The nominees for what is generally seen as the pinnacle of North American comics awards have been announced, and as I read through the list I was struck by how many surprises there were to be found this year. Overall, it’s a solid list of honorees, and I don’t think many in the industry will take umbrage by those chosen for the final cut (for the full list of nominees, click here). I have no doubt that those that step up on stage at the awards ceremony at the 2009 Comic-Con International San Diego on July 24. Here are some random thoughts about the choices that the Eisner judges made this year. Bear in mind, this column isn’t about my picks for the winner, but rather some stray thoughts about the choices and even the categorization themselves.
Captain Blood: Odyssey #1
Writer: Matt Shepard
Artist: Mike Shoyket
Letters: David Hedgecock
Editor: Jennifer de Guzman
Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics
Price: $3.50 US
Despite the success of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the pirate-adventure genre hasn’t taken off, at not in the same way that, say, zombies have. Sure, we’ve seen a few pirate comics in recent years — El Cazador and Polly and the Pirates come to mind. Slave Labor’s foray into the genre is adapted from a 1922 novel by Rafael Sabatin, Captain Blood: His Odyssey. I’m not familiar with the source material, but I do know this comic-book adaptation makes me think it must me a helluva fun adventure novel. While the plot here is compelling and well presented and paced, the real star of Captain Blood is the artwork of Mike Shoyket. His sketchy style captures the historical flavor of this piece of fiction incredibly well. He brings an incredible dynamism to the title character, and he makes excellent use of darkness and shadow, enhancing the harsh, tense and foreboding mood perfectly.