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2022 Doug Wright Award Winners spotlight Conundrum Press

The 2022 Doug Wright Award winners took place in person and al fresco

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At a rather breezy open air location in downtown Toronto on Saturday evening, the 2022 Doug Wright Award winners were declared in the first in-person ceremony in three years.

Conundrum Press had a good night. From the 2022 Doug Wright Awards winners they bagged two of the four categories. Best Book – Brigitte Archambault‘s The Shiatsung Project – and being the publisher of the Nipper Emerging Talent awardee Sami Alwani.

2022 Doug Wright Award winner for Best Book was surveillance culture critique The Shiatsung Project.

Archambault’s debut book, originally published in French with Éditions Mécanique Générale in 2019, was published in English by Conundrum Press and translated by Aleshia Jensen.

On receiving the award, a rather stunned Archambault said,

“Thank you. It’s a shock. Thank you so much for the award. I’m really surprised…Thank you.”

Sami Alwani, 2022 Doug Wright Award winner for Emerging Talent, The Nipper, for The Pleasure of the Text said:

“Thank you so much… This is a huge honour. I really, really appreciate it.

“…I spent seven years working on this book and I kind of poured my entire soul into it, and I tried to make myself really vulnerable while I’m doing it. When you make yourself vulnerable and nobody responds or nobody cares, that sucks – but when you do it and you get validation from your peers and your community it’s hugely meaningful.”

The Egghead for Best Kids Books went to Gillian Goerz‘s Shirley and Jamilla’s Big Fall (Dial Books for Young Readers).

Goerz:

“This means so much…Both of my books came out during the pandemic so this is my first time being in front of anybody who makes comics… This really, really is wonderful.”

Pigskin Peeters for Best Small or Micro Press Book went to Jay StephensDwellings No. 2, from Black Eye Books.

Stephens’ said,

“This is my first ever award for making comics. Thank you very much the Doug Wright crew for including me in this grouping of such great work. It was a great year for the small press. This is amazing.

“Thank you to Michel Vrana my once and current publisher with whom I share this award. I could not have done this without him. He does all the hard stuff.
Thank you to Melanie…you convinced me this was a good idea. This was a very weird idea but you said it with great sincerity and that fired [me] up.”

Interestingly Stephens’ said this book was part of his return to comics after a period of self-imposed creative exile:

“Fourteen years ago I was institutionalised for a nervous breakdown and diagnosed with major depressive disorder. While I was at my lowest my therapist told me that making comics, which I had done exclusively for over a decade, was probably the worst thing I could do – with the deadlines and the pressures and the rejections and the fluctuating income – and for a long time I took that seriously. I tried not to make comics for a long time. I was selling art supplies.

“…Fortunately I got a second opinion: My Opinion. And I decided that making comics brought me way more joy than the stress counteracting [it] and I am very happy to be back. Thank you for awarding me here today.”

The Giants of the North induction of children’s book illustrator and Harry the Dirty Dog co-author Margaret Bloy Graham featured a note from Mindy Mitchell on behalf of Graham’s niece Wendy Sherwood and family who were unable to attend:

“Margaret loved to draw. She was determined to make art her career at a time when very few women were welcome in the world of graphic design and illustration.

“In her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts she built a beautiful light-filled studio that opened onto her garden.

“Always busy, she spent hours at her art table – illustrating a new book, reviewing the latest Harry edition, and working on various personal drawings and art projects.

“Long after her publishing life was over, Margaret continued creating. For years she was part of a group of artists who gathered every week to practice life drawing. She volunteered at a local elementary school where she demonstrated to Harry-loving kids how to draw everyone’s favourite dirty dog; and she was always sending illustrated notes – often droll and witty – to friends and family.

“Margaret made drawing her life’s work and it sustained her into her 90s. Thank you for honouring her work today.”

Seth, who formally inducted the illustrator into the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame said:

“Now, I don’t think children’s books and comics are all that naturally related…For the most part they operate very differently however some children’s book artists are definitely cousins of cartoonists. There were quite a few of this type in the 40s to the 1960s. H.A. Rey (Curious George) , Virginia Lee Burton (Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel), Adrienne Adams, Bernard Waber, Maurice Sendak – these people were all cartoonists. Margaret Bloy Graham is certainly among this group.

“Her books are laid out and they’re told the way a cartoonist would tell a story. Action follows action in a comic strip manner. Basically her two-page spreads are just big panels.”

 

Congrats to all winners and here’s hoping for an indoor venue for next year!

 


The 2022 Doug Wright Award Winners and Nominees in full:

 

The 2022 Doug Wright Award for Best Book

WINNER: The Shiatsung Project, Brigitte Archambault (Conundrum Press)

  • Cyclopedia Exotica, Aminder Dhaliwal (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • The Rock From the Sky, Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)
  • Stone FruitLee Lai (Fantagraphics)
  • Fictional FatherJoe Ollmann (Drawn & Quarterly)

The Nipper: The 2022 Doug Wright Award for Emerging Talent

WINNER: Sami AlwaniThe Pleasure of the Text (Conundrum Press)

  • Sofia AlarconEndsickness No. 1 (Self-published)
  • Brigitte ArchambaultThe Shiatsung Project (Conundrum Press)
  • Alexander Laird, Sleemor Gank: Burg Land No. 1 (Self-published)
  • Kyle Simmers and Ryan Danny OwenPass Me By: Gone Fishin’ and Pass Me By: Electric Vice (Renegade Arts Entertainment)

The Pigskin Peters: The 2022 Doug Wright Award for Best Small- or Micro-Press Book

WINNER: Dwellings No. 2Jay Stephens (Black Eye Books)

  • Endsickness No. 1Sofia Alarcon (Self-published)
  • Fruit/SoilKim Edgar (Moniker Press)
  • The Northern GazeAkeeshoo ChislettChris CaldwellCole PaulsAndrew SharpJuliann FraserEsther BordetAlison McCreeshKeith VerbonacPrincess J; edited by Kim Edgar (Hecate Press)
  • Sleemor Gank: Burg Land No. 1Alexander Laird (Self-published)

The Egghead: The 2022 Doug Wright Award for Best Kids’ Book

WINNER: Shirley and Jamilla’s Big FallGillian Goerz (Dial Books for Young Readers)

  • Simon and Chester: Super Sleepover!Cale Atkinson (Tundra Books)
  • Otter LagoonMike Deas and Nancy Deas (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Living with ViolaRosena Fung (Annick Press)
  • Over the ShopJonArno Lawson and Qin Leng (Candlewick Press)
  • Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble ProblemLauren Soley (Tundra Books)

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