The Eisner Awards are often called the Academy Awards of comics. There’s a part of me which wants be cool and say it’s not a big deal but I can’t kid myself. A big part of why it matters so much to me is my personal history with the awards and the Webcomic category in particular.
My first experience with the awards goes back to 1999 when I was nominated in the Talent Deserving Wider Recognition category. The award that year went to writer Brian Bendis and he was absolutely the right winner. Not only was his acceptance speech gracious and pitch-perfect, it was particularly kind to the then-struggling independent wing of Image Comics. Today, that wing is the biggest and best part of Image Comics and consistently publishes great work. And I can say, looking back on my own work in 1999, while it was nice to be nominated, my work was not deserving of any more attention.
Cut to 2005. I was asked by Eisner Awards administrator Jackie Estrada to serve as one of the judges for that year’s awards. I happily took part but lamented that there wasn’t yet a webcomics category. In the years leading up to this point, webcomics had been gaining stature and each year – when they weren’t included on the ballot – the message boards and online forums would erupt. I found that the only reason webcomics weren’t on the ballot was because nobody had ever written a proposal to include them. So I wrote one. (Okay, it wasn’t as easy as that because awards have weird rules for often very good reasons and adding a category which broke some of those rules needed finessing.) My fellow judges approved the proposal and webcomics were sharing the stage with printed comic books for the first time.
Now, twelve years later, my own comic has been nominated in that category and my work shares the ballot with some of the best creators in comics today.
I’m still not sure if my work is deserving of wider recognition, but I’m honored and humbled by the nomination and can’t thank the judges enough.
The award ceremony will take place Friday, July 21. Fingers crossed!