March was a big month for award-related buzz.
Sure, back near the beginning of the month you had your fancy pants Academy awards ceremonies – but that’s not what I’m referring to here. Although I was pretty darn enthused about Jeff Bridges winning his first Oscar, and OMG did you see what Jennifer Lopez was wearing? Oh no she didn’t…
March has been a big month specifically for awards recognizing Canadian comic creators. Back on March 12th, the Doug Wright Awards posted their finalists for the three categories of Best Book, Best Emerging Talent, and the Pigskin Peters Award (which recognizes “unconventional, ‘nominally-narrative’ comics”).
The contenders for these titles, touted as representing the “finest, most thought-provoking work produced by Canada’s vibrant comics community,” (a statement I would not disagree with) are as follows:
- Best Book:
* Back + Forth by Marta Chudolinska (The Porcupine’s Quill)
* George Sprott: (1894-1975) by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Hot Potatoe by Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Kaspar by Diane Obomsawin (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Douglas and McIntyre)
- Best Emerging Talent:
* Adam Bourret I’m Crazy
* Michael DeForge Lose #1 (Koyama Press), Cold Heat Special #7 (Picturebox)
* Pascal Girard Nicolas (Drawn and Quarterly)
* John Martz It’s Snowing Outside. We Should Go For a Walk.
* Sully The Hipless Boy (Conundrum Press)
- Pigskin Peters Award:
* Bébête Simon Bossé (L’Oie de Cravan)
* Dirty Dishes by Amy Lockhart (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Hot Potatoes by Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Never Learn Anything From History by Kate Beaton
* The Collected Doug Wright Volume One by Doug Wright (Drawn and Quarterly)
As diverse a selection of Canadian talent as ever there were – though a few of the finalists definitely came as no surprise (*cough* Seth, Marc Bell, Kate Beaton *cough*).
Then last Wednesday came the 2010 Shuster Award Nominees.
For those of you unfamiliar with the awards, they’re sort of like the American Eisner Awards, only with more bacon. (insert sound clip of a tumbleweed rolling down a deserted street)
Actually, that’s nothing like what they are. Named after Canadian-born Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, the Shuster Awards were founded in 2005 by the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association. The idea was to create a national awards program that would celebrate outstanding achievements by comic book creators, publishers, and retailers.
This year marks the 6th annual Joe Shuster Awards.
The 2010 nominees are as follows (with bonus Fabler commentary!):
- SHUSTER AWARD NOMINEES for Work Published in 2009
* Chris Bachalo
* Darwyn Cooke
* Marc Delafontaine
* Djief Bergeron
* Dale Eaglesham
* Stuart Immonen
* Francis Manapul
* Cameron Stewart
Thoughts: I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m a huge fan of Stuart Immonen’s collaborative efforts with Brian Michael Bendis. Immonen’s work on Ultimate-Spider-Man and New Avengers really has been top notch, and I consider it some of the best art Marvel can boast on any of its recent titles. Not to mention, Immonen has been recognized for this before – he just hasn’t quite made the leap from nominee to award recipient just yet.
He’s certainly up against some Shuster award veterans here: both Dale Eaglesham and Darwyn Cooke have won in this category before, and Cameron Stewart is a long-entrenched name in comic book art.
Alternately, Marc Delafontaine (Delaf) could be a real contender for this distinction. He’s certainly one of the most creatively idiosyncratic artists on the list of nominees.
* Darwyn Cooke
* Jeff Lemire
* Bryan Lee O’Malley
* Philippe Girard
* Michel Rabagliati
* Simon Roy
* Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Thoughts: Holy heavy-hitters, Batman! The Cartoonist category is typically where most of the current “It” names in Canadian comics reside. Case in point: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Jeff Lemire, Darwyn Cooke, and Seth.
I think it’s pretty nifty that they included relative newcomer to the industry Simon Roy here, since while Jan’s Atomic Heart marked his freshman expedition into published comics, it really was an astoundingly well told tale.
Honestly, I’m thinking that Seth is the top contender here with his book George Sprott 1894-1975. George Sprott – which was originally serialized in the New York Times – has received wild amounts of critical acclaim, entrenching Seth’s status as a modern icon in comics.
Mind you, the Shuster Awards aren’t decided by public vote any more, which means it isn’t a popularity contest. Each creator stands an equal chance here, regardless of critical fanfare.
* Brad Anderson
* Chris Chuckry
* Maryse Dubuc
* Nathan Fairbairn
* Lovern Kindzierski
* Francois Lapierre
* Dave McCaig
* Ronda Pattison
Thoughts: I’m a little biased in this department in that I’m a big fan of Dave McCaig’s work. His work on Northlanders, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, and New Avengers really sealed the deal for me, but I also especially dug the two issues he coloured on Star Wars: Dark Times.
That being said, Chris Chuckry has done some pretty swell stuff on Air and The Unwritten, and Ronda Pattison’s simple-but-playful range has worked very well on both We Kill Monsters as well as Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time.
* Kelley Armstrong
* Ian Boothby
* Hervé Bouchard
* Maryse Dubuc
* Kathryn Immonen
* Dean Motter
* Ty Templeton
* J. Torres
Thoughts: I can’t speak fully on all of the nominees in this category, since I haven’t read all of the works they’ve each been nominated for (such as Kelley Armstrong’s run on Angel issues 18-22, or Maryse Dubuc’s Les nombrils, tome 04: Duels de belles).
I can, however attest to the skill that Kathryn Immonen crafts her stories with. Especially where Runaways is concerned – which is a tricky title to helm, since it has been the stomping grounds of such celebrated talent as Joss Whedon, Brian K Vaughan, and Terry Moore.
Ty Templeton has also been receiving solid praise for his work on Star Trek: Mission’s End. An important entry in the Star Trek mythos, it follows the original crew of the Enterprise on their final mission.
An interesting fact to note regarding the Writer category: Ian Boothby, Ty Templeton, and J. Torres have been nominees every year that this Award has been in existence, save 2009 – in which only Ty Templeton’s name was absent. Of those three, Ian Boothby (known for his work on Futurama and the Simpsons) is the only one to have yet to win. Perhaps this is Boothby’s year?
* Kaare Andrews – The Immortal Iron Fist 27
* Paul Bordeleau – Faüne, tome 2: La maison du Faüne
* Darwyn Cooke – Jonah Hex 50 (DC Comics)
* Darwyn Cooke – Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter
* Marc Delafontaine – Les nombrils, tome 04: Duels de belles
* Dale Eaglesham – Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special 1
* Dale Keown – The Astounding Wolf-Man 16 Variant
* Igor Kordey – Unknown Soldier 5
Thoughts: If there were an award for sheer cover badassery, it would doubtlessly go to Dale Keown for his Astounding Wolf-Man issue 16 Variant cover. It doesn’t get more badass than that. Or more pointy, for that matter. Pointy claws, pointy teeth, pointy brambles, even pointy fur!
As it is, the award (almost regrettably) isn’t for sheer badassery, and so Keown is faced with some stiff competition. If I were the entire panel of jury responsible for making award decisions, I imagine I’d be hard-pressed between Kaare Andrews’ zen-esque depiction of Iron Fist, and Dale Eaglesham’s tastefully nostalgic depiction of Miss America.
* Attila Adorjany – Metaphysical Neuroma
* Kate Beaton – Hark! A Vagrant
* Andy Belanger – Bottle of Awesome and Raising Hell
* Rene Engström – Anders Loves Maria
* Karl Kerschl – The Abominable Charles Christopher
* Gisèle Lagacé and David Lumsdon – Eerie Cuties and Ménage à 3
* Tara Tallan – Galaxion
* Steve Wolfhard – Cat Rackham
Thoughts: A few nominees from the 2009 Shuster Webcomics Award resurfaced this year – namely, Kate Beaton, Karl Kerschl, and Gisèle Lagacé and David Lumsdon.
Last year’s read like a who’s who of Transmission X artists – aside from Kerschl, the nominees also included Michael Cho, Ramon K. Perez, and Cameron Stewart (who won the award for his work on Sin Titulo). While I’m the last to knock TX artists, as I am of the opinion that they produce some of the finest Canadian webcomics out there, it is good to see a little more variety.
Attila Adorjany, Andy Belanger, Tara Tallan and Steve Wolfhard are all new names to the category. Curiously, this also marks Rene Engström’s first nomination. I say curious because her comic, Anders Loves Maria, has been making pretty huge waves for a few years now. While the competition is pretty stiff in this category, it feels like now – with Anders and Maria finally finished – just might be the right time for Engström to take home the award.
It should also be noted that the above is actually not a complete list of nominees – in April we’ll see the nominees for the categories of Publisher, Comics for Kids, and the Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer.
Subsequently, submissions are to be accepted up until May 10th for the Gene Day Award for Self-Publishing. Jesse Jacobs won the first-ever Gene Day Award last year for his book Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow.
The winners of the 2010 Joe Shuster Awards will be announced at a presentation ceremony coinciding with the 6th annual Toronto ComicCON Fan Appreciation Event on June 5th and 6th.
You won’t have to wait nearly that long to find out who will take home top honors at this year’s Doug Wright Awards – the winners for that awards program will be announced at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival on May 8th.
Kevin@thefabler, signing out.
-Written by Kevin de Vlaming