The Eisner Awards are widely considered to be the gold standard of the comics scene. Announced during the San Diego Comic-Con every year in July, they are given out to recognise creative achievement in American comic books. Over the years, however, Southeast Asian comics creators have been making their way into the list of nominees.
So who are these creators? We have compiled a list of Eisner nominations featuring Southeast Asians, ordered based on the year of their first nominations:
- Rod Espinosa
- 2002: The Courageous Princess – nominated for Best Title for Younger Reader
- Tan Eng Huat aka Kutu
- 2004: Doom Patrol, JLA #91– nominated for the Best Penciller/Inker
- Sonny Liew
- 2007: Wonderland – nominated for Best Penciller/Inker or Best Penciller/Inker Team
- 2017: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – won Best Writer/Artist
- 2017: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – won Best Publication Design
- 2017: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – won Best US Edition of International Material (Asia)
- 2017: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – nominated for Best Colouring,
- 2017: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – nominated for Best Lettering
- 2017: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – nominated for Best Graphic Album (New)
- 2019: Eternity Girl – nominated for Best Penciller/Inker or Best Penciller/Inker Team;
- 2019: Eternity Girl (alongside his co-creator Magdalene Visaggio) – nominated for Best Limited Series
- Gerry Alanguilan aka Komikero
- 2011: Elmer – nominated for Best Graphic Album
- Andrew Tan aka Drewscape
- 2013: Moving Forward in the collection Monsters, Miracles, & Mayonnaise – nominated for Best Short Story
- Mike del Mundo
- 2014: X-Men: Legacy – nominated for Best Cover Artist
- 2015: Elektra – nominated for Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Interior Art);
- 2015: Elektra, X-Men: Legacy, A+X, Dexter, Dexter Down Under – nominated for Best Cover Artist
- 2017: Avengers, Carnage, Mosaic, The Vision – nominated for Best Cover Artist
- Dustin Nguyen
- Thi Bui
- 2018: The Best We Could Do – nominated for Best Reality-Based Work
- Reimena Yee
- 2018: The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya– nominated for Best Digital Comic
- Erica Eng
- 2020: Fried Rice – won Best Webcomic
If you’re wondering why your favourite Southeast Asian creators have not been nominated, part of the reason is that for a work to be eligible for the Eisner Awards, its print edition has to be available for sale in the US, whether through stores or online. (Recently, webcomics have also been accepted.) The Eisners, being a US-based award, naturally focuses on recognising comics that the American audience is able to access.
On top of that, the Eisner Awards only considers comics presented in the English language. However, English is not the first language for many creators in Southeast Asia, and may not be the language they choose to work with. Translations into English are few, too.
The list of nominees above says more about the strength of those comics, as well as the success they have gained in a foreign market, than about a possible lack of great works coming from Southeast Asia. The lack of Southeast Asian representation in the Eisner Awards may simply mean that they are not as well recognised by an American audience.
With the rise of online comics and higher English language fluency among the younger generations, we will probably see more Southeast Asians in the international stage in the coming years. And perhaps we will also find more ways to celebrate our creative achievements too!