Panter named 2007 American Book Award winner

{product_snapshot:id=688,true,false,true,left}The Before Columbus Foundation have announced the Winners of the Twenty-Seventh Annual AMERICAN BOOK AWARDS. Brooklyn-based Cartoonist Gary Panter was named a recipient for his 2006 graphic novel, Jimbo’s Inferno, published by Seattle’s Fantagraphics Books. Panter becomes the second Fantagraphics-published author to garner an ABA — Joe Sacco’s Palestine was a recipient in 1996, and the award at that time very much helped solidfy Palestine‘s place in the pantheon of great graphic novels.

Jimbo’s Inferno is the acclaimed sequel (or prequel, as it was actually completed first) to 2004’s acclaimed Jimbo in Purgatory. Jimbo is the muscular, buzz-cut adventurer whom Panter has used over the years not as an alter ego or a superhero but as an Everyman. In Jimbo’s Inferno, a fractured retelling of Dante’s Inferno, Jimbo is a wary innocent traveling through the most heinous atmosphere Panter can imagine. For Panter, “hell” is just two letters away from spelling “mall”: a gigantic, brain-numbing, info-commerce center called Focky Bocky.

As Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker put it in his review of Jimbo’s Inferno, “Jimbo charts a dangerous path that adult readers will appreciate as one of the few depictions of the netherworld that owes nothing to the oft-imitated nightmare-dream work of Hieronymus Bosch or Salvador Dalí. Panter is a greater artist than either of these, as this book and its predecesor, Jimbo in Purgatory, make vividly clear.”

Gary Panter (born December 1, 1950 in Durant, Oklahoma) is an illustrator, painter, designer and part-time musician. Panter is a luminary of the post-underground, new wave comics movement that began in the early 1980s. He has published his work in various magazines and newspapers, including Raw, Time and Rolling Stone magazine. He has exhibited all over the world, and won three Emmy awards for his set designs for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

The 2007 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Saturday, December 2nd at Laney College Theatre, 900 Fallon Street in Oakland. The awards will take place from 4 P.M. – 6:30 P.M. Authors attending will read selections from their works and sign copies of their award-winning books. A reception and book signing will take place following the ceremony. This event is free to the public. For more information, call (510) 228-6775.

Emil Guillermo, a veteran journalist, and a columnist for AsianWeek, will host the ceremony. As a senior host of NPR’s All Things Considered, Guillermo was the first Filipino American to host a national news program. In 2000, his book, Amok: Essays from an Asian American Perspective was honored with an American Book Award.

The night’s keynote address will be given by California Poet Laureate Al Young. Sourcebooks has just published his latest work, Something About the Blues, a massive collection of blues and jazz driven poetry. The collection is also packaged with an exciting audio CD.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.