The Eisner Award nominations were announced earlier this week and I’ve made a shocking discovery…apparently…mysteriously…as unbelievable as it may sound…

…I’m not reading enough comics.

Four pages of nominations and boasting that I’d read even sixty percent of the material would be a lie of the boldest face. Now, for a consumer whose budget is consistently capsized by my inherent nature as an impulse shopper, realizing that there’s even more material out there that demands reading is an intimidating notion. And even more unfortunate is that without having examined all of the material…I can’t tell you who’s going to win these things three months ahead of time.

This is reason enough to reaffirm one of my several resolutions, sworn somewhere around January 1st, and in various stages of disarray and ambivalistic practice. Now, I’m counting on you people to make sure I’m not slacking off in regards to this (which tends to occur if it doesn’t involve writing something at manic pace or chasing a woman), but the following little pledge should enable me to accurately predict next year’s winners when the pendulum completes its swing.

Ready…here goes…I will venture into the convoluted “back-end” of Previews, thereby broadening my library, ensuring that the power company cuts the electricity to my apartment and I’m relegated to reading my weekly stash by battery operated flashlight, and mutating my humble personage into a more educated and knowledgeable comic reader. For the last several years, and probably the foreseeable future, I’ve promised myself to become a better writer…but in 2002…I want to become a better reader.

What this will incur of course is a rededication to seeking out the material that isn’t plastered on the websites, advertised with a full-color pullout spread, and subconsciously fired into the industry’s consciousness on a monthly basis. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, every industry needs its commercial juggernauts, and for the first time in a long time, companies are committed to ensuring that their biggest guns have the best storytellers backing them up. Which is as it should be.

Superheroes are a worthwhile contribution to the industry, despite what some outspoken pundits will have you believe, and their systematic and utter abandonment, and the idea that that would be a good thing is incredibly unrealistic and impractical. Superheroes don’t need to fall into a bottomless pit in order for the industry to survive. People like superheroes. And superheroes sell. Calling for their immediate removal is like telling major motion picture companies that they can no longer create summer blockbusters.

Ain’t gonna happen. Let it go.

The material on our stands should display more diversity in focus and scope. Let’s leave it at that. Anything more is unnecessarily speculatory and a waste of breath.

Sorry…got off-topic there.

Anyway, 2002 will be filled with more material from the other end of the monthly Previews catalog, more trade paperbacks (hopefully beginning to replace my infuriating monthly pamphlets), and a handful of embarrassingly gushy articles over the new and exciting books I’ve discovered by being less lazy. All in an effort to become a bit more knowledgeable about every angle this little industry has to offer.

But for a moment let’s ignore my feeble attempts at becoming enlightened and talk about the nominees for 2002, and those worthy competitors that didn’t quite make it (for whatever reason) onto the list.

The Best Single Issue category is missing Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man #13 which was probably one of the most effective deliveries of a “talking heads” tale that we’ll see for a while. It came in, accomplished what it set out to do with great art and true dialogue, and faded off into the sunset. The eventual ending of the issue was telegraphed by foreshadowing and a revealing cover…and it still delivered. I don’t care if there were tights mentioned in it and that makes certain people itch. Should be here.

Best Continuing Series is missing Black Panther which is consistently the best book that no one’s reading despite critical acclaim and the impressive work of writer Christopher Priest who deserves a big-time gig. No one is writing a comic that works on so many levels. Priest delivers humor, action, intrigue, and a maturity that lacks in your typical superhero punch fest. And no one is buying it. And he didn’t get nominated for an Eisner. Criminal.

Tim Sale isn’t in the Best Penciller/Inker bracket, and the man shows up on every project his name is attached to. From Batman to Superman to Daredevil, Sale has proven that he’s the real deal. He deserved a real nomination.

One is also forced to wonder where Wizard: The Guide To Comics is in the Best Comics-Related Periodical section. On a monthly basis they perform a great service to…


….okay. Just fuckin’ around with that last one. Wanted to make sure you guys were still paying attention. They’re not the devil…but an Eisner Award? The comic industry equivalent of a Grammy or an Oscar? Yeah right.

Overall, the items I am familiar with from the list are all worthy creations and I wish them the best of luck in the final voting process. The nominee list has also provided me with additional material to hunt down and pursue, which is good for everything but the credit cards bills.

Next week I’m going to attempt to institute a monthly installment of Ambidextrous devoted to the reviewing and dissecting of books found in the back section of Previews, featuring characters not found on a pair of boxer shorts. Though between you and me, Marvel is doing a hell of a marketing job with the upcoming Spider-Man flick. Check the new Source or Vibe for a look at Reebok’s Sidewalk Classic Spidey ad…sweet.

Anyway, baring interference from something profoundly more interesting…next time on Ambidextrous we talk about the jams that you love that don’t be getting no airplay….

Brandon Thomas

P.S.- Bragging rights to anyone that can tell me what hip-hop song that last line is from…

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