Thursday, April 8, 2010

This Year's Eisner Nominations Honor Actual Webcomics

Hello, Eisner Award nominations. It's nice to see you again. Pull up a chair. Can I get you some tea? Maybe a cookie? I apologize about the mess in here.

You and I had a bit of a falling out last year, Eisners. You came out last year, all fat and happy, nominating short stories like Body World, The Lady's Murder, and Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican. The comic that took home the grand prize was a few pages of Carla Speed McNeil's long-running print comic, Finder. Now it's not that the stories weren't good. A few of the noms were kind of lightweights, but Body World was pretty brilliant and the bits of Finder were fascinating. But they aren't exactly what I'd call webcomics.

Now, don't interrupt, Eisners. I know you never said that the award was for Best Webcomic. You said Best Digital Comic, and technically, all of these comics (or at least these pages) were first published online. But really, Eisner, is the distribution method really what the separate digital category is about? Or is it about peering into the ecosystem that has gradually formed around webcomics and pulling out the best of what's out there? You don't have to answer that right now; I know I'm putting you on the spot.

I must say, though, I'm a lot happier about this year's nominations. Karl Kerschl's The Abominable Charles Christopher? Cameron Stewart's Sin Titulo? Tops, really. I've heard great things about Bayou, even though I've been reluctant to deal with reading it on Zuda (I'm lazy, I know). I'm not familiar with The Guns of Shadow Valley and Power Out (the latter is being published with a Xeric Grant), but I'm eager to check them out. It's just nice to see some longer format comics making the cut, including folks who have become genuinely active participants in the webcomics culture.

One more thing, though, and maybe this is something we can come back to on a later date: how much does a relationship with print comics impact your chances of getting nominated? Kerschl and Stewart absolutely 100% deserve their places on the list, but I can't help but note that they've both had long careers as mainstream comics artists. Bayou has long been Zuda's flagship title, with the force and money of DC Comics behind it. And while Power Out didn't make The Act-I-vate Primer, it did get some nice press earlier this year with the Xeric Grant. I'm sure that each of these comics deserve to be honored, I'm just wondering if creators without ties to the print industry get the same opportunity to see their work so honored.


El Santo said...

Re: print comics affection chances

I think that plays a huge part in who wins. I think that Steve Purcell won for a 12-page Sam & Max comic and Joss Whedon won for Sugarshock! mainly because of their names. I think the same can be said of Carla Speed MacNeil last year, mainly because out of the nominees, hers was the longest-running. I imagine that this year's going to boil down to Kerschl and Stewart for the same reason... though Zuda might be the spoiler, what with them sweeping the Harveys late last year.

In any case, of the ones I'm familiar with, I think the Eisner award will definitely go to someone who deserves it. Of that, I am happy.

Lauren Davis said...

@El Santo: Le sigh. Although this does make me happy that folks like Kerschl and Stewart take their webcomics projects so seriously and have really immersed themselves in the community. I had the pleasure of meeting them both at Webcomics Weekend (shortly before they became household names as webcomickers), and they had an incredibly respectful, enthusiastic "we're-just-here-to-learn" attitude.

root said...

I'm sure that the habits of the Eisner board w/r/t nominees probably has a lot to do with their roots in print, and to some extent their treatment of webcomics is going to mirror the habits of the newspaper industry. It's a world that they don't know, and don't know how to engage, and so of course the nominees are going to reflect familiar territory to them.

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