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This isn't the first time the Eisners killed the Comics Journalism category

The Eisners have a history of canceling its focus on comics journalism.

Eisner Awards 2013
Image credit: Johnakin Randolph (Comic-Con International: San Diego)

The decision to cancel the popular Eisner Awards category for comics journalism (known formally as the 'Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism' category) by Comic-Con International San Diego's Eisner Awards committee set off quite a conversation in some circles last week. For many, the decision was viewed as a signal about the state of comics journalism, the state of the industry's perception of it, and the Eisner Awards itself.

As with many shifts in the industry, there is precedent for this change - and what transpired before may give us clues to how it may end up again.

In early 2001, the Eisner Awards dropped the award category for 'Best Comics-Related Periodical'. At the time, Comic-Con International: San Diego said it was a decision by the 2001 Eisner judges (which included comics journalists Douglas Wolk and Karen Flage) - and just as now in 2023, journalism was lumped in with books about comics, in a category that culminated that year with Les Daniels' Wonder Woman: The Complete History winning..

The decision to cut the category was undone the following year in a decision attributed to the 2002 judges, which included noted comics journalists Calvin Reid and Greg McElhatton.

Just one year later for 2003's awards however, both the 'Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism' and 'Best Comics-Related Book' categories were dropped in favor of a more generalistic title, 'Best Comics-Related Publication (Periodical or Book)'.

In 2004, the judges at the time reversed the system again - restablishing both categories.

Over the years the Eisners have killed many categories, including categories for best comic-based merchandise, best editor, and best art team. While those haven't (yet) been brought back, seeing as how the Eisners have brought back the Comics Journalism category twice, we could very well see it brought back again - either by a new round of judges, or by the current as-yet-unnnounced judges reconsidering once submissions are in.

For clarity, I was part of groups that won this award on four occasions, and judged the awards myself in 2019.

For more on the current situation, read about the Eisner Awards' decision to remove the Comics JOurnalism category for its upcoming 2024 awards.

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