2019 Eisner Awards: Which Creators Will Win?

Eisner Awards Creators - Cover
(Photo: Image Comics)

San Diego Comic-Con is less than one month away, and with it the 2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. While they might lack the glitz and glamor that come with more popular (and lucrative) mediums like film or music, the Eisners remain the gold standard for critical recognition in American comics. Each year they collect a diverse set of judges to select nominees before inviting much of the comics industry to vote for the winners. It’s a method that regularly produces a great set of recommendations for readers, representing everything from superhero comics to indie darlings.

In order to help our own readers sift through the many categories and nominees, we’ve broken down the most significant awards from the show into three categories: Creators, Series, and Collections. In addition to providing lists like this one, we are also offering our own guide for expectations from our comic book review editor Chase Magnett. He is providing his take on who seems most likely to win and who he thinks ought to win in each category.

Be sure to keep an eye out for coverage on the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con though, as the Eisners are notoriously unpredictable and there are bound to be at least a few surprises. For now, be sure to check out the many accomplished comics and creators in each category, and consider reading a few more to root for when the Eisners arrive.

Best Writer

Alex de Campi, Bad Girls (Gallery 13); Twisted Romance (Image)

Tom King, Batman, Mister Miracle, Heroes in Crisis, Swamp Thing Winter Special (DC)

Jeff Lemire, Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Doctor Star & the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows, Quantum Age(Dark Horse); Descender, Gideon Falls, Royal City (Image)

Mark Russell, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound, Lex Luthor/Porky Pig (DC); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)

Kelly Thompson, Nancy Drew (Dynamite); Hawkeye, Jessica Jones, Mr. & Mrs. X, Rogue & Gambit, Uncanny X-Men, West Coast Avengers (Marvel)

Chip Zdarsky, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-in-One (Marvel)

Who We Think Will Win: Jeff Lemire

Lemire showed readers the best of both worlds in 2018 with the expansion of his creator-owned superhero story in various Black Hammer series and lots of more mundane titles like Royal City. It’s an excellent roster of comics that highlight what a flexible talent Lemire is, and why he is so well regarded across the comics industry.

Who We Think Should Win: Chip Zdarsky

Judging this category comes down to one’s own opinion on how to balance quantity and quality. 2018 was a breakout year for Chip Zdarsky whose work at Marvel made it clear that he was every bit as well suited to the role of writer as artist. His work on two superhero series recaptured the pathos and humanity that established Marvel Comics in the 1960s, and made them tear-jerkingly effective for a new generation. Zdarsky produced unfiltered quality in 2018 and was pound-for-pound the best writer in this category.

Best Writer/Artist

Sophie Campbell, Wet Moon (Oni)

Nick Drnaso, Sabrina (Drawn & Quarterly)

David Lapham, Lodger (Black Crown/IDW); Stray Bullets (Image)

Nate Powell, Come Again (Top Shelf/IDW)

Tony Sandoval, Watersnakes (Magnetic/Lion Forge)

Jen Wang, The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second)

Who We Think Will Win: Nick Drnaso

Sabrina was a critical darling beyond the comics market, receiving a lot of attention from major booksellers and reviewers. Drnaso’s approach to designing each page and his down to earth storytelling captures much of the same crossover appeal as Chris Ware. It’s reasonable to expect this momentum will carry Drnaso into comics industry awards, as well.

Who We Think Should Win: Jen Wang

Jen Wang is a tremendous and underappreciated talent. Koko Be Good is one of the most deliciously composed comics of the past decade and her newest work only improves upon that foundation. The Prince and the Dressmaker is stunningly conceived on both sides of this category, and deserves some additional recognition and reading.

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

Matías Bergara, Coda (BOOM!)

Mitch Gerads, Mister Miracle (DC)

Karl Kerschl, Isola (Image)

Sonny Liew, Eternity Girl (Vertigo/DC)

Sean Phillips, Kill or Be Killed, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies (Image)

Yanick Paquette, Wonder Woman Earth One, vol. 2 (DC)

Who We Think Will Win: Mitch Gerads

Gerads’ star has been on the rise since Sheriff of Babylon debuted and his newest collaboration with writer Tom King is defined by his work from layouts to the finest touches. It’s another great example of why Gerads is deservedly one of the most popular artists featured under the banners of the Big Two.

Who We Think Should Win: Karl Kerschl

Isola is a visual treasure and our pick for a variety of other categories in this year’s Eisner Awards. Every page is a delight, carefully designed at every possible level to create an immersive world and reading experience. Kerschl’s work on this series is truly impeccable and reminds us why comics are such a uniquely rewarding visual medium.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Lee Bermejo, Batman: Damned (DC)

Carita Lupatelli, Izuna Book 2 (Humanoids)

Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)

Gregory Panaccione, A Sea of Love (Magnetic/Lion Forge)

Tony Sandoval, Watersnakes (Magnetic/Lion Forge)

Who We Think Will Win: Tony Sandoval

Even in a category stacked with talented painters, Sandoval’s work simply stands above the rest page-for-page. While there’s some concern that the “Lion Forge vote” may be split between two comics, most voters reviewing the complete set of comics here are bound to be drawn to his pages both for the incredible talent on display and how well they break from existing fashions and trends.

Who We Think Should Win: Tony Sandoval

Sandoval’s work on Watersnakes is simply the best work on display in this category, and we hope voters recognize that.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (for multiple covers)

Jen Bartel, Blackbird (Image); Submerged (Vault)

Nick Derington, Mister Miracle (DC)

Karl Kerschl, Isola (Image)

Joshua Middleton, Batgirl and Aquaman variants (DC)

Julian Tedesco, Hawkeye, Life of Captain Marvel (Marvel)

Who We Think Will Win: Nick Derington

Derington may represent the best possible future for the look and feel of DC Comics. It’s almost certain that he will be nominated again next year as he features on more interiors at the publisher. His 12 covers for Mister Miracle might be the highlight of that very well-received series, and receiving this award shouldn’t be a shock.

Who We Think Should Win: Karl Kerschl

Just as it was with interiors, Kerschl’s covers wrap up the entire, beautiful package that is Isola wonderfully. Each issue is a joy to look at well before reading. Kerschl’s approach to covers isn’t simply wondrous in its own right, but includes the title and other cover features for a fully-designed experience, one of the best in comics today.

Best Coloring

Jordie Bellaire, Batgirl, Batman (DC); The Divided Earth (First Second); Days of Hate, Dead Hand, Head Lopper, Redlands (Image); Shuri, Doctor Strange (Marvel)

Tamra Bonvillain, Alien 3 (Dark Horse); Batman, Doom Patrol (DC); Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Multiple Man (Marvel)

Nathan Fairbairn, Batman, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman Earth One, vol. 2 (DC); Die!Die!Die!(Image)

Matt Hollingsworth, Batman: White Knight (DC): Seven to Eternity, Wytches (Image)

Matt Wilson, Black Cloud, Paper Girls, The Wicked + The Divine (Image); The Mighty Thor, Runaways(Marvel)

Who We Think Will Win: Jordie Bellaire

This wouldn’t be Bellaire’s Eisner and her excellent work on so many titles has ensured her a place on just about everyone’s “favorite modern colorists” list. With time spent at so many publishers and such prominent work, it’s hard to beat the queen of the hill in this category.

Who We Think Should Win: Tamra Bonvillain

Bonvillain’s work in 2018 didn’t just remind us why she’s one of the most engaging colorists in comics today, but was a showcase for versatility. Select any of the different series she worked on and you’ll find a palette and approach tailored to the tone and style of her collaborators. Her colors are both precise and generous, and should make Bonvillain one of the most in-demand artists in her field.

Best Lettering

David Aja, Seeds (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Jim Campbell, Breathless, Calexit, Gravetrancers, Snap Flash Hustle, Survival Fetish, The Wilds (Black Mask); Abbott, Alice: Dream to Dream, Black Badge, Clueless, Coda, et al.

Alex de Campi, Bad Girls (Gallery 13); Twisted Romance (Image)

Jared Fletcher, Batman: Damned (DC); The Gravediggers Union, Moonshine, Paper Girls, Southern Bastards (Image)

Todd Klein— Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald (Dark Horse); Batman: White Night (DC); Eternity Girl, Books of Magic (Vertigo/DC); et al.

Who We Think Will Win: Todd Klein

Todd Klein has won this award 17 out of 25 times since it was first established. Predicting this category is math, especially given how Klein has defined the entire field of lettering and never ceased to push for excellence and innovation throughout a deservedly awarded career.

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Who We Think Should Win: Jared Fletcher

Fletcher has become the go to guy for exciting new series at Image Comics, and these same series have helped him to display an excellent and evolving sense of craft, one that is tailored for each series. If Klein represents the best foundations of lettering, then Fletcher represents the craft’s future, one that looks very bright given the work nominated in this category.