Favorite Inker Award:
Favorite ink artist over the pencil work of another artist. (NOTE: Cannot be nominated for the PROPS award.)
2. Cam Smith: 571 (21%): Batman: One Bad Day- Penguin [DC]; Avengers, Avengers Forever, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Planet Hulk: Worldbreaker [Marvel]
3. Dexter Vines: 645 (23%): Sensational Wonder Woman Special [DC]; The Mandalorian [Marvel]
4. Walden Wong: 857 (31%): Amazing Spider-Man, Darkhold Omega, Edge of Spider-Verse, Marvel Voices: Community, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Wakanda, What-if? Miles Morales [Marvel]
And the winner is WALDEN WONG! Walden last won an Inkwell Award three years ago in 2020. Throughout this race someone different took the lead every few days. Early on Jonathan was in the lead, and a few days after that Dexter shot up ahead of everyone. But Walden came up from behind and took the race in the final week. This marks his third win in this category. Jonathan, Cam and Dexter have all been nominated previously in this category.
Most-adaptable Award: Artist showing exceptional ink style versatility over other pencil artists. (NOTE: Every nominee must have at least two sources cited.)
1. Scott Hanna: 682 (25%): Batman/Superman: Authority Special, Batman: Urban Legends, Duo, Justice League, Superman and Robin Special, Superman: Son of Kal-EL [DC]; Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers Forever, Daredevil, Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, X-Men Legends [Marvel]
2. Matt Santorelli: 662 (24%): Superman and Robin Special, Task Force Z [DC]
3. Cam Smith: 338 (12%): Batman: One Bad Day- Penguin [DC]; Avengers, Avengers Forever, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Planet Hulk: Worldbreaker [Marvel]
4. LeBeau Underwood: 380 (14%): DC vs. Vampires: Killers [DC]; Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land, Mighty Marvel Holiday Special: Ghost Rider Infinity, Wolverine: Patch [Marvel]
5. Walden Wong: 688 (25%): Amazing Spider-Man, Darkhold Omega, Edge of Spider-Verse, Marvel Voices: Community, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Wakanda, What-if? Miles Morales [Marvel]
Repeating the 2020 ballot results, Walden took both of these categories again! But again there were several changes with vote gains as the first week Matt was in the lead but only a few votes ahead of Scott. The gap widened in Matt’s favor as the second week arrived and Walden was still far behind them. But in the final week Walden was catching up with Scott and in the final days they pulled ahead of Matt. Walden ultimately won but it was tight with Scott only six votes behind him. Scott and Walden have been tied for many years as the most Inkwell awarded recipients with nine ballot awards each. This year Walden pulls ahead to eleven. Matt, Cam and LeBeau have all been nominated previously in this category.
WALDEN: “Thank you to the Inkwell Awards for these two awards. I’m humbled to be nominated in the same categories with legendary artist and peers who I’ve admired since before I even worked in comics. It’s quite a honor. Thank you so much!”
Props Award: Ink artist deserving of more attention for their work over other pencil artists. (NOTE: The same inker cannot be nominated for both this award and Favorite Inker; only one or the other. Winners in the last 5 years are not eligible.)
1. Adriano Di Benedetto: 1687 (61%): Batman [DC]
2. Andrew Hennessy: 177 (6%): Earth Prime: Legends of Tomorrow [DC]; Timeless [Marvel]
3. Matt Santorelli: 488 (18%): Superman and Robin Special, Task Force Z [DC]
4. LeBeau Underwood: 398 (14%): DC vs. Vampires: Killers [DC]; Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land, Mighty Marvel Holiday Special: Ghost Rider Infinity, Wolverine: Patch [Marvel]
After being the runner-up in this category the past two years, ADRIANO DI BENEDETTO wins this category and his first Inkwell Award with a whopping 61%! Unlike the first two categories, Adriano was in the lead from the start of the race until its conclusion with Matt being runner-up the whole time as well. LeBeau has been nominated in Props five times since 2019. Matt and Andrew are new nominees to the category.
ADRIANO: “Wow, after two years in a row as a runner-up, it feels fantastic to win my first Inkwell Award. But first of all, I would like to congratulate all the nominees. So many talented artists that really elevated the competition. We all know how hard it is to be an inker and it’s so great to have an award such as this, shining a light over our art form. Thank you to all the fans who voted, my family and friends for all the support and also, the pencillers and editors for trusting me and my work.”
The S.P.A.M.I. Award: Favorite Small Press And Mainstream/Independent ink work over another pencil artist or both are the sole artist. (non-Marvel or DC work; inkers who inked their own pencils are now acceptable in this category).
1. David Cabeza: 866 (32%): Rivers of London [Titan]
2. Terry Moore: 743 (27%): Parker Girls, Serial [Abstract Studio]
3. Chuck Morgan: 503 (18%): Cold Kutter [Kickstarter]
4. Andrew Pepoy: 638 (23%): The Adventures of Simone & Ajax [Kickstarter]
This race was consistently in the order of placement among the nominees from the start with DAVID CABEZA in the lead until he reached the finish line. Terry Moore was runner-up, as he was last year up against Tim Townsend, and he closed the gap towards the end but not enough to gain close enough to David. David was a two category nominee last year including this S.P.A.M.I. category and a runner-up to Stefano Gaudiano in 2020 in the same slot. Andrew Pepoy won this category in 2014 and was runner-up to Stefano Gaudiano in 2019. This is Chuck Morgan’s first Inkwell nomination on the ballot.
DAVID: “I am honored by this distinction. For me it was already incredible to be nominated for the third year, but winning the award in front of such good professionals who were also nominated in the same category is a surprise and a great joy. It encourages me to keep working and trying to improve as an inker and also as an artist. Thanks to the jury and the public who voted for me. And a special mention to José María Beroy, the amazing professional author of the wonderful pencils under my inks!”
1. Nir Levie: 1042 (38%): BioRipple [Heavy Metal]
2. Andrew Pepoy: 961 (35%): The Adventures of Simone & Ajax [Kickstarter]
3. Greg Smallwood: 747 (27%): Human Target [DC]
Winner NIR LEVIE was neck-to-neck with Andrew Pepoy out of the gate and a few days later Andrew shot way ahead of him. In the final days Nir crept up and gained enough to be the winner. Nir and Greg Smallwood are new to the Inkwell Awards ballot. Andrew was nominated in 2019.
NIR:“Looking back at the trail of my own art can be sometimes cringy, but is necessary in order to acknowledge the fact that art is a voyage and not a final destination.
This humbling award helps us as artists look at our work and feel intrinsic to the creative process of humanity. Sometimes we repeat ourselves, but other times –
The real magic happens when we get bored with ourselves.
A heartfelt thank you to all of my supporters and to the award organizers.”
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
THE STACEY ARAGON SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD (SASRA):
Danny Bulanadi, Reed Crandall and Dave Simons.
The Inkwells created The Dave Simons Scholarship award on behalf of their ink artist friend and committee member shortly after his passing in 2009, with the approval of his sister, Bette Simons. On winning the SASRA, Ms. Simons said:
“First, let me say thank you to the committee for allowing me the honor of accepting this amazing award on Dave’s behalf. My brother was an extremely unique individual who was driven by his passion to perfect his talent. Describing him as creative is an understatement. His mind worked in ways that boggled mine. I remember him sitting at the drawing board for hours on end. Piles of crumpled paper overflowed the trash basket. Until, he finally created something that met his level of perfection. Our dad used to tell him, ‘Go outside and get some air.’ But he was perfectly content doing what he loved to do. It did not involve <‘outside.’ “Although Dave was more than content being at the drawing board, he described one of the best experiences of his life as being in the Coast Guard for four years. He was Stationed at Governor’s Island on the Tamaroa in the early 1970’s. Beyond his extraordinary talent, Dave was just a genuinely nice guy. Ask him anything and he wouldn’t give a second thought about helping. He was sincere and immensely humble. I don’t know much about the comic art world, but I DO know that it is a better world because Dave was in it. He is greatly missed by all those who loved him, knew him, befriended him and worked with him.”
Danny Bulanadi‘s widow, Marissa Bulanadi, shared a video statement.
At press time, no member of the Reed Crandall family or estate could be reached for comment or acceptance of the award. Bob Almond, The Inkwells’ founder and director, requested anyone from either or with information to contact him via the site or on social media.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
THE JOE SINNOTT HALL OF FAME:
The two winners of Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award are Frank Frazetta and Syd Shores. Frazetta also won a SASRA in 2021. This is the first time that all the Inkwell lifetime achievement winners in both categories are posthumous.
Joe Sinnott’s son, Mark, shared the following statement:
“This year’s recipients of the Inkwell’s Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award are two giants in the industry. We are pleased to welcome Frank Frazetta and Syd Shores to this elite group.
“Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) is most notably known for his wonderful paintings of sci-fi and fantasy, but also for his comic book work starting in the mid 1940s, doing pencils and inks for Prize, Standard, Dell and EC Comics among others. For nine years he also ghosted Al Capp’s Li’l Abner. He would later do black and white stories as well as cover paintings for Warren Publishing.
“Syd Shores (1913-1973) was best known for his work on the Captain America comic books both in the Golden Age (1940s) and Silver Age (1960s) of comics, both times inking the work of legendary penciller Jack Kirby. Syd would also pencil and ink numerous superhero, horror and western stories for Marvel Comics during the ’60s and early ’70s.
I know that my dad, Joe, would be thrilled to have these 2 fabulous artists join the list of members in the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame.”
Frazetta’s son, Frank Frazetta Jr., shared a photo statement earlier on February 9, and his granddaughter, Sara Frazetta, part of The Frazetta Girls group, was contacted but no official statement was submitted.
“It is on behalf of my father, Syd Shores, an incredible inker (and penciller, as well) that I accept the Inkwell Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award, given posthumously. This year will be 50 years since my father died, and my family and I are thrilled that his work is being recognized in such a wonderful way. It is actually the first formal award that he has ever received for his work in comic books! As the prime Captain America artist of the forties and then the character’s prime inker in the sixties, along with so many other titles too numerous to mention, I think he would have been humbled to have his expertise recognized in such fashion.
“He and Joe Sinnott were friendly, though they only saw each other occasionally at comic book conventions, when they would go out for lunch together with their wives and/or delivering assignments to the Marvel offices. I, too, had the privilege of meeting Joe on two occasions, and it was gratifying to learn of his admiration for my dad both as an artist and person. I know the feeling and respect was mutual.
“Thank you so much for this honor to my father’s legacy. My older sister who passed away just a year ago would have been enormously proud and appreciative, as well, and our family will treasure the Inkwell Award and all it stands for in the comic book world. It is truly meaningful and we are extremely touched.”
The ABOVE & BEYOND AWARD is not an annual category but only awarded when the need arises, whenever an internal member of the organization goes above & beyond and when someone in the community promotes the artform of inking and its artists (none were offered in 2020). Begun in 2018 at the final Heroes Con-hosted ceremony, the A&B Award’s first recipients were Mark Sinnott and Hailey Skaza-Gagne to recognize the extraordinary dedication they have provided for the organization, and Robert Haines for being the first Nomination Committee (NomCom) candidate to reach 10 years of service. Since then several NomCom members have reached a decade of service and Heroes Con promoter Shelton Drum was rewarded one for acting as our host show for eight years.
This year Rik Offenberger, journalist and owner of First Comics News, and creator Tony Parker reached their much-deserved 10-year NomCom incentive award. Upon receipt of the trophy Rik said, “I would like to thank the Inkwell Awards for the Award” and Tony said “THANK YOU Bob Almond AND THE INKWELL AWARDS! Happy to help! (I’m horrible at receiving recognition, so thank y’all for understanding.)”
Next is ink artist and former Marvel editor, Keith Williams. First, some background: Since 2011, the non-profit Inkwells has held the annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge, where Joe would draw two fully-rendered images of characters for participating pro & amateur artists, to ink over a blueline of Joe’s pencils (shortly after that began, one of the images was drawn tightly and the other loosely for those who wanted to do art finishes). That lasted eight years, six of which were published in book form, helping to bring attention to the contributions of ink artists with before and after images.
Keith inked 17 out of the 18 drawings before Joe retired and later passed away. After that a “Tribute Challenge” began with one of Joe’s top art partners, Ron Frenz, drawing Thor and then (the name changed to “Legacy Challenge”) another common collaborator, Alex Saviuk, was recently featured with a Spider-man & Mary Jane image, both of which were graced with Keith’s inks.
An exclusive spin-off of the event, the Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight, featured art by other iconic legends and contemporary fan-favorites, has had six years to date of single characters that Keith also joined up to ink but he missed the event launch with Jim Lee’s Superman. At 22 inked donations out of a possible 24, more than anyone else who participated, the prolific Keith has selflessly contributed to help raise awareness about what ink artists bring to the table and donate to the essential Inkwell fundraising. His award was presented personally at the 2023 Little Giant Comics Old School Comic Show in Concord, NH on April 14.
A longtime veteran since the early 1980s, Keith said:
“Thank you so much for this amazing award! The Above and Beyond Award will have a special place on my fireplace! I would like to thank Bob, Hailey, and, of course, The Inkwell Awards. I love inking. And enjoy doing the challenges every year. I hope that the part that I play in this helps promote the art of inking as a true art form and inspire new comic book artists to take up the challenge.”
Lastly, recipient Ray Burke has been an Inkwell contributor since 2011 and his skill set and work ethic led to him being added to the core committee in late 2020. Since then he’s been the “Go-To Guy” due to committee creators like Bob, Mike Pascale and Joe Prado being often beset by work schedule obstacles so Ray has adapted to fit in and reliably assisted in almost every project, picking up the slack with tech matters, graphic design, book production, proofing, communications and more than we want to admit. Adds founder Bob Almond, “In fact, he’s been my right hand guy for some time now. Sadly, as a low-tier non-profit advocacy we cannot pay for these voluntary but exceptional achievements, so offering Ray an MVP version of the Above & Beyond award will show him how much he means to us.”
Ray’s statement after receiving the trophy was:
“When I first met Bob Almond over a decade ago, I had a basic knowledge of comic book inking. I knew inkers took pencilled work and applied ink. Like most fans that was about all I really understood. Bob asked me to assist in the live ceremonies to have a slide show presentation for people to follow. I agreed, becoming a multimedia contributor. Since that time, thanks to the Inkwell Awards, I’ve met some of the biggest names in the comic book business. Not only that, I’ve learned that ink artists do more than just lay down ink. They can take finished pencils and enhance and embellish them. I have gained insight about their importance in the comic book world, and how inking can take artwork and add depth. The Inkwell Awards’ mission is to to educate the public and celebrate inking. I’m glad to have been on this journey so far because I’ve already learned so much. Looking back I’m surprised I’ve been a part of so many events and projects with the Inkwell Awards. Looking forward I can’t wait to see what’s in store. It is with great honor that I accept this 2023 Above & Beyond Award, and I’m excited to see what’s next!”
Congratulations to all of our current winners!
“Bob Almond, Keith Williams, Hailey Skaza-Gagne, Little Giant Comics’ Old School Comic Show, 4/14/2023 (pic: Marjet Williams)”