Eisner Awards Archives to Be Housed at Virginia Commonwealth University

Official Press Release

Virginia Commonwealth University has been selected to house the archives for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. The current and future collections will be donated to and available for research at the James Branch Cabell Library at VCU in Richmond, Virginia.

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the premier awards for the comics industry, are presented every summer at Comic-Con International in San Diego and are in their 17th year. The awards archives consist of books and comics that have been nominated for or have won Eisner Awards since 1992. The books had previously been kept in storage by Comic-Con International but will now be available for the use of researchers as part of the Cabell Library's Comic Arts Collection.

"The James Branch Cabell Library was chosen for the archives because it already houses one of the largest collections of materials related to the study of comic arts in the United States," said Eisner Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada. The Comic Arts Collection began in the 1970s with the donation of a large comic book collection and the papers of noted editorial cartoonists Fred Seibel and Bill Sykes. Over the last five years, the collection has increased greatly with donations from across the nation, including Dr. William Blake's collection of World War II era comics. The collection has benefited greatly from the expertise of Professors M. Thomas Inge and Tom De Haven, researchers in the fields of popular culture and the comic arts.

The collection currently holds over 23,000 processed comic books dating primarily from the 1960s to the present; the papers and art of Seibel and Sykes; Billy DeBeck's personal library and the door to his studio apartment, featuring an original painting of Barney Google and Sparkplug; a number of set design paintings from the 1960s Batman television show and movie; and an extensive collection of fanzines, reference journals, books, and other resources supporting the study of the comic arts, many donated by Dr. Inge.

"The Eisner Award Archives is especially relevant to an institution like Virginia Commonwealth University," said John Ulmschneider, University Librarian for VCU. "With one of the nation's most prestigious art schools, the Archives will provide crucial insights to students and faculty studying the vast diversity of craft in drawing, painting, and visual storytelling. And historians, artists, and sociologists throughout the nation will benefit from easier access provided by the James Branch Cabell Library to such an important collection of comics and comic-related materials."

"I think it is quite fitting for the Eisner archives to go to the Cabell Library, considering who James Branch Cabell was," said Estrada. "His early 20th century satirical fantasies were highly influential not only on literary, science fiction, and fantasy authors but also on comics creators, including Neil Gaiman."

For additional information on the VCU Comic Art Collection, please visit http://www.library.vcu.edu/jbc/speccoll/comicbk1.html or contact Curtis Lyons, head of Special Collections and Archives at the James Branch Cabell Library, at ulsjbsc@vcu.edu or by telephone at (804) 828-1108. For additional information on the Eisner Awards, visit http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisners_main.shtml or contact Jackie Estrada at (619) 286-1591.

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