The 2021 the Inkwell Awards faced another year’s pandemic challenges. For that reason, winners could not be announced or presented awards at their host show The Great Philadelphia Comic Con. The winners are announced here instead.

Nominees were chosen by a separate and independent nomination committee. Voting by professionals and fans took place from March 16th to the 20th on the official ballot at the non-profit advocacy’s website. One winner was chosen in each of five categories based on American, interior comic-book work published in print and cover-dated 2020.

In addition, the Inkwells’ internal committee last season decided to not limit lifetime achievement awards chosen within a given year. They selected four inductees of 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 percentage of votes received and the credits used for the winners. Each winner provided a statement which follows their respective category(ies).

FAVORITE INKER: Ruy José (41%) (Immortal Hulk [Marvel])

Other nominees:
Joe Prado (25%)
Jonathan Glapion (18%)
Klaus Janson (16%)

It was with the same excitement I felt when I started reading comics as a child that I engaged in the craft of inking. And many years later, in 2018 I was honored with an invitation to be a part of the “Gamma Gang,” the team responsible for creating The Immortal Hulk: Tom Brevoort, Sarah Brunstad, Wil Moss, Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Paul Mounts, and Cory Petit. Our group’s efforts resulted in the success of the title with, of course, our readers’ support.

Nowadays, in such a difficult time for everyone when working from home–something so usual to the comic book laborer–has become commonplace. A situation that deprives us from socialization, usually solved with the network of connections made at meetings and conventions. Unfortunately, this year we didn’t even have those…

So what do we have? Health, family and work.
For those who are sick, I hope the cure will come and good health will take over.
For those with a family, I hope the ties have been tightened.
For those who are able, I hope they are working.
And for everyone who, like me, loves to work in this field, I want you to deal with life with the same love that you commit to your own work.
I deeply thank Gamma Gang, Inkwell members and you, the reader!

Most-adaptable Award: 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:
Daniel Henriques (21%)
Matt Santorelli (20%)
Marc Deering (9%)
LeBeau Underwood (9%)

Thank you to everyone who made winning the Most-Adaptable Inker Award possible. It’s truly an honor to be recognized by fans and peers alike. After working in this industry for so many years, knowing people out there still enjoy & appreciate my inking means so much to me. The excitement people feel about comics will never get old. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some phenomenal pencillers through the years, and 2020 was no different. To that end, this award wouldn’t be possible without, most notably, Paul Pelletier, Brett Booth, and Dan Jurgens. Last but not least, I’d like to thank the Inkwell Awards for continuing to recognize and celebrate the craft of inking and embellishing in comics.

Props Award: Eber Ferreira (41%) Flash: Speed Metal (one-shot), Freedom Fighters, Justice League [DC]

Other nominees:
Adriano Di Benedetto (28%)
Daniel Henriques (18%)
LeBeau Underwood (13%)

S.P.A.M.I. (Small Press and Mainstream Independent [Non Marvel/DC]) AWARD: Adelso Corona (69%) Snake Eyes [IDW]; Bloodshot [Valiant]

Other nominees:
LeBeau Underwood (31%)

I just really wanted to say thank you to Bob Almond and everyone at the Inkwell Awards. It is an absolute honor to say the absolute least! I really don’t have the words to express the feeling of being recognized by the fans and by my fellow creators in a field that houses so much talent that can sometimes unfortunately go unnoticed. The amount of love we have to have for the art form to do what we do is what makes me so proud to be even mentioned amongst my fellow inkers. Winning the Inkwell 2020 S.P.A.M.I. Award has made what would normally be one of my most difficult years, for obvious reasons, in fact one of my best! Thank you is all i can say…

ALL-IN-ONE (pencilling and inking together) AWARD: Chris Samnee (40%) FirePower [Image]

Other nominees:
Liam Sharp (31%)
Marco Santucci (29%

I feel so honored to have been nominated, and bowled over to have won! Huge thanks to everyone that voted for me! I can’t wait to hold that award in my ink-stained fingers.

From the Estate of Frank Frazetta, 1967

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

Wendy Pini made the following statement:

“There are so many phases to the creation of a comic book: story sessions, script and script edits, cover art, layouts, pencils, inks, colors, lettering guides and lettering. And even that doesn’t begin to describe it all. Usually comic book production is a team effort. But when you wear many hats as part of an indie comics duo–and my part has most often been script, cover art, layouts, pencils, inks, colors and lettering guides–the creative effort goes by in such a blur that you don’t tend to focus on any one aspect of the job. This is why I’m so honored and gratified to have my inking acknowledged by the SASRA Lifetime Achievement Award. A disciple of Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott since my teens, I learned from them to give my fantasy drawings weight and power by carefully spotting blacks and by keeping my lines clean and simple, avoiding scritchy-scratchy detail. It’s truly wonderful to know that this has been recognized. Such acknowledgment motivates me to keep refining techniques, even after over 40 years in the business. Thank you from a very full heart.”

Frank Frazetta’s son, Frank Frazetta Jr, sent us this video acceptance statement:

At press time, there was no statement from Alfredo Alcala. Upon receiving his statement, we will happily include it here.

From the Estate of Mike Esposito
Sinnott & Esposito, 1975 New York Comic Con, photo: Sam Maronie
Royer & Sinnott, 1995 San Diego Comic Con

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

Other nominees:
John Severin, Chic Stone, Tony Dezuniga, Syd Shores, Bob Wiacek, Mike DeCarlo, Al Gordon, George Klein, Jack Abel

Pablo Marcos made the following statement:

“In the midst of this terrible and devastating pandemic, I have received encouraging news of immense power of encouragement. I have just been honored with the 2021 Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award for my artistic work in the wonderful world of COMICS !!! I accept this award with immense joy and satisfaction. I thank Bob Almond and other members of the committee for doing this type of recognition while we are still alive and can enjoy it with family, colleagues, friends, and fans.”

Sal Buscema issued the following statement:

“I want to thank everyone responsible for this award which I revere and cherish. I consider this to be truly a great honor. Once again, thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Mike Royer sent the following statement:

“I began my career in 1965 assisting Russ Manning in inking some on his Gold Key comic pages, Magnus and Tarzan, etc. In less than a year comics old timer Mike Arens took me on at Grantray-Lawrence Animation to ink new art to fill gaps in the comic book art stats used in the limited animation Marvel Super Heroes syndicated cartoon show. I continued to work as assistant and inker with Manning and Arens and eventually with many of the artists who created for Gold Key comics and did 1/3rd of the layouts on the Saturday morning animated series Spider-Man in 1967. Also during the late 1960s, I drew and inked as well for the James Warren magazines Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Late 1969 found me working with the King of the Comics Jack Kirby on his various projects, which led to almost a decade of DC and Marvel inking and lettering for him. I continued to ink and draw the occasional title for Gold Key as time permitted. In a break from my duties for Kirby, I found time to ink such talents as Hy Mankin, Sparky Moore, Mike Arens, Doug Wildey, and MANY others who toiled for Gold Key. [In] this period between getting back to work with Jack at DC, I wrote, drew, and inked a 46-page Jane graphic novel for Europe.

“After Jack’s return to Marvel I inked a variety of talents at DC including Ramona Franden and Steve Ditko. I still get a kick out of looking at the note Julie Schwartz sent me after inking two Batman stories in the Adventure title: “You did good, kid!” Then I was back at the board for Jack again at Marvel. A lot of pages of inks crossed my drawing board in those days. Then again I worked with Manning but was now doing all his inking and lettering on the Tarzan Sunday strip and the Star Wars daily and Sunday strip for 13 weeks, but that all changed the day Disney called. That’s another story. Of course, I did continue inking some things for Kirby and Steve Rude and others after leaving Disney and inked a bunch of Fantastic Four related material over Erik Larsen, Rude, Fosco, Frenz, etc. Joe Sinnott was the man in comics whose handling of pen and brush always inspired me to do the best I could on whoever’s pencils I touched with ink… even if one may not be aware of it. I drew many things as a penciler in comics and drew tons of Disney character art, but this is about my inking, and the honor I feel regarding comic fans’ appreciation of my humble efforts. It was a hell of a journey, and still is. I still get to ink recreations for fans. Thank goodness someone likes my humble efforts.”

The grandson of Mike Esposito, Tyler Esposito, sent us this video statement.

Unfortunately, Joe Sinnott, the award’s namesake and first winner, passed away in June 2020. His son, inker and Inkwell Awards Special Ambassador Mark Sinnott, has graciously assumed his legendary father’s position. He issued the following statement.


The Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame class of 2021 will be inducting 4 new outstanding and deserving contributors. We are very pleased and honored to add the names of Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito, Pablo Marcos, and Mike Royer to this elite group of talented ink artists.

Sal Buscema: My dad always enjoyed working with Sal. He could do it all. He is as gifted a penciler as he is an inker. Joe was fortunate to ink Sal on The Hulk, ROM Spaceknight, The Fantastic Four, and the Sunday Spidey strip, as well as several others. Sal’s inks over his brother John on The Silver Surfer and his work on The Avengers is outstanding.

Mike Esposito: An amazing inker whose work has graced such titles as Spider-man, teaming with his boyhood friend Ross Andru, The Flash, Metal Men, and Wonder Woman. Joe would always enjoy spending time together at shows with Mike and fellow Hall of Famer Frank Giacoia.

Pablo Marcos: I have always enjoyed seeing Pablo’s wonderful work on the Batman and Conan the Barbarian comics. They are both 2 of my favorite comics. His work that stands out to me the most is the beautiful artwork that he produced on the black and white magazines Tales of the Zombie and Dracula Lives. That is just some tremendous work.

Mike Royer: Like my dad at Marvel, Mike has had the good fortune of inking the legendary Jack Kirby at DC on some of the greatest comics ever produced. Mike is such an amazing and talented inker. His work has appeared in several Warren Magazines, Gold Key Comics, and numerous DC and Marvel Comics.

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 4 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!

Mark Sinnott (April 25, 2021)