Desert Companion travels to Pahrump, emerges with awards, fireworks burns

The smoke from the illegal fireworks has cleared, and Desert Companion has emerged triumphant from the Nevada Press Association's 2010 Better Magazine Awards, held Sept. 18 in Pahrump at the perhaps inauspiciously named Pahrump Nugget. Desert Companion walked away with nine awards in seven categories, including three first-place awards and multiple wins in two categories.

The biggies:

- First place for Best Investigative or In-depth Story or Series, for Phil Hagen and Erika Pope's comprehensive and thought-provoking "25 Reasons for Art Optimism."

- First place for Best Illustration. That would be Joseph Ciardiello's illustration of Elvis in our story about Elvis' Vegas years (a fine piece for which writer Geoff Schumacher won a third-place award for Best Feature Story). Aaron McKinney garnered a third place in Best Illustration for his masterful comic illustration of Harry Reid.

- First place for Best Portrait, awarded to Aaron Mayes for his moody portrait of writer Maile Chapman. (Or maybe it was this playful one of the lovably insane writer Alissa Nutting). Desert Companion Art Director Chris Smith won third place in the category for his multiple-exposure portrait of artist Brian Porray.

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We also took second place for Best Explanatory Journalism, for our lively analysis of what makes the valley's coolest buildings so cool, as well as a second place award for Best Multiple Feature Photos for Aaron Mayes' stunning photo essay on Chinatown.

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