Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Pulp (Image), a rousing mashup of classic western and noir genres set in the 1930s, was awarded the 2021 Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Novel during an online version of the awards program held once again during Comic-Con@Home, the online version of San Diego Comic-Con, the annual pop culture conference.
Brubaker, who had won the Best New Graphic Novel award in 2019, also added an Eisner award for Best Digital Comic, while Gene Luen Yang was awarded Eisners for Superman Smashes the Klan (along with artist Gurihiru, for Best Book for Kids and Best Adaptation, published by DC), and Dragon Hoops (First Second), which he drew himself, for Best Books for Teens.
Adrian Tomine won two Eisners: Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist (D&Q) won for Best Memoir, and the nonfiction work was also awarded an Eisner for Best Publication Design. And Simon Hanselmann won two Eisners, including Best Webcomic for Crisis Zone, and Best Reprint for Seeds and Stems (Fantagraphics).
Once again the Eisner Awards, a gala ceremony usually held at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront hotel, were held online via YouTube and hosted by longtime Eisner guest host Phil LaMarr, who announced the winners, and by Eisner Awards administrator Jackie Estrada. LaMarr once again lamented that the fact that the ceremony was online, but he also said that the archived 2020 video of the presentations attracted 16,000 viewers in the first four days it was up—and more than 20,000 views over the past year. He joked, “you can pause the thing, take notes, and Google the winners—pause and Google!”
LaMarr also quipped that “the ceremony is shorter,” referring to an ongoing complaint about the Eisner ceremony, which usually runs about three hours. Estrada, who marks her 31st year as administrator of the 33 year-old Eisner Awards, came on to describe the process for judging titles; last year, the pandemic created problems and delays, while this year, Comic-Con chose judges who lived in California, so the award judges were able to return to in-person meetings to consider the prizes.
Among the rest of the book-related Eisner Award winners were Derf Backderf’s Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio (Abrams) for Best Nonfiction Work; Jillian Tamaki’s Our Little Kitchen (Abrams) for Best Book for Early Readers; and Menopause: A Comic Treatment, edited by M.K. Czerwiec (PSU Press), for Best Anthology.
Other book-related Eisner winners include Remina by Junji Ito for Best U.S. Edition-Asia; Goblin Girl by Moa Romanova for Best U.S. Edition-Europe; Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books (Yoe Books/IDW) by Ken Quattro won for Best Book-Related Work; and The Content of Our Caricature: African American: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging (NYU Press) by Rebecca Wanzo, which won for Best Scholarly Work.
The Bob Clampett Humanitarian award was presented to Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and his wife Christine for their work fundraising in support of chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen; and the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award was presented to Chris Lloyd, owner of the Laughing Ogre comics store in Columbus Ohio.
This year’s automatic inductees to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame include RAW cofounder, New Yorker art director, and Toon Books publisher Françoise Mouly; veteran comics artists Stan Goldberg,a Silver Age comics artist who was inducted posthumously; and Golden Age cartoonist Lily Renée Phillips, who celebrated her 100th birthday on May 12.
Among those inducted into the HoF by voters were acclaimed comics writer Neil Gaiman, who recalled attending his first Comic-Con in 1989, which had 15,000 attendees. “I thought it was the biggest show ever,” he noted. Celebrated comics artist and comics theorist Scott McCloud also was inducted, and he described himself on the video as a “grateful aging nerd that you’ve made very happy.”