For the first time in seven years, a manga series did not win an Eisner Award.
Held annually at the San Diego Comic-Com International event since 1988, The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (shortened to the Eisner Awards) are an awards ceremony dedicated to American comics founded by the late American cartoonist and writer Will Eisner. The ceremony honours the best in comic books each year, and is widely considered the "Oscars" of the comics world.
For the 2017 edition, Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye was awarded the Best U.S. Edition of International Material in Asia at San Diego Comic-Con. The award branched off the Best U.S. Edition of International Material category back in 2010, and was done to celebrate and recognise manga and eastern comics. Various manga series were nominated in 2017, but none were awarded for the first time since the title was introduced 7 years ago
This year’s nominees included Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish, Inio Asano’s Goodnight PunPun, Ichigo Takano’s Orange, Kenji Tsuruta’s Wandering Island, and The Osama Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime by Toshio Ban and Tezuka Productions. Last year’s nominees included A Silent Voice, Assassination Classroom, Master Keaton and A Bride’s Story, with Shigeru Mizuki’s historical Showa, 1953-1989: A History of Japan winning the award.
Surprising to absolutely no one, Brian K. Vaughn’s and Fiona Staples’ space opera adventure, Saga, was awarded four awards. According to Hollywood Reporter, the pair and Image Comics were awarded Best Continuing Series, Vaughn (Paper Girls, Runaways,) as Best Writer, and Staples winning (Road to Riverdale, Mystery Society) Best Penciller/Inker for either an individual or team, and Best Cover Artist.
Vaughn’s Paper Girls was also awarded Best New Series, and shockingly, Marjorie Liu’s and Sana Takada’s fantastic dark fantasy Image comic, Monstress, did not win an award. Liu’s and Takada’s series was nominated for Best Publication for Teens (13-17), Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art), and Best Cover Artist.
What this means for the future of manga at the Eisner Awards is unclear and it is perhaps too early to conclude anything, but the 2017 awards were evidently skewed towards Western content, with only one award recognising Asian comics. Needless to say, fans were disappointed to see neither Princess Jellyfish, Goodnight PunPun or Orange be awarded anything. According to the September issue of Kodansha’s Kiss magazine, Princess Jellyfish will end in the October issue of the magazine, out August 26, following the manga returning from a hiatus in June.
In recent years, the Eisner Awards has introduced more international categories to recognise the large and diverse international comic market, but the ceremony will a lot more categories for Eastern comic and manga series to be nominated in order for the event to have a level-playing field. Isolating all eastern properties - including manga, graphic novels, and eastern one-shots - together makes awarding individual industries and regions difficult, especially given that 27 of the other awards are catered to western comics.
Given that many manga series (known as shounen manga) are targeted to young adults, what’s not to say that manga series souldn’t be considered in the Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer or Best New Series categories?
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