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Comic books, like Jazz, are a North American invention that has been embraced all over the globe — and from the Platinum Age to the present day, Canadian artists, writers and cartoonists have been shaping them along the way.
Canada’s national comic book award, the Joe Shuster Awards, celebrate these Canadians who create comics at home or abroad. They are named after Joe Shuster (1914-1992), the Canadian artist that co-created a character that has had tremendous impact on the comic book industry, pop culture and the world.
2016 also marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of the first comic book published exclusively for the Canadian market, Better Comics #1 (1941).
The work of those nominated, published in 2015, will be presented for review to the awards jury. The ceremony will take place in Fall 2016 at a venue to be announced.
Writer / Scénariste
Brendan Fletcher – Batgirl, Black Canary, Gotham Academy (DC Comics)
Normand Grégoire- La petite patrie (La Pastèque)
Kathryn Immonen – Russian Olive to Red King (Adhouse Books), Operation S.I.N., Agent Carter: SHIELD Anniversary Special (Marvel Comics)
Jeff Lemire – Justice League United (DC Comics) Descender, Plutona (Image), All-New Hawkeye, Extraordinary X-Men (Marvel Comics), Book of Death: Fall of Bloodshot , Bloodshot Reborn (Valiant)
Ryan North – Adventure Time (Boom!) Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel Comics)
Chip Zdarsky – Jughead (Archie) Kaptara (Image Comics), Howard the Duck (Marvel Comics)
Artist / Dessinateur
Andy Belanger – Southern Cross (Image Comics)
Stuart Immonen – Russian Olive to Red King (Adhouse Books), All-New Captain America, Star Wars (Marvel Comics)
Leonard Kirk – Captain Canuck (ChapterHouse Comics) Fantastic Four, Squadron Supreme (Marvel Comics)
Julie Rocheleau – La petite patrie (La Pastèque)
Steve Skroce – We Stand on Guard (Image Comics)
Fiona Staples – Archie (Archie Comics), Saga (Image Comics)
Cameron Stewart – Fight Club 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Cartoonist / Auteur
SPONSORED BY THE STORY ATTIC
Samuel Cantin – Whitehorse: Première partie (Éditions Pow Pow)
Michael DeForge – Dressing (Koyama Press)
Francis Manapul – Detective Comics (DC Comics)
Michel Rabagliati – Paul dans le Nord (La Pastèque)
Ethan Rilly – Pope Hats 4 (Adhouse)
Seth – Palookaville 22 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Jillian Tamaki – SuperMutant Magic Academy (Drawn & Quarterly)
Zviane – Ping-Pong (Éditions Pow Pow)
Gene Day Award (Self-Publishers) / Prix Gene Day (Auto-éditeurs)
Named after the late Howard Eugene Day (1951-1982), this award honours Canadian comic book creators or creative teams who self-published their work but did not have the books distributed by a third party such as Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. The nominees were selected from individual publications submitted for review before the deadline of May 30th, 2015.
Nemo Balkanski – The Deliverer
Stephen Gilbert – Colville
Kathleen Gros – Last Night at Wyrmwood High
A. Shay Hahn – Homeless G-Men 1-3, Battle Rally 1-2 and Crypto-Zombic 1
Various: Cloudscape Comics Collective – Epic Canadiana Vol. 2
Various: Toronto Comics Anthology – Toronto Comics, Vol 2
Harry Kremer Award (Retailers) / Prix Harry Kremer (Détaillants)
SPONSORED BY THE CANADIAN LEGENDS LEGAL DEFENSE FUND (CLLDF)
Named after the Harry Kremer, the original owner of Now & Then Books (in Kitchener, Ontario). The CCBCAA maintains a list of active comic book stores and a database of recommendations, referrals and secret shopper reports. A separate Retailer Award Committee overseen by Scott VanderPloeg from Comic Book Daily reviews the data and selects a short list of stores that have shown merit in a variety of categories. For inquiries please contact Scott at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Another Dimension (Calgary, AB)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, QC)
Gotham Central (Mississauga, ON)
The Comic Hunter (Moncton, NB)
Time Masters (St. John’s, NF)
The Dragon Award (Comics for Kids) / Le Prix Dragon (Bandes Dessinées pour Enfants)
SPONSORED BY THE DRAGON
This award recognizes the works which capture the attention and fascination of young readers, and help to create a passion for life-long reading. Works considered for this award are comic books and graphic novels by Canadian creators that are targeted at readers 14 and under. Nominees for this award are selected by a team of educators led by Jennifer Haines, MA, B.Ed., who is also the proprietor of Guelph, Ontario’s The Dragon comic book shop.
March Grand Prix (Stone Arch Press) – Kean Soo
Awkward (Yen Press) – Svetlana Chmakova
Sex is a Funny Word (Seven Stories Press) – Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War (Kids Can Press) – Michel Chikwanine, Jessica Dee Humphreys, Claudia Davila
Windmill Dragons (Toon Books) – David Nytra
l’Agent Jean Tome 08 (Presse Aventure) – Alex A.
Salome et les hommes en noir (Bayard Canada)- Valerie Amiraux, Francis Desharnais
Le prisonnier sans frontieres (Archambault) – Jacques Goldstyn
The T.M. Maple Award / Prix T.M. Maple
SPONSORED BY ALL NEW COMICS, INC.
The T.M. Maple Award will go to someone (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who have had a positive impact on the community. Selected for 2016:
John Bell (1952-)
John Bell was born in Montreal in 1952. When he was ten he moved with his family to Halifax and has since always considered himself a Maritimer. After 26 years as an archivist for the National Archives in Ottawa, Bell retired in 2008 to Lunenberg and has based himself there. John Bell has published over 20 books as a cultural historian working in the areas of Canadian Science Fiction, Atlantic Canadian Literary History, Canadian baseball writing, Canadian pulp magazines, Canada’s connection with the American Civil War and, most importantly for the Shusters, three books on Canadian comic book history His Canuck Comics (1986), Guardians of the North (1992), and Invaders from the North (2006) have become essential reading and classic source books in the field. Between the mid-70s and mid 90s, Bell collected every comic book published in Canada and this collection along with his collection of Canadian war-time comics, Canadian original comic art, and Bell Features correspondence were all donated to the National Archives and serve as a rich repository of information in the field. He is currently editing a collection of memoirs from the First World War and working on a guide to vintage Canadian non-sports cards.
Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame / Temple de la renommée Créateur Canadien de Bandes Dessinées
Selected for induction in 2016 by the Hall of Fame Committee (Walter Durajlija, Ivan Kocmarek, Hope Nicholson, Robert Pincombe and James Waley):
Tedd Steele (1922-1994)
Tedd Steele was born in Toronto on April Fool’s day in 1922. As a 19 year-old, he created Canada’s first caped and masked superhero with Wolf Savage in the newsprint tabloid Canadian Rocket (April, 1941) and a month later the caped crusader Rock Thunder in the first issue of the pulp magazine Victory. About a year later Steele was hired by Cy Bell and created Pvt. Stuff for Joke Comics and Speed Savage for Triumph Comics. Steele also drew Dixon of the Mounted for ten early issues of Active Comics and was the artist on the final four appearances of Thunderfist. He was noted for drawing himself and friends Leo Bachle and Ron Saakel into a number of stories and also created Woody and the Wolf for later issues of Wow Comics. After the comics period Steele turned to writing and did a small number of paperbacks for Export publishing. He also had a career in advertising until he retired in 1990 to Bridgenorth, just outside Peterborough. Tedd Steele died on June 16, 1994 in Bridgenorth.
Ley aka Shirley Fortune (?-?)
Ley Fortune was an artist working for the first Canadian comic book publisher, Maple Leaf in the 1940s. She drew among others covers and features like ‘Mono The Air Cobra’ for Rocket Comics (which would become known as ‘Bush Pilot’ after the war), as well as ‘Circus Girl’ and ‘Caribou Trail’. Ley Fortune was a pen name for Shirley Fortune, who was a student of Jack Shadbolt at the Vancouver School of Art in 1938-39. Fortune would also work on the strip Brok Windsor, created by Jon St. Ables.
(Please note: biographical information on Shirley Fortune is still being collected, and will be expanded upon prior to the awards ceremony)
Fred Kelly (1921-2005)
Frederick George Kelly was born in 1922 to aviator Robert Huntington Kelly and his wife Margaret. At the tender of age of twenty Fred found himself living in the snowy Bruce Peninsula drawing sample comic pages then riding his Harley down to Toronto to try to sell them to Bell Features. Art director Adrian Dingle, creator of Nelvana of the Northern Lights, would critique the young artist’s work and tell him to come back once he’d improved. Fred returned week after week, showing Dingle his determination to improve. It paid off when Fred was finally hired. He proved to be a workhorse that Dingle could count on for action-packed, well-drawn pages to fill Bell’s extensive comic book line-up.
Fred’s first strip was The Blade, a 19th century buccaneer who falls into suspended animation and wakes up in 1945 to fight the Japanese. Fred too took over established Bell characters like Red Thortan and Active Jim but also added a slew of his own creations to the Bell line-up like Betty Burd, Steve Storms, Cinder Smith and Clip Curtis. In addition to his work for Bell Features Kelly contributed numerous historical strips to the Montreal-based Canadian Heroes comics, which published educational comics for Canadian youth.
Kelly’s most famous creation is Doc Stearne, a soldier of fortune who, in his final, 2-part adventure, dons a mask and a silver and scarlet costume to fight supernatural beasts as Mister Monster. But no sooner had Doc donned his goggles than Bell Features stopped publishing original material. After an attempt to break into US comic strips Fred left the comic biz to work in medical illustration and later on, real estate. Eventually he rediscovered his art through painting.
Years later, the young American artist Michael T. Gilbert stumbled across a coverless copy of Super Duper Comics #3 featuring Mr. Monster’s first and last appearance. Intrigued by this lost character, Gilbert revived Doc and his beastie-battling alter ego in a series of hilariously over the top supernatural adventures. Gilbert even lured noted Captain Canuck artist George Freeman into the mayhem as a collaborator. Ironically, Gilbert’s version Mr. Monster has helped to make him one of the most well known characters of Canada’s “lost” history. Fred Kelly passed in 2004 a week after his 83rd birthday. But with the publication of Kelly’s entire Doc Stearne run later this year by Comic Syrup Press, we can all enjoy the robust, high octane thrills of Fred’s original Mr. Monster.
Mark Shainblum (1963-)
Mark Shainblum was born and raised in Montreal with extension credits in comic books, newspaper strips, webcomics and prose science fiction and fantasy. He is best known the comic community as the co-creator, along with illustrator Gabriel Morrissette, of the acclaimed indy superhero series Northguard and the bestselling parody comic series Angloman, which appeared in two books from Signature Editions, and later as a weekly comic strip in the Montreal Gazette.
Mark also worked on the classic Canadian superhero Captain Canuck, and with Sandy Carruthers, Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada, a webcomic featuring the first female Canadian flag superhero with her own series. To get away from maple leaves a little bit, Mark also wrote Michael Moorcock’s Corum for First Comics and stories for other independent publishers. He is currently working on a new science fiction series for Charlton Neo, and a revival and reboot of Northguard from Chapterhouse Comics.
Mark also casts a wide shadow across Canadian comics history as a publisher. At 18 he published two issues of a semi-pro comics and sci-fi fanzine called Orion: The Canadian Magazine of Time and Space. Later, he founded Matrix Graphics and published the first guide to Canadian comic books, edited by John Bell. In addition to Northguard, Matrix also put out the mini-series Mackenzie Queen and back-up strip The Jam, the first published works by comic artist Bernie Mireault.
In late 2016, Chapterhouse Comics will be publishing a colour trade paperback collecting the entire run of the original Northguard (with new colour by Mireault), and the brand new reboot series.
Darwyn Cooke (1962-2016)
It is with pride and a great deal of sadness that we are immediately inducting Darwyn Cooke into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, whom the world lost to cancer in the spring of this year. A friend and supporter of these awards, Darwyn Cooke was a singular talent and one of the giants of Canadian comics – in talent, passion, and heart.
Hailing from Toronto, one of three brothers, he began his path to working in comics in 1985 with an issue of DC’s New Talent Showcase, but it would be a winding path to the medium. He worked for a time as an art director and graphic artist in Toronto before moving to Los Angeles to work with Bruce Timm and his team on Warner Bros animated properties like Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Men In Black: The Series. The opening sequence to Batman Beyond is pure Darwyn. Then it was back to comics.
It started with Batman: Ego, then redesigning Catwoman, instilling a bit of himself into detective Slam Bradley (co-created by Joe Shuster), there were a couple of visits with the web-head, and he brought Canadian hero Wolverine back to Toronto for an adventure in Toronto’s Little Italy and then it was onto the project for which he will be most fondly remembered, a passion project that those of us in Toronto watched come together in a manner unlike any other. At art shows, parties and social events Darwyn and collaborator J. Bone would be there showing images for a comic in a manner akin to advertising pitches – storyboards, a printed synopsis, powerful, iconic images of Superman with an exploding bomb, or heroic test pilot Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris kissing by the ignited tail end of a fighter jet. At a show in Las Vegas near launch time for the first issue he showed up with a full team in 1960’s flight attendant uniforms, and he was, of course, the captain. DC: The New Frontier would earn many awards, including the Joe Shuster Cartoonist award (his first of 11, now 12, Joe Shuster Awards). It would go on to be adapted into one of the best and most enjoyed DC animated movies, and he was there to shepherd his baby into another medium that he loved. DC The New Frontier is one of those timeless, essence-defining character pieces that remind us why people love superheroes, scratch that – heroes.
He would follow it up with a Superman series written for friend and artist Tim Sale, called Superman: Kryptonite. Slam Bradley was merely a glimmer of his love for noir, that he would explore at first in a revival of Will Eisner’s Spirit for DC Comics, at first in a fun crossover with Batman, but then in a year long series of mini-masterworks honouring Will Eisner but infused with his own unique sensibilities. This was followed by a series of brilliantly illustrated graphic novel adaptations of Richard Stark’s (nom-de-plume of author Donald Westlake) Parker books. These books stood out from nearly everything else being published during those years by their unique design, their unique use of black white and painted with a singular colour. By that time Darwyn was the darling of the Will Eisner and the Joe Shuster Awards, producing iconic covers, short stories and he was a regular face at events like the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and the San Diego Comic-Con. In 2014 he produced a series of iconic “widescreen” covers for DC Comics that earned him another Joe Shuster Award in 2015.
A lover of the form of comics, he would talk of taking comics into different mediums, such as webcomics. A strong critic of the industry but also a big cheerleader for it, he would always give it to you straight if he didn’t agree with something you said or did but was quick with praise if he approved. You knew where he stood on things and where you stood with him. In the months since his passing there have been so many stories, so many unique moments shared and re-shared.
Primary Sponsor: HAPPY HARBOR COMICS
Award Sponsors: ALL NEW COMICS, INC., THE DRAGON, THE STORY ATTIC, THE CLLDF
General Sponsors: BIG B COMICS, STRANGE ADVENTURES, VISIONS OF UTOPIA
About The Joe Shuster Awards
Established in 2004, The Joe Shuster Awards are Canada’s national award recognizing outstanding achievement in the creation of comic books, graphic novels and webcomics. The awards are named after pioneering Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster who, along with writer Jerry Siegel, created the iconic super-powered hero, Superman. The name is used with the approval of the Estate of Joe Shuster – Michael Catron, Estate Agent.
Visit http://www.joeshusterawards.com for more information and links.
Kevin A. Boyd, Director. / email@example.com