On the one hand, I get that definition when it comes to looking at the category as “comics-related periodicals, which feature journalism.” On the other, as it relates to a category for comic-related journalism, it’s a horrible failure that prioritizes fan press over… well, actual journalism if it comes from a mainstream outlet. As comics and comic culture have become increasingly central to mass popular culture, there’s been an increase in good writing about comics and the comic industry in mainstream publications – The New York Times, The Guardian, New York Magazine/Vulture, Wired, The Hollywood Reporter and more regularly put out reporting that stands up to anything else out there, and often stands above it** – but, as it was explained to me at the time, that’s not what the category was meant for.
I suggested, at the time, that the definition of the category be changed to address the problem, only to be told that to do so at that point would be unfair to those who had already submitted themselves for consideration that year. To the best of my knowledge, the category hasn’t been amended, nor the subject addressed, since; certainly, the nominees in the last few years suggest that nothing has really changed.
Ideally, I’d like to see the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism category split in two in the future – Best Comics-Related Periodical, and Best Comics-Related Journalism – with the latter structured to recognize individual stories or individual writers instead of a cumulative effort. Maybe that means that, some years, there would only be three nominees instead of five, or maybe one year it would mean ten nominees. It would certainly require some thinking, and no small level of work on the part of the judges each year… but the end result would almost certainly be something more worthwhile, in my eyes.
I mean, we could also have the conversation about whether or not the Eisners, like all industry awards, are inherently flawed and the victims of structural bias, but maybe we’ll save that for the weekend of the ceremony, I guess.
* Okay, fine; there’s one nominee I don’t think deserves to be on the list, especially give what wasn’t, but some fights are lost in these things; it’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately. (No, I won’t say who it is. Knock yourself out guessing.)
** I remain salty that THR’s Heat Vision was never nominated for an Eisner in the years I was there as a regular contributor, I confess. I really think the work we did in 2020 – which included stories on how the pandemic impacted the industry, Warren Ellis’ sexual harassment, online voting irregularities at the Eisners, and more – deserved it. We even covered the industry regularly and reliably at the time!