The Inkwell Awards has released the names of the winners of its ninth annual awards for excellence in the art form of comic book inking. As before, nominees were chosen by a separate and independent nomination committee. Voting via live ballot at the non-profit advocacy’s website ran from April 15-30. One winner was chosen in each of five categories based on American-based interior comic-book work cover-dated 2015.
Favorite ink artist over the pencil work of another artist from 2015 cover-dated, interior, American comic book material
WINNER: Joe Prado- Batman ’66 The Lost Episode; Cyborg [DC Comics]. 24.5%
“First off, it’s an honor for me to have been nominated for such a prestigious award such as the Inkwell Awards. All of the hard work behind the scenes of this organization is outstanding such as helping professionals in need and spreading the word about what the Art of Inking is.
Now winning such an award is extremely humbling and it makes me really happy that many fans and fellow professionals reached out to me to express their support.
At heart I’m still a fanboy, and admire so many of my peers and longtime artists and inkers that inspired me. People like Terry Austin, José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Joe Sinnott , George Pérez, Romeo Tanghal, Alfredo Alcala, Tony DeZuniga, Sal Buscema, Tom Palmer, Bob Layton, Scott Williams, Danny Miki, Mark Farmer and so, SO MANY OTHERS.
Well, there’s nothing else I could add here – just keep working, learning and admiring this Form of Art, which deserves all the recognition and praise.
Thank you so much to the fans and professionals – YOU are a crucial part of my inspiration.
- Wade von Grawbadger (23.7)
- Scott Hanna (22%)
- Danny Miki (20.4%)
- Karl Kesel (9.4%)
Ink artist showing exceptional ink style versatility over other pencil artists in 2015 interior, cover-dated, American comic book material
WINNER: Walden Wong- Earth 2: World’s End; Justice League Dark [DC]; Wolverines; A-Force [Marvel]. 26.8%
“Thank you for this award. I can’t believe I’m awarded this as I still feel like I’m new to this business. All the other nominees in my category, whom I admire very much, have been doing this longer than I have. So I’m very humbled to accept this award. Thanks to all who voted. Thank you!”
- Norm Rapmund (20.2%)
- Scott Hanna (18.3%)
- Jonathan Glapion (14.4%)
- Wade von Grawbadger (12.8%)
- Jay Leisten (7.5%)
Ink artist deserving of more attention for their work over other pencillers from 2015 cover-dated interior American comic book material.
WINNER: Wade Von Grawbadger- All-New Captain America; Spider-Man [Marvel]; Justice League of America; Legends of the Dark Knight [DC]; Astro City [Vertigo/DC] (22.6%)
“I would like to thank all that voted for any of the nominees and anyone who takes the time to appreciate what inking as an art form entails. Specifically, thank you to all who voted for me as it is incredibly heartwarming to know that my work is noticed and enjoyed. I would be remiss in not thanking the lovely Leah Burnette, who is my foundation and continuously endures my sleepless nights and insane deadlines. Without her support, I would be a mere fraction of the man I am today! And lastly, I want to thank Bob Almond for his tireless (and often thankless!) efforts in keeping inking in the public eye and organizing these awards in order to facilitate this.”
- Eber Ferreira (20.5%)
- Danny Miki (13.5%)
- Juan Vlasco (10.8%)
- Mark Irwin (9.8%)
- Jonathan Glapion (9.4%)
- Stefano Gaudiano (8.4%)
- Sean Parsons (5.1%)
Favorite Small Press And Mainstream-Independent 2015 interior, cover-dated, American comic book ink work over another pencil artist (Non-Marvel or DC work)
WINNER: Stefano Gaudiano-The Walking Dead, Manifest Destiny [Image]) (37%)
“I love inking and i love comics – it’s a privilege to have received this Inkwell Award.
The Inkwell Awards awards are significant as a spotlight on the craft of inking on the whole, more than for the praise of individual practitioners.
Ink-lines ease the eye into the complexity of visual storytelling – inking is an entry point more than surface gloss, and it should not be treated as an afterthought in comic art. Within the limitations of inking there are infinite ways to convey the strength and spirit of story and art – line-work is like the voice in a song that’s already been written and orchestrated, with the power to enhance or diminish both music and words.
Changes in our industry are allowing more and more artists to finish their own line-work, and the role of coloring in comic-art has been amplified to great effect by modern tools in the hands of great colorists. These are positive developments that invite a further analogy between inking and singing: specialized inkers have become somewhat less necessary and less relevant, much as fifty years ago in the music industry crooners were marginalized in the wake of The Beatles and Bob Dylan. The good news is that although inkers are not generally in the spotlight, inking remains as important as ever.
Teaching and mentoring, working as part of a creative team, finishing our own art, or just helping someone to make a deadline, those of us who know and love the craft of inking have the opportunity to bring vision into focus, make better comics and make comics better by demonstrating the importance of line-work in our medium.”
- Jordi Tarragona (17.6%)
- Cliff Rathburn (16.6%)
- Ryan Winn (16.6%)
- Rich Koslowski (12.2%)
Favorite artist known for inking his/ her own pencil work in 2015 interior, cover-dated, American comic book material
WINNER: Jason Fabok-Justice League [DC] (37%)
“Over the past 5 years I have been inking myself, through digital means mostly, but also traditionally on covers. Over this time I’ve gained such respect and admiration of the discipline of inking and the inking greats who have paved the way for the modern comic artist. As a youth I looked up to the penciler and dreamed of honing my craft to one day draw like one of the greats. As a professional I not only look up to the great penciler’s of past and present, but also the great inkers as I try to hone my skills in this medium. It is truly a great artistic discipline and one worthy of respect and admiration. This award is a great honor for me and to be recognized alongside my peers and fellow nominees is a humbling experience. There is such great work being done today in our medium in all sorts of different styles and techniques that as an artist, I find myself spurred on by the creativity of others and a desire to grow more and more in my art.
– First I’d like to thank the Heroes Con promoter Shelton Drum and his team for hosting the awards at this years show.
-A big thank you goes out to Bob Almond for the hard work he puts into the awards and the Inkwell Nomination Committee for their nomination for this year’s “All-in-One” category.
– Id also like to thank DC Comics for taking a chance on me back in 2010 and allowing me to chase my dream of becoming a comic book artist. Every time I go into a comic shop and see my work on the shelf, I’m struck with awe as well as thankfulness for the opportunity to work in this profession. More specifically I’d like to thank Diane Nelson, Dan Didio, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras for their hard work at DC Comics and giving me the shot of working on some of my favorite books.
-Id also like to thank my Editor on Justice League, Brian Cunningham, who has come beside me as a friend, but also a mentor to guide my work, critique it, and help in making me a better artist.
-Also to Larry Ganum and Ben Abernathy for the calls of encouragement and desire to see me grow as an artist.
-To Geoff Johns for giving me the opportunity to prove myself on one of DC’s biggest titles, and giving me the freedom to explore artistically and do what I believe I do best; Tell big, bold action packed stories that readers want to read. Geoff is a great friend of mine and I’ve loved working with him on this project and hopefully more in the future. Thanks Geoff!
-To David Finch, my first mentor, who took me under his wing back in 2009 and taught me the ins and outs of drawing comics, and for sticking out his neck and sending my portfolio to DC Comics in order to pursue a career. I’m forever grateful to him and his family for the goals they have helped me achieve.
-To the fans who have followed my work and supported me in this career. I wouldnt be in the position I am today if it weren’t for the passionate readers and fans of the comic book medium.
-To my teachers through school who always encouraged me artistically and opened up my eyes to the world of illustration and comic art.
-To my Mom and Dad, who always supported my goals and led by example of what hard work and determination looks like.
-To my Grandparents who showed me what unconditional love and support can do for a young dreamer.
-And the biggest thank you to my wife Sarah, who has supported me and this wild career for the last 6 years, giving up her time, and sacrificing so much so that I could work the crazy hours needed to get these comics done. Im sure every comic artist can attest to how demanding this career can be, and without the love and support of our loved ones, we would not be where we are today. My wife deserves the “comic book wife of the year award” for all she has done for me.
-And to my 10 month old son Eli who is my greatest joy and the best work of art I’ve ever done. I can only hope that he grows up loving comics and develops a passion for art as well.
– And Lastly Id like to thank God for opening up the doors for me to pursue this career and for guiding the steps in my walk through this life.
Thank you all.”
- Fiona Staples (17.7%)
- Erik Larsen (13.7%)
- Franchesco Francavilla (9.6%)
- Terry Moore (8.2%)
- Paul Gulacy (8.0%)
- Ben Dewey (5.8%)
THE SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
Vinnie’s son Frankie made the following statement for the family: “What a nice compliment to Vinnie’s talent and dedication to handling any and all inking assignments that needed to be done. Production art isn’t something understood by everyone. Most inkers back then had a self-imposed limit on how many pages they would work on each month. My father didn’t have that luxury for two reasons. Three, really. One, he was lightning fast and could always be counted on to make the deadline. Two, Vince Colletta never turned down a friend in need whether it was Big John or the old-timers at DC. Almost every Friday he’d hear the same five words. “We need it by Monday.” So on top of whatever story or stories he was inking at the time, there would inevitably always be another stack of pages that needed to be inked without delay. And third, as our good friend and former DC Comptroller Arthur Guttowitz answered when asked why Vinnie was always so much in demand, “Because he was fast and he was accurate.” Thank you to everyone responsible for bestowing this SRA award upon him.”
Franklin Colletta, April 28, 2016
- Allen Milgrom (tie for runner-up)
- Jack Abel (tie for runner-up)
- Russ Heath
- Violet Barclay (aka Valerie Smith)
- Al Milgrom
- Gary Martin
- Dave Simons
THE JOE SINNOTT HALL OF FAME AWARD
A hall of fame designation for an inking career in American comic books of outstanding accomplishment (lifetime achievement, 25-years minimum- two winners chosen annually)
AWARD RECIPIENT: Frank Giacoia
“Frank Giacoia was my father’s cousin. I’d see him at weddings and funerals and family functions as I grew up. He was funny and always had a big smile on his face. I read comics as a kid, and drew some too. When I started to really pay attention to credits on the splash pages, that’s when the light went on. I quizzed my Dad about Frank relentlessly. When did he start? How much had he done? Needless to say, it was a long conversation. I would later find out my Dad had even done backgrounds for Frank in his newspaper strip days. How could I have missed this?
As luck would have it, we had another family function coming up quickly. Of course, I found Frank immediately and pretty much monopolized his time. His reaction was pure Frank-he laughed. He told me to call him Uncle Frank, that it would be easier.We would continue to talk at various family gatherings, and we spoke a lot on the phone. We went to a NY convention together with Joe Sinnott (who remains a friend to this day) and Mike Esposito. It was here that he introduced me to the King-Jack Kirby.
I always liked Frank’s work. To my young eyes, he always made the page “look better”. As I got older, I began to appreciate how really, really good he was. I love wandering the artist alleys at conventions where contemporaries of his pull me aside and share wonderful stories about jobs conquered and jokes told. I’m lucky to still have friends in the industry today. Their appreciation and love of Frank’s work speaks volumes about his real impact in the industry.
I wish we had spent more time together. I wish he wasn’t taken from us so early. Time has done nothing except cement Frank’s legacy as a giant in the industry.
Frank may be gone but Frank Giacoia’s talent will live forever. Congratulations Uncle Frank!”
Mike Giacoia June 2016
AWARD RECIPIENT: Josef Rubinstein
“I love being an inker.
A rabbi,minister and an inker walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “Is this a joke?”
In the 100-plus years of the life of comic books and the hundreds and hundreds of people who have had jobs inking, to be singled out is of course a great honor and a little startling.
My life has had a lot of (super) heroes in it.
A lot of people think that an inker (if they think about them at all) is the guy or gal who paints on the colors in comic books; but that’s the colorist. An inker is the artist that is handed [pencil] drawings by another artist and then has the opportunity to either screw them up or do justice by them using ink with brush, pen, fingers and anything else that makes a reproducible mark.
Pencillers and inkers are like composers and musicians. The composer/penciller is confronted with a blank piece of paper and creates something from nothing. He then hands his creation off to the musician/inker to make art out of it, or, like a doctor, at the very least “do no harm.” Now I, as the interpreter, could use a guitar or a piccolo, changing the feel of the work considerably. Once I settle on the guitar, do I choose pop, classical or flamenco style? Therefore, lots of chances to get it right and wrong.
My family emigrated from Israel when I was 5 years old. My older, American cousin had a stack of DC comics that must have mesmerized me. Though I could not speak the language, I could still follow the adventures by just looking at the pictures. Like most little kids, I started to draw my own comics with crayons on lined paper. When I was 11, I began classes at The Art Students League of NY with the great Hal Foster’s son, Arthur. My father paid for the classes while still being worried that I would actually want to do art for a living. “You better hope your brothers and sister are successful, so they can support you,” he’d say. Well, with the vagaries of the freelance life it came close, but not yet.
We all know the hardest part about working in comics is acquiring the work; the work is the easy part.
When I was 13, I met a wonderful man, Inkwell Hall-of-Fame member Dick Giordano, who hired me to be his errand boy/gofer at the newly-formed Continuity Associates studios. I’d work there summers and after school, once I started attending The High School of Art and Design. (By the way, one of my teachers I butted heads with there was the great Bernie Krigstein).
I had read in an interview with a very fine penciller who thought he should have been an inker to learn the business first, so that’s what I I decided I would do. I threw myself into studying it. Dick was incredibly generous with his time. Even while meeting a deadline, he would give me short lessons and tips on inking and drawing in general.
All this time, I was simultaneously getting a hunger to be a painter, this being fostered by two superior artists/teachers, Max Ginsburg and Irwin Greenberg. At Dick’s studio, I was also blessed in having access to wonderful comic art in progress and rare, hard-to-find art in files I could study. I owe them big-time—heroes, all.
At 17, I went looking for work instead of college and got three jobs my first day, as long as Dick promised to “watch me.” A new guy a few years older than I, Mike Nasser [Netzer], had drawn samples for a DC series and was generous enough to let me ink his actual pages. He landed his first job, which turned out to be my first job, appropriately titled Tales of the Great Disaster. I owe him, too.
I was anxious to ink all the wonderful artists at Marvel Comics. When I was 19, Jim Starlin gave me entree to them by asking me to finish the layouts on his Avengers Annual/Marvel Two-In-One books. That’s another one.
And now it’s 41 years (!?) since that first gig.
Being an inker has been up and down but mostly great.
A friend of mine, another good inker, thinks I am too much of a collaborator with my pencillers, but I disagree. It’s a relay race and I want the art to get over the finish line with my help, not go in a direction it was never intended to. It’s not my art I want to see in the printed comic, but our art. Doing it the same way with the same tools all the time is really boring.
I’ve worked with artists better than I will ever be. I read Curt Swan’s Superman as a little boy and got to ink Curt Swan’s Superman; how great is that! Buscema’s Conan, Romita’s Spider-Man, Infantio’s Flash, Kirby, Kubert (and sons), Colan, etc., etc. Holy crap, I was blessed. Certainly blessed when I was asked to ink The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe for over 20 years; the best job an inker ever had! The late Mark Gruenwald (great guy) hired me for that series and I got to work with heroes, idols, friends and people who never let anyone else ink them. I am one of only six people who ever got to ink Joe Kubert (another idol, naturally). Others included Bolland, John Severin, Gibbons, Ditko and many other standout artists. Because of The Handbook, I have the Guinness World’s Record of having inked more pencillers and characters than anyone else, ever.
My mentor, Dick, honored me by asking me to ink him several times.
I am honored and humbled to be inducted into the Joe Sinnott Inkwell Hall of Fame, joining heroes, idols and friends, many of which I have learned from and continue to steal liberally from to this day.
I am also very pleased to be inducted this year along with Frank Giacoia, who was a friend and in my opinion, the most versatile inker ever. Long deserved and overdue. I still steal from Frank, too, all the time.
I am also pleased to have paid forward the lessons I had learned from Wally Wood and Bob McLeod when I was their assistant, to my assistants, many of whom then went on to careers in comics with a little help from me: Kyle Baker, Jose Marzan, Tom Christopher and others.
Bill Sienkiewicz once said to me that inkers are really unnecessary but if you have to have one, I was the best. Well, I took whatever pride I could out of the statement.
Bill is partially right: Eisner, Kubert, Simonson and Wood need(ed) no one to ink them but while you may like Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s singing separately, together there is a synergy when the right team happens that is greater than its parts. Who can deny Kirby and Sinnott’s, Colan and Palmer’s, Buscema and DeZuniga’s transcendent greatness?
I’ve been pessimistic about inking for a while now, being afraid it was going the way of the VHS tape. So many companies try to just reproduce from the pencils these days to save on costs. The handwritten letter was nearly extinct when e-mail roared in with a vengeance and now there are billions of emails a day. Maybe in the digital age, inking will come back again, maybe the same, maybe better or maybe just different.
They’ve been predicting the death of live theater for a long time, yet Broadway had its best year ever in 2015. So, while comic book sales may not be what they used to be, I think there will always be comic books (in one form or another) and people who want to team-up to make stories that you can’t find anywhere else; and chances are, they will probably need someone who can add a little brush stroke to it.”
Statement by Joe Sinnott on this years inductees
I was quite pleased to hear that the Inkwell Awards has selected two very deserving inkers into the Hall of Fame class of 2016: Frank Giacoia and Josef Rubinstein. Frank was a fabulous inker and a good friend of mine, who left us much too soon. It was always a pleasure meeting up with Frank at shows and spending time with him. Frank’s smooth, thick line graced the pages of virtually every Marvel title. I really enjoyed Frank’s inking over Jack Kirby on Captain America. Like myself, we pretty much inked the Marvel Universe. Joe is an outstanding inker and portrait artist as well. I absolutely am honored by the great job he did in capturing my likeness for the cover of the 2nd Annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge. I once pencilled a piece that Joe inked for The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Index collection. At that time Joe was doing all these Marvel Universe books and he told me that he had actually worked on more Marvel characters than I had. Joe also did some great background inks on the Superman Vs. Spider-Man Treasury Edition that I inked over John Buscema. It is wonderful that Frank and Joe are the recipients of the 2016 Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award. These two superb artists make the already great list of Hall of Famers even more elite Thank you to the Inkwell’s committee for electing them, and thanks to everyone for their continued support of the Inkwell Awards.
- Bob McLeod and Jerry Ordway (tie for runner-up)
- Dan Adkins
- John Beatty
- Ernie Chan (aka Chua)