Toronto, May 5, 2012 — Canada’s finest comics and graphic novels were in the spotlight tonight at the 8th annual Doug Wright Awards in Toronto. This year’s winners in three categories were:
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton (Best Book)
Ethan Rilly for Pope Hats #2 (Doug Wright Spotlight Award aka “The Nipper”)
Hellberta by Michael Comeau (Pigskin Peters Award for experimental or avant-garde comics)
Hosted by writer and critic Geoff Pevere, the ceremony took place at the Art gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall and featured a Who’s Who of Canadian cartooning, including Seth and Chester Brown.
A feature event of the 2012 Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), the evening also saw legendary political cartoonist Terry “Aislin” Mosher enter The Giants of the North, the Canadian Cartoonists Hall of Fame. Mosher was on hand to receive the award and took part in an on-stage discussion with Toronto Star columnist Rick Salutin about his colourful career and life. 2012 is Mosher’s 40th anniversary of publishing his acerbic and often hilarious cartoons in The Montreal Gazette.
The winners were decided by a jury comprised of visual artist Shary Boyle, cartoonist John Martz (A Doug Wright Award Best Emerging Talent nominee in 2010 and Pigskin Peters Award nominee in 2008) and book artist and professor George Walker.
Speaking on behalf of the jury, Shary Boyle praised Beaton book. “The world of comics can be a sequestered and dusty place,” she said. “As the comic community bemoans its shrinking readership and dying forms, Beaton rises up and throws open the doors to a whole new audience – welcoming one and all with her generous vision and sense of sophisticated, inclusive playfulness.”
Jurist John Martz had this to say about Rilly:
“Rilly is a cartoonist who takes his time to get it right, and what we as fans might lose in quantity, we most definitely gain in quality. This scrutiny and attention to detail did not go unnoticed by the jury, who recognize and applaud his skilled draughtsmanship and the maturity of his writing. It can be no easy task to write a story about an introspective Toronto law clerk, and have it be so compelling, so rewarding to study, and be filled with such warmth. It is most deserving of this award.”
Jeet Heer, of the Wright Awards nominating committee which chooses the annual Pigskin Peters Award, described Hellberta as “Many things — a pastiche of superhero comic, a political satire, a post-apocalyptic fable – all melded together to form a single nightmarish vision. … Michael Comeau brings to this tradition an energetic line, a fertile imagination, and the courage to put his most outrageous ideas on paper.”