Legends Joe Giella and Allen Bellman Headline The 2017 Inkwell Awards Ceremony at Heroes Con

Joe Giella photo by Luigi Novi
Allen Bellman photo by Watchtower Geeks

(New Bedford, MA/USA—June 6, 2017) Results from the 10th annual Inkwell Awards will be presented at the inking advocacy group’s 7th live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Friday June 16, 5:00 PM at the Charlotte Convention Center, in room 209-210.

Golden/Silver Age ink artist and famed DC Comics mainstay Joe Giella is scheduled to appear as Guest of Honor. Golden Age and Timely (Marvel) pioneer and penciller/inker Allen Bellman will act as Guest Speaker for one of two Special Recognition Award recipients.

“We are very fortunate to have two living legends from the dawn of the American comic book industry to attend our celebration of inking in the sequential arts”, said Bob Almond, the Inkwell Awards’ founder/director and MC of the ceremony. “Together they’ve inked many seminal works that have influenced generations of professionals and readers alike.”

The Inkwells have five categories: Favorite Inker, the “Props” award for under-recognized professionals, the S.P.A.M.I. for Small Press And Mainstream-Independent work, Most-Adaptable Inker, and the “All-in-One” for the artist who inks his/her own pencil art. Thousands of voters cast their ballots at the group’s website in April to log their support and choose their favorites.

Mike Pascale

In addition to Giella and Bellman, other speakers/attendees include host and presenter Almond, hostess Hailey Skaza-Gagne as spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell, Inkwell Assistant Director/co-presenter and artist Mike Pascale, and other volunteer staff members. Announced with the publicly-chosen award-winners will be the internally-voted two recipients of the yearly Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award and two recipients of the third annual Special Recognition Award.

Almond added, “We’re thrilled to have more award-recipient creators appearing live than ever before, so fans will get to see and hear more of their favorites.”

Other related guests at the Heroes show itself include Inkwell ambassadors Laura Martin, Mike McKone, Cully Hamner and J. David Spurlock. There may also be surprise appearances at the ceremony by member-creators, the award recipients or other supporters. 

As an added bonus, the first 25 non-member attendees will receive a raffle ticket for an automatic door prize. After the event, every ticket holder will win a prize as explained at the ceremony.

“We’ve had record attendance for the last couple years,” said Almond, “and plan to repeat that achievement, especially with our impressive lineup and prizes.”

The Inkwells will be set up in Artists Alley at an as of yet unspecified location to be announced soon at the Heroes Con website, offering (for donations) their recently-released Ms. Inkwell Gallery art book, signed by cover artist Bill Sienkiewicz as well as Joe Sinnott, Bob Almond and Hailey Skaza-Gagne, along with plenty of other Inkwell merchandise to help raise much-needed funds. (The organization will delay the next Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge book until 2018 to celebrate their tenth anniversary.)

Hailey Skaza-Gagne as Ms. Inkwell (photo: Bob Almond)

Almond concluded, “We can’t show enough gratitude to promoter Shelton Drum and the Heroes Con staff for annually supporting the community and giving fans an opportunity to learn more about and appreciate this often overlooked industry craft and its artists. Looking forward to seeing everyone on Friday and during the con!”
The Inkwell Awards (www.inkwellawards.com) is an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize the best ink artists and their work. Now approaching it’s tenth year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

2016 trophies

 

 

 

 

 

Stacey Aragon: 1978 – 2017

Yesterday Stacey Aragon’s husband David Hansen posted on his Facebook page that his wife of several years had passed after a long battle with cancer. She was only 39. She was being treated for her illness for ten years, not telling me about it until much later after she joined us in July of 2009. She served as a contributor for social networking and fundraising until October of 2011 when she was promoted to the core committee, our first woman added to our committee roster. She only had a brief stint there from November 2011 to June 2012 because her cancer and treatments got more serious and she would need to move cross-country for viable health care in another state. But she remained as a senior contributor from November of 2013 until she passed, even sharing an auction notice on Facebook for us ten days before the end. She handled several duties over that time like updating our site’s Inker Resources section and Database, Fundraising, Nomination Committee Coordinator and a Volunteer Network. From this list she wasn’t able to significantly get the last two projects off the ground because her condition kept deteriorating. One of the projects she was experienced about and wanted to create was a multi-tier membership system so that we could collect annual dues with an incentive system.  That was not to be. She would wrap up her final days sharing all of our announcements and even attending some conventions in her area with Dave because it got her away from all the angst of reality and she was able to use it as therapy, even collecting donations from artists to ship to us.  She so enjoyed helping and giving to others that it made her feel better. This, her husband, and her connection to friends/family/loved ones via the internet were her lifelines and what I believe kept her fighting for as long as she did. She would often say that the Inkwells were her family. She was as close to family as anyone in my organization until recently with my present spokesmodel Hailey. As her availability lessened I never removed her from our team credits and in her last couple of years I listed as her position on our brochures, website and books as “heart & soul”. That’s where she touched me and so many who knew her.  I will be dedicating the Heroes Con live awards ceremony to her and give a brief tribute to honor her. I owe her at least that much for her gifts and making my non-profit better than it was when she joined it.  Rest in peace and thank you, Stacey.   Your friend, Bob Almond

The Inkwells send their condolences to David Hansen and her loved ones who are mourning her loss. I posted the following on my own Facebook page yesterday while sharing David’s announcement:

It happened at 3:01 this morning that after a decade of being sick and battling to survive, this world lost one of the most beautiful and selfless souls I had ever met. Stacey Aragon was a special, one of a kind spirit who had no bounds to her generosity, compassion, kindness, sweetness, strength and courage. I never had the honor to meet her in person but through nothing but some phone calls and numerous messages I knew all I needed to know over the years. That we were blessed to know her and to know her was to love her. She deserved better. Rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for all you did for my organization which you treated as your family, and may your husband and loved ones find peace, joy and love from your memory. We’ll most-assuredly miss you.

When she joined the committee I asked her for a bio and photo for the website committee page. She sent me several images of her when younger but this is the one she wanted to use and we did. Others are below: After her Ms. Inkwell: (top-bottom) pre-school/wedding/her with her cat Bermuda/and the rest pics from the 2000s.
A rare look at Stacey as a custom designed Ms. Inkwell which she volunteered to do while going to a show to represent us and collect donations. Her collar and tie may look weird but she explained that her treatments made her skin very sensitive to certain materials. I regrettably don’t recall the show she was going to or the year.

 

 

 

 

RICH BUCKLER: 1949-2017

Rich Buckler passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.  He was 68 years old. His career spanned decades starting in 1967 to the present and in the 1970s-1980s he had significant runs at the mainstream publishers like Marvel Comics (Jungle Action with Black Panther, Fantastic Four, Thor, Spectacular Spider-man, and Astonishing Tales with Deathlok, a character he created), Archie Comics (Red Circle Comics line), and DC Comics (All-Star Squadron as created by both Rich and Roy Thomas, Justice League, World’s Finest Comics). Rich, or “Ron Validar” a 1970s pseudonym, rendered a wide assortment of covers for the “Big Two”; in a sense his work became a cover house style for them to draw in readers. As an artist he specialized as a penciller, inker, painter, an editor (Archie) and even a writer who wrote How-To books for Solson Publications. He also mentored and recruited artists as assistants that entered the comic book field. Two examples being George Perez and Denys Cowan.

In 2015 Bob Almond asked Rich if he’d accept the position of Inkwell Awards ambassador after listening to Rich repeatedly praise the necessity of comic book ink artists, a position that he accepted. He followed-up in 2016 with a reworked article on his views of inking for exclusive use at the Inkwell website. Rich was the last ambassador inducted to the non-profit organization to date.

Joe Goulart, a former Inkwell core committee member and close friend of Rich, shared the following announcement on his Facebook timeline and the FB Inkwell group page today:

“Yesterday the Art Community lost one of its greatest Ambassadors. Rich Buckler lost his long battle with cancer. Rich, having put smiles on so many of his fans faces, is an understatement to his ability to bring comic heroes to life in comics. From the Avengers, to Superman, from the Fantastic Four to the Secret Society of Super Villians, from Black Panther to Black Lightning, from Namor the Sub-Mariner to the Crusaders, and to his Iconic Creation of Deathlok. Rich was not only an artistic creator I had the privilege of bringing to my shows’ artists alley, Rich was my friend. Along with his wife, Mila, they became a part of my life and my family.
I will cherish all the times and memories Rich and I have spent together, he is no longer suffering.
Rest in peace my dearest friend.
RIP, Rich Buckler.
Heaven now has an artist of utmost talent.
I will miss you.
Joe”

Rich with Ms. Inkwell (Hailey Skaza-Gagne) at the 2015 Rhode Island Comic Con

The 2017 Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to…?

Inkwell Awards friends from the Kubert School Michael Chen and Carol Thomas Hon have informed me and announced publicly today that the award recipient of the 8th Dave Simons Inkwell Awards Memorial Scholarship Fund was awarded on Friday May 5 at their annual awards ceremony to student Brian Benjamin! I regret that Hailey Skaza-Gagne, our spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell and I could not attend this year and appreciated special ambassador and scholarship maestro Clifford Meth filling in for us again. Dave’s sister Bette Simons has been notified and is excited as usual about this. Congrats to Brian and all the students awarded! And thanks to all the donors over the past year for their support!

For the group photo this is the copy that came with it from the school:

Brian Benjamin

Congrats to all our scholarship and award winners!

Back row from left to right:
Alexander Manrique (Perfect Attendance),
Derek Arneson (EGBAR Foundation Scholarship winner)
Matt Pace (A Wave Blue World Scholarship winner)
Anand Ramcheron (A Wave Blue World Scholarship winner)
Emma Kubert (Dean’s List)
Andy Kubert
Ian Denney (Perfect Attendance)
Hailey Brown (Norman Maurer Scholarship winner)
Justin Franklin (Herb Trimpe Scholarship)
Dillon Snook (Dave Monahan Scholarship winner)
Gregory Ramos (Charlie LaGreca Scholarship winner)

Front row from left to right:
Catalina Murcia Alejo (Dean’s List)
Al Urrutia (Perfect Attendance)
Josh Maikis (Gene Colan Scholarship winner)
Elizabeth McBride (Dave Cockrum Scholarship winner)
Bane Duncan Wade (Dean’s List)
Michael Chen (Academic Supervisor at The Kubert School)

Missing:
Tyler Chin-Tanner (A Wave Blue World publisher)
Brian Benjamin (Dave Simons/ Inkwell Awards Scholarship winner) Sarah Fletcher(Dean’s List)

Voting is over but the Challenge auctions still remain…!

The final wave of the 7th JOE SINNOTT INKING CHALLENGE is running now in our eBay Store until Saturday May 6.  After that we will run two more biweekly miscellaneous donation auction waves (mostly from Indiana Comic Con) with some scattered remainder and new, belated Challenge pages (from both Joe and Neal Adams). These auctions help us cover the travel expenses for our season finale and 7th live awards ceremony at Heroes Con which include trophies and costs to bring in award recipients. (Below, the 2nd and final Sinnott Challenge gif as designed by Mike Pascale.) Happy bidding and thanks for the support!

 

Inkwell Awards Voting Open From April 15-30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Inkwell Awards Voting Open From April 15-30

New Bedford, MA/USA—April 12, 2016) Who’s your favorite inker? The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to the education and promotion of the art of comic book inking, invites all to vote for the industry’s best of the year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwells’ homepage from April 15 through April 30.

Voting is open to fans and professionals alike. In addition to “Favorite Inker,” categories include “Most Adaptable,” “PROPS” (inkers deserving more attention), the “S.P.A.M.I.” (Small Press And Mainstream Independent) and “All-In-One” for pencillers who ink their own work.

As a courtesy, also listed on the ballot are the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (“HoF”), a lifetime achievement honor for an outstanding inking career of 25 or more years in American comics, whose winners are chosen by an internal committee (to avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters).

Two years ago the Special Recognition Award (SRA) was introduced and nominees for it also listed on the ballot with voting being done internally. This lifetime achievement honor differs from the HoF award due to one or more factors such as the artist being out of the “public eye,” having limited name-recognition due to semi- or full retirement or death, limited-yet-influential output, social barriers such as gender/race, or other factors that might otherwise limit them from being nominated for a traditional HoF award. The SRA nominees are not listed this year but they will be discussed at the awards ceremony along with the SRA award recipients.

“We’re as excited as ever for this event, where the best of the best ink artists and their work get the recognition they deserve,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards. “Though inkers have their fans and followers, many often go unnoticed or glossed over by most awards events. Ours caters specifically to ink artists and allows them to be recognized and appreciated in various categories. The more voters, the better.”

Once voting ends after April 30, the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC on Friday, June 16th.

The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Now in its ninth year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

 

Inkwell Awards Offers Joe Sinnott Challenge and Neal Adams Spotlight Contributions

Neal Adams and Joe Sinnott (seated) with Inkwell senior contributor Jim Tournas behind them

Neal’s pencils from BATMAN: ODESSEY#3, page 5 (DC Comics, 2012)

 

Ink finishes by Kevin Conrad
Ink finishes by Johnny B. Gerardy

 

(New Bedford, MA/USA—March 31, 2017) The non-profit Inkwell Awards, devoted to promoting the art of comic book inking, is offering the artwork for their seventh annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge, beginning in April. They have an additional “spin-off” Challenge program, The Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight, which this year focuses on the pencil art of legendary creator/artist/writer/publisher Neal Adams. That art will also be on the auction block in April.

“The original Sinnott Challenge has been such an ongoing success, we decided to expand the program last year, with even better results,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards (AKA “The Inkwells”). “We added something new to showcase other contemporary, fan-favorite talents, only on a smaller scale with more established artists who may not have participated in the original program. Last year we proudly featured the amazing pencils of DC co-publisher Jim Lee and this year we’re thrilled to have the great Neal Adams.”

The original Inking Challenge program educates the public about inking by having industry legend and Inkwell Special Ambassador Joe Sinnott do a tight pencil of a character plus a “breakdown”, or rough sketch. This year, the characters are Marvel’s recent film success Dr. Strange and DC’s soon-to-be blockbuster-film-star Wonder Woman. Sinnott’s art is scanned and the file sent in blue-line form to various inkers around the globe to finish and/or embellish in ink. This year, as an additional Challenge wrinkle, both drawings were looser.

Ink artists contributing their skills this year include Neil Vokes, Rusty Gilligan, Alex Garcia, Michael Munshaw, Mark McKenna, J.L. Straw, Johnny B. Gerardy, Mark Stegbauer, Vaughn Noel, Ken Branch, J. David Spurlock, Keith Williams and dozens of others, including members of the Sinnott family. All submitted art may be viewed at The Inkwells’ ComicArtFans gallery. All pieces for this challenge are personally signed by Mr. Sinnott and include a certificate of authenticity.

The Challenge Spotlight program was launched last year by former committee member Erick Korpi with full authorization from Lee and DC Comics. This year’s spotlight on Neal Adams was handled by Inkwells supporter Joseph Goulart and finalized by Almond. Like Lee, Adams chose the specific page but for an extra challenge he chose a sequential sequence instead of a splash or pin-up. All pages will be signed by the inkers and Neal Adams. All will include a COA as well. Submitted pages at press time include those by Jose Marzan Jr., Branch, Kevin Conrad, Richard Bonk, Williams, Sal Velluto, Gerardy, Rodney Ramos, Gerry Acerno, Arne Starr, Mike Barreiro and several students from the Kubert School. Almond added, “Much kind thanks to Neal, Joe and all involved for their cooperation, support of our program, and appreciation of ink artists.”

Auctions for the Adams Challenge art will begin April 1 at the Inkwells’ eBay store and every other week thereafter with the Joe Sinnott Challenge art being offered and possible some late page additions included for the Adams event. The Sinnott art will eventually be collected into book form. Previous book collections in various editions, along with other merchandise, are available for donations to the organization through their Web Store.

BERNIE WRIGHTSON: 1948-2017

 

Bernie Wrightson, one of the industry’s most respected and celebrated fantasy, horror, comic-book artists/creators/painters/inkers, has passed away at age 68 after a long illness. One of the four members of “The Studio” (along with Jeffrey Jones, Michael Kaluta and Barry Windsor Smith), Wrightson was one of the select few from the “Frazetta School” of inking whose mastery equalled the original influence, and who in turn influenced new generations to come.

Beginning his professional career at DC Comics in 1968, Wrightson worked for many publishers but is best known for his work on and co-creation of the Swamp Thing for DC, his seminal b/w work for Warren Publishing, and his Franklin Booth-inspired, pen-illustrated adaptation of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN published by Marvel. For the last 20 years, Wrightson became equally well-respected as a creator designer/concept artist for Hollywood films. He was the first recipient of The Inkwell Awards’ Special Recognition Award (SRA) in 2015.

“Bernie was one of the best examples of new talent coming into the field. I think he carried the EC tradition on.”
—Joe Orlando (Former EC artist and DC editor on SWAMP THING”)

“…He had the best inkline in the business. His work has an amazing grace to it.”
—Len Wein (Writer and co-creator of Swamp Thing)

“There’s never been, to my knowledge, a brush man that could hold a candle to what Bernie’s laid down…”
—Michael W. Kaluta (Artist and Studio-mate)

“Bernie was so well-rounded. He can draw anything…Bernie really was the standard in horror…[he] transcends comic books.”
—Kelley Jones (Artist heavily influenced by Wrightson)

We at the Inkwell Awards offer our sincerest condolences to Bernie’s family and friends.

Dave Hunt: 1942-2017

I heard about Dave’s passing on Facebook today and found brief coverage at The Beat. I typed up a few comments on my timeline, copied below, but I hope there will be more coverage elsewhere. You can read more at his Wikipedia page.

Photo: Heidi McDonald

 

“Rest in peace to ink artist Dave Hunt (1942-2017) He was an ink assistant for Giacoia, Esposito and especially Joe Sinnott for many years before graduating to solo inking jobs in the bronze-age. I only met him 1-2 times at the now-defunct Ramapo NY High School comic cons in the ’90s. We talked briefly and he was a decent guy who I sadly didn’t get an autograph from. But his work over John Byrne and others on Marvel Team-Up and miscellaneous projects left a good impression on me and others.”