Countdown To The Eisners – Best Reality-Based Work

by Cameron Hatheway

I think the majority of people think their lives are so interesting, that they should share it with the world. If you flip through the television channels, it’s apparent that any nimrod can get their own show nowadays, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will make for good entertainment. That’s the nice thing about graphic memoirs and reality-based work; if you’re really passionate about getting your/the story out there, you’ve got to put blood, sweat, and tears into the final product. There’s not record button, Final Cut Pro, or television station that’s going to share your story; just pencils and inks, and maybe even a publisher if you’re considered a good investment. Today I’ll be focusing on the Best Reality-Based Work category. If you need a reminder of what’s been nominated, you can find the entire list right here, and see what I chose last time right here.

Keep in mind I cannot vote for who wins (nor can you, probably), as per the rules. However, that’s not keeping me from being vocal regardless!

Who is not eligible to vote?

  • Comics press or reviewers (unless they are nominees)
  • Non-creative publisher staff members (PR, marketing, assistants, etc.)
  • Fans

Before I get back to Whatta Fookin’ Clint: The Mark Millar Story so I can be eligible for next year, let the games begin!

 

Best Reality-Based Work

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)

Joseph Lambert illustrates the famous story of how Helen Keller learned language thanks to her teacher Annie Sullivan. The use of art conveying how Keller eventually came to absorb and understand language and communication is extremely well executed. While Keller’s story is the more well-known of the two, Sullivan’s story was a lot more fascinating when learning of her harsh and troubled upbringing.

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)

Before June Carter fell for Johnny Cash, she was a part of the Mother Maybelle & the Carter Sisters group. Before the Carter Sisters, it was Alvin Pleasant, Sara and Maybelle Carter taking the country by storm with their music. That’s what this graphic novel focuses on; the legacy of the Carters and their rise to fame with their infectious country music. Included is a CD with early recordings from the trio.

A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Ôtié (Self Made Hero)

Review copy unavailable.

The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, by Julia Wertz (Koyama Press)

Following the early years of Julia Wertz, this extremely humorous collection documents her time working in the food industry, getting lupus, discovering her love of comics and so much more. Wertz’s sassy sense of humor was an absolute riot to read, for even during the more serious situations she still remained her usual self. Highly relatable if you’re just entering into your 20’s, enjoy your booze, or if you’ve ever had to work in the food industry, for it sucks. A lot.

marbles_coverMarbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, by Ellen Forney (Gotham Books)

Before her 30th birthday, Ellen was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. In Marbles, we follow her as she tries dealing with the changes; pills, mood swings, loss of energy, afraid of losing her creativity, and more. Powerful, funny, and informative, Forney gives us an exclusive look at what it means to be a member of Club Van Gogh.

You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

The third book in her memoir trilogy (Book 1: A Good and Decent Man, Book 2: Collateral Damage) focusing on the relationship between her and her father, Carol Tyler explores her father’s time overseas fighting in Africa and Europe. Carol starts putting together an album of his army years, but they hit a dead end when what her father remembers about period in particular doesn’t corroborate with official records.

marbles_pageWho I think should win:
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, by Ellen Forney (Gotham Books)

I knew a little about bi-polar disorder, but never learned the specifics. While this graphic memoir does focus on Forney dealing with the disorder, it’s also a very enlightening look at the side-effects and what goes on in a person’s mind while trying to keep it together. Forney struggles a great deal throughout, but the way she approaches it here is uplifting, brave, and rather humorous at times.

Forney is an open book, and it’s refreshing to see an artist not hold back and share every drawing, letter, and therapy session with the reader just so they get a better understanding of it all. I was completely mesmerized reading Marbles, and feel like it should definitely be put in high school and college classrooms as something that’s both entertaining and informative.

Who I think could win:
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)

When Annie Sullivan is desperately trying to get Helen Keller to sit down and sign, I felt incredibly frustrated right there with her. Lambert is that successful in pulling you into the story, and making you both care and relate with the characters. Sullivan already came from a hard walk of life, but the reward from all that difficult work was certainly phenomenal.

Who I think should have been nominated:

My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf (Abrams ComicArts)

Incredibly creepy and well documented, we follow Derf through his high school years, and his brief relationship with one of the most notorious serial killers in history; Jeffrey Dahmer.

Who do you think should win / been nominated?

Cameron Hatheway is the host of Cammy’s Comic Corner and Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Sonoma State STAR. You can diagnose him on Twitter @CamComicCorner.