Saturday, April 19, 2014

Translated Comics at the 2014 Eisner Awards

So last week, nominees were announced for this year’s Eisner Awards, the highest comics industry honor in the U.S. It’s nice to see so many international artists and writers in the 30 categories, including:

Best Reality-Based Work
  • A Bag of Marbles, by Joseph Joffo, Kris, and Vincent Bailly (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
  • Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
Best Adaptation from Another Medium
  • The Castle, by Franz Kafka, adapted by David Zane Mairowitz and Jaromír 99 (SelfMadeHero)
  • The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, by Edogawa Rampo, adapted by Suehiro Maruo  (Last Gasp)
Best Humor Publication
  • The (True!) History of Art, by Sylvain Coissard and Alexis Lemoine (SelfMadeHero)
It’s especially heartening to see nominees are sprinkled throughout the categories, instead of being crammed into the two usual categories for translated material, which are nevertheless full of excellent books:

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
  • Adventures of a Japanese Businessman, by Jose Domingo (Nobrow)
  • Goddam This War! by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney (Fantagraphics)
  • Incidents in the Night, Book One, by David B. (Uncivilized Books)
  • Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
  • When David Lost His Voice, by Judith Vanistendael (SelfMadeHero)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
  • The Heart of Thomas, by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)
  • The Mysterious Underground Men, by Osamu Tezuka (PictureBox)
  • Showa: A History of Japan, 1926–1939, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Summit of the Gods, vol. 4, by Yemmakura Baku and Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
  • Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist, by Asumiko Nakamura (Vertical)
Asia has long had its own separate category, which this year was dominated by Japan.
As is often the case, the international influence was heavy in children’s books (OK, so Fanny Arsenault’s from Quebec):

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
  • Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas, by Philippe Coudray (TOON Books)
  • The Big Wet Balloon, by Liniers (TOON Books)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
  • Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood)
Perhaps most exciting of all was to see international nominees crack the coveted top categories:

Best Writer/Artist
  • Judith Vanistendael, When David Lost His Voice (SelfMadeHero)
Best Graphic Album—New
  • The Property, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
The sheer number of different publishers now doing international material is to be applauded. Among the countries represented are France, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Japan, Spain. Two relative newcomers to the comics scene did very well with double nominations:
  • Austria, with Ulli Lust’s debut memoir of roadtripping Europe in her punk youth, Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, translated by the late Kim Thompson from Fantagraphics. I got to see Lust when her graphic memoir debuted in France at Angouleme in 2011, and wrote about seeing her speak. It was well-received there, an official selection of the festival.
  • Flanders (Flemish Belgium), with Judith Vanistendael’s When David Lost His Voice from UK indie SelfMadeHero, which did awesome this year overall with 7 nominations in 5 categories.
These nominations reflect the hard work of translators like Jessica Cohen, Nora Mahony, Brian & Sarah Evenson, Zack Davisson, Matt Thorn, Ryan Holmberg, Leigh Stein, yours truly, and a few more whose names I was unable to find out. This should not be the case. Translator’s names should listed, if not on the cover, then at least on the title page. They deserve proper acknowledgment via listings in reviews and metadata at sites like Goodreads and online booksellers.
Readers are encouraged to check out these quality books! Anyone can vote for the Eisners by simply registering, and voting is now open. As always, winners will be announced during a ceremony in July at San Diego Comic-Con.

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