Tag Archives: Daniel Clowes

TCAF, Terry “Aislin” Mosher and the Doug Wright Awards


Never the same twice.

Each year, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) provides a unique experience for me. This one reignited by interest editorial cartoons and provided the opportunity to meet some very interesting and warm people from that world I would not have otherwise met.

I  attended the Doug Wright Awards for the first time, which I had never seriously considered for whatever reason. I’m already looking forward to next May. (Look for a follow-up post on my awards experience in the coming days.)

I was especially glad to reconnect with Terry “Aislin” Mosher with whom I used to collaborate when I worked at Maclean’s magazine. He has the same passion today for promoting cartooning talent as nearly a decade ago. A veteran (dare I say, legend?) of the Canadian political cartoon scene, he was inducted into the cartoonist hall of fame, aka Giants of the North, over the weekend. Why did it take so long to recognize this talent? Hopefully he can take consolation in the Order of Canada award he’s already received.

Coming out of the weekend, I realized graphic novelists and editorial cartoonists operate in silos and rarely cross paths. I’m not entirely sure why I was surprised by this – it’s unfortunate but completely understandable. However, the Doug Wright Awards did a very good job of trying to break down the wall by inviting Terry in their front door. I think a lot of the editorial cartoonists invited to the show were exposed to some fresh talent. And I would hope many of the comic artists were inspired by Terry’s prolific output.

I interviewed Terry for Yahoo! Canada and also wrote a primer about the Doug Wright awards.

Among the artists I met is Wes Tyrell, whose work is very cool. Please check out his portfolio. I’m especially fond of his caricature of BBC host Andrew Graham Dixon styled after Daniel Clowes.

READ ALSO: Five tips for making the most of TCAF

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Komic-konze: Scott Pilgrim, Marijuanaman, digital comics, and Blake Lively’s dress

Actors Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard onstage at "The Green Lantern" panel. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images / July 24, 2010)

Even though I wasn’t able to make the trip from Los Angeles to San Diego for comic-con, there is an interesting halo effect that touches this U.S. entertainment capital. The presence of comic-con is seemingly everywhere, and there’s a little bit for everyone. Here’s a snapshot of some ink spilled by print media leading up to the con.

Alex Pham and John Horn of the LA Times write on one of the big trends at this year’s show, and the concern of many in the industry: digital comics.

“Technology, which has already upended the music, television and movie business, is now gripping the comic book world…With change comes comes it’s twin companions: angst and exhilaration.”

They offer a good overview of the current digital comic landscape and what’s looming on the horizon (more animated, motion comics with built-on social capabilities like reader comments).

Not surprisingly, publishers are optimistic it will turn around years of flat sales, retailers are wary it will erode their bottom line, and creators live somewhere in between. (“We’ll get screwed somehow,” Daniel Clowes said at this year’s TCAF. “We always do.”)

Loads more Con coverage on their blog Hero Complex.

On the lighter side, USA Today‘s bubblegum preview from Wednesday is a blurb-heavy look at the big films being showcased this year (I feel like I’ve been hearing about Scott Pilgrim for ages. Check out this kick ass trailer for Tron: Legacy ); TV shows (I’m sorry, The Cape just looks lame); and (gasp!) even some praise-worthy comics (The Hunter, Chew, and a very intriguing-sounding BB Wolf and the Three LPs).

They redeem with a full-page piece on Mike Mignola’s latest story arc, Hellboy: The Storm that coincidentally faces a full-page ad for the new USA Today/Dark Horse/Toshiba electronics free comic preview partnership.

Finally, the free weekly entertainment paper Brand X offers a profile of Jim Mahfood, the artist on Ziggy Marley and Joe Casey’s upcoming Marijuanaman.

And just because – photos of the eye-popping dress worn by Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively to the Green Lantern sneak peek panel that had the geeks going gaga available on Just Jarred.

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Who is Daniel Clowes?

Following the Daniel Clowes comic talk that kicked off the 2010 Toronto Comic Arts Festival last Friday evening, a friend and I debated whether or not we liked the man over pints.

We’d just listened through an hour of the Oscar nominee and National Post writer Mark Medley talked at length about his start in comics, his inspirations, his early work for Cracked magazine, the experiences Ghost World have brought him, and the making of Wilson (Drawn + Quarterly), his newest graphic novel – the first in five years.

He was entertaining and funny for the most part, but some of  his answers – especially those responding to audience questions – came off as a bit too cool and dismissive. It was this “Yeah, whatever” attitude that had us wondering whether Clowes deliberately cultivated this affected loner persona, detached from regular folk and the trends that consumer them.

Or was this a symptom of it being Clowes’s first public appearance in six years as he kicks off a nine-city promo tour for Wilson?

Or could it simply be the honest reaction of a painfully shy individual, someone reportedly so uncomfortable with all the attention focused on him that he goes private with him email and contact information?

His answer to the iPad and comics question was, loosely, “We [artists] will get screwed somehow, we always do.” I also felt a little bad for the audience member – and young, nervous fan – who asked for Clowes’s reaction to being studied in university classrooms alongside Will Eisner and Art Spiegleman. Loosely ‘It sure sells a lot of copies!’ may have sounded funny in his head, but rolling off his lips it came across as dismissive. The audience would have appreciated a little more thoughtful response. Again, though, one might chalk that up to nerves. Who wouldn’t be sitting in front of a room filled with hundreds of strangers?

But it brought up the question of why people and fans feel compelled to want to like the artists whose music, films and writing they admire. (Admittedly, we’re a few pints in at this point, but we’re having fun.) I mean, as much as Joss Whedon groupies love the work, they adore the man who can do no wrong.

Here’s a short clip for an upcoming documentary on Warren Ellis. I don’t find him a very likeable fellow. He’s an intense and a deep thinker, and an apparent chain smoker and heavy drinker (at least the clip suggests that). But he sums up exactly why I like reading his books, mostly the original creations like Fell and Supergod and Global Frequency, but the occasional story of heroes in spandex as well.

Art should challenge the audience – sometimes intellectually, sometimes emotionally. A good artist needs to be slightly disassociated from society to reflect and comment on it successfully.

Back to Clowes, I’ve only read Ice Haven once, though I’ve seen Ghost World, and deserves a second read by now. I recall it made me uncomfortable in a slightly more grimy and less funny way than Curb Your Enthusiasm achieves. I fully expect Wilson to be equally unsettling.

If you’re on the hunt for some Clowes content, last week’s Eye Weekly cover story shines spotlight on the artist. The piece seems a tad gushing after hearing the man speak.

Globe and Mail review of Wilson offers a decent synopsis of the graphic novel. The print edition features an interesting panel-by-panel annotation by Clowes of the page from Wilson that’s featured at the link if you can track it down.

Finally some pictures from the event.

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Doug Wright Award winners 2010

Added May 15: This video tribute is a nice showcase of the Best Book nominees.

On the evening of Saturday May 9, the 2010 Doug Wright Awards for Canadian “cartooning” – as it was described so quaintly at Friday night’s TCAF kickoff event with Daniel Clowes – were handed out to the following individuals:

  • Best Book went to Seth for George Sprott (Drawn and Quarterly)
  • Best Emerging Talent: Michael DeForge whose work includes Lose #1 (Koyama Press) and Cold Heat Special #7 (Picturebox)
  • Also something called the Pigskin Peters Award, a category described as unconventional, “nominally-narrative” comics: another D+Q book, Hot Potatoe by Marc Bell
  • Martin Vaughn-Smith was named to this year’s Hall of Fame

Best emerging talent: Michael Deforge
Pigskin Peters: Hot Potatoe by Marc Bell
Founded in 2004 (in a dimly lit Toronto bar) to celebrate the finest in English-language comics and graphic novels, The Doug Wright Awards have since evolved into one of North America’s foremost comics awards and one of its most anticipated events.

Wright Awards finalists defy easy categorization, and include past and present masters of the form and off-the-beaten-path newcomers alike, all vying for one of the most unique and coveted trophies in comics.

This year’s nominees were chosen by a five-member panel who chose from works released in the 2009 calendar year. The panel included: comics historian and author Jeet Heer; filmmaker Jerry Ciccoritti; cartoonist Chester Brown; Walrus comics blogger Sean Rogers, and; writer and Sequential.ca publisher Bryan Munn.

The winners were chosen by a jury that included Toronto Star books critic Geoff Pevere, author and Globe and Mail music columnist Carl Wilson, cartoonist and 2009 Doug Wright Award winner Matt Forsythe, and artist/cartoonist Fiona Smyth.

A featured event of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF), the 2010 Doug Wright Awards ceremony was hosted by Peter Outerbridge at the Toronto Reference Library’s new Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.

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