Eisner Questions

By | Wednesday, July 21, 2021 Leave a Comment
Comic Con International begins on Friday. Yesterday, they finally updated the programming schedule to include the Eisner Awards Ceremony. But here's the description they posted with it...
The “Oscars” of the comics industry honor comics creators and their works in 33 categories, including the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. Your host for the evening is Phil LaMarr, the actor/voice actor/comedian known for roles in animated series including Green Lantern/John Stewart and Ed Reiss in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Hermes Conrad in Futurama, and the title characters on both Samurai Jack and Static Shock. His film and TV acting credits include Pulp Fiction, Free Enterprise, Veep, Get Shorty, and Supergirl. Sergio Aragonés will be announcing this year’s Hall of Fame recipients. Also being presented: the 2021 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and the Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award.
It seems fine at first glance, but there are a few things that give me pause.

First, there aren't 33 categories; there are only 32. My best guess for this error is that someone looked at the Wikipedia entry for the Eisners and saw this: "As of 2019, awards are presented in 32 categories for works published in 2020." That sentence, as it is currently written, doesn't make sense. Because one of the award categories is new this year, so it could not have been in place "as of 2019." This is probably a case of someone editing the entry by unintentionally only updating parts of an existing sentence. I suspect whoever updated the programming entry read the first part of the sentence ("As of 2019, awards are presented in 32 categories...") and simply added 1 to the total, knowing there was a new category.

That's a minor issue, really, but hints at the reasoning for this next question. Namely, LaMarr and Aragonés were the hosts last year. The creative director of Bongo Comics, Bill Morrison, used to emcee the event every year but they switched to a rotation of celebrity hosts beginning in 2011. George R. R. Martin, Brandon Routh, Samuel L. Jackson, Joss Whedon, Patton Oswalt, and others. To have LaMarr and Aragonés two years in a row seems... odd. Furthermore, there hasn't (as of this writing, at least) been any formal announcement about the ceremony or hosts. Nothing on the Comic Con website or any of their social media outlets. None of the comic news outlets has anything about it either. Not even any rumors posted on Bleeding Cool.

What this suggests to me is that the Comic Con International folks didn't get any advance information from anyone on the Awards Committee. Last year, there was a formal announcement noting LaMarr's involvement and the actual date/time of the ceremony about two weeks before the event itself. But this year, we found ourselves entering the week the convention kicks off with nothing. I don't doubt that led to some very panicked folks at Comic Con, and someone decided that having something out on the site -- even if it was incorrect -- was better than nothing.

Awards organizer Jackie Estrada has confirmed the date/time of the ceremony on Twitter, but didn't speak to any other details. Between this lack of transparency in even basic information, and the voting problems they ran into last year, it does make me wonder how much value the industry will continue to bestow on the award. We like to speak about them as "The Oscars of Comics" but they haven't been around nearly as long or have nearly the history. I guess we'll find out how things go on Friday one way or another, and we'll all be able to do some Monday morning quarterbacking to discuss how things went and what that might mean going forward.

UPDATE: The Comic Con site was updated late in the day after I posted this with a notice saying that LaMarr and Aragonés will indeed be hosting again this year, also adding that Ruth Clampett will be announcing the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and Jackie Estrada will be opening and closing the ceremony.
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