- Bodyworld, by Darren Shaw
- Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil
- The Lady's Murder, by Eliza Frye
- Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican, by Elan Trinidad
- Vs., by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari
Honestly, my reaction to the Digital Comic nominees was a big fat "Buh?" With the exception of The Lady's Murder (reviewed here), none of these comics have so much as pinged my radar. And I'm not alone. This blog has a higher traffic rating than the Eisner-nominated webcomics do (which isn't saying much). I can't even get proper metrics on the hosting sites because, with the exception of Smith Magazine (which hosts Vs.), none of them see enough visitors for Quantcast to measure the traffic.
I'll grant that popular doesn't necessarily equal good, nor does obscurity indicate lack of worth; the Internet has never been a meritocracy. But given how many amazing strips there are out there that folks actually read, it seems odd that this year's Eisner nominations have gone exclusively to those with a seven-figure Alexa ranking. After all, the panel traditionally hasn't been averse to eating at the cool kids' table. In previous years, winners have included Scott Kurtz's PvP, Sam & Max: The Big Sleep (which honestly strikes me as a bit of a cheat), and Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon's Sugarshock! (which debuted in Myspace Dark Horse Presents), and previous nominees have included Girl Genius and The Abominable Charles Christopher. I'm not saying I won't give the nominees a fair chance; I'm just saying they have impressive peers to surpass.
Another issue springs to mind when looking over the nominees. If the Eisners insist on stranding webcomics in their own awards ghetto, it might be time to add a category to distinguish between long form and limited series comics. After all, pitting a continuing series against a one shot comic like The Lady's Murder is like comparing a season of television to a nine minute short; there are simply different criteria for success. In the meantime, I'm off to see if the Eisner panel's picks are really all that special.
[2009 Eisner Nominees]