For the second year in a row, when the judges for the Eisner Awards were announced, a name familiar to Comic Wire readers was included amongst the group that will be assembling the list of nominees for one of the comic industry's most prestigious awards.
Last year, it was Comic Book Resources founder and executive producer Jonah Weiland. This year, it's Brian Saner Lamken, the journalist behind the once and future "Comicology" magazine.
"Did I expect this? Not at all. When I got a phone message from Jackie Estrada in August, shortly after returning home from the San Diego Con, I assumed that, y'know, I'd left my sunglasses at the 'Wolff & Byrd' booth or something."
Estrada's husband, Batton Lash, is the creator of "Wolff & Byrd."
"I called her back, she asked if I'd be interested in serving on the Eisner nominations committee for the 2000 Awards, and I tried to sound as cool as possible while essentially saying, 'Are you kidding?'"
This is something of a rags-to-riches story for Lamken, who is perhaps best-known for producing a magazine that led to DC Comics closing him down.
"Comicology" #1: "The Kingdom Come Companion" was a fat black and white magazine thicker than DC Comics' "Kingdom Come" trade paperback and was stuffed with annotations, interviews and page after page of never-before-seen Alex Ross conceptual sketches for the characters.
Don't look for it in stores, however: After the initial run shipped to comic shops, DC Comics lawyers decided the magazine went beyond mere journalism to the point of copyright infringement and slapped Lamken with a cease-and-desist. Unable to afford a the cost of a legal defense against the challenge, Lamken shut the doors on "Comicology." The magazine will be coming back, in a more conventional format, this spring from TwoMorrows Publishing, the publishers of "Alter Ego" and "The Jack Kirby Collector."
And while Lamken isn't turning down the chance to help recognize the best comics of 1999, that doesn't mean he's a knee-jerk supporter of the awards.
"I'll be honest: I'm among those who've questioned the Eisner methods of nominating works, i.e., using a panel of judges rather than having an open call as the Harveys/Robinsons do. Other approaches have their own pitfalls, however, and I can certainly see the argument for doing it this way. Jonah Weiland and Tony Isabella both told me how feverish but fun they found the process during their respective tenures, and, let's be honest, there was just no chance in heck that I was going to turn down this opportunity. Thanks to the revival of 'Comicology,' I'm reading more comics than ever anyway, and the chance to participate in the comics industry's most celebrated awards, named for a true living legend and master of the medium, is a rare and special thing."
Other judges announced this week include:
- Alex Amado, the co-writer and co-creator of "Nobody: Sacrifices" from Oni Press, contributor to "Axcess," "The Comics Buyer's Guide," "Combo," and "Overstreet's Fan." He has also served as the general manager of WonderCon, the administrator of the Harvey Awards, the administrator of the Direct Line Group retailer organization, and publicist for the International Association for Direct Distribution (IADD).
- Joe Ferrara, owner and operator of Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz, California, which received the 1996 Will Eisner "Spirit of Comics" Retailer Award. Ferrara serves as facilitator for the judging for that award and is MC of the award ceremony at Comic Book Expo in San Diego. He is a member of the DC RRP program and serves on the Diamond Retail Advisory Board.
- Wayne Markley, founder and operator of FM International, Inc., the second largest comic distributor in the United States.
- Pam Noles, a journalist and writer living in Southern California.
The Eisner awards - named for legendary "Spirit" creator Will Eisner - will be voted on by industry professionals and awarded this summer at Comic-Con International in San Diego.