The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, considered the “Oscars” of the comic book industry, are handed out each year in a gala ceremony at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Named for renowned cartoonist Will Eisner (creator of “The Spirit” and pioneer of the graphic novels), the Awards are given out in more than two-dozen categories covering the best publications and creators of the previous year.
The Eisner Awards were not always the Eisner Awards. At one point they were the Kirby Awards—sort of.
Back in 1984, Fantagraphics Books instituted the Jack Kirby Awards to honor the best works and creators in comics. The administrator of the awards was Dave Olbrich, a Fantagraphics employee. The awards were given out beginning in 1985 in programs at Comic-Con, with Jack Kirby himself on hand to congratulate the winners.
When Olbrich left Fantagraphics for other pursuits in 1987, the Kirby Awards came to an end, and two new awards programs were born: Fantagraphics started the Harvey Awards (named after Harvey Kurtzman), and Olbrich started the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Set up as a nonprofit organization, the Eisners were given out at Comic-Con like the Kirbys had been, only now with Will Eisner on stage to hand out the awards.
- Taken from The Official Comic Con Website