The Academy of Comic Book Arts is an American professional organization of the 1970s that was designed to be the comic book industry analog of such groups as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Founded in 1970[1][2] and hosting its first awards ceremony in 1971 for work published in 1970, the ACBA existed through at least 1977. Its award, the Shazam, was a statuette in the shape of a lightning bolt.

In addition to the creative awards, the ACBA also established the Academy of Comic Book Arts Hall of Fame award, inducting Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as its initial honorees.


Composed of comic-book professionals, the ACBA was one of a string of largely unsuccessful comics-industry organizations, which include the Comic Book Creators Guild (1978-1979), the Comic Book Professionals Association (CBPA, 1992-1994), and Comic Artists, Retailers and Publishers (CARP, 1998-1998).[3] The ongoing exception is a publishers' group, the Comic Magazine Association of America (CMAA), founded in 1954 as a response to public pressure and a Senate subcommitte on juvenile delinquency, and which created the self-censorship board the Comics Code Authority.

The ACBA held its first annual awards banquet at the Statler Hilton Hotel's Terrace Ballroom on May 12, 1971. The awards were presented by Marvel Comics editor-in-chief and ACBA president Stan Lee.

Despite its roots as an honorary society, the ACBA, under its early president, artist Neal Adams, became an advocacy organization for creators' rights. The comic-book industry at that time did not return artists' physical artwork after shooting the requisite film for printing, and in some cases destroyed the artwork to prevent unauthorized reprints. The industry also did not then offer royalties or residuals, common in such creative fields as book publishing, film and television, and the recording industry. Once the ACBA — riding a wave begun by the mid-'70s independent startup Atlas/Seaboard Comics, which instituted royalties and the return of artwork in order to attract creators — helped see those immediate goals achieved, it then gradually disbanded.[4]

Historian Jon B. Cooke wrote:

While the Academy of Comic Book Arts (ACBA) was established to be a kind of funnybook Motion Picture Academy — a self-congratulatory organization focused on banquets and awards — it quickly served as a soapbox for the Angry Young Men in the industry, primarily Neal Adams, Archie Goodwin, and their ilk of educated, informed and gutsy artists and writers, self-confident and filled with a strong sense of self-worth, attitudes sadly absent from the field for decades. ... (Jeff Rovin recalled, 'I can't tell you how many times Martin [Goodman] would listen to some of the things Neal Adams was saying and mutter, "Who the hell does he think he is?"').[4]

ACBA Sketchbook


Aside from its Shazam Awards, the ACBA also published an annual fundraiser sketchbook from at least 1973 through 1977[5] through 1977. Approximately $3,000 in sketchbook sales plus general contributions to the ACBA and accumulated interest was donated in early 2005 from the ACBA's Bill Everett Fund — created in 1975 to help comics professionals in financial need — to the present-day ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots), a federally chartered, not-for-profit corporation likewise dedicated. Irene Vartanoff was the final ACBA treasurer.[1]

Contributing to the 36-page[6] ACBA Sketchbook 1973 were Adams, Sergio Aragones, Frank Brunner, Howard Chaykin, Dave Cockrum, Reed Crandall, Frank Frazetta, Michael Kaluta, Gil Kane, Gray Morrow, John Romita Sr., Mike Royer, Syd Shores, Jim Starlin, Jim Steranko, Herb Trimpe, and Wally Wood.

The 48-page ACBA Sketchbook 1975 included Adams, Aragones, Chaykin, Kaluta, Kane, Romita Sr., Steranko, Wood, and John Byrne, Russ Heath, Jeff Jones, Harvey Kurtzman, Walt Simonson, Michael Whelan, and Berni Wrightson.[7] Wood also contributed to the 1976 and 1977 sketchbooks.[8]

Shazam Award

The Shazam Award is a series of awards given between 1970 and 1975 for outstanding achievement in the comic-book field. Awards were given in the year following publication of the material, based on nominations that were then voted upon by industry professionals. The name of the award is derived from the magic word for the original Captain Marvel, a popular superhero of the 1940s and early 1950s.


Presented 1971[2]


Presented 1972


Presented 1973

  • Best Continuing Feature: n.a.
  • Best Individual Story: "Dark Genesis", by Len Wein & Berni Wrightson, Swamp Thing #1 (DC)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic): "The Demon Within", by John Albano & Jim Aparo, House of Mystery #201 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Dramatic Division): Len Wein
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic Division): Berni Wrightson
  • Best Inker (Dramatic Division): n.a.
  • Best Humor Story: "The Poster Plague", by Steve Skeates & Sergio Aragones, House of Mystery #202 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Humor Division): n.a.
  • Best Penciller (Humor Division): n.a.
  • Best Inker (Humor Division): Sergio Aragones
  • Best Letterer: n.a.
  • Best Colorist: n.a.
  • Best Foreign Artist: n.a.
  • Outstanding New Talent: n.a.
  • Special Award: DC letterer/proofreader Gerda Gattel "for bringing her special warmth to our history"
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Julius Schwartz "for bringing the Shazam Family back into print"
  • Hall of Fame: n.a.


Presented 1974

  • Best Continuing Feature: Swamp Thing (DC)
  • Best Individual Story: "Song of Red Sonja", by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, Conan the Barbarian #24 (Marvel)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic): "The Himalayan Incident" (Manhunter) by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson, Detective Comics #437 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Dramatic Division): Archie Goodwin
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic Division): Berni Wrightson
  • Best Inker (Dramatic Division): Dick Giordano
  • Best Humor Story: "The Gourmet", Plop! #1 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Humor Division): (tie) Stu Schwartzberg, Steve Skeates
  • Best Penciller (Humor Division): Marie Severin
  • Best Inker (Humor Division): Ralph Reese
  • Best Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
  • Best Colorist: Glynis Wein
  • Best Foreign Comic Series: Lieutenant Blueberry
  • Outstanding New Talent: (tie) Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Richard Corben
  • Hall of Fame: Carl Barks


Presented 1975

  • Best Continuing Feature: Conan the Barbarian (Marvel)
  • Best Individual Story: "Götterdämmerung", Detective Comics #443 (DC)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic): "Cathedral Perilous" (Manhunter) by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson, Detective Comics #441 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Dramatic Division): Archie Goodwin
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic Division): John Buscema
  • Best Inker (Dramatic Division): Dick Giordano
  • Best Humor Story: "Kaspar the Dead Baby" Crazy #8 (Marvel)
  • Best Writer (Humor Division): Steve Skeates
  • Best Penciller (Humor Division): Marie Severin
  • Best Inker (Humor Division): Ralph Reese
  • Best Letterer: John Costanza
  • Best Colorist: Tatjana Wood
  • Outstanding New Talent: Craig Russell
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Roy Thomas
  • Hall of Fame: Jack Kirby

See also



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