Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Eisner Awards

The comics industry's Eisner Awards, named for pioneering writer and artist Will Eisner, are given as part of the annual Comic-Con International convention. One of the largest conventions of any kind anywhere, Comic-Con drew more than 90,000 people to San Diego, Calif. in July 2005 for a four-day celebration of comic books, comic strips, movies, video games, toys, animation, and anything loosely connected to science fiction and fantasy. It's huge.

The Eisner Award is commonly referred to as the industry's "Oscar," given for excellence in 26 categories in addition to special awards for humanitarian work, the Hall of Fame, etc. Eisners go to writers, artists, colorists, letterers, retailers, one-shot projects, limited series, continuing series--and, for the first time in 2005, digital comics. The Eisner judges defined "digital comics" very precisely so that, for example, most animated work would not be considered. In early 2005, Mom's Cancer was nominated for Best Digital Comic.

This was my first Comic-Con, and it was overwhelming. My wife and two girls came along and we found "Kid Sis" (the true comics geek in the family) at the event. I got to meet in person some people I'd come to know on the Internet, make some new friends, and shake hands with some childhood idols. I encourage you to seek out the work of the following creators, even if you normally wouldn't, because justice demands that good people be rewarded: Otis Frampton (Oddly Normal, a very charming character and series), Frank Cammuso (Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective), Raina Telgemeier (Smile, The Babysitters Club), Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze), and Ted Slampyak (Annie, Jazz Age Chronicles).

The awards ceremony is traditionally held Friday night in a large ballroom. It is structured much like the movies' Academy Awards, with noteworthy presenters giving the awards a few at a time, interspersed with special presentations or recognitions. The evening seemed to move very quickly until the Best Digital Comic category and then very slowly afterward. What happened in the few minutes between is a blur. When presenter Scott McCloud read the list of nominees and announced that Mom's Cancer had won, my priorities were to move quickly, remember to mention everyone important, and not make a fool of myself. I am told I largely succeeded.

The Eisner Award is a tremendous honor that I never expected to receive. It's extremely gratifying. Much of the success of Mom's Cancer has come because readers found it online, connected to the story in a very personal way, and recommended it to others. I appreciate that most of all.

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