Philippe is back with some coverage of one of the most prestigious Canadian comics awards, the Doug Wright awards. I’m taking over the coverage from Heidi, which means you’ll read lots of terrible dad jokes scattered throughout some news. That’s “Wright”! The Doug Wright Awards were presented at TCAF in Toronto on Saturday May 12. Only three awards and a Hall of Fame are given out, but it’s still a place that people want to be.
This year’s Giant of the North hall of fame inductee is editorial cartoonist Duncan Macpherson, He’s a fascinating choice to highlight. Here’s an excerpt from his biography found on the Doug Wright Awards website: “Duncan Macpherson was born in Toronto in 1924, and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He studied at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Ontario College of Art, and began his career at the Montreal Standard in 1948. Over the next five decades, Macpherson’s cartoons became a fixture of the political scene in English Canada and his wickedly wrought black-and-white work helped define the country’s political conversation in such publications as the Toronto Star and Maclean’s.
Terry “Aislin” Mosher, once referred to Macpherson as “the king of the third wave” of Canadian editorial cartoonists while a journalist colleague described his work as a combination of “Mary Poppins, Mark Twain and Attila the Hun.” Though he took on politicians of stripes and affiliations, his caustic portraits of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker helped make him famous, with Pierre Berton citing them as being “the beginning of the country’s disillusionment with the Diefenbaker government.”
MacPherson received six National Newspaper Awards, the Royal Academy Medal, was a Member of the Order of Canada, and his work was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario. He died, in Beaverton, Ontario, in 1993.”
After a quick and easily resolved technical issue, this year’s ceremony was hosted by Dustin Harbin, reclaiming his hosting mantle from last year. R. Sikoryak provided live drawing. Each drawings was sold for $20 as a fundraiser for the Doug Wright Awards.. No Unquotable Trump have been portrayed. The ceremony took place in a much smaller room than last year. It was surprisingly packed, especially when compared to last year’s half-empty ballroom. I think they found the right sized room. The energy was palpable and the attendees were quite engaged. The smaller room helped to keep everyone engaged.
Brad MacKay began the introduction. Some lighting issues turned the introduction and the round of thanks to partners, sponsors and committees turned into Laser Floyd as Seth and R. Sikoryak tried to get to a proper level of lights in the room. This actually was quite funny, same with the introduction and banter. MacKay also introduced Dustin Harbin, the “Billy Crystal” of the Awards. We had a wonderful introduction by Phyllis Wright thanking the organizers of the awards for keeping the legacy of Douglas Wright alive.
An unfortunate slip of the tongue led Mrs Wright to call Seth, Beth, to the delight of the crowd (#Beth!). Dustin Harbin did the hosting job wonderfully, with some amazing jokes, including a funny crack at Peggy and Chris from Drawn & Quarterly, shining in their absence from the Festival. Dustin Harbin delighted the crowd with his opinion on Canadian comics. He talked about Chester Brown, Seth and the undeniable niceness of Canadians, hiding a vile and angry interior. He may have found the greatest truth about us Canadians. we’re not nice, we’re Passive-Aggressive. Dustin heaped praised the work of Peter Birkemoe from the Beguiling, mentioning his ability to transform his passion and knowledge into fantastic customer service and the creation and shepherding of a community. The final two people Dustin mention were Jillian Tamaki for her exceptional work as well as Annie Koyama, a superstar in the world of comics. She’s a wonderful, kind and generous person, always ready to help struggling cartoonists financially. She carefully curates talent and people in a way that is beyond incredible. Dustin praised her kind heart and her ability to look beyond the mercantile aspect of the comics industry and help People.
All the nominees gathered on stage. The room erupted into cheers and clapping. First up was the Pigskin Peters Award honouring the year’s most experimental, unconventional, or avant-garde comic. The nominees were:
- The Dead Father
- The Death of the Master
- Crohl’s House Nos. 1 & 2
Alexander Laird, Jamiel Rahi and Robert Laird
- Creation: The First Three Chapters
Wavering Line Collective
And the winner is… SAMI ALWANI for The Dead Fathers.
Sami gave a heartfelt speech thanking wonderful people in his life and the unwavering support of the comics community around him.
Next up was the 2018 Doug Wright Spotlight Award (a.k.a. The Nipper), presented to a Canadian cartoonist (or writer-cartoonist team) deserving of wider recognition. The nominees were:
- Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes
The Case of the Missing Men (Conundrum Press)
- Gillian Blekkenhorst
All-Inclusive Fully Automated Vacation and House of Strays
- Eric Kostiuk Williams
Condo Heartbreak Disco (Koyama Press)
- Jason Loo
The Pitiful Human-Lizard Nos. 12, 13 and 14 (Chapterhouse Comics)
- Jenn Woodall
Magical Beatdown Vol. 2 and Marie and Worrywart
And the winner is … JENN WOODALL!
Jenn gave a quick acceptance speech thanking everyone in the room for supporting her and the Beguiling in particular for carrying her work and giving her the opportunity to develop her talent and following.
We were lucky to hear praise for Duncan Macpherson as well as some fantastic stories about Duncan Macpherson. Ian Macpherson, Duncan Macpherson’s son accepted the award and thanked the Canadian comics community as well as political cartoonists around the country.
Next up, The 2018 Doug Wright Best Book Award, presented for the best graphic novel book published in Canada (in English). The nominees were:
- Hostage (Drawn & Quarterly) by Guy Delisle
- I’m Not Here (Koyama Press) by GG
- Crawl Space (Koyama Press) by Jesse Jacobs
- The Abominable Mr. Seabrook (Drawn & Quarterly) by Joe Ollmann
- Anti-Gone (Koyama Press) by Connor Willumsen
And the winner is: JESSE JACOBS!
Jesse corrected the erroneous statement that he was nominated six times, since as he points out, he doesn’t have 6 comics yet. He thanked his girlfriend as well as Annie Koyama for her ongoing support.
Congratulation to all of the winners!
Philippe Leblanc is a Canadian comics journalist. In his regular life, he improves Canadian medical education, and is the co-host of the Ottawa Comic Book Club. He reads alternative, indie and art comics at night and write about them for the Comics Beat.