Calgary & Wrapping Up Year 7

We’re all home and settling back in to our daily routines, and I know I’ve certainly had some time to reflect on the 2011 Joe Shuster Awards ceremony. There are some bills left to pay, and some awards to hand or send out.The comics media coverage has been great so far, and the awards were mentioned on the National during their profile of Kill Shakespeare that aired the night before the Calgary ceremony.

I’m way too close to the event to ever be really happy about how things go, but I thought the ceremony went very well in Calgary, and the people there were fantastic and we will be happy to return there if the organizers will have us. Our hosts, Ajay Fry and Teddy Wilson did a great job with the ceremony! Thanks to Mark Askwith and Michelle Dudas at Space for all of their help.

The ceremony was fast – clocking in at 55 minutes – it was our fastest yet. I hear a lot of murmers about how we have too many award categories, but presenting 10 awards and 2 Hall of Fame presentations in under an hour is mind-boggling to me but the creators loved it, as did the people in the audience. I didn’t hear any negatives from anyone at our after party (at the James Joyce pub – sponsored by The Dragon and Amazing Stories) or at the show on Sunday aside from the disappointment that only about 1/3 of the winners were in attendance. That’s just an unfortunate aspect of a national awards ceremony with 70 nominees is that we’ll never reach a point where everyone is in attendance unless we have an unlimited budget to bring everyone in (provided their schedules are clear and they can go).

We are planning a JSA wrap party event for Toronto. It will take place on Friday, July 15th and at this event we’ll be giving the winners not available to attend the ceremony in Calgary their award plaques – including Annie Koyama (Outstanding Publisher), Tin Can Forest (Outstanding Cartoonist), and John Martz (Gene Day Award). I’d hoped to give Chester Brown his Hall of Fame Award but he’s got something going on that night. The call has also gone out to our GTA and Southern Ontario winners and nominees including Francis Manapul (Outstanding Artist) and Scott Chantler (Comics for Kids) so we’ll have more information soon. The evening will be held in the new space for the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop at 587 College Street West and will run from 8 to about 11. Admission will of course be free.

San Diego Comic Con is scheduled for the weekend after, so we’ll be giving Todd McFarlane his Hall of Fame plaque there.

Heidi McDonald at the Beat pointed out that this year’s winners were over 50% female, including Fiona Staples (Cover Artist), Koyama Press (Publisher), Emilie Villeneuve (Writer), Julie Rocheleau (Colourist), Emily Carroll (Webcomics) and Pat Shewchuk (1/2 of Tin Can Forest – Outstanding Cartoonist). Men were in the minority: Francis Manapul (Artist), Scott Chantler (Comics for Kids), John Martz (Gene Day), Planete BD (retailer) and Marek Colek (the other 1/2 of Tin Can Forest – Cartoonist).

We are not making it a secret that the JSA categories will be re-examined for 2012. To paraphrase Crisis on Infinite Earths: “Some categories may live, some may die and the Canadian Awards scene will never be the same again…”. LOL.

One thing that has already been discussed is that in some categories (maybe all) we may be moving away from the “everything done in a year” system towards a specific standout work. There are many reasons for this change, but one that comes to mind is that it helps us with obtaining books for the jury members and in making sure there’s a clearer focus for them. Not sure if this means that nominees could receive multiple nominations if they produced more than one stand out book or series, these details are still being reviewed.

It looks as though we are 99% certain about where the awards will be going next – and that’s the September 2012 Montreal Comic-Con. I helped the show promoters out last year and this year I’ll just be going as an attendee (perhaps we may exhibit there, that’s still to be discussed). If it works out it means we’ve got 15 months time to assemble the 8th Annual Joe Shuster Awards. Doing that will mean a number of different changes as the awards ceremony will need to be bi-lingual.