Tag Archives: Doug Wright

“Comics are trash” and other lessons from TCAF 2012

This year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival offered some interesting moments.

Chief among them was a comment from Michael Comeau, the winner of this year’s Pigskin Peters Award for experimental or avant-garde comic. Following some very flattering words about his winning book Hellberta from presenter Jeet Heer, Comeau ended his acceptance speech more or less with: “Comics are trash. And when you’re into trash, you have a lot of friends.”

The words landed with a dull thud and a bit of the air left the auditorium packed with graphic novel types, a small handful of comic journalists, presumably some fans, and professional editorial cartoonists who had shown up to hear the respected and well-known Terry Mosher speak on the night of his hall of fame induction. I cringed a little thinking about the evening’s organizers Brad Mckay and Seth imagining how much effort they put into the affair and its attempts to elevate the work of comic artists beyond the 50 cent bins Comeau referenced in his speech.

There are any number of reasons why Comeau may have said that. (Perhaps he was being a bit of a punk in front of his friends? He has a difficult time taking praise and this is how he defuses it? It’s some sort of inside joke? Who knows?) Whatever the reason, his words handily illustrate the tension within the comic book community — a continuing struggle for recognition of artists who are producing honest, personal and transformational work, while super-soldiers and demi-gods dominate the box office and Wal-Mart aisles. There aren’t many cosplay fans dressing up as Wimbledon Green, that’s for certain.

Lesson #1: Art comic award shows are funky

The Doug Wright Awards were worth attending for the awards show program alone. This year, it was a cute little chapbook styled booklet running two dozen pages or so, reprinting a funny online strip by cartoonist Dustin Harbin about his first trip to the DW awards in 2011. First published on The Comics Journal website.

Also this year, 2011 winner Michael DeForge designed a beautiful limited edition poster. The physical awards handed out include a bowler’s hat sized to the winner’s head. And the organizers produce a rather slick video showcase of the best book category nominees. How often does a comic book get that level of treatment?

Lesson #2: Research!

I need to start taking my own advice. I didn’t realize Matt Kindt and Luke Pearson were attending. I would have loved take a few minutes to chat with those guys. Pearson’s work I discovered at last year’s TCAF where I picked up his debut book Hildafolk and a Solipsistic Pop anthology in which he contributed. I’ve since added Everything We Miss and the all-ages Hilda and the Midnight Giant to my collection. Kindt is a more recent find from his run on Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), and I’m looking forward to his upcoming MIND MGMT (Dark Horse) based on the preview pages floating around on the Internet.

Lesson #3: Budget more time

This one is difficult for me due to family commitments. But only having 2 hours at the show, one of which I spent listening to Aislin’s funny editorial cartoonist talk, meant missing some favourite artists. And who can blame them? They can’t sit at table all day. But I missed Jason (one of my all-time faves), the previously mentioned Luke Pearson and Gabriella Giandelli, to name a few. I did, however, get to talk to Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba who were super nice, seemed genuinely excited in Toronto and signed the gorgeous poster they designed for the show.

Lesson #4: Pay more attention to small press

Each year, the show helps me broaden my horizon and my taste becomes a little more indie. I’ve bookmarked Koyama Press and AdHouse Books on my web browser. And I’m now reading Lose by Michael DeForge (Koyama) and Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse).


The list of books I bought at TCAF this year

Terry Mosher and the Doug Wright Awards

Five tips for making the most of TCAF

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Filed under Aritsts and writers, Comic News, Events, Toronto comic info

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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Walrus Magazine – Seth and Doug Wright: Back In Palookaville

I’m a big fan of Seth’s work. Clyde Fans ranks in my top 5 favourite graphic novels. I didn’t enjoy Wimbledon Green as much, but it was good for a laugh. For a year or two, National Post newspaper commissioned him to illustrate the Avenue section’s ‘First of the month’ page; I’d love to see that work collected. This links to a feature article published in Canadian left-leaning politics and cultural Walrus Magazine’s June 2009 issue that casts Seth as a comics historian: Walrus Magazine – Seth and Doug Wright: Back In Palookaville

As a comics fan, I’m quite impressed with Walrus. The author of this feature also contributes an online column about comics on their site. And the magazine features a really awesome one-page strip each issue. Check out their summer reading suggestions. Kudos to them.

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