The Eisner Awards have been announced, and amid all of the commentary and snarky asides on its way (and is, admittedly, a great part of the fun of going through the nominees), I wanted to highlight how fantastic I think it is that the Eisners decided to break the category recognizing comics for younger readers, Best Title for a Younger Audience, into two separate categories: Best Publication for Kids and Best Publication for Teens. As anyone who works with kids or teens knows, they are a diverse and ravenous bunch when it comes to comics and graphic novels. However, no “young reader” is reading the same thing at 6 as they are reading at 16 (unless perhaps it’s Calvin and Hobbes.) The idea of trying to figure out a shortlist for every Eisner category is demanding enough, but the task of picking five or six titles to represent all the comics, graphic novels, and strips aimed at folks under 18 is nigh impossible.
These categories also allow recognition for titles that might get lost if featured only in other categories, from Jimmy Gownley’s charming Amelia Rules! to Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! (which, in my opinion, is possibly the most adorable manga ever.) The Teen category highlights appealing titles that should not be overlooked, including Scott Chantler’s engaging historical adventure Annotated Northwest Passage and Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson’s PX! Book One: A Girl and Her Panda (nothing beats a story that you quote at your friends to relive, as in “Every time you punch a ninja, an angel gets its wings…”).
Kids and teens are the future fans the industry needs to court to continue going strong, so kudos to the Eisner Judges for recognizing those two groups as important audiences with separate tastes and interests from adult audiences.