Countdown To The Eisners – Best Publication Design

By Cameron Hatheway

Alas, here we are at the final category of the Eisners. It’s the most appropriate category to finish with, for at the end of the day it’s all about judging the book by its cover while you’re browsing through the store. What about it catches your eye; the massive size of it? The intriguing cover design? The fact that you thought it was a misplaced board game in the graphic novel section? The possibilities are endless, but the following nominees all have one great thing in common; the magnificent look and feel that represents what the interior story is all about. Today I’ll be focusing on the Best Publication Design 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 designing “The Best-Of Bluewater Omnibus” so I can be eligible for next year (Nevermind, it would never work), let the games begin!

Best Publication Design

Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

When I first saw Building Stories in stores last year, I thought for sure it was a board game. Either a board game, or a really big slipcover (11.7” x 1.9” x 16.6”). Sure enough it follows the board game set-up and when the cover comes off, the “pieces” are ready to be played with/read. While the cover alone is an amalgamation of words and images, it’s definitely legible and aesthetically pleasing.

Dal Tokyo, designed by Gary Panter and Family Sohn (Fantagraphics)

A very unconventional layout, the elongated pages of Dal Tokyo (16.25” x 6.25”) fit the single comic strip format swimmingly with one standalone comic per page. The Dal Tokyo title is perfectly lined-up in the upper right-hand corner on every page, so you almost get a flip-book feeling if you were to give it a flip; different variations of the logo, and there sure are a ton of them.

David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition, designed by Randy Dahlk (IDW)

Review copy unavailable.

Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)

The first thing that catches your eye is the lovely design of the blues and reds and gold on the front cover. The second thing that catches your eye is the massive size of the beast (14” x 18”), but the format is appropriate since the inside pages are Sunday comics and the like. The design as a whole makes it look like something that could blend-in to either a child’s bookshelf, or an adult’s comic library.

Wizzywig, designed by Ed Piskor and Chris Ross (Top Shelf)

While it’s not the exact dimensions of an original Macintosh (128k), if you were to stand this book up on a table, you could probably fool some people. With a slightly indented floppy drive (look it up, kids) and monitor, the cover of Wizzywig is pretty damn cool. I especially love on the back the use of the barcode as a jail letter board for the main character.

building_stories_explosionWho I think should win:
Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

That smell. Hear me out now, but that new comic smell floods the nostrils after removing the top of the Building Stories box, for the multiple formatted stories on the inside are preserved nicely, like puzzle pieces waiting to be put together. Chris Ware thought outside the box while ironically filling-up a box with his stories.

I have no doubt Ware will be winning multiple Eisners this year, but the publication design is the absolute cherry on top of his magnum opus.

Who I think could win:
Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)

The publication design is something you’d find on an antique and well-loved book from days gone by, yet inviting and familiar. Even though it’s brand new, it feels like you’ve had it in your collection forever. It’s a well-done cover, for it fits the feeling and time period of Johnny Gruelle’s masterpiece.

The oversized format really allows the reader to soak in all the mesmerizing illustrations, and really appreciate what artists like Gruelle were accomplishing back then.

Who I think should have been nominated:
The Hive, designed by Charles Burns

Like the twisted and macabre art on the inside, the cover displays just a sliver of the chaos that awaits the reader. A nice hefty size (9.1” x 11.9”), it’s the best format to view Burns’ artwork.

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 design him a new look on Twitter @CamComicCorner.

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