14 May 2021

Howdy Inkwellers! This is my first blog entry since June 29, 2017 and the last time I focused on a membership rollcall and previously titled “The Old Order Changeth” (sorry, I’m an unapologetic, lifelong Avengers fan) was August 31, 2013! So why am I taking a moment to blog an article after all this time in lieu of an insane schedule as we wrap up yet another season? Because our core committee roster, the braintrust of this non-profit, recently witnessed a roster change after the longest and glorious run of a consistent committee line-up. It used to be that, like all volunteers, people put in their time until they don’t have the time or they burn out. Comic book creators especially don’t stay long due to nutty work schedules and obligations. Some of those creators include Tim Townsend, Dave Simons and Nathan Massengill (who actually put in over two years!). Usually there are folks who come and go with rotating, overlapping rosters. Back in the day the passion got fierce as some personalities conflicted and I was the guy that played diplomat to attempt to keep the peace and not always succeeding. So while there were some individuals that had long stays like Daniel Best (3 years), Mike Kellar (4) and Jim Tournas (5 1/2), overall teams never stayed constant for long.

Besides myself, in 2013 two members were promoted to core committee status, Mike Pascale and Erick Korpi. Like Mike Kellar before him, Mike Pascale in short order became an assistant director after Kellar resigned (“The Mighty Mikes”). The current Mike has been on the core team now for over eight years! In that time he has been essential in streamlining operations, handling and upgrading most press releases, announcements and documents with me, often making me sound much better than I am (trust me, he’s good!), redesigning graphics used, been our most-prolific chronicler for bios and Sinnott Hall of Fame articles, acted as a back-up auctioneer in a pinch and even establishing the submissions program to our ballot voting system three years ago among his many accomplishments while holding this position.

Erick Korpi was on the team almost two years when he resigned for personal reasons but he returned just over two years later and has been on the team 3 years and 5 months since 2017. Again for personal reasons, this time related to business and health, Erick had to take an indefinite hiatus as of October of 2020. He is the only core committee volunteer to put in two terms and I have no doubt once he can straighten out some hurdles in his life that he’ll be back again for term #3. At one awards ceremony I even asked multimedia contributor Ray Burke to tease about this and present a mock “Inkwell Masochist Award” being offered to Erick during his slideshow. And even since he left he has continued to be invaluable as a consultant regarding original art value, lifetime achievement nominations and especially developments for our Inking Challenges. Among his many contributions, Erick has been the mastermind behind our most profitable Inking Challenge Spotlight events, successfully recruiting superstars like Jim Lee, David Finch and Ivan Reis and overseeing the programs with me, raising tens of thousands in fundraising, second only to our senior spokesmodel Hailey Skaza-Gagne.

And lastly, we have our second Aussie (after Dan Best) Rhys Evans who we recruited with an ad on social media to reach out for committee volunteers. Out of the three members who joined, Rhys was the only long-term “survivor”, having been on the team as our key auctioneer for just over five years. While the duties of an auctioneer was eventually split among 3-5 contributors from originally being just one person overseen by me due to the intense and time-consuming schedule that burned out members like Bob Shaw, Nathan Massengill and especially Mike Kellar, Rhys has gone many months with on average bi-weekly auction waves. Only recently in December of 2020 did he ask for a leave or sabbatical until the following summer due to family needs in the face of pandemic challenges.

These are the big three that held things together with me the longest with incredibly strong contributions to the organization with minimal issues. So while 2021 brings in new players to fill in the needs of our operations, I hope to see Erick and Rhys return to me and Mike Pascale while retaining our new members such as:

Ray Burke, who had been a senior contributor for nine years nine months until coming aboard December of 2020. A longtime Inkwell veteran, he brings with him the ability to run auctions and still carry on his duties as tech-guru, a chronicler and the awards ceremony multimedia contributor.

Joe Prado, who had been recruited as a senior ambassador, also in December 2020, to oversee the popular Brazillian School of comic book artists. Following the success of Mike Deodato Jr. in the 1990s, the region has developed generations of fast and reliable, mainstream talent that has been influential to a degree not seen since the older Filipino School of artists that developed in the 1970s for publishers Marvel, DC, Warren, etc. that is still active going on five decades. In this capacity, Joe assists with overseeing fundraising from donations and Inking Challenges. But he is the first Inkwell member to be active as both a special ambassador and, as of April 2021, a core committee member, a groundbreaking feat! While most professional artists only stay short-term, Joe is showing how things are done taking on two crucial, simultaneous positions while also maintaining his work schedule as a high-demand artist.

These are exciting times for us. I can only imagine the contributions to come from these two “lifers” and if our away team returns then there’s nothing this dream team can’t accomplish, along with the rest of our extended family of invaluable contributors, ambassadors, volunteers, associates and supporters. Let’s face it, I’m not the easiest guy to work with and yet all of the above talents have something in common: Bob stamina. And whenever I look good it’s only because they are GREAT. Our second decade shows us the best is yet to come. Forward & Upward!

05 May 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

2021 INKWELL AWARDS VOTING RESULTS: the Extended Edition (AKA The Book Race Version)

(New Bedford, MA/USA—May 5, 2021) The Inkwell Awards has announced the winners of its 14th annual awards for excellence in the comic-book inking art form. Results are normally first made public at its live awards ceremony during its host show, The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, but at present, due to uncertainties with the Covid-19 pandemic, the show status is unknown and the ceremony is cancelled.

Nominees were chosen by a separate and independent nomination committee on their own as well as from artist submissions. Voting by professionals and fans took place for one week in March on the official ballot at the non-profit advocacy’s website. After 1587 ballots were tallied, one winner was chosen in each of five categories based on printed American interior comic-book work cover-dated 2020.

Inkwell Awards director Bob Almond shared “I made it a tradition for most of the years where we posted the results to make sidebar-like comments, something I picked up from the former Comic Buyer’s Guide (CBG) Fan Awards. Often these appeared in our Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge books. But this year was the exception. Like a horse race I would remark about how one nominee was in the lead in a given category only to be passed by so and so but the third and final nom overtook them both by the finish line, etc. But this year 4 out of 5 categories had the same leaders from day one until when the ballot box closed. So every category seemingly had one artist who was almost universally supported in the community more than anyone else. Only the All-in-One had the upset where Sharp and Santucci had the lead each at one point early on but for the latter half of the week Samnee took a certain lead.”

Bob continued “Lastly, this is the first ballot in many years where prolific award winners Scott Hanna and Walden Wong, 9 awards each, didn’t only not win on the ballot, but they weren’t even nominated. I’ve joked with both artists about retiring a category to them and suddenly an unprecedented shake-up like this changes everything. Although restrictions made a couple of years back in the Favorite Inker and Props categories make it less likely for multiple award sweeps.”

As begun last year, the Inkwells’ internal committee chose to not limit lifetime achievement awards within a given year. They selected four inductees for the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame and three recipients for the Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award (SASRA). There were no internal Silver Inkwell Awards recipients this year but there were two internal Above & Beyond Awards given to Bob Bretall and Johnny B. Gerardy for 10 years of Nomination Committee service.

Ballot nominees are listed below with their credits and the percentage of votes received by the winners, along with the other nominees in alphabetical order.

FAVORITE INKER (Favorite ink artist over the pencil work of another artist; cannot also be nominated for the “Props” award): Ruy Jose (41%) (Immortal Hulk [Marvel]).
Other nominees: Jonathan Glapion, Klaus Janson, Joe Prado.

Nominees Klaus Janson had previously taken this award in 2013 and Joe Prado in 2016. Joe only made runner-up this year as the force that is Marvel’s Immortal Hulk and it’s creators, in this case first-time ballot candidate Ruy Jose, overtook even Joe’s exceptional work over Ivan Reis on DC’s Superman.

MOST-ADAPTABLE (Artist showing exceptional ink style versatility over other pencillers): Norm Rapmund (42%) (Batman Beyond, Detective Comics, The Flash, Flash Forward, Dark Nights Death Metal: The Multiverse Who Laughs (one-shot), Wonder Woman [DC]).

Other nominees: Marc Deering, Daniel Henriques, Matt Santorelli, LeBeau Underwood.

Norm has only won one Inkwell ballot category in the past, Favorite Inker in 2014. So this is his first victory in this category. Marc Deering was a nominee in 2015 and a runner-up in both 2019 and 2020. But Daniel Henriques was the runner-up this year.

PROPS (Inker deserving of more attention): Eber Ferreira (41%) (Speed Metal (one-shot), Freedom Fighters, Justice League [DC]).

Other nominees: Adriano Di Benedetto, Daniel Henriques, Le Beau Underwood.

This is Eber’s third triumph in Props, the other times being in 2013 and 2020. First-timer Adriano made runner-up, probably due to the runaway success of Immortal Hulk.  Both Henriques and Underwood have appeared in this category before with Henriques achieving the runner-up position in 2019.

S.P.A.M.I. (Small Press And Mainstream Independent): Adelso Corona (69%) Snake Eyes [IDW]; Bloodshot [Valiant]).
Other nominees: Le Beau Underwood.

Adelso is a first-time Inkwell ballot winner. Underwood was nominated in this category in 2019 and 2020.

ALL-IN-ONE (Favorite artist known for inking his/her own pencils): Chris Samnee (40%) (FirePower [Image]).
Other nominees: Marco Santucci, Liam Sharp.

This category has had a unique artist win every year except for the lone repeat success of Liam Sharp in 2018 and 2020. Samnee is another first-time winner but Sharp may be shooting for the even years

Adelso Corona

Chris Samnee

Norm Rapmund

Eber Ferreira

Ruy Jose

In alphabetical order, the lifetime achievement awards were as follows:

THE STACEY ARAGON SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD (SASRA): Alfredo Alcala, Frank Frazetta and Wendy Pini.

This is the first time the SASRA was awarded to 3 recipients. Alcala and Frazetta are posthumous awards for exceptional careers in ink. Wendy Pini, the only woman artist to  take home an Inkwell award this year is very much alive, exceptional and also as active as ever along with her husband Richard on their property Elfquest.

Alfredo Alcala

Wendy Pini

Frank Frazetta

THE JOE SINNOTT HALL OF FAME: Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito, Pablo Marcos and Mike Royer.

Bernie Wrightson was the first artist to win both the SASRA and posthumously the Sinnott HoF awards but Sal Buscema is the second. He had previously won the S.P.A.M.I. Award in 2013 and 2018. Mike Esposito passed away in 2010 after a long and prolific career but Marcos and Royer have been very active illustrating in ink at 79 and 84 years of age, respectively.

Mark Sinnott, Joe’s son/agent, said, “It is an honor for me to keep with the tradition that my dad, Joltin’ Joe Sinnott started over 10 years ago. On behalf of the Inkwell Awards, I would like to welcome its four newest members to its hallowed halls: Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito, Pablo Marcos and Mike Royer. It is great to have you all as members of the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame class of 2021. Welcome to the Inkwell family! You have all brought a great deal of talent and class to the comic book world, and we thank you for that. Keep slingin’ ink, and never let your inkwell run dry!”

Mike Royer

Sal Buscema

Pablo Marcos

Mike Esposito

The Inkwell Awards is the only official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and educate regarding the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize the best ink artists and their work. Established in 2008, the Inkwells are overseen by a volunteer committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.Full acceptance statements from Sinnott and the winners will be found in the “Award Recipients” section of the Inkwell Awards’ website in the near future.

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