The Webcomic Overlook 2010 Eisner round-up

Now that I’ve done reviews for all the Eisner candidates, it’s time for the guessing game everyone loves to play: who’s going home with the Award? This year’s crop proves to be one of the strongest categories by far.

But let’s never forget that the Eisner voting body has a different thought process than you or I. After all, if you looked at the nominees in 2007, you might have predicted that the award would have gone to the immensely popular Girl Genius (reviewed here) or the delightful black humor of Minus (reviewed here). There’s probably even good cause to root for Bee or Phables. Who could have foreseen that a 12-page Sam & Max: The Big Sleep comic (reviewed here) written for Telltale Games would emerge the winner? Truly the ways of the Eisner voting body are strange and mysterious.

Thus, along with my pros and cons, I am including a Sugarshock-o-meter, named after Joss Whedon’s 2008 Eisner winning effort (which I reviewed here). It’s perhaps the most reliable gauge in determining the true winner. Who will joing an illustrious pantheon that includes Finder, Sugarshock!, Sam & Max, PvP, and Mom’s Cancer? Let’s find out.

Power Out

The webcomic in brief: No video games and no computer makes boy get really, really horny.

Pros: With the unflinching scenes of self-centerness and loneliness, Nathan Schreiber’s comic feels the most awkwardly personal out of all the nominees.

Cons: There is a scene with a naked granny, which is one naked granny scene too many. Also, that main character … Justin? Kind of a chump.

Sugarshock-o-meter: 57/100. The very first Best Digital Comic winner was the sunnily titled Mom’s Cancer. Power Out has a chance if the Eisner voting body wants to return to its more introspective roots. However, Act-i-vate is always the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to these things.

Full review can be found here.

The Guns of Shadow Valley

The webcomic in brief: Superpowered cowboys, assemble!

Pros: I mentioned the superpowered cowboys, right? Plus, I appreciate the nod given to the Chinese people who helped build the railroad. It’s got some wonderfully detailed Wild West illustrations, which would not look out of place hanging on the living room walls of some Wild West aficionados I know.

Cons: But who really likes cowboys anyway? I mean, I frikkin’ adore old Westerns, but I also understand that’s not necessarily a popular pursuit anymore. Attempts to jazz ‘em up have met with mixed success: for every Shanghai Noon, there’s a Wild, Wild West. Also, John Henry — the most famous African American Tall Tale character — is Chinese now? Shenanigans! Better keep your hands offa Annie Christmas, is all I’m sayin’.

Sugarshock-o-meter: 68/100. The comic is nice visually, and it packs plenty of action, but it doesn’t quite match the depth of the other four entries. While heavily action-oriented comics can win Eisners — Astonishing X-Men (2006), The Umbrella Academy (2008) — it just doesn’t happen very often.

Full review can be found here.

Bayou

The webcomic in brief: A young Black girl enters a fantasy world where all the magical critters are racists.

Pros: Perhaps the most imaginative and daring of the entries. Jeremy Love transforms Deep South Americana into a unique world steeped in the love of Southern culture, music, and settings. Perhaps his most important contribution is making it safe to love Uncle Remus again.

Cons: Uncle Remus is a bit of a controversial figure, even today. Several images may spook the politically correct. And then, there’s that f***ing Zuda browser. Even Scott McCloud hates it. When the writer behind Understanding Comics gives you grief, you’ve gotta start worrying.

Sugarshock-o-meter: 86/100. Jeremy Love is not exactly going to get the comic book veteran vote, what with him being a relative newcomer to the industry. But there’s something that may propel Bayou to the finish line: Zuda is on a roll. High Moon picked up a Harvey Award for Best Online Comics Work, while Bayou scored five Glyph awards… some of which traditionally went to print comics. Don’t count this one out yet.

Full review can be found here.

The Abominable Charles Christopher

The webcomic in brief: the adventures of a big, hairy baby and his animal pals.

Pros: It’s impossible not to want to pinch this comic in the cheeks and make baby noises. Everything’s just too gosh-darned adorable. Oh, sure, there’s stuff about a Moon Bear, and some pop culture riffs … but everyone knows the main attraction are the cute widdle aminals.

Cons: This comic might be too cute. Irascible comic types like to grumble that people don’t understand that “Comics aren’t for just kids anymore,” and The Abominable Charles Christopher might just undo all that they have worked for.

Sugarshock-o-meter: 93/100. Karl Kerschl is a comic book vet, and he’s done work on things like Adventures of Superman, The Flash, and Teen Titans. The Abominable Charles Christopher is his masterwork, though: even his Wikipedia page is essentially a TACC synopsis.

Full review can be found here.

Sin Titulo

The webcomic in brief: It’s Lost in the city. (No, I don’t mean FlashForward.)

Pros: It’s creepy. It’s mysterious. It keeps your hair on end. Cameron Stewart nails the atmosphere of fear and disorientation perfectly. Its main character, Alex, is basically just stumbling around trying to figure out what the hell is going on. The comic draws a lot of parallels to ABC’s Lost, beloved by, oh, people who actually give two figs about the Eisner Awards.

Cons: Do you know what else draws a lot of parallels to Lost? Heroes. FlashForward. V. These don’t draw qutie the same amount of praise as the desert island show that started it all. That because when there’s no resolution in sight, “riveting” easily turns into simply “frustrating.” Sin Titulo is still quite a bit away from providing any closure to the story. Will the Eisner judges jump to the same conclusion?

Sugarshock-o-meter: 94/100. Two words: Grant Morrison. One of the most respected writers in comics today. A multi-time award winner.

Quite frankly, Cameron Stewart is not Morrison’s most famous artistic partner … yet he’s collaborated with him enough times on high profile comics that I expect some of that residual mojo to rub off. Stewart also drew three issues of Batman & Robin, which probably earns him several points of gratitude from readers who were somewhat disappointed that Frank Quitely wasn’t drawing the whole thing.

Full review can be found here.

So there you go. If the calibrations to the Sugarshock-o-meter are correct, Cameron Stewart and Sin Titulo will be taking home the awards come July 23. I don’t mind: I actually like comic, and so do several other armchair critics. At last, we can say a real webcomic went home with the award.

Nevertheless …

I am heavily rooting for Bayou. Out of all the nominees, it seemed to be the best overall from the standpoint of originality, artwork, and storytelling. If Bayou wins, I will be incredibly ecstatic and I’m punting the Sugarshock-o-meter into the briny deep.

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on May 11, 2010, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I’m voting for Bayou or ACC… But I do like Bayou better.

  2. Jackie Estrada

    FYI, the voting in the Eisners is not done by a committee. It is done by comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers. The judging committee only selects the nominees, not the winners.

    • Ah! OK, thanks for the clarification.

      I suggest readers interpret “Eisner committee” to mean “Eisner voting body” then.

      EDIT: You know what? I’ll fix the article instead. It’s actually kinda embarrassing since I made the same mistake last year. I blame my inability to parse the Wikipedia article correctly.

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