Comic-Con International has announced six individuals who will automatically be inducted to the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame Nominees for 2021. These inductees include two deceased comics artists: Argentinean Alberto Breccia, best known for drawing Mort Cinder, and cartoonist Stan Goldberg (known for his Marvel color designs and his decades at Archie Comics); two pioneers of the comics medium: editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast, creator of the donkey symbol for the Democratic Party and the elephant symbol for the Republican Party, and Swiss illustrator Rodolphe Töpffer, creator in the early 1800s of “picture stories” that preceded today’s comic strips; and two living legends: editor/publisher Françoise Mouly, founder of RAW Books and of TOON! Books, as well as art director for The New Yorker, and Golden Age artist Lily Renée Phillips, best known for work at Fiction House, who turns 100 on May 12.
The judges have also chosen 16 nominees from whom voters will select 4 to be inducted in the Hall of Fame this summer. These nominees are Ruth Atkinson, Dave Cockrum, Kevin Eastman, Neil Gaiman, Max Gaines, Justin Green, Moto Hagio, Don Heck, Klaus Janson, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Hank Ketcham, Scott McCloud, Grant Morrison, Alex Niño, P. Craig Russell, and Gaspar Saladino.
Here are brief bios for the automatic inductees:
Breccia (1919–1993) was an Argentinean artist who worked from the 1940s through the 1980s. Starting out in commercial illustration for magazines, juvenile tales, and genre stories, His first major character, a detective named Sherlock Time, appeared in the late 1950s and was written by Héctor German Oesterheld, who would become a long-time collaborator. Their “masterpiece” is considered Mort Cinder, produced from 1962 to 1964. Breccia worked with and was influenced by Hugo Pratt and was made a member of the “Venice Group” that Pratt and other European artists created. One of Breccia’s last works was a series called Perramus, a critique of life under dictatorship, that was begun when Argentina was still under the control of the dictatorship that was very likely responsible for the disappearance of Oesterheld. This act of artistic courage led to an award from Amnesty International in 1989.
Stan Goldberg (1932–2014) started his career in 1949 at the age of 16 as a staff artist for Timely (now Marvel), where he was in charge of the color department. Goldberg continued to color Marvel comics until 1969, creating the color designs for many Silver Age characters, including Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and The Hulk. He also drew such Marvel titles as Millie the Model and Patsy Walker. After leaving Marvel he drew some of DC’s teen titles, including Date with Debbie, Swing with Scooter, and Binky, and began a 40-year career at Archie Comics, with his work appearing in such titles as Archie and Me, Betty and Me, Everything’s Archie, Life with Archie, Archie’s Pals n Gals, Laugh, Pep, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. From 1975 to 1980 Goldberg drew the Archie Sunday newspaper strip.
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.
Lily Renée Phillips
Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips was the star artist for comics 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. She turns 100 on May 12.
Editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902) 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 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.
Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer (1799–1846) is known for his histoires en images, picture stories that are considered predecessors to modern comic strips. His works included Histoire de M. Jabot (1833), Monsieur Crépin (1837), Monsieur Pencil (1840), and Le Docteur Festus (1846). These works were distinctively different from a painting, a political cartoon, or an illustrated novel. The images followed clear narrative sequences over a course of many pages, rather than just a series of unrelated events. Both text and images were closely intertwined. Originally ,he drew his comics purely for his own and friends’ amusement. One of his friends, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, liked them so much (especially the Faust parody) that he encouraged Töpffer to publish his littérature en estampes (“graphic literature”). His stories were printed in various magazines and translated into German, Dutch, English, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.
The 2021 Eisner Awards judging panel consists of comics retailer Marco Davanzo (Alakazam Comics, Irvine, CA), Comic-Con Board Member Shelley Fruchey, librarian Pamela Jackson (San Diego State University), comics creator/publisher Keithan Jones (The Power Knights, KID Comics), educator Alonso Nuñez (Little Fish Comic Book Studio), and comics scholar Jim Thompson (Comic Book Historians).
The Eisner Hall of Fame trophies will be presented in a virtual awards ceremony to be held during Comic-Con@Home in July.