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The Eisner Award

“Comics” are a big, weird, wonderful industry…crossing mediums and styles and themes and tones and approaches. All different, and sometimes barely overlapping. There are comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, alt-indie comics, and about 1,800 sub-genres. It can be really sprawling. I say this not only as a cartoonist, but as a dude who studied the history of comics in two different MA programs: Ain’t nuthin’ about comics that’s “monolithic”.

But in that sprawling world, one of the few things that brings ’em all together, puts all these different folks under one tent…is the annual Eisner Award. It’s the big enchilada of the cartooning world that recognizes work from all these different fields. And this year, much to my surprise, Sheldon got an Eisner nomination, for “Best Humor Publication”! Specifically, for the Literature book. And I ain’t lyin’, that’s really nice news…and very nice of the Eisner folks. My heart is grateful.

It’s also hugely surprising to me, for reasons that might surprise you: Economics.

You see, my entire cartooning career is predicated on the idea that a modern comic artist is better-served by *avoiding* publishers, distributors, retailers and Amazon…and keeping the dialogue directly between the artist and the audience. No middle-men. No ill-serving contracts. No weird supply chains with a tendency toward path dependence. It’s complete disintermediation: Just you ‘n me ’round these parts. 🙂

The thinking is that traditional distribution channels are breaking down so seriously — and were never that “great” for artists’ careers to begin with — that a cartoonist is better served by circumventing the whole process and controlling their own future. Sure, that means wearing a lot of hats that a publisher used to wear…but to have complete confidence and control of your own future is a worthwhile trade-off. (I spoke about it at length in my talk at Ohio State’s Festival of Cartoon Art, if you’re interested: 1,
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Anyway! That’s why this award nomination is such a surprise to me: Because here I am, a guy running his own show, completely set apart from publishers, distributors, retailers, Amazon, et al…and yet somehow they gave me the kind nod. That’s really nice, and speaks well for all those artists, like myself, who are trying to steer their own destiny in a time of very large paradigm shifts.

This got too wordy and high-falutin’, real fast. All of this is just a long-winded way for me to say a huge “THANK YOU” to the Eisner Award folks. You have given me a great kindness, and I appreciate it.