Women In Comics Score Big at the 2015 Eisner Awards

Ladies, ladies, ladies! The 2015 Eisner winners included nods to so many women and titles with strong female characters.

Recognizing a powerhouse

Those of you who check out my monthly Where Do We Stand series, know that I’ve been following Raina Telgemeier for quite a while; she’s been dominating the New York Times Best Sellers list for Graphic Books for months  with multiple titles. The books feature middle school age female characters and are mainly reaching their audience through bookstores, not comic book shops. The coverage of her in the comics community often feels a little light, so I’m happy to see her win for Best Writer/Artist for her book Sisters.

Raina Telgemeier | https://instagram.com/p/4-_ChvON6c/
Raina Telgemeier accepts her award (Source: https://instagram.com/p/4-_ChvON6c/)

Female creators score big

The all-women team of the Lumberjanes, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen , won for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens.

Saga, with its strong female protagonists and the amazing Fiona Staples on the creative team, took home Best Continuing Series. In addition, Fiona Staples nabbed Best Penciller/Inker for her work on Saga.

Another one-two punch winner is Emily Carroll for her self-published short story, When the Darkness Presses, and for Best Graphic Album -Reprint for her short horror comics, Through the Woods.

The ground breaking This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki wins for Best Graphic Album – New.

In the Best Single Issue (or One-Shot), Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson win for the adventure story Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers which introduces new readers to the existing award-winning series.

All three awards for younger readers went to titles with women on the creative team. I think that says a lot about the stories we use to reach the next generation of comic book readers.

  • Best Publication for Early Readers: The Zoo Box, Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke (First Second)
  • Best Publication for Kids (AGES 8-12):  El Deafo, Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
  • Best publication for teens (ages 13-17): Lumberjanes, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box)

Year of the Middle School Girl

For the past few months, I’ve been intrigued with how well titles with middle school girl protagonists are faring on the NYT Best Seller list. The list is compiled from sales of bookstores and not comic book shops. Seeing the Eisner Awards recognize so many of these titles, such as Lumberjanes, El Deafo, Sisters, and This One Summer, makes me wonder if the comics industry (I’m looking at you, the Big Two) will finally start to take notice. Both the existing female readers and the next generation of readers are spending money on comics and graphic novels.

Steps to more diversity and inclusive representation

Lumberjanes is one of the best-known examples in this list  with its representation of girls, people of color, and queer characters wrapped into a great story. We’d be remiss if we overlooked three other winners, including two with female creators/editors, that expand the reach of representation in comics. Sarah Lightman edited the winning title for Best Scholarly/Academic Work: Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews, a work with art and interview by 18 Jewish women artists. Cece Bell takes home the Eisner in the Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12) category for El Deafo, the story of a young girl trying to make friends while learning to live with a clunky hearing aid. This win is hugely important, showing that stories with differently-abled characters are welcome in our comic space.

Covering the early years of hip hop, Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 2, Ed Piskor wins for Best Reality-Based Work. It’s no secret we need to have more representation of black characters and stories in comics, so hopefully this win will pave the way for more titles, reality-based and otherwise in the future.

Congrats to all the Eisner winners! As a fan, I’m excited to see what you and your peers will do for 2016!

Brenda Noiseux

Brenda Noiseux

Community builder, artist, convention organizer, gamer, geek writer @womenoncomics, @Sidequest_BHP. Owner, Bittenby Studios