Blog by SJPL Librarian Robert Donahue
What is Will Eisner Week?
Will Eisner Week is a celebration on the first week of every March for the man who championed graphic novels for the general public, as well as how graphic novels assist the promotion of literacy and free expression. We talk about Will Eisner as a person in last year’s blog entry, this year we will cover the awards named in his honor!
What are the Will Eisner Awards?
Did you know about the Will Eisner Comic Industry awards? They’re described as “the Oscars for comic books.” They were named by Fantastagraphics employee Dave Olbrich after the conclusion of the Kirby Awards. They are named after Will Eisner, one of the founders of the modern graphic novel and creator of The Spirit. Just like the Oscars, they have become a big event in the comic world. After the awards moved to San Diego Comic-Con in 1991, they became the big Friday night event. They also feature big names in the industry along with celebrities, just like the Oscars. The first keynote speaker was Neil Gaiman back in 1995 and the honor has gone to authors like George R. R. Martin along with celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson and Patton Oswalt since then.
Some of the categories have changed over the years. For example, they added Best Digital Comic back in 2005! Some of the current categories include: Best Short Story, Best Single/One-Shot, Best Publication for Teens, and Best New Series. And much like SJPL’s Graphic Novel Making Contest, you need to be sure to read the Will Eisner Award rules for submissions. They have requirements like: Works must be published in the US in the last year, so while foreign works are fine, they need to have been released in the USA. Judges decide what categories you will be considered for, though you’re welcome to suggest one!
The Will Eisner Award judges changes from year to year, though they try to include a comic creator, a reviewer, a graphic novel librarian, a comic retailer, a scholar, and a member of the Comic-Con organizing committee. Voting is open to many of the groups mentioned above along with any nominees.
2021’s Will Eisner Awards winners have not been announced yet. However, here are the 2020 winners of the Will Eisner Award. San Jose Public Library has hundreds of titles that have won or been nominated! Below are some of the winners from recent years available at the San Jose Public Library.