Before we gear up to the next stages in our process for the awards, it’s been nice to take a short break and follow the reactions and responses to the nominations. Here are my thoughts….
Although it pains me to say this, not everyone can be nominated in a given year and no, not being nominated does not mean there aren’t any other outstanding creators that had work published last year. Far from it, actually. It was a bit disappointing to see who didn’t make the short lists on the administrative end, but we stand 100% behind the nominees selected.
ARTIST: Anthony Del Col was absolutely correct — Kill Shakespeare would not be as great as it is without the artwork of Andy B. (and the Kagan McLeod covers and the beautiful colours by Ian Herring). One of my personal favourite artists, Dale Eaglesham (who won in 2008) didn’t make the list despite some stunning work. On the flip side, our nomcom was taken with the work of three creators who have never been recognized in the artist category before: Camilla D’Errico, Fiona Staples and Julie Rocheleau. After the nominations came in I ordered a copy of Mystery Society Vol.1 by Steve Niles with art by Staples. I’m about midway through the book and I love it. Highly recommended. I’m trying to get a copy of La Fille Invisible by Rocheleau and Villeneuve, as our nomcom really liked it.
Sometimes books fall through the cracks — Kenk for example, was a great book that we were all raving about back at the office. The Inkstuds book is a great resource on Canadian cartooning and perspective, but it just doesn’t fit in any existing category and we weren’t going to create one (people say we have too many!) . There were some comments that we have too many nominees (average 7 per category) and there is a clear reason for this: we embrace two distinct creative heritages here at the Joe Shuster Awards, and given the country’s regions, we’ve chosen to ensure that at least 25% of our nominees are for work done in the BD community. We have two distinct nomcoms because there are few people that have strong exposure to the work published for both communities. They come together in each category.
CARTOONIST: It’s also a surprise when Seth doesn’t make the final 7 in a year he published, but I wonder if the anthology aspects of Palookaville worked against it when our finalists all produced some excellent graphic narratives. There were some clear leaders we had our eyes on before the nomcom went to work that didn’t surprise us: Scott Chantler, Darwyn Cooke and Bryan Lee O’Malley (every volume of Scott Pilgrim has earned O’Malley a nomination – he won for volume 2). I suspected Girard might make the list, but there were some other great BD creators that could have made the list like Desharnais (Burquette 2) and Iris (Justine). I need to get Siris’ book. But there were some great surprises — Tin Can Forest’s Baba Yaga and the Wolf is a fantastic book, and on Wednesday my copy of Orc Stain Vol.1 arrived and I was blown away by the cartooning of James Stokoe. This is always a strong category and this looks to be one tough decision for our jury.
WEBCOMICS: We’ve read a lot of great things about what people think of the Webcomics nominees — everyone knows Kate Beaton and Karl Kerschl now, but you really need to visit the other sites to get a sense of just how great and diverse a webcomics scene we have here in Canada. Emily Carroll and Conner Willumsen did some wonderful experimental comics last year that broke the boundaries of the form. Attila and Salgood Sam did some amazing sequential storytelling with their respective comics, and Ed Brisson and Simon Roy (Roy is a cartooning talent to watch) did some great crime comics. Finally, Drazen’s Happy Undertaker comics were stylish and fun, a rare combination these days.
COMICS FOR KIDS: A lot of people have remarked on the inclusion of Two Generals in the Comics for Kids category. I’ll admit I was taken a bit by surprise to see it there myself. I had a nice long chat with Jennifer Haines (our C4K nomcom leader) and I now understand why it absolutely makes sense. Two Generals is a book that a young person on the older end of our pre-14 spectrum would benefit from reading as it is (a) historical fact and (b) a true all ages story, with common themes of love and friendship, and overcoming obstacles in the face of adversity. I remember having to read about World War I and II when I was in grades 7 & 8, and Two Generals is an accessible book for that age group. Was it aimed at the younger reader? Not particularly, but will a younger reader benefit from reading it? Absolutely. The Comics for Kids list of nominees is intended to be taken by libraries, schools and parents as a list of books that educators felt did a great job of communicating to younger readers. Whether that is an adventure story, a comical tale, a mystery or exposure to something that kids wouldn’t normally be exposed to (in a good way, as in Fishing with Gubby).
Finally our RETAILER award has been something of great discussion. Now that we have narrowed the selection down to the 10 stores being reviewed, we’ll be communicating with each and getting more information from them so our review committee can make an informed choice.