The Eisners: Winning Cartoonists, Winning Libraries | Eisner Awards 2015

willeisneraward71415Eisner Awards times two! The 27th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (ECIA) were bestowed July 10 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront during Comic-Con International San Diego (July 10–12), while the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries were celebrated June 27 at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in San Francisco. The grants for libraries gain their generous funding through the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation, which fosters innovation and creativity in sequential art of all kinds. The foundation propagates the legacy of legendary cartoonist Will Eisner (1917–2005), a peerless storyteller, tireless advocate for comics, and early adopter of the term graphic novel.

Feeding off the last decade’s explosion of graphic novels and comics throughout American culture, the ECIAs have mushroomed way up from fewer than a dozen categories in 1988 to more than 30 categories today and celebrate a wide diversity of writers, illustrators, and themes. Of this year’s winners, nearly half involve women creators, including Fiona Staples (Best Continuing Series for Saga), Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Best Graphic Album–New for This One Summer), Cece Bell (Best Publication for Kids for El Deafo), editor Sarah Lightman (Best Scholarly/Academic Work for Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews), and Raina Telgemeier (Best Writer/Artist for Sisters). African American relevance (Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 2, won Best Reality-Based Work, J.H. Williams III took Best Painter/Multimedia Artist for The Sandman: Overture) and Asian-heritage influences (the Tamaki cousins as noted; Gene Luen Yang as Best Writer for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Shadow Hero; and Stan Sakai for Best Lettering for Usagi Yojimbo: Senso and Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist) also appear. Consider a display of some of the winning work to inspire present and future cartoonists among your patrons.

Will Eisner Graphic Novels Grants for Libraries graphicnovelgrantforlibraries

Not just benefits for cartoonists, though, the name “Eisner” is also attached to a pair of grants administered through ALA since 2012: the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant, which provides stipends to libraries building new collections, and the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant, which supports programs and services relating to graphic novels. Winners also receive complementary copies of all of Eisner’s work and, in addition, all the works nominated for that year’s industry awards—potentially close to 150 titles. This year’s winners were the Yuma High School Library, AZ, and the Bellmore Memorial Library, NY, respectively, chosen from among 150 applications.

Congratulations to all! Another awards cycle has now begun, including the Eisner/ALA grant program, so consider applying for your library.

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Martha Cornog About Martha Cornog

Martha Cornog is a longtime reviewer for LJ and, with Timothy Perper, edited Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics: Insights and Issues for Libraries (Libraries Unlimited, 2009).