­va­tive and pi­o­neer­ing fe­male car­toon cre­ators for a dis­cus­sion on their ca­reers and the op­por­tu­ni­ties for women in an­i­ma­tion to­day. The panel will in­clude Lau­ren Faust ( My Lit­tle Pony: Friend­ship Is Magic), Mary Har­ring­ton ( In­vader Zim, Hey Arnold!), Vanessa Cof­fey ( The Ren & Stimpy Show, Ru­grats), Rikke As­b­jo­ern ( Pinky Malinky), Mar­garet Dean (Women in An­i­ma­tion) and Maija Bur­nett (Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of the Arts). Room 24ABC.

Satur­day

Mark Hamill voices The Joker to Kevin Con­roy’s Bat­man in

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