The Eagle Awards are back, and, hot on the heels of promoting next week’s Free Comic Book Day (3rd May) US legend Stan Lee has joined the team behind them to provide fans around the world with a fresh opportunity to honour their favourite writers, artists and titles of the previous year.
In collaboration with awards director Cassandra Conroy, the co-founder of the Marvel Universe officially opened The Stan Lee Eagle Awards for nominations earlier this week at www.stanleeeagleawards.com.
Established in 1976, the Eagle Awards are one of the comics industry’s oldest and most coveted international prizes. Cassandra Conroy took over as chair of the original Awards in 2008 from their founder – her father, Mike – and has spearheaded the awards evolution. In recent times, the Awards ran into trouble behind the scenes after a commercial partnership took an unwelcome turn, but it’s good to see their return.
The 2014 prizes will be handed out as part of this year’s London Film and Comic Con with the inaugural ceremony being held at Earls Court on Saturday 12th July, an event that will also mark what we’re told will be Stan Lee’s last ever European convention appearance. The will then be held annually at the same event.
“My dad’s intention was always to give the fans a voice and I’m delighted that this latest initiative will take his vision to an entirely new plane.” said Cassandra. “There has been a Conroy behind the Eagle Awards since their inception in 1976. I’m delighted that such a legendary creator as Stan has been willing to help me build on my father’s legacy.”
Dubbed the People’s Choice Awards, the Eagle Awards are considered unique in that they offer the only worldwide platform for professionals and non-professionals alike to voice their opinions of the work being done in the medium.
“It’d be great to see more non-English language titles and creators being recognised and having such a household name as Stan Lee attached makes virtually anything possible,” feels Mike Conroy.
It is almost impossible to summarise Stan Lee’s contributions to the US comic book industry. A writer and editor who began his career in 1939 at the age of 16, he almost single-handedly ran Timely and Atlas – the precursors to Marvel Comics – writing a significant percentage of the stories for a line that consisted primarily of war, western, romance and fantasy/monster anthologies from 1941 until 1961 when he partnered with artist Jack Kirby to create Marvel’s first superheroes in almost a decade. The Fantastic Four revived the fortunes of what had been a moribund company, and the collaboration between Lee and the legendary King of Comics continued as they followed that runaway success with a wave of other well-received characters: Ant-Man (in Tales to Astonish), The Incredible Hulk, Thor (in Journey into Mystery), Iron Man (in Tales of Suspense), Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos, The Avengers and X-Men among them.
He was also, of course, the man who created Marvel UK, a subsidiary of Marvel that successfully brought superheroes and many other comics and characters to British newsagents in their own British titles, for over 20 years from the 1970s onwards until the company’s assets were bought by Panini UK in the mid 1990s.
“Many view Stan as a comic book god,” enthuses Mike. “That Stan was the very first inductee on to Eagle Awards Roll of Honour back in 1976 just makes Cassandra’s coup that much more of a personal pleasure for me.”
“The original Eagle Awards had a coveted reputation that was well earned and respected. But to have Stan ‘The Man’ Lee offer his brand and patronage to champion The Stan Lee Eagle Awards is just incredible,” added Cassandra.
Growing up surrounded by comics and immersed in the British comics scene thanks to her father, Mike Conroy, it was all but inevitable that Cassandra would develop her own love for the medium. A face on the UK convention circuit since her early teens, she took over the running of the original Eagle Awards from her father in 2008 when she was only 16.
Determined to reinvent for the 21st century what were originally envisaged as fan awards, in 2014 she teamed up with legendary Marvel Universe co-creator Stan Lee to create a new worldwide brand in The Stan Lee Eagle Awards. Since 2012, Conroy has been coproducing
the Comic Zone element of Showmasters’ various UK-based multimedia events with her father.
One of the UK’s leading comics journalists, Mike Conroy is currently publisher/editor of Multiverse, Britain’s leading comics news magazine. He writes the bonus features for all the titles in Hachette’s hugely successful Ultimate Marvel Graphic Novel Collection line, as well as co-producing Comics Zone, the event-within-an-event at Showmasters’ massive nationwide multimedia extravaganzas, with his daughter Cassandra. A veteran comics journalist, historian, author and biographer, Mike Conroy is also the founder of the Eagle Awards.
• To find out more about the Stan Lee Eagle Awards visit: www.stanleeeagleawards.com
• The London Film and Comic Con (www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com) will run from Friday 11th July to Sunday 13th July 2014 in Earls Court 2. The Stan Lee Eagle Awards takes place during the evening of the event on Saturday 12th July, doors open from 7.00pm
Stan Lee Eagle Awards logo designed by Rian Hughesp