It’s interesting to return home after a convention and reorient myself with the business of the day and just what has been going on with the comics world and the Canadian comics scene while I’ve been away. At WonderCon I was talking with representatives of the American comics scene (comics creators, publishers, collectors and fans) about the state of the industry, what’s happening, why they should come and visit Canada and just what the Joe Shuster Awards are all about. I’ll confess that for me, WonderCon was a better environment to have these types of conversations than, say, New York, which was a show with just too many things going on.
I thought you would be interested to know that Ed Brubaker said that he feels like an “honorary Canadian” and after we discussed Canadian politics for a while he reiterated his thanks to all of the fans that selected him as last year’s Favourite International Creator, and he talked about how the award itself is a great conversation piece.
I was surprised to find Ray Fawkes (The Apocalipstix) at the Oni Press booth. It was great to see that the Oni booth had a big section of their table space devoted to the Apocalipstix, the Scott Pilgrim volumes, along with Scott Pilgrim shirts and prints.
Some people ask me (at home and abroad) what it is we are trying to achieve with the Joe Shuster Awards (and now with this regularly updated news blog) and my first answer is always “to raise awareness about Canadians creators and their works”, but that also applies to Canadian retailers and publishers.
One of the things that we are trying to avoid, and yet is pretty much unavoidable within the comics community (especially here in Canada) is partisanship. That is, we want to be as open to promoting all kinds of comics produced by Canadians, but we have to work within certain eligibility boundaries for the Awards that have less to do with what the comics are about than how people can get to read and enjoy them. So the only partisanship we are trying to use here with the blog is actively promoting Canadian creators and retailers over non-Canadian creators unless it is in collaboration with Canadians.
Unfortunately, there continues to be an English over French news bias on this site as we have a much more difficult time identifying and releasing information about BD Quebecois that we aren’t coming across in our review of the headlines and blogs. We are still putting the call out for contributors, and will welcome contributors with news items and content from the BD scene.
You’ll see in our eligibility guidelines that we do consider collaborations with non-Canadians to be Canadian. Dale Eaglesham is a Canadian artist, therefore Justice Society of America issues and collections penciled by Dale can be considered something we support and promote as Canadian. For the purposes of the Awards, only Dale will be considered for the job that he did on the work (that is, the artwork).
The comics community loves dividing and defining themselves along other kinds of boundaries that we just don’t want to get into here. Yes, the goal of these awards are to point out from within the comics community just who did outstanding work in specific creative roles during the previous calendar year. We don’t care about appealing to a literary community that generally doesn’t care about genre/mainstream/superhero comics, but to inform the people who DO care about all kinds of comics just who is doing great work that can then be recommended on to others. Hopefully we can be of assistance to retailers and consumers looking for quality comics to support and review. This is why we honour PEOPLE first, books second. In 2007 Diamond Dist. indicated in their Diamond Dialogue magazine that JSA nominations have helped increase orders works by nominated creators, so it’s rewarding for us to learn that these awards do have some measurable effect on the marketplace, in this case the direct market outlets where the majority of the nominated creator’s works can be ordered and purchased.
Quantity of work isn’t a deciding factor either, it’s quality of work that matters. We don’t believe that creators and works should be excluded by genre content – it’s why you will see creators nominated for superhero comics in the same Awards category as people who produce comics of a much more personal nature. They are all judged on the same terms — does this creator’s work entertain? Does this creator’s work “work” creatively within the context of the category (storytelling, expressiveness, atmosphere, etc.)
Creating comics – while definitely a means of artistic expression – is also a way to make a living for many artists (and that’s in the broad sense of the term, including writers, colorists, etc.). That’s not a cynical way of looking at comics, it’s a realistic one. Comics are a commercial medium in the same way that film, television and music are all commercial art forms.
While some Canadian awards may focus on appealing to a smaller sub-section of comics readers, or to fans within a single province, we believe that people who love comics across Canada are hungry for information on what they should be looking at and for. The Joe Shuster Awards, and now by extension this blog, are a means for us to promote Canada’s comics scene – creators, publishers and retailers. Other sites may concentrate on other aspects of the comics scene that we don’t, but we will continue to link to items that we feel are connected in some way to three key areas – creators, publishers, retailers. The same areas we work to promote through the annual Joe Shuster Awards.