“The Realist,” the comic book by Asaf Hanuka, has won the Eisner Award, the most prestigious for comics awarded in the United States. The announcement of the Eisner winners was made to coincide with the Comic-Con convention taking place in San Diego, California. Hanuka’s book won the prize in the category of “Best U.S. Edition of International Material.” The awards, which are known as “the Oscars of the comics industry,” are distributed annually for artistic achievements in the field and are named after the late American Jewish comic artist Will Eisner.
“I’m surprised to discover that sometimes the most local thing is also the most international,” Hanuka told Haaretz. “I sometimes feel there are many egotistical aspects in my work because I’m actually writing about myself and drawing my family, I’m dealing with material that is my life. And I feel that there’s something that adds balance, in that it’s also read by people outside Israel, and they can think that Israel is also those things, like a 40-year-old man who has a hard time making ends meet and who has problems dealing with his 3-year-old daughter. So I feel that with all the egotism involved in creating an autobiographical adaptation, it’s also a contribution.”
Hanuka, who was born in 1974, began publishing comics during his military service in the Israel Defense Force magazine Bamahane. Post-army, he studied in France and put out two comic books there. After his return to Israel, Hanuka published two comic book together with author Etgar Keret: “Streets of Rage” (1997) and “Pizzeria Kamikaze” (2004). The latter was a candidate for the Eisner Awards in the category of best international comic book. In 2009 he began publishing a weekly autobiographical comic strip called “The Realist” in the daily business newspaper Calcalist. The prize-winning book is an anthology of these columns.
Over the years Hanuka has collaborated on several projects with his twin brother, illustrator and comic artist Tomer Hanuka. The two published a comic book called “Bipolar” in 2000 in the United States and last year they put out the graphic novel “The Divine” together with author Boaz Lavie. It was an international success and received glowing reviews.
The plot of the graphic novel revolves around a former army man who is about to become a father. Together with an old friend from his army days, he embarks on a secret mission in an Asian country engulfed in a civil war. There, the two encounter 10-year-old twins with superpowers who are leading a local army.
Another Israeli comic artist was honored with an Eisner Award in recent years. Rutu Modan twice won the prize for the best graphic novel, in 2008 with her novel "Exit Wounds" and in 2014 for "The Property."