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2008 Doug Wright Award winners

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The Doug Wright Awards for achievements in Canadian comic book artistry were presented this weekend and the winners are:
Best Book:
The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming
(Riverhead Books)

Best Emerging Talent:
Essex County Vol. 1 Tales From The Farm & Vol. 2 Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire
(Top Shelf)

The first Pigskin Peters Award, presented to recognize progressive works by Canadian cartoonists is:
Milk Teeth by Julie Morstad
(Drawn and Quarterly)

  1. While I am happy for all the winners of the latest Wrights Awards and wish to congratulate them, there is a serious problem with the labeling and submission regulations of the awards. The Wright Awards reject contents produced by 1/4 of Canadians and therefore reject half of all original Canadian comic books published in Canada. They are aware of this situation and the double standard it creates for a sizable number of Canadian creators. I can only wish that this problem is resolved quickly so that they best represent and honour all of Canada’s original comic book output.

    Until then, they cannot reasonably claim to be Canadian Awards for all Canadian comic book creators.

  2. As usual Hervé, you seem to have it half-wrong and half-assed. The regulations are clear. The Wright Awards recognize English-language work. Period. It’s right there on the About page of the website. This does not preclude translated work by Canadians whose first language is French. Translated works by Julie Doucet, Genevieve Castree, and Guy Delisle have all been nominated for Best Book. Michel Rabagliati has won Best Book. Alberic Bourgeois was one of the first Hall of Fame inductees. There are several other awards that recognize only French-language comics in Canada. I even hear there are some that award prizes to both French- and English-language comics. Regardless of origin and language, aren’t these all Canadian?

  3. I will never stop denouncing discrimination against Canadians whose language is French. That thing about being an English award only seems to have been added recently after I started denouncing this award.

    Second, you cannot use the word Canadian without the qualifier “English” before, if you refuse to consider original comic books published in French (not translated). English Canada, has no monopoly to calling itself the national culture of Canada. In anything that calls itself national, French must be there, otherwise it is not just Canadian.

    All the projects you mentioned were all accepted only after they were translated. As translated works, they are still not English. Have your cake and the neighbour’s at the same time?

    One of your award is for emerging talent. How can an French creator be emerging, if he first had to be published in French, then published in English? By the time a work is published in a second language, its creator is hardly emerging.

    Your play on the word Canadian, saying the French language -only awards are also Canadian obscure the situation. Anything that comes from Canada is Canadian.

    But those awards you mention, the Bédéis and the Bédélys, make no claim to be national in scope or to represent all Canadians.

    All the press junket sent never mentioned that the awards were for English Canadians only. All the coverage simply assume that as Canadian, it means all of Canada.

    Many English Canadians continue to discredit the French part of Canada and I am denouncing this and I will always continue to do so. And I repeat that supporting the Doug Wright Award as they bill themselves now, is supporting discrimination. Many do not realize it, but your defence and attack of my character do not change facts. The Doug Wright Awards discriminate against some Canadians.

    Ask anyone outside of comic books in Canada, involved in the cultural fields about this and they will confirm that your labelling is discriminatory.

  4. There is an award that acknowledges both English and French Canadian creators: The Joe Shuster Awards, and you are very well aware of this fact, Brian. French Canadian creators working exclusively in French are eligible to win any of the awards we present, not just Favourite Canadian Comicbook Creator – French Language.

  5. Actually this year at the Joe Shuster Awards we took extra steps to ensure that the best original works published in French were considered in every category by organizing a unique, Quebec-based nominating committee that reviewed all original French language works published in 2007. This resulted in Canadien nominees in every category. That being said, if a Canadian produces original work in any language it is eligible for consideration.

    Personally I think we have a long way to go with the Joe Shuster Awards when it comes to providing timely and accurate translation of all of our materials in both of our country’s original languages but we are trying.

  6. I’m also extremely disappointed that it is so difficult to obtain the amazing original French language works being produced by Canadiens published by Quebec-based and European publishers. While I think it is great that Drawn & Quarterly does provide translations of many of the excellent French language comics into English (such as those by Guy Deslisle and Michel Rabagliati), there’s a lot of stunning work being published in French that just doesn’t see distribution to other parts of the country and this may be why the Wrights chose to limit their selections to what is available.

  7. I actually think and have written about it two weeks ago, that the Shuster Awards are the only truly Canadian Awards and the only one that can legitimately use the word Canadian in their labelling. I support them wholeheartedly and recognize the efforts that they have made to represent what Canada is really about. The Shuster, do not require a book to be translated before it is suitable for nomination.

    What people don’t realize about the Wrights accepting only translated French comic books, is that they are saying that once it is translated, that it becomes English Canadian. This can’t be. When Dante’s Faust was translated from German to English, did it suddenly become British literature? When Shakespear is translated from English to French, does it become French literature?

    Of course not. So why are Canadian comic books published in French suddenly become English literature when they are translated?

  8. Yawn. Hervé, thank you for telling us what can and cannot be done. Further corrections: the English-language rider has been on the website since 2005. “Dante’s Faust”? Sigh.

    Robert and Kevin: you have some competition from the Prix Expozine, the bilingual comics and fanzine award.

  9. As you well know Bryan, there’s no competition among the different awards as each strives to do something unique. The Prix Expozine is a festival award – given to publications SOLD at Expozine, the annual small-press, comic and zine fair held in Montreal. http://www.expozine.ca/

  10. Uhh, Herve, so you’re saying the Shusters are the only truly “Canadian” Awards when:

    a) their jury, which was charged with sorting through categories with English and French language works consisted entirely of ANGLOPHONES

    b) not a single Francophone won outside of the segregated French category that the Shusters body plays no role in selecting the winner of (it’s a fan vote)

    c) they celebrate the legacy of a guy who left Canada at age 10 and spent his life working on licensed characters for American corporations and now they spend their days celebrating Canadians whose work is outsourced to megaconglomerates

    Seriously? That’s your idea of a “Canadian” awards?

    I’m thinking it’s more because they cover the same terriroty as your blog, which is mindless DC/ Marvel crap designed for 40 year old fanboys that live in basements. At least the Wrights and the Bedleys take the time to recognize culturally significant work, not random covers of Justice Society of America issues.

    So what if they reconize English works? They’re based in Canada. They focus on Canadian art. That makes them Canadian. Deal with it or move elsewhere.

  11. Uhh, Herve, so you’re saying the Shusters are the only truly “Canadian” Awards when:

    a) their jury, which was charged with sorting through categories with English and French language works, consisted entirely of ANGLOPHONES

    b) not a single Francophone won outside of the segregated French category that the Shusters body plays no role in selecting the winner of (it’s a fan vote)

    c) they celebrate the legacy of a guy who left Canada at age 10 and spent his life working on licensed characters for American corporations and now they spend their days celebrating Canadians whose work is outsourced to megaconglomerates

    Seriously? That’s your idea of a “Canadian” awards?

    I’m thinking it’s more because they cover the same terriroty as your blog, which is mindless DC/ Marvel crap designed for 40 year old fanboys that live in basements. At least the Wrights and the Bedleys take the time to recognize culturally significant work, not random covers of Justice Society of America issues.

    So what if they reconize English works? They’re based in Canada. They focus on Canadian art. That makes them Canadian. Deal with it or move elsewhere.

  12. You clearly do yourself a disservice by posting under pseudonyms.

    a) Actually, our Quebec-based nominating committee for French Canadian creators who sorted through the eligible works by creators published in French is made up entirely of Francophones – Francisco Rosa, Mike Aragona and Francis Hervieux, with input from Francophone creators like Gabby Morrissette.

    b) “Segregated”… interesting spin. Every Nominated Category this year included Francophone nominees. Given the quality of original work being produced there is no doubt in my mind that Francophone creators will win Joe Shuster Awards.

    c) Certainly this was an argument that I’ve really only heard expressed by Seth – a creator firmly entrenched in every aspect of the Wrights. So what if he left Canada at age 10? He still claimed to be Canadian and had strong ties with his family here in Canada all of his life. He spent more time than most discussing how much Canada meant to him, and was involved with the Toronto Star’s Christmas drives in the early 1940’s. Did he toil away working for megaconglomerates? Did such a thing exist during the years when Shuster was an active cartoonist? Of course not, that’s silly. He worked for a publisher that abused his trust (interesting reading those letters between Siegel and Liebowitz). That publisher was later purchased and then sold and resold and is now part of a megaconglomerate. There’s no dispute that Shuster worked actively on characters (with Jerry Siegel) that he co-created — Slam Bradley, Superman, even the Funnyman character that was his last real foray as an artist.

    Nevertheless, to claim that Shuster – one of the two guys that basically transformed the comic book industry overnight in 1938 — a creator that nearly every person in North America is aware of based on the popularity and longevity of a character he created is not a suitable person to name a comic book creator award after is just… well, to be blunt… reactionary bullshit when someone dared to question why an award that claims to be Canada’s premiere award doesn’t include French works.

    You fellows at the Wrights gave your answer. You decided not to do it.

    Sorry, but this is getting silly.

    Does Jeff Lemire create mindless crap for DC/Marvel. Does Cecil Castellucci? Does Bryan Lee O’Malley? All of these people have done outstanding non-superhero work and have received Joe Shuster Awards in the past. The Joe Shuster Awards honour Canadian comic book creators, and we don’t bother narrowing the definition of what we can or won’t honour because we don’t find it culturally significant. The Joe Shuster Awards don’t make bombastic assumptions cultural significance of a work of graphic art — that’s not the philisophy behind the awards, the awards exist to honour excellence in creativity and craftsmanship.

  13. I think Kevin’s mostly right here. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Canadian Shuster-worship, but he’s a transformative figure who did brilliant stuff and no arguments can be made to the contrary. What kind of a national symbol he is can still be debated (I much prefer Jimmy Frise, who fought at Vimy— how Canadian is that?!?), but he was a good man and a fine cartoonist. I’ll leave it at that.

    I still think the French language stuff is a grey area. Kev, the Shuster’s nominating committee had francophones on it, but what about the jury? Were there people making the final decisions about books given works they couldn’t understand? I think it’s fantastic that you had anyone to begin with, and I think learning from this year would help everyone iron things out, but you have to admit it is kind of troublesome for a French book by Maryse Dubuc to be judged against Cecil’s book (both are awesome) by a jury that only understood one of them. Looking at the jury list, it does seem to be all anglos.

    It would also explain Elijah Wood’s (it can only be him) argument that no Francophone won outside of the French category. I think it’s why English and French language awards are a good thing— because to lump everything together gets really dangerous when you’re dealing with language comprehension.

    Regards,
    Sean

  14. Following those thoughts, I don’t get why everyone can’t accept the territorial ground and overlaps of Canadian comics awards. There are things the Shusters have nominated and awarded, and that were worthy of recognition, that the Wrights weren’t particularly compelled by. There have been books the Wrights have nominated and awarded that haven’t been of interest to the Shusters. Then, in the middle, there have been some great transgressive works like Kevin mentioned (Scott Pilgrim, Essex County) that ended up on everyone’s radar.

    The same goes with Francophone stuff. There are organizations out there concentrating heavily on French-Canadian graphic novels and comics and doing a great job of it. I think, along with the Shusters and the Wrights, they make up a strong body of organizations that are bringing the medium to national prominence. These are things to celebrate and, of course, improve together. They shouldn’t be a point of argument. All the awards have a symbiotic relationship and a mutual stake in each other’s success.

  15. That last sentence should read:

    The Joe Shuster Awards don’t make bombastic assumptions re: the cultural significance of a work of sequential art and/or storytelling — that’s not the philosophy behind the awards — the awards exist to honour excellence in creativity and craftsmanship by Canadians working on comic books, webcomics and graphic novels.

    You mentioned “At least the Wrights and the Bedleys take the time to recognize culturally significant work, not random covers of Justice Society of America issues.not random covers of Justice Society of America issues.”

    I assume you mean the Prix Bédélys, which to date have never claimed to be Canada’s Premiere Comic Book Award. Although they do state that the awards are for French language works published in Quebec. The assumption that can be taken there is that a random cover of Justice Society of America would never be eligible unless it was produced by a Francophone creator living in Quebec.

    Interestingly enough the Prix Bédélys Québec 2007 went to Leif Tande and Phillippe Girard for Danger Public — a work for which the creators were nominated for Joe Shuster Awards in the categories of Oustanding Canadian Comic Book Writer and Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist. Interestingly enough Girard was the people’s choice for the segregated award, with Tande being a close runner-up. http://www.promo9a.org/9a-bedelys.html

    As much as I liked Dale Eaglesham’s nominated variant cover to Justice Society of America #10, the winner of the first ever Outstanding Cover produced by a Canadian Comic Book Artist in 2007 was Steve Skroce’s cover for Doc Frankenstein #6, published by Burleyman Press. You are correct in that there probably isn’t any palpable cultural significance there other than it’s a very nice looking piece of artwork.

  16. Well Sean, I don’t disagree with the majority of the points you’ve raised. We’re all trying to HONOUR our Canadian creators and in the end, how can that be a bad thing?

    As for the points you’ve raised about our jury. Certainly our jury was made up of people who speak English as their primary language, but that doesn’t mean that they could not read French either. The jury was quite fond of Cecil Castellucci’s Plain Janes OGN and it was the work they selected. Remember that we aren’t awarding works of cultural significance, but rather creators that did outstanding work in the previous year – so in a sense, being on that list means that you were doing great work in the category for which you were nominated. Here were 8 writers whose work should be noticed and appreciated, 8 cartoonists, 8 artists and so on…

  17. Jimmy Frise would be a fine person to name a Cartooning or comic strip award after, but to my knowledge he was not a comic book artist. Hal Foster would be a choice I think would have some merit, but again, he was primarily a strip cartoonist. Doesn’t make sense for us to name our comic book award after people that didn’t produce any comic books during their lifetimes.

    A fine example of a Canadian comic book creator who was also a war hero would be WIN MORTIMER, who was an illustrator for the Canadian government during WW2 but ended up being a cog in the wheel of corporate comics for the majority of his post-war years, toiling in the trenches of titles such as Superman, World’s Finest, the Legion of Super-Heroes and Spidey Super Stories – as well as strips for US Syndicates (“David Crane”) and eventually the Toronto Star (“Larry Brannon”). Comic book creator GENE DAY would be another fine choice to name a comic book award after — then again there is a DAY PRIZE already.

  18. Elijah. Not sure I should bother replying some of your attacks. I’ll just point out that there is no hierarchy of comic books should be awarded or not. Marvel and DC Comics are not bad and evil products because they are published by larger entities. If they deserve a prize then so be it.

    The Comic Book Bin is not a blog. And yes, we cover Marvel and DC Comics, but we also cover a lot of other things. We are one of the few general comic book site to cover European, manga and even yaoi comic books fairly well.

    I’ve reviewed in our movie sections Brazilian films and other indie films that have not played in theatre in North America. We have a fairly extensive coverage of Fantagraphics and Top Shelf books and we’re not known as a site that discriminate against less know comic books. In fact, we don’t like to use the word independent or small press comics because we think that these terms artificially misrepresent a reality. We just call them comic books.

    I suggest that people read the article about Canadian Comic Book Award that I published a week before the one denouncing the Wrights. Maybe they’ll start understanding the nuances about Canadian and Canadian.

    Anything from Canada is Canadian and in the Wrights’ article, it is stated there repeatedly. But there is a difference between being an award of Canadian origin, like the Bédélys and presenting yourself to the world as an award that celebrates Canadian excellence. If you argue to that you are honouring Canadian excellence in cartooning, then you must consider all of Canada. The Bédélys and the Bédéis have NEVER presented themselves as awards that honour Canadian excellence. They use their own name only.

    And under the definition of presenting yourself to the world as an award that celebrate Canadian excellence, only the Shuster do a decent job of doing it right.

  19. I’d also like to mention that when the idea of having segregated JURIED awards was raised by one of our Anglophone members in discussion for the Joe Shuster Awards that our Francophone membership was dead set against it and vetoed it almost as soon as it was suggested. They felt that as a National award they should be judged together based on the quality of the work, and that there was no mystical key to unlocking the Francophone experience.

    Separation was kind of an insult in their opinion, and they preferred that everyone be considered equally. This was another reason for our switch to juried awards in 2008, where we knew that the judges would all review the material and give it due consideration.

    Conversely they all agreed that the popular vote awards for English and French language creators was a good idea for encouraging interest – since it’s a vote open to everyone, not just people in specific areas.

  20. I’m really pleased to see this discussion being furthered on the Beat Blog.
    It kind of died out at Comic Book Bin.

    One thing out of this is that I’m very interested in taking a trip to Montreal and checking out the bookstores for Quebec generated product. I’ve made the effort to muddle through some of the French Euro product and maybe its time to see whats being done next door.

    Rabagliati, Doucet and Delisle are national treasures as far as I’m concerned. Pyongyang is one of my top ten favourite graphic novels. I’d like to see who else is out there.

    Despite this I’d still like to see the Wrights remain as they are. They’re a huge boost for local cartoonists who labour in semi obscurity. Simply make them an English Canadian award and be done with it. Let the Shusters fulfill the mandate of a National award. Hopefully with continued networking with the Quebec comics community their efforts will become even stronger in scope. Even better, what about having a French comics store set up at the festivities on the day of the awards. Certainly having the product easily accessible will diminish the stumbling block of finding the work.

    If anyone wants to set up another award I think Gene Day would be a superb person to name it after. Foster may have been a strip cartoonist, but he still dealt with graphic narrative. There’s always Rand Holmes as well.

    Regardless of what we call the awards and who gives them out lets keep supporting our cartoonists. It was great to see Jeff Lemire win at this year’s Wrights. He damn well deserved it.

  21. For a very well reasoned set of observations by a working English artist who makes Montreal his home check out this link: http://sequential.spiltink.org/

    The writer is Max Douglas a.k.a. Salgood Sam who has done work for the big two as well as smaller independent companies. His “Therefore Repent!” done with Jim Munroe is some amazing work.

    Check it out.

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