Teen scene

April 11, 2010

One more thought exercise for the weekend, still linked to the Eisner Award nominations, but this time I’m thinking about the Best Publication for Teens category. There was some lively conversation on Twitter on the subject, specifically why there’s never any manga in this category when so much of the category is aimed at teens and a lot of it is really, really good.

Again, this isn’t meant to take anything away from the nominees. In fact, I seriously need to get around to reading more of them, as some received widespread critical acclaim. (I was about to say that there are too many good comics, but that’s not true. There’s just not enough time to read them all.)

I am curious as to your thoughts on why shônen and shôjo titles are left at home on nerd prom night watching anime marathons instead of spending some time in the Eisner spotlight. As the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list reminds us, there are plenty of spectacular Japanese comics targeted at that audience. (Interesting digression: of the three manga titles that made the top ten list, only one of them was serialized in a magazine with a teen demographic, namely Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, which ran in Hakusensha’s Melody magazine, though I believe it’s branded older in collection.)

Of course, teen-targeted manga has received Eisner nominations before, just not in the teen category. Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare (Go! Comi) got a nod in the main manga category in 2007, and Fumi Yoshinaga was nominated for Best Writer/Artist in 2008 partly for Flower of Life (DMP). Takeshi Obata received a 2008 Best Penciler/Inker nomination for Death Note and Hikaru No Go (Viz), and Osamu Tezuka’s Dororo (Vertical) won the main manga award in 2009. (Of course, with Tezuka, demographic origins go out the window in the face of the fact that his works are classics.)

But why do you suppose manga is ignored on this front? Could it be that the judges would rather favor works created during the nomination period rather than translated reprints of comics from various vintages? Could they want to shine the spotlight on titles with less of a market presence? Or is manga just discounted when it’s targeted at teens?

Also, what are some worthy shônen and shôjo works that you’d like to see get a nod in this category? The window is now closed on Natsuki Takaya’s glorious Fruits Basket (Tokyopop) getting some Eisner love, but there’s still 2011 for Hinako Ashihara’s sublime Sand Chronicles (Viz). What about mega-popular titles that also happen to be really, really good?