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What are the year’s best comics? Eisner noms led by Image Comics, Chip Zdarsky, Daredevil & more

By Benjamin Bullard
Daredevil #20 comic cover

This year’s all-online Comic-Con@Home is fast approaching, which means it’s almost time for the Eisner Awards — the annual recognition of the year’s standout comics writers, artists, publishers, series, single issues, and more.

This year’s Eisner nominees were revealed today, with Image Comics (17 solo and 11 shared nominations) and Seattle-based Fantagraphics (18 nominations) racking up the most publishing nods. Previous Eisner winner Gene Luen Yang leads this year’s artist list with a combined five nominations (three for Dragon Hoops and two more for Superman Smashes the Klan), while a lengthy lineup of creators share three nominations apiece, including Daredevil and Stillwater writer Chip Zdarsky.

Five other artists join Zdarsky in the thrice-nominated crowd, including Ed Brubaker (Pulp, Reckless), Matt Fraction (Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen), Jeff Lemire (Gideon Falls, Barbalien: Red Planet), Adrian Tomine (The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist), and James Tynion IV (The Department of Truth, Something Is Killing the Children).

No surprise here: The list of candidates for Best Continuing Series reads like a lineup of some of the year’s most-buzzed comics titles. The six series that made the list include Image Comics’ Bitter Root (David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene); Marvel’s Daredevil (Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto); Image Comics’ The Department of Truth (James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds); Image Comics’ Gideon Falls (Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino); Image Comics & Skybound’s Stillwater (Chip Zdarsky and Ramón K Pérez); and IDW’s Usagi Yojimbo (Stan Sakai).

The big-screen version of Black Widow is set to (finally!) arrive in theaters only two weeks before Comic-Con kicks off, so it’s apt to find Marvel’s restarted comics treatment of Natasha Romanoff’s adventures among the list of nominees for Best New Series. Also making the grade in the same category are The Department of Truth (Image Comics); Killadelphia (Image Comics); Crossover (Image Comics); and We Only Find Them When They’re Dead (BOOM! Studios).

Winners of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (aka the Eisners) will be announced during this year’s Comic-Con@Home virtual event, which runs from July 23-25.

Read on to scope out nominees in the major categories, and visit Comic-Con’s announcement page for the complete list.

Best Single Issue

The Burning Hotels, by Thomas Lampion (Birdcage Bottom Books)

Hedra, by Jesse Lonergan (Image)

The Other History of the DC Universe #1, by John Ridley and Giuseppe Camuncoli (DC)

Sports Is Hell, by Ben Passmore (Koyama Press)

Stanley’s Ghost: A Halloween Adventure, by Jeff Balke, Paul Storrie, and Dave Alvarez (Storm Kids)

Best Continuing Series

Bitter Root, by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene (Image)

Daredevil, by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto (Marvel)

The Department of Truth, by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds (Image)

Gideon Falls, by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino (Image)

Stillwater, by Chip Zdarsky and Ramón K Pérez (Image/Skybound)

Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (IDW)

Best Limited Series

Barbalien: Red Planet, by Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, and Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Dark Horse)

Decorum, by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston (Image)

Far Sector, by N. K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell (DC)

Strange Adventures, by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner (DC Black Label)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber (DC)

We Live, by Inaki Miranda and Roy Miranda (AfterShock)

Best New Series

Black Widow, by Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande (Marvel)

Crossover, by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw (Image)

The Department of Truth, by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds (Image)

Killadelphia, by Rodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander (Image)

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, by Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo (BOOM! Studios)

Best Short Story

“Garden Boys” by Henry McCausland, in Now #8 (Fantagraphics)

“I Needed the Discounts” by Connor Willumsen, in The New York Times (January 3, 2020)

“Parts of Us,” by Chan Chau, in Elements: Earth, A Comic Anthology by Creators of Color (Ascend Press)

“Rookie,” by Greg Rucka and Eduardo Risso, in Detective Comics #1027 (DC)

“Soft Lead,” by Chan Chau,

“When the Menopausal Carnival Comes to Town,” by Mimi Pond, in Menopause: A Comic Treatment (Graphic Medicine/Pennsylvania State University Press)