The Eisner Awards judges have selected two individuals to automatically be inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame for 2020.
Nell Brinkley (1886-1944)
Nell Brinkley was an American illustrator and comics artist who was sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Comics" during her nearly four-decade career working with New York newspapers and magazines. Her comics are a luxuriously rendered visual chronicle of woman’s progress over the decades, from her Victorian-era heroines to her Deco-styled independent working women. Her iconic Brinkley Girl, celebrated in song and on stage, surpassed the Gibson Girl in popularity. Her creative legacy can be seen everywhere, from Dale Messick, Ramona Fradon, Marie Severin, and Trina Robbins to shōjo manga.
E. Simms Campbell (1906–1971)
E. Simms Campbell was an indispensable part of Esquire magazine’s birth in the early 1930s. He established its visual style and invented the original “Esky” character. And, in the words of its founding editor Arnold Gingrich, his full-page color cartoons “catapulted the magazine’s circulation from the start.” Campbell may also be the first African American illustrator not only to break the color line in mass-market publications but to earn widespread public acclaim as well. During his art career, Campbell produced cartoons for a variety of magazines such as Life, Cosmopolitan, and nearly every issue of Esquire until his early-1960s hop over to Playboy. He did covers for Judge and The New Yorker and created woodcut-style illustrations for a Langston Hughes young adult novel.
The judges have also chosen 14 nominees from which voters will select 4 to be inducted in the Hall of Fame this summer.
Alison Bechdel began her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1983 and it soon became a mainstay in gay and alternative news weeklies; it ran for 25 years, with Bechdel self-syndicating the strip and eventually publishing it on the Internet. In the 1985 strip “The Rule,” a character states that she will watch a movie only if it has at least two women who talk to each other about a topic other than men. In the 21st century those guidelines became known as the Bechdel Test, a shorthand method to illustrate the dramatic gender disparity in Hollywood. In 2006 Bechdel published the graphic memoir Fun Home, a coming-of-age story that detailed her relationship with her father, a closeted gay man with an obsessive eye for decorative detail, and her own emerging lesbian consciousness. The book was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it won the Eisner for Best Reality-Based Work. In October 2013 Fun Home was brought to the stage and won a string of awards during its Off-Broadway run. The musical made its Broadway debut in April 2015 and went on to win five Tony Awards.
Howard Cruse first appeared on the national comics scene with his underground strip Barefootz in 1972. In 1979 he began editing Gay Comix, an anthology featuring comix by openly gay and lesbian cartoonists. In 1983 Cruse introduced his comic strip Wendel to the pages of The Advocate, the national gay newsmagazine, where it appeared regularly until 1989. His 1995 graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby (published by Paradox Press) won Eisner and Harvey Awards and went on to be translated into numerous languages around the world; it was republished by Vertigo in 2010, and this year a 25th anniversary edition is being published by FirstSecond. Howard passed away in November 2019.
Moto Hagio is one of a group of women who broke into the male-dominated manga industry and pioneered the shōjo (girls’ comics) movement in the early 1970s. Hagio’s 1974 work Heart of Thomas was one of the early entries in the shōnen-ai (boys in love) subgenre. Hagio’s linework and dramatic imagery have influenced many manga artists, and she helped shape the style of emotional and symbolic backgrounds that many manga artists draw today. Her major works include A Drunken Dream, They Were Eleven, and Otherworld Barbara. She’s won the Japanese Medal of Honor with the Purple Ribbon (the first woman comics creator to do so), received Japan’s SF Grand Prize, the Osamu Tezuka Culture Award Grand Prize, and an Inkpot Award, among other accolades.
Artist Don Heck's first comics work was in the early 1950s, for publishers such as Comic Media, Quality Comics, Hillman Comics, and Toby Press. He then became a staff artist for Stan Lee at Atlas, contributing stories to such pre-superhero titles as Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Strange Worlds, World of Fantasy, and Journey into Mystery. Heck is credited as the co-creator of Iron Man, who premiered in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963). He was the artist co-creator of several characters in the "Iron Man" feature, including The Mandarin, Hawkeye, and the Black Widow. Heck succeeded Jack Kirby as penciller on The Avengers with issue #9 (October 1964), which he drew through issue #40 (May 1967). Elsewhere during the 1960s, Heck penciled The X-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and other titles. In the 1970s, Heck went over to DC, where with writer Gerry Conway he co-created the cyborg hero Steel, the Indestructible Man, then became regular artist on The Flash, and in 1982 reunited with Conway to draw the Justice League of America. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Heck returned to Marvel, where his work included features for the superhero anthologies Marvel Comics Presents and Marvel Fanfare. Heck also did work for such independent publishers as Topps Comics, Hero Comics, Vortex, and Millennium Publications. He died in 1995.
Jeffrey Catherine Jones
Jeff Jones began creating comics in 1964. Also in 1964, while attending Georgia State College, Jones met fellow student Mary Louise Alexander; the two began dating and were married in 1966. After graduation, the couple moved to New York City but split up in the early 1970s. (Louise Jones Simonson is a fellow Hall of Fame nominee this year.) In New York Jones found work drawing comics for King Comics, Gold Key, Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, as well as Wally Wood’s Witzend. Jones painted covers for more than 150 books, including the Ace paperback editions of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and Andre Norton's Postmarked the Stars, The Zero Stone, Uncharted Stars, and many others. In the early 1970s when National Lampoon began publication, it carried Jones’ strip Idyl. From 1975 to 1979 Jones shared workspace with Bernie Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Michael Wm Kaluta, collectively named The Studio. By the early 1980s Jones had a recurring strip in Heavy Metal titled I'm Age. In the late 1990s, Jones started taking female hormones and had sex reassignment surgery. She passed away in May of 2011.
Editor and publisher Francoise Mouly founded Raw Books and Graphics in 1978. With her husband Art Spiegelman she launched Raw magazine in 1980, which is perhaps best known for serializing Spiegelman’s award-winning Maus. A lavishly produced oversize anthology, Raw published work by Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Kim Deitch, Ben Katchor, Richard McGuire, Lorenzo Mattotti, Gary Panter, Joost Swarte, Jacques Tardi, and Chris Ware, to name but a few. When Mouly became art director at The New Yorker in 1993, she brought a large number of cartoonists and artists to the periodical's interiors and covers. In 2008 she launched TOON Books, an imprint devoted to books for young readers done by cartoonists.
Keiji Nakazawa was born in Hiroshima and was in the city when it was destroyed by a nuclear weapon in 1945. He settled in Tokyo in 1961 to become a cartoonist. He produced his first manga for anthologies like Shonen Gaho, Shonen King, and Bokura. By 1966, Nakazawa began to express his memories of Hiroshima in his manga, starting with the fictional Kuroi Ame ni Utarete (Struck by Black Rain) and the autobiographical story Ore wa Mita (I Saw It). Nakazawa's life-work, Barefoot Gen (1972), was the first Japanese comic ever to be translated into Western languages. Barefoot Gen was adapted into two animated films and a live-action TV drama and has been translated into a dozen languages. Last Gasp’s U.S. translations were nominated for the 2005 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material. Nakazawa passed away in December 2012.
Pioneering editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast is often considered to be the "Father of the American Cartoon." He started out as an illustrator in 1856 while still a teenager, and became a staff illustrator for Harper’s Weekly in 1860. His cartoons advocated the abolition of slavery, opposed racial segregation, and deplored the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1870s he used his cartoons to crusade against New York City’s political boss William Magear Tweed, and he devised the Tammany tiger for this crusade. He popularized the elephant to symbolize the Republican Party and the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic Party, and he created the "modern" image of Santa Claus.
Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips
Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips was the star comic artist for publisher Fiction House, where she worked from 1943 until 1948. She drew such strips as Werewolf Hunter, Jane Martin, Senorita Rio, and The Lost World. She was known for her striking covers and good girl art. She later drew Abbott & Costello Comics with her husband at the time, Eric Peters, and Borden’s Elsie the Cow comics. She left comics in the 1950s; she is still living and was a guest at Comic-Con in 2007.
Stan Sakai was born in Kyoto, Japan, grew up in Hawaii, and currently lives in California. His creation Usagi Yojimbo first appeared in 1984. Usagi has been on television as a guest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as toys, on clothing, in comics, and in a series of trade paperback collections. Stan is a recipient of numerous awards, including National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Award, six Eisner Awards, five Spanish Haxturs, an Inkpot, an American Library Association Award, a Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American National Museum, and a couple of Harvey Awards, including one for Best Cartoonist.
Louise Jones (she had married artist Jeff Jones in 1966) started her professional comic book career at Warren Publishing in 1974, editing Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. In January 1980, she joined Marvel Comics, where she initially worked again as an editor, most notably on Uncanny X-Men, which she edited for almost four years, and an X-Men spinoff, The New Mutants. During this period, she also edited Marvel's Star Wars and Indiana Jones comics. Louise married Walt Simonson in 1980 and left Marvel in late 1983 to try her hand at full-time writing. She created Power Pack, which debuted in August 1984. Her other Marvel writing work included Starriors, Marvel Team-Up, Web of Spider-Man, Red Sonja, and most notably X-Factor, In 1987 she became the New Mutants scripter. It was during this run that she and artist Rob Liefeld introduced Cable. In 1991, she began writing for DC Comics. She, artist Jon Bogdanove, and editor Mike Carlin launched a new Superman title, Superman: The Man of Steel—a title she would write for eight years. She was one of the chief architects of "The Death of Superman" storyline. In 1999, Simonson returned to Marvel to write a Warlock series, which featured a character from her previous New Mutants run. Since then Louise has continued to write for a number of comics publishers, as well as picture books and novels for middle-readers.
Don and Maggie Thompson
Maggie Thompson and her late husband, Don, are among the legendary founders of comics fandom. Lifelong fans of science fiction and comic books, they met in 1957 and published their first fanzine, Comic Art, starting in 1961. In 1967 they launched Newfangles, one of the first fanzines devoted to the doings of comics fandom. In 1972 the Thompsons started writing a column for the Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, which later became the Comics Buyer’s Guide (CBG). They ran CBG together from 1983 until Don’s death in 1994, after which Maggie continued to manage CBG until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their direction, it became essential reading as the industry’s main fan-oriented news magazine. Maggie has received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and the Friends of Lulu “Women of Distinction” Award.
James Warren is the founder of Warren Publishing. Magazines he published included Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Blazing Combat, and a revival of The Spirit, among others. Famous Monsters, which began in 1958 and was edited by Forrest J Ackerman, influenced just about everyone in comics in the 1950s and 1960s. Warren magazines used some of the best comics illustrators and writers of the day (including many former EC artists as well as Frank Frazetta as a mainstay for covers) and brought in artists from countries such as Spain and the Philippines.
Cartoonist Bill Watterson created the strip Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate from 1985 to 1995. The wildly popular series featured the highly imaginative little boy Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, who came to life only with Calvin. In 1986, Watterson became the youngest cartoonist ever to receive the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award—the industry's highest honor. Watterson refused all merchandising for the characters, and after its 10-year run, he ended the series, saying that he had done all he could with Calvin and Hobbes. The final strip ran on December 31, 1995.