The 2015 Eisner Award nominations are out and it’s time to take a look at representation. According to their press release, 34 women were nominated this year with female writers, artists, and editors earning a total of 39 nominations overall. The awards, named for acclaimed comics creator the Will Eisner, highlight the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels. Winners will be announced this summer during Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Representation across the categories
Of the 26 categories reviewed, 21 included nominations for women. In cases, where a creative team was nominated, if the team included a woman, that counts towards representation in that category. Similar to our analysis from last year, the following categories were not included in our review: Best Comics Related Periodical/Journalism, since most of these sites are comprised of large teams of contributors and Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips and Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books since the purpose of analyzing this data is to get a better sense of current creator gender representation.
Strong female protagonists
Four titles nabbed three or more nominations each: Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, DC’s Multiversity, Image’s Saga, and Monkeybrain’s webcomic Bandette. Of the four, three prominently feature leading female characters and the same three include women on their creative teams.
Only four individuals received three of more nominations, three were male–Brian K. Vaughan, Grant Morrison, Paul Tobin–and one was female–Noelle Stevenson. She’s nominated not only for her work on BOOM!’s Lumberjanes but also for her own webcomic, Nimona.
On so many levels, the story of Kamala Khan is important to diversity in comics. Seeing the Ms. Marvel team get recognized for their work makes it even sweeter. The Ms. Marvel team took the nomination list by storm with five nominations. It’s up for Best New Series, Best Writer (G. Willow Wilson), and Best Penciller/Inker (Adrian Alphona), along with shared recognition for Best Cover Artist (Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, The Wicked + The Divine, Ms. Marvel) and Best Lettering (Joe Caramagna, Ms. Marvel, Daredevil).
Not just your local comic shop readers
Roz Chast and Raina Telgemeier have been topping charts this year, but you won’t see their work in Diamond’s monthly stats. They’ve been consistently owning the New York Times Bestseller’s List for graphic books. I’m so happy to see these women recognized with Eisner nominations. Roz Chast is nominated Best Reality-Based Work for Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, her memoir examining her parents as mother and father start facing old age and poor health. Raina Telgemeier is nominated for Best Writer/Artist for her work, Sisters. She’s been a powerhouse on the NYT list this past year not just with Sisters, but with multiple titles including Smile and Drama.
Reading through the nominations, I was struck by a few items I think are worth calling out. In Best Web/Digital Comic, Failing Sky by creator Dax Tran Caffee, explores feminism and transgender issues through four interrelated stories: the memoir of a failed sailor, the quest of a traveling ghost, the adventure of a genderqueer nancy drew, and some rampaging giant robots.
El Deafo, the story of a girl who goes to school and tries to make friends, but has a bulky hearing aid attached to her chest, is nominated in two categories, Best Reality-Based Work and Best Publication for Kids Ages 8-12. El Deafo is another title that’s been popular on the NYT list. The nomination is important, showing that stories with differently-abled characters are welcome in our comic space.
In the Best Anthology category, Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It from Fantagraphics takes a nomination. Multiple points struck me here while unpacking that anthology title. I admit, this one has not been even close to being on my radar, but now I’m intrigued. Fantagraphics currently has a 30-page excerpt available on their site, which I encourage you to check out. Warning, though, some of the images in the excerpt are NSFW.
Overall, I was impressed by the breadth of the Eisner nominations this year. We’ll see how that translates when the winners are announced in July.