Comic-Con announced the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2020. The nominated works, published between January 1 and December 31, 2019, were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges — comics reviewer Martha Cornog (Library Journal), journalist/historian Jamie Coville (CollectorTimes.com, TheComicBooks.com), author/academic Michael Dooley (Art Center College of Design, Print magazine), novelist/comics writer Alex Grecian (The Yard, Proof, Seven Sons), podcaster/CCI volunteer Simon Jimenez and retailer Laura O’Meara (Casablanca Comics; Portland, ME).
These judges have selected two Eisner Hall of Fame inductees for 2020: Pioneering newspaper cartoonist and “Queen of Comics” Nell Brinkley (1886-1944), creator of “the Brinkley Girl”‘ and cartoonist and illustrator E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971), the first African-American cartoonist to be published in nationally distributed slick magazines (Esquire, Life, Judge, Playboy, etc.) and creator of Esquire mascot “Esky” and syndicated King Features panel Cuties.
The panel also chose 14 additional Hall of Fame contenders for public vote: Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, Moto Hagio, Don Heck, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Francoise Mouly, Keiji Nakazawa, Thomas Nast, Lily Renée Peter Phillips, Stan Sakai, Louise Simonson, Don and Maggie Thompson, James Warren and Bill Watterson. (Voting is now closed.)
Once again, this year’s Eisner Award nominees in 31 categories reflect the wide range of material being published in the U.S. today in comics and graphic novel media, representing over 170 print and online titles from more than 60 publishers and produced by creators from all over the world.
[Ghost Tree + Little Bird]
IDW and Image received the most nominations: IDW with 13 (plus 1 shared) and Image with 11 (plus 6 shared). Leading the pack for IDW is Ghost Tree, up for Best Limited Series, Best Writer (Bobby Curnow) and Best Penciller/Inker (Simon Gane). IDW projects with 2 nominations include Diabolical Summer (Best International Publication, Best Painter for Alexandre Clarisse) and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo: The Complete Grasscutter Artist Select (Best Archival Collection, Best Publication Design). IDW’s Top Shelf imprint has two nominees: George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy (Best Reality-Based Work) and Penny Nichols (Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer for MK Reed & Greg Means). Image has 3 of the 6 nominees for the Best New Continuing Series category: Bitter Root, Criminal and Crowded. The Image title with the most nominations is Little Bird (Best Limited Series, Best Penciller/Inker for Ian Bertram, and shared Best Coloring for Matt Hollingsworth).
Other publishers with multiple nominations include Fantagraphics (12), Dark Horse (10 plus 4 shared), First Second (9 plus 1 shared), Drawn & Quarterly (9), DC (7 plus 5 shared), Europe Comics (7), Shortbox (5), Scholastic (4), Marvel (4 plus 4 shared) and BOOM! (3 plus 1 shared). Five companies had 3 nominees: Beehive Books, Nobrow, VIZ Media, SelfMadeHero (2 + 1 shared) and Titan (2 + 1 shared). Twelve companies have 2 nominations each, and another 35 companies or individuals have 1 nomination each.
Other works with more than 2 nominations include Dark Horse’s Invisible Kingdom (Best New Series, Best Painter and Best Cover Artist for Christian Ward, Best Writer for G. Willow Wilson), Tillie Walden’s Are You Listening (Best Graphic Album–New, Best Writer/Artist, Best Lettering, from First Second), Drawn & Quarterly’s Grass (Best Reality-Based Work, Best International Publication–Asia, Best Writer/Artist for Keum Suk Gendry-Kim), DC’s Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer for Mariko Tamaki, Best Penciller/Inker for Steve Pugh), and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer, Best Penciller/Inker, from First Second). Over 20 works have 2 nominations.
The creator with the most nominations is James Stokoe with 5: Along with being chosen for Best Writer/Artist, his Sobek (published by Shortbox) is nominated for Best Single Issue and Best Humor Publication, and a book devoted to him, Grunt: The Art and Unpublished Comics of James Stokoe (Dark Horse) is nominated for Best Comics-Related Book and Best Publication Design. Eight creators have 3 nominations each: Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (for Grass), David Mack (Best Painter, Best Cover Artist, Best Graphic Album–Reprint for Cover), Stan Sakai (two for the Usagi Yojimbo Grasscutter book plus Best Lettering), Mariko Tamaki (Best Writer plus two in Best Publication for Teens—Harley Quinn and Laura Dean), Lewis Trondheim (Best International Publication for SelfMadeHero’s Maggy Garrisson and Magnetic Press’s Stay, plus Best Writer), Tillie Walden (3 for Are You Listening?), Christian Ward (3 for Invisible Kingdom) and Chip Zdarsky (Best Continuing Series for Marvel’s Daredevil, Best Digital Comic for comiXology’s Afterlift, Best Writer).
Twenty-five creators are nominated for 2 Eisners: Lynda Barry, Ian Bertram, Ed Brubaker, Nina Bunjevac, Didier Cassagrain, Alexandre Clarisse, Bobby Cornow, Colleen Doran, Bilquis Evely, Ebony Flowers, Simon Gane, Mira Jacob, Léa Mazé, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Sean Phillips, Emilie Plateau, Steve Pugh, Julie Rocheleau, MK Reed & Greg Means, Lissa Treiman, Raina Telgemeier, David Walker, Chris Ware and G. Willow Wilson.
Named for acclaimed comics creator Will Eisner, the awards are celebrating their 32nd year of bringing attention to and highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels.
“The judging process was very challenging this year,” said Eisner Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada. “Normally, the judges all meet in San Diego for four days in a room filled with all the submitted comics and books and they are able to interact with each other in person. With the country in lockdown, they all had to stay in their respective homes (as far away as Maine, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Kingston, Ontario) so had to communicate via email, a social media group and Zoom. Packages of books went back and forth all over the country. Fortunately, we were able to work with the folks at comiXology and many of the publishers to have digital versions of hundreds of submissions available to the judges.”
She added, “The process took two months longer than usual, so the window for voting is significantly shorter than in previous years. We encourage professionals in comics to cast their votes as soon as they can.”
Voting for the awards is held online, and the ballot will be available at www.eisnervote.com. All professionals in the comic-book industry are eligible to vote. The deadline for voting is June 18. The results will be announced in July (further details TBA).