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2009 Doug Wright Award Winners

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Saturday night, the Doug Wright Awards, honoring the best in Canadian comics, were given out and the winners are:

Best Book: Skim, by Jillian & Mariko Tamaki (Published by Groundwood Books)

Best Emerging Talent: Kate Beaton (History Comics, katebeaton.com)

The Pigskin Peters Award: Ojingogo, Matthew Forsythe (Published by Drawn & Quarterly)


The annual Doug Wright Awards (DWAs) represent the best and brightest English-language comics and graphic novels, and are decided on by a five-member jury. The 2009 DWA jurists included Bob Rae, Andrew Coyne, Martin Levin, Joe Ollmann, and Diana Tamblyn.

This year’s jury praised Best-Book winner Skim as “ravishingly beautiful,” adding that:

“A jury far from being made up of teenage girls was won over by the elegance, sweep and detail of the art and by the unsentimental, often funny telling of this contemporary tale of young people trying to figure out who they are in a world that’s often too exciting and too complex.

Illustrations and story merge seamlessly as the mood and intensity of the black-and-white art vary according to the mood and intensity of the story. Unique and unforgettable.”

Of Kate Beaton’s work, the jury said:

Beaton’s superficially simple drawings can mask a considerable sophistication of line and expression. She also offers a very winning blend of historical literacy and range, from Diogenes to Diefenbaker, from Robin Hood to Riel; and all this in concert with a youthful insouciance, a skillful application of comic-book tropes such as superheroes to historical events and characters, and often laugh-out-loud funny dialogue.

For instance, her sketch of the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard has him obsessing over his characterization in the press as a hunchback. Or her heritage minute rewrite of Pierre Trudeau has him arguing with Margaret, who’s wearing a dress with decollete a la Julie Couillard, about turning Canada from “Boresville to Party Country.” Her work is assured, impressive, hilarious.

The DWA nominating committee, which chooses the annual Pigskin Peters Award, said of Ojingogo:

“With his lushly imagined book Montrealer Matt Forsythe joins a distinguished tradition that includes Winsor McCay and Art Spiegelman, of cartoonists exploring dream imagery. like Oz or Wonderland, and equally populated with strange creatures and bizarre happenings, Forsythe’s impressive debut puts forth a wonderfully imagined universe, rich with oddity and wonder. Forsythe excels in the difficult art of world-creation – creating here and imaginary landscape that is both dense with life and as unsettling as a dream.”

The awards were handed out at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Saturday May 9, 2009, at a gala ceremony hosted by filmmaker Don McKellar.

The event also featured a moving tribute to cartoonist Jimmy Frise, who was posthumously inducted into the Giants of the North, the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame, in a talk delivered by CBC Radio’s Stuart McLean.

In addition, this year’s event also served as the official launch of The Collected Doug Wright: Canada’s Master Cartoonist, the first of two lavish books published by Drawn and Quarterly that will re-introduce Canadians to one of their country’s greatest cartooning talents.

Founded in 2004 to recognize the best Canadian comics published in English, The Doug Wright Awards have grown to become one of Canada’s most-anticipated comics events.

  1. Skim is one of the best books published for teens this past year, and I’m so glad to see it has won the Doug Wright Best Book award. It absolutely deserves it.

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