THE EAGLE Awards committee is to offer untried talent a chance to demonstrate their abilities before a global audience.

Unveiled at last weekend’s Bristol International Comics and Small Press Expo, the Eagles Initiative provides a unique platform from which the next generation of writers and artists can promote their storytelling ability in an increasingly competitive market.

“I’ve always thought the Eagles could take a far more progressive and proactive role in the comics industry, especially within the UK which has such an untapped and unsupported pool of talent,” explains Initiative director Barry Renshaw. “When I was asked to rebrand the Eagle Awards themselves last year, I pitched the idea of the Initiative to the committee and it soon snowballed into something far more expansive.”

Eagle Awards chair Cassandra Conroy commented, “When Barry came to me with the idea I thought it was the best way to expand and relaunch the Eagles brand; considering the Eagles receive global recognition I believed this would help the industry discover new talent not just from here and the USA, but from places we wouldn’t perhaps expect.”

In what is an unprecedented global talent search, entrants will be asked to submit an original self-contained illustrated story. The thousands of projected entries will be assessed by a hand-picked jury of comics readers, which will present a final dozen to the panel of judges comprising many of the comics industry’s top talents. Among those who have already agreed to participate are Peter Bagge, Karen Berger, Chris Claremont, David Finch, Dave Gibbons, Geoff Johns, Gilbert Shelton, Jeff Smith, Bryan Talbot, Ethan Van Sciver, Mark Waid and Brian Wood.

The judges will select a top three from the final 12 with the winner be awarded a £1,000 cash prize. The runner up will win £500 with the third place submission being given £250. All three stories are to be included in the Initiative Anthology, which will be released as a print publication and in multiple languages across the digital media.

“The Initiative is the first stage in a several year plan to reform the Eagles into a tool for developing new talent, for educating young people about the potential in the medium, and to help connect the many disparate elements of the comics industry together,” added Renshaw. “As an example, we have creators, editors, publishers, journalists, festival organisers, distributors and academics from across the world among our judges.”

Established as an annual event and with the emphasis very much on storytelling, the inaugural competition aspect gets underway on July 1, 2010, when the Initiative will open for submissions.

Expressing his support for the Eagle Initiative, BOOM! Studios editor-in-chief Mark Waid said, “This medium is nothing without new talent, young blood, and fresh perspectives.

“It’s our responsibility to nurture the next generation of creators and share what we’ve learned – and, in return, learn from and be energised by them. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get into this,” added Waid whose numerous writing credits include Kingdom Come, The Flash, Impulse, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Irredeemable.

A fellow judge, former Wonder Woman and Avengers artist Mike Deodato Jr said, “Getting a foot in the door of any business, in addition to talent and skills, is often a matter of ‘who you know’ – or, more important, who knows you. Some people do it through attending art schools. Others are lucky enough to land savvy agents who teach as well as trawl for jobs. Many don’t get such opportunities. If the Eagles Initiative can get more fresh talent into the sights of editors and fans, that’s a great thing – for the talent in particular and for our industry in general.”

For further details on the Initiative, a full list of judges and complete submission guidelines, go to http://www.eaglesinitiative.com/. For press enquiries, contact director Barry Renshaw: [email protected]. For further details on the Eagle Awards, contact Cassandra Conroy: [email protected].

ABOUT THE EAGLE AWARDS:
Introduced in 1976, the Eagles are the comics industry’s longest established awards. Unique in that they reflect the people’s choice, they are awarded by fans who vote for their favourite in each category of the awards. They are named after the fondly remembered 1950′s British comic anthology Eagle, and were originated by two British fans, Mike Conroy and Richard Burton. The awards proved to be successful, with American publishers such as Marvel Comics announcing their victories with pride. They have relaunched in 2010 with a new look, a new mandate and a new vision for the future.

ABOUT BARRY RENSHAW:
Barry Renshaw has been an active creator in the UK independent comics industry for over a decade, as publisher of his own Engine Comics imprint, the award winning Redeye Magazine, and the popular How to Self Publish – A Rough Guide, as well as running or appearing at various workshops, seminars and panels over the years. He was asked to join the Eagle Awards committee in 2009 to help reinvent the brand, and saw an opportunity for the Awards to play a more progressive and proactive role in the comics industry. The Initiative is the first part of that expanded role.

ABOUT CASSANDRA CONROY:

Cassandra Conroy has been a regular presence on the UK convention scene for several years. In 2008, her father Mike Conroy handed over the running of the Eagle Awards to Cassandra, who has worked on Eaglemoss’s Classic Marvel Figurine Collection and DC Comics Super Hero Collection.

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