Its 8.00am and I’m on a bus. Yes, a bus. It’s half full of students from Winifred Holtby, and will soon be full (after a pickup at Kelvin Hall School). We are off on a trip to Sheffield for the Excelsior Awards, a national comic book award for young people. The kids get to vote from a shortlist and today we find out the winner.
It’s been a year already since my last post about the award, and again I’m blogging it. This time however, I’m using the time on the bus to make sure it’s all fresh in my memory when I do. I’m also planning to tweet the event for work. (And maybe my own if I forget to change account).
This year the shortlist was really good and I have no idea what will win…although I do have my favourite 😉
The shortlist and my thoughts on the titles…
Ghostrider: Engines of Vengeance
This is a reboot of the Ghostrider franchise with a young Latino (?) as the main character, the art work is stylised and the story is interesting. A visual representation of the internal struggle between good and evil, the desire for revenge and doing the ‘right thing’. I was impressed with this but in my opinion there are stronger titles in the shortlist.
This one is an interesting manga. I have to hold my hands up and admit that I struggle with manga. It’s the reading backwards. It goes against everything I’ve been taught and the experience of (a lot of) reading. As far as I can understand this, it is about a big city calligrapher who is burned out/fed up, who leaves to go to an isolated island to practice in solitude, but ends up being taught lots of small island ways by the youngsters who want to know all about him and the big city.
It’s a heartwarming tale of acceptance and personal growth, that I’m afraid just didn’t do it for me.
Superman / Wonderwoman: Power Couple
What would happen if a) Superman and Wonderwoman got it together? and 2) what if the world found out? A clever idea and if I’m honest, a well executed crossover comic. It covers the whole gamut from how the relationship affects the superheroes ability to work together to how their enemies exploit this, through the usual angst about secret identities and keeping them secret.
This has some brilliant art work and is well written, with all the usual appeal that Superman / Wonderwoman have. I enjoyed this one but it wasn’t my favourite.
Moonhead and the Music Machine
Erm… How to describe this one… It’s a story about Joey Moonhead. A perfectly ordinary school boy, who has a moon for his head. I’m not going to say anything more about this because you should just go and read it. No arguments, just go to your local library and ask them for it, if they don’t have it, request, nay, demand that they get this modern classic. Amazing.
Alone: The Vanishing
Another brilliant story wrapped up in excellent artwork. This tells the story of a group of kids who one day find themselves completely alone. Individually they find out that they are alone, the grownups sand all their friends have vanished. They begin to tentatively explore their surroundings, seeing them in a different light for the first time. Making new friends with others who they find as they explore and try to learn what happened…
I’ve already blogged about my opinion on this title here.
Red Baron: The Machine Gunner’s Ball
This is an interesting one. I will admit that it was not one of my favourites, it was rather confusing towards the end (although possibly on purpose or maybe I’m just thick). This is a wonderful book to look at, the art panels are individual works of art. Almost watercolour paintings which set the scene amazingly. I was just disappointed the story didn’t live up to the promise delivered by the art.
Ms Marvel: No Normal
Another reboot here. This time it is the turn of Ms Marvel. I will admit to having absolutely no clue about Ms Marvel, and some research digs up that this hero is represented by all kinds of people, one of whom apparently went on to become Captain Marvel. But anyway, I digress. This is the story of Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City, coming to terms with growing up as an outsider both in her traditional muslim family and to the outside world. Who also fights crime and helps people. This was an engaging story that is well written, but as an origin story it never reaches the superhero heights it could in future volumes.
So… What will win? How will the day pan out? Well, I am on the motorway right now so I will come back and write more later on tell you all about the day and what wins.
Okay, we are back on the bus. That was an amazing couple of hours. We arrived early, first in fact (an improvement on last year when were last) and had opportunity to treat ourselves to books and badges, cushions and T-shirts from local comic related businesses.
“Are you buying anything sir?”
“I purposefully didn’t bring any cash or I’d be buying loads of comics.”
“But Andrew Rae is here and he’ll sign his book if you have one”
Upon turning round and noticing the cash machine… I may have weakened and bought a copy of my favourite, hoping to get the autograph of the winner.
Well, as it happens, he didn’t win. I did get his autograph though (and a drawing!).
So, the event…
We had quizzes! The likes of ‘Which film is the Stan Lee cameo from?’ And ‘Which superhero is this?’ Both of which were harder than this geek should admit (even if some of them were purposefully complex and confusing – The Flash with Blue Lantern’s ring?!?!) And, because of the prizes and the people in the room, both went down a (WARNING! X-men pun) storm.
Then they keynote speaker, Liz Payton (of Phoenix Comics) stepped up to the plate and talked about how comics can help with literacy and we can read from visual clues. A really interesting talk, especially for someone like me who bangs from the same drum whenever possible.
Then the biggies. Awards. The JABBICA (Judge A Book By It’s Cover Award) was announced as Moonhead and the Music machine. I am so impressed with this book from start to finish (Big thanks to Andrew Rae for drawing my very own Moonhead in my copy)
Next up was the Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior. A new venture this year aimed at encouraging primary schools to get involved. The shortlist of 5 is shown below…
The winner of this was…. Drum roll…. Bunny Vs Monkey.
Following on from this announcement we had the biggie. The Stan Lee Excelsior Award 2015. And the winner is….
Third place : ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER: ENGINES OF VENGEANCE – by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore (Marvel)
Second place : MS. MARVEL: NO NORMAL – by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel)
Winner : SUPERMAN / WONDER WOMAN: POWER COUPLE – by Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel (DC)
So there you have it. The winner, voted for by the children of the UK, a Superman / Wonderwoman crossover. While muttering a around the hall before the start indicated this had a following, it seemed like a close thing when it came to the cheers for each book during the event.
The bus is quiet now as everyone is reading the comics they bought or for those who didn’t buy anything (a minority it has to be said) their *free* comic.
As with last year, I think it only fair to thank Paul once more for the monumental effort he must put in to organise this and to work out from more than 4400 voting slips, which is the winner.
Same time next year…?