The 2020 Eisner Winners Are Here, in Strange Circumstances

The cover of Invisible Kingdom #5. (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

Despite the fact that this year’s physical San Diego Comic-Con was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has killed just about 150,000 people in the U.S. alone, the annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were presented last night, virtually, by Phil LaMarr.

Voting for the Eisner Awards proceeded in the weeks leading up to the convention, as participants were able to cast their ballots electronically through a voting portal as usual. Just as voting for this year’s Eisners was about to close, however, a number of voters realised that the official voting portal was seemingly insecure, with multiple people reporting being accidentally logged into the accounts of other people and saying they were able to view sensitive information like a person’s full name and address, along with being able to change their votes.

In response to concerns about this year’s initial voting process, the Eisner Awards organisers purportedly launched an investigation into what went wrong, and re-ran the voting process entirely. It’s important to note, though, that no widespread announcement was ever made to the public about why the awards were being done over, and a number of voters reported they weren’t notified that they needed to vote again. All of this has led to this year’s Eisners feeling a bit mired in questionability, if only because there doesn’t seem to be all that much interest in figuring out why the most notable comics industry awards did not seem concerned with the awards’ integrity and voters’ safety.

In an impassioned open letter in response to her publication snagging an Eisner, Women Write About Comics co-editor Wendy Browne expressed that, while she’s proud to have her team’s work recognised by their peers, these sort of would-be “anomalies” or technical difficulties cast a shadow on the 2020 Eisners.

“When even the industry’s most prestigious prize is embarrassingly tainted by mismanagement that results in potentially skewed results and privacy breaches left unaddressed — on top of a hellish year that has compounded the injustices, corruption, and inequality all around us — it’s hard for me to see this year’s Eisner win as anything but bittersweet,” Browne wrote. “It makes accepting an award marred by such uncertainty difficult for me, because this does not reflect our principles and who we are.”

Editor in Chief Nola Pfau echoed those statements following the win. “Given the situation with the Eisner voting procedures this year, and given the shoddy way in which they were ‘resolved,’ I can’t personally accept this award,” they wrote. “It galls me that this story broke this year, the year we finally won. We’re doing the same work now we were doing years ago, and only finally, only this year, are people realising what that work is. It galls me that a cloud of uncertainly now hangs over the award that our contributors and staff rightfully deserve.”

As far as we’ve seen, no other winner this year has addressed the voting incident. Here are the winners (bolded) of this year’s Eisner Awards.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • Comic Riffs blog, by Michael Cavna
  • The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, RJ Casey, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
  • Hogan’s Alley, edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan’s Alley)
  • Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, edited by Qiana Whitted (Ohio State University Press)
  • LAAB Magazine, vol. 4: This Was Your Life, edited by Ronald Wimberly and Josh O’Neill (Beehive Books)
  • Women Write About Comics, edited by Nola Pfau and Wendy Browne

Best Short Story

  • “Hot Comb,” by Ebony Flowers, in Hot Comb (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • “How to Draw a Horse,” by Emma Hunsinger, The New Yorker,
  • “The Menopause,” by Mira Jacob, The Believer,
  • “Who Gets Called an ‘Unfit’ Mother?” by Miriam Libicki, The Nib,
  • “You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You,” by Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal, 

Best Single Issue/One-Shot

  • Coin-Op No. 8: Infatuation, by Peter and Maria Hoey (Coin-Op Books)
  • The Freak, by Matt Lesniewski (AdHouse)
  • Minotäar, by Lissa Treiman (Shortbox)
  • Our Favourite Thing Is My Favourite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
  • Sobek, by James Stokoe (Shortbox)

Best Continuing Series

  • Bitter Root, by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene (Image)
  • Criminal, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
  • Crowded, by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, and Ted Brandt (Image)
  • Daredevil, by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto (Marvel)
  • The Dreaming, by Simon Spurrier, Bilquis Evely et al. (DC)
  • Immortal Hulk, by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, and Ruy José et al. (Marvel)

Best Limited Series

  • Ascender, by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen (Image)
  • Ghost Tree, by Bobby Curnow and Simon Gane (IDW)
  • Little Bird by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (Image)
  • Naomi by Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker, and Jamal Campbell (DC)
  • Sentient, by Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta (TKO)

Best New Series

  • Doctor Doom, by Christopher Cantwell and Salvador Larocca (Marvel)
  • Invisible Kingdom, by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
  • Once & Future, by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora (BOOM! Studios)
  • Something Is Killing the Children, by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera (BOOM! Studios)
  • Undiscovered Country, by Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Daniele Orlandini (Image)

Best Digital Comic

  • Afterlift, by Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo (comiXology Originals)
  • Black Water Lilies, by Michel Bussi, adapted by Frédéric Duval and Didier Cassegrain, translated by Edward Gauvin (Europe Comics)
  • Coloured: The Unsung Life of Claudette Colvin, by Tania de Montaigne, adapted by Emilie Plateau, translated by Montana Kane (Europe Comics)
  • Elma, A Bear’s Life, vol. 1: The Great Journey, by Ingrid Chabbert and Léa Mazé, translated by Jenny Aufiery (Europe Comics)
  • Mare Internum, by Der-shing Helmer (comiXology; gumroad.com/l/MIPDF)
  • Tales from Behind the Window, by Edanur Kuntman, translated by Cem Ulgen (Europe Comics)

Best Webcomic

  • Cabramatta, by Matt Huynh
  • Chuckwagon at the End of the World, by Erik Lundy
  • The Eyes, by Javi de Castro
  • Fried Rice Comic, by Erica Eng
  • reMIND, by Jason Brubaker
  • Third Shift Society, by Meredith Moriarty

Best Writer

  • Bobby Curnow, Ghost Tree (IDW)
  • MK Reed and Greg Means, Penny Nichols (Top Shelf)
  • Mariko Tamaki, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC); Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan); Archie (Archie)
  • Lewis Trondheim, Stay (Magnetic Press); Maggy Garrisson (SelfMadeHero)
  • G. Willow Wilson, Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse); Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
  • Chip Zdarsky, White Trees (Image); Daredevil, Spider-Man: Life Story (Marvel); Afterlift (comiXology Originals)

Best Writer/Artist

  • Nina Bunjevac, Bezimena (Fantagraphics)
  • Mira Jacob, Good Talk (Random House); “The Menopause” in The Believer (June 1, 2019)
  • Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Grass (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • James Stokoe, Sobek (Shortbox)
  • Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix)
  • Tillie Walden, Are You Listening? (First Second/Macmillan)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

  • Ian Bertram, Little Bird (Image)
  • Colleen Doran, Snow, Glass, Apples (Dark Horse)
  • Bilquis Evely, The Dreaming (DC)
  • Simon Gane, Ghost Tree (IDW)
  • Steve Pugh, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC)
  • Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan)

Best Cover Artist

  • Jen Bartel, Blackbird (Image Comics)
  • Francesco Francavilla, Archie, Archie 1955, Archie Vs. Predator II, Cosmo (Archie)
  • David Mack, American Gods, Fight Club 3 (Dark Horse); Cover (DC)
  • Emma Rios, Pretty Deadly (Image)
  • Julian Totino Tedesco, Daredevil (Marvel)
  • Christian Ward, Machine Gun Wizards (Dark Horse), Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Colouring

  • Lorena Alvarez, Hicotea (Nobrow)
  • Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Middlewest, Outpost Zero (Image)
  • Matt Hollingsworth, Batman: Curse of the White Knight, Batman White Knight Presents Von Freeze (DC); Little Bird, November (Image)
  • Molly Mendoza, Skip (Nobrow)
  • Dave Stewart, Black Hammer, B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know, Hellboy and the BPRD (Dark Horse); Gideon Falls (Image); Silver Surfer Black, Spider-Man (Marvel)

Best Painter/Digital Artist

  • Didier Cassegrain, Black Water Lilies (Europe Comics)
  • Alexandre Clarisse, Diabolical Summer (IDW)
  • David Mack, Cover (DC)
  • Léa Mazé, Elma, A Bear’s Life, vol. 1: The Great Journey (Europe Comics)
  • Julie Rocheleau, Wrath of Fantômas (Titan)
  • Christian Ward, Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Lettering

  • Deron Bennett, Batgirl, Green Arrow, Justice League, Martian Manhunter (DC); Canto (IDW); Assassin Nation, Excellence (Skybound/Image); To Drink and To Eat, vol. 1 (Lion Forge); Resonant (Vault)
  • Jim Campbell, Black Badge, Coda (BOOM Studios); Giant Days, Lumberjanes: The Shape of Friendship (BOOM Box!); Rocko’s Modern Afterlife  (KaBOOM!); At the End of Your Tether (Lion Forge); Blade Runner 2019 (Titan); Mall, The Plot, Wasted Space (Vault)
  • Clayton Cowles, Aquaman, Batman, Batman and the Outsiders, Heroes in Crisis, Superman: Up in the Sky, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (DC); Bitter Root, Pretty Deadly, Moonstruck, Redlands, The Wicked + The Divine (Image); Reaver (Skybound/Image); Daredevil, Ghost-Spider, Silver Surfer Black, Superior Spider-Man, Venom (Marvel)
  • Emilie Plateau, Coloured: The Unsung Life of Claudette Colvin (Europe Comics)
  • Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (IDW)
  • Tillie Walden, Are You Listening? (First Second/Macmillan)

·Best Academic/Scholarly Work

  • The Art of Pere Joan: Space, Landscape, and Comics Form, by Benjamin Fraser (University of Texas Press)
  • The Comics of Rutu Modan: War, Love, and Secrets, by Kevin Haworth (University Press of Mississippi)
  • EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest, by Qiana Whitted (Rutgers University Press)
  • The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life, edited by Andrew Blauner (Library of America)
  • Producing Mass Entertainment: The Serial Life of the Yellow Kid, by Christina Meyer (Ohio State University Press)
  • Women’s Manga in Asia and Beyond: Uniting Different Cultures and Identities, edited by Fusami Ogi et al. (Palgrave Macmillan)