It's something of a clich that creators working on serious Art with a
capital A aren't always recognized for their labors until, well, after
they're dead. Fortunately for Nick Bertozzi, he didn't have to wait that
long: He is a nominee for the 2002
Eisner Award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition.
"I was surprised and honored," Bertozzi told CBR News on Wednesday. "I wasn't hoping
to get nominated, figuring that I have many, many years to go before I get
to my best work."
Bertozzi is recognized for his work on "The Masochists," a graphic novel
that makes even the most morose works from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint look
like a Dick and Jane story.
"'The Masochists' is a graphic album of three beautiful tragedies. The
stories are connected very loosely in that the central theme of each is to
look at a few different ways that people torture themselves. It's
masochism, not in the sexual sense, but in a more general interpretation;
drinking, self-mutilation, trying to join the 'in crowd,' and working only
for a paycheck."
As you might guess, "The Masochists" is dark. Very dark. Such a nominee
is somewhat out of character for the Eisner judges, who traditionally
haven't recognized other such bleak materials into this category on a
"It is pretty dark subject matter, but I'd been reading a lot of the
Loustal/Paringaux books ('New York/Miami', 'Love Shots' ...) and they
really focus on the bleak side of life. But their stories are so simple and
beautiful and I wanted to achieve a feeling similar to their work. While
the stories in 'Masochists' are fiction, they're grown from kernels of
truth and maybe the judges responded to that. Most tragedy is very false.
Soap operas exist solely to keep you watching until the next commercial and
I wanted to try and make something more real than that."
Winning this Eisner might mean opening the door a bit further with the
bigger comic book publishers for Bertozzi.
"I've been doing illustration in mainstream magazines and newspapers (NY
Times, Nickelodeon Mag) for a while, but as far as the comics mainstream,
I've only written a couple of superhero stories (a Kamandi story in
'Bizarro Stories' and a Juggernaut story for 'X-Men Unlimited') and I have
a bunch of projects that are currently in at various editors."
Bertozzi also has an ongoing series from Alternative
Comics, "Rubber Necker." Issue two comes out this October.
Bertozzi has a vested interest in who wins the award beyond the obvious,
although it might not end well.
"Dean Haspiel and I used to be roommates and we've pledged to kill each
other if one of us wins. I know Dylan Horrocks and I'd like to see him win
since he's one of my favorite cartoonists, and is working on a very mature
level. I've never met the other nominees but I wish them luck!"