Countdown To The Eisners 2015 – Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (At Least 20 Years Old)

eisner_imageSome readers enjoy the hunt for those older comics from bygone eras to fill their collections, and regain their childhoods. While I grew up reading superhero comics, others before me turned to Disney comics instead, or alternative comix that had no sign of spandex or anything considered normal. These collections scatter in the winds of time, and eventually we forget how our prized possessions slipped away from us. So we dive into every longbox at the conventions, hunting for that nostalgia and feelings of joy reading that one mind-blowing comic for the first time. Thankfully, some publishers out there want to help make things easier for those readers who can’t actively be searching for their white whales, and restore, recolor, and rerelease the comics of old into new and improved collections. For today’s category, Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old), we take a walk down memory lane and really appreciate all the hard work these publishers put forward into these timeless nominees, breathing new life into sometimes forgotten gems.

Keep in mind I cannot vote for who wins (nor can you, probably), as per the rules. Plus voting ended June 1st. However, that’s not keeping me from being vocal regardless!

Who is eligible to vote?
Comic book/graphic novel/webcomic creators (writers, artists, cartoonists, pencillers, inkers, letterers, colorists
All nominees in any category
Comic book/graphic novel publishers and editors
Comics historians and educators
Graphic novel librarians
Owners and managers of comic book specialty retail stores

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 rebooting an entire comic universe so I can be eligible for next year, let the games begin!

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old)

The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)

Without a doubt one of the most influential titles in comics and comix history, Robert Crumb’s Zap came, saw, and conquered the underground comix scene in the late 1960s. With Fantagraphics’ The Complete Zap Comix Box Set, all 17 issues are included in 5 volumes, with the fifth volume containing the history of Zap with photos of the creators themselves and other behind-the-scenes goodies. A fantastic collection, and equally fantastic packaging.

Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Review copy unavailable.

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn, by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

If there’s one person you want illustrating Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, it’s the magnificent Carl Barks. In this restored and recolored collection from Fantagraphics, Barks continues telling delightful tales starring Donald and company and includes favorites like “Trail of the Unicorn,” “Land of the Totem Poles,” and “Luck of the North.” Included in the back are notes, a biography, and a lost cover that never saw publishing. The coloring, the attention to detail, all wonderful; making Barks’ work worth re-reading.

Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Son of the Son, by Don Rosa, edited by David Gerstein (Fantagraphics)

Don Rosa was a huge fan of Carl Barks’ Donald Duck comics, so he knew it was his destiny to write and draw the Uncle Scrooge comics when he was given the opportunity. In this first volume, it collects for the first time ever Rosa’s first Uncle Scrooge comics in chronological order, and man are they pretty. Recolored and refurbished, it collects “The Son of the Son,” “Last Sled to Dawson,” and “Crocodile Collector” starring Uncle Scrooge, Donald, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics, vols. 1–2, edited by Daniel Herman (Hermes)

Before Pogo was a comic strip loved by millions, it was first a comic book. Animal Comics #1 launched the adventures of Pogo, Albert the Alligator, and his swamp friends, and throughout volumes 1-2 of Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics from Hermes Press, we see the evolution of Pogo as a long-nosed opossum to the short-nosed one we all know and love. With beautiful glossy pages that really make the original art and colors pop, these two volumes are a must-have for any Pogo completist.

Witzend, by Wallace Wood et al., edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)

Witzend was a brilliant comic in the 1960s created for artists, by artists. A monumental task spearheaded by Wally Wood, its 13-issue run became the stuff of legends containing amazing work from artists and writers such as Wood, Frank Frazetta, Steve Ditko, Bill Pearson, Archie Goodwin, Reed Crandall, Don Martin, and several more. It’s a time capsule of what the best creators in the business could produce when they were their own editors. Fantagraphics did a great job restoring and collecting every issue in its original glory in a beautiful 2-volume slipcase.

 

Zap FCWho I think should win:
The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)

Here’s how influential Crumb and Zap is; my own father, who’s a bit of a square when it comes to what’s hip, knows who Crumb is. He grew up enjoying MAD Magazine and National Lampoon Magazine, and definitely enjoyed some Crumb comics back in the day. Zap definitely is an important staple in the history of comics, and this ultimate collection from Fantagraphics is an ultimate treasure trove to be enjoyed by new generations to come.

Who I think will win:
The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)

While $500 might seem a lot, it’s definitely worth having a big part of comix history on your shelf. The binding, the page quality, the mind-blowing talent of Crumb, Victor Moscoso, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez, Robert Williams, Rick Griffin, and Paul Mavrides makes the collection worth every penny, and definitely Eisner bait.

Countless professionals have been influenced by Zap over the decades, and that’s the reason why it will dominate every category it’s nominated for.

Who I think should have been nominated:
Cannon, edited by Jason T. Miles (Fantagraphics)

While Wally Wood’s Witzend was nominated for this category, his work on Cannon is equally compelling, highlighting why he was considered one of the best in the business. America’s answer to James Bond during the Cold War, Wood made this spy-thriller the best read possible.

Who do you think should win / been nominated?

Cameron Hatheway is a reviewer and the host of Cammy’s Comic Corner, an audio podcast. You can zap him on Twitter @CamComicCorner.