Happy Eisner nominations, one and all! We’re incredibly proud to once again be nominated for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism, but that’s not why we’re here. The Eisners are the most prestigious and high-profile awards in the comic industry, but for the most part, they’re steeped in mystery. How does one vote? Who can vote? What happened in 2020 when votes and voter information were seemingly compromised? We’re here to answer all your questions and hopefully make it easy for the eligible among you to vote for your faves!
For a long while the Eisner voting process was shrouded in a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” secrecy. Until last year the process began by visiting a dedicated but archaic (and now apparently defunct) website, eisnervote.com that essentially ran on an honor system. If you submitted yourself as a voter you would be able to vote when the nominees were announced. In that way it was rather accessible once you knew it existed–which many people did not–but that system is no more.
The voting process for the Eisners had long been a source of conversation, and as the nominees began to reflect the whole industry instead of the old guard, certain segments of the comics community wanted a more accessible and transparent process. But it wasn’t until last year when numerous voters’ personal information and votes were compromised after voting that anything changed. As reported by Graeme McMillan at The Hollywood Reporter, members of the MG-BIPOC in Comics Discord channel noticed that some users personal information including address, phone number, and email was visible on the voting site. The official response was that certain accounts had been “cross-linked” but after claiming the situation was resolved the Eisnervote site was eventually shut down. Soon after a new temporary portal was opened for creators to vote through.
Women Write About Comics was awarded the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism award last year. While we were proud and knew our work was deserving, due to the issues around voting procedures and transparency our publisher Wendy Browne wrote an open letter around the issues and what it meant for the award. And Editor-in-Chief Nola Pfau shared their reasons why they personally refused to accept the award in 2020.
— Nola Pfau (@nolapfau) July 25, 2020
All of that is important context, not only because we care about being transparent but also because–without any kind of public acknowledgement–the Eisner’s have changed the way that people register to vote. We don’t know how this will impact the voting process itself which is still to begin, but for now, this is a noticeable and recognizable change that we are going to explain here.
If you visit the Eisner Awards page on the San Diego Comic-Con website there’s a lot of information about the nominees. But to get to the form to find out if you’re eligible, you need to keep reading until you reach the paragraph which begins “Voting for the awards is being held online using a two-step voting process…” There, you’ll see this link: https://form.jotform.com/211246268258054 which is where you can apply to vote!
So what are the qualifications? In the pre-2020 days, you could just submit yourself and write whatever you did in the industry that made you eligible. Now there are different sets of categories to click on and then further define. The core choices are: Comics Creator, Publisher, Comics Retailer, Graphic Novel Librarian, Comics Academe or Educator, and Other. Clicking on each of those will lead you to other choices, for example clicking on Comics Creator will lead to other definitions below including: Writer, Artist, Penciller, Inker, Colorist, Letterer, Translator, and Other. In that specific category, you can also include the publishers you’ve worked with. But if you’re a self-published creator who makes comics and exhibits at shows, don’t be put off by that, just include some extra info in the box below!
A really interesting thing to note here is that the Comics Academe or Educator section broadens a category that has been long defined solely for Comics Historians, which is a nice way to make the voting pool even larger and more diverse. That’s really the purpose of this piece, we at Women Write About Comics want as many people as possible to be able to access this new voting portal if they’re eligible to vote. The Eisner stamp of approval can make or break a book, adding sales, prestige, and hopefully financial gain for the creators, so it’s an important process and one that hopefully with this new change will be a safe, secure, and fair way for the industry to vote. While we don’t know how this will translate to the actual voting process–the form suggests eligible people will be contacted and asked to vote–we’re hoping that this will enable more industry folks to feel secure in supporting their favorite nominated books rather than becoming a barrier to access for new potential voters.
We’ll update this piece once the voting process has begun!