The Eisner Awards
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.