Canada has a rich tradition of supporting our national arts communities with awards that recognize the achievements of our citizens like the Genie Awards for film and television and the Juno Awards for music –in 2004, a group of individuals gathered to establish the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association, a not-for-profit organization that would coordinate and present what would eventually become known as the JOE SHUSTER AWARDS, Canada’s national award that honours and raises the awareness of Canadians that create, publish and sell comics, graphic novels and webcomics.
They are named after pioneering Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster (1914-1992), whose clear, dynamic style and inventive visual flourishes set the standard for graphic storytelling during the infancy of the North American comic book industry. It was Superman, a co-creation of Shuster and Jerry Siegel, that electrified the industry in 1938 and, almost overnight, transformed comic books into an enormous pop-cultural phenomenon. The name is used with the approval of the Estate of Joe Shuster (Michael Catron, Estate Agent. Special thanks must go those people that supported the efforts of the Association at it’s beginning, such as Joe’s sister Jean Shuster-Peavy, and legendary comics creators like Jerry Robinson, Neal Adams and Dave Sim.
Comics are a collaborative medium, there are writers, artists, cover artists, letterers, editors and publishers. Some individuals wear many hats, and for that reason Cartoonists, also referred to as writer/artists are given their own category. The “core” creative Joe Shuster Awards consist of Cartoonist (writer/artist), Artist, Writer, Colourist, Cover Artist and Publisher for works that were professional distributed during the previous calendar year. With the rise of webcomics as a popular medium, those that create them are honoured in the award category of Outstanding Webcomics Creator/Creative Team.
From time to time, the awards may choose to retire or put on hiatus certain categories with the exception of Writer, Artist and Cartoonist.
The awards were chosen initially by public vote, but the process changed in 2007 to jury decision to ensure every nominee is given adequate consideration.
THE HARRY KREMER RETAILER AWARD
The late Harry Kremer, owner of Now & Then Books in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, was a true pioneer in the industry and a constant and tireless promoter and patron of the medium and owner one of the first comic book specialty stores in Canada. His memory is kept alive in the award that has been named after him – the Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer Award. Past winners include Strange Adventures (Halifax), Happy Harbor (Edmonton), Big B (Hamilton), Legends (Victoria) and the Beguiling (Toronto).
THE GENE DAY SELF-PUBLISHER AWARD
Named after the late comics artist and self-publisher Gene 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 distributor. The nominees are selected from publications submitted for review from across Canada. Please see the page for details on where to send your submissions.
THE DRAGON AWARD – COMICS FOR KIDS
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 that are targeted at readers 14 and under. Nominees 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.
THE T.M. MAPLE AWARD – COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
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. T.M. Maple was the pseudonym of Jim Burke (1956-1994), a fan who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994 as well as self-published numerous comics related fanzines during that time period.
THE CANADIAN COMIC BOOK CREATOR HALL OF FAME
A Hall of Fame for creators that have distinguished themselves in the creation of comic books. In order to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, the creator’s first work must have been published at least 25 years before the year they are inducted into Hall of Fame.
DEFINING OUR ROLE
When it comes to defining comics our job is to be as INCLUSIVE as possible when narrowing the selections down to an EXCLUSIVE number of annual nominees – there is only one winner in each category though! We strive to ensure that our nominates represent the entire country’s output – whether that output is in English or French (Canada’s two official languages) or in other languages – the central defining characteristic of our nominees are that they are Canadian. We don’t censure Canadian creators who work with non-Canadian publishing houses – while Canada is a large and diverse country, for the creative awards, there are a very limited number of Canadian publishers.
We are also comics-industry focused — creative awards are for specific roles in the creation of comic books, graphic novels and BD —- each of those end results are really the sum of their parts — in most cases people are brought in to play specific parts, very much in the same way that one might direct a movie – there is a writer, a director, a cinematographer, an editor, etc. With comics there are writers, artists (pencillers, inkers, colourists), cover artists, letterers, editors and publishers.
However, we do have a special distinction for Cartoonists — a cartoonist is someone who does the central job of both writing and illustrating. These are the comic industry’s auteurs.
Canada has a rich tradition of supporting our national arts communities with awards that recognize the achievements of our citizens. Canadians are very proud and supportive of our national arts communities, and our position is that promoting Canadians in comics will help raise their profile within the country. Promoting retailers will help customers find the comics they are interested in reading, and promoting publishers will help support and encourage the continued development of Canadian publishing houses.
The Association Executive (also known as Administrative) Committee exists to oversee and coordinate the efforts of the Nominating and Judging sub-Committees, as well as fundraising and promotion. Membership in this committee changes from year to year and follows an election process established in the organizational charter and by-laws.
In recent years the Association has expanded to develop a network of resources that are centered around this very website — with weblinks to Canadian creators, webcomics, publishers and retailers.
The Awards Association is a group of participating individuals and therefore has no physical office or telephone number – postal submissions are sent to a post office box (see the contact us page).
The nominating committee is selected by the Executive Administrative committee and is newly reconstituted for each year of the awards. The nominating committee for the majority of awards consists of a cross-section of comic book journalists and experts from across Canada. Nominating is a three step process.
STEP ONE – the Association prepares an eligible publications list with input from creators, publishers, retailers. The list is based around Canadian citizens or permanent residents (3 years minimum current residency) who worked on a professionally distributed first printing periodical or book that debuted in the previous calendar year in one of the following professional roles: artist (illustrating a writer’s script, excluding cartoonists), cartoonist (writing and/or adapting a story that they also illustrated), colourist (self-explanatory, may include artists and cartoonist), cover artist (primary artist/artist team) and writer (producing a script that is given to an artist, excluding cartoonists).
Books containing collections of previously published strips or comics and/or translated works into English from another language published in a previous year are not eligible. Limited release books available at special events and mailed or hand-delivered to a small number of booksellers but not widely distributed to all booksellers during the eligibility time period are not eligible until they are professionally distributed.
STEP TWO – using the eligible comics list, the Nominating committee members are asked to submit individual “top five” lists for each category, in order of preference. Each vote is weighted based on order of preference. In other words. a first choice selection was given five points on the overall score and a fifth choice was given one point to be added to the cumulative score.
STEP THREE – the results are then logged. Selection is made initially by Majority Vote – if a creator receives a majority (50% or higher) of individual votes in a specific category they proceeded to the final ballot. If enough nominees in a specific category have not advanced by majority vote, then we turn to the Cumulative Point Score – based on the rankings provided on each list. In the case of a tie, the number of votes received and their position on the lists submitted was taken into consideration.
WHO IS CANADIAN?
For the purposes of the JOE SHUSTER AWARDS (as determined by the Nominating Committee), a Canadian is defined as a native (citizen) or long-term inhabitant (permanent resident) of Canada, or an individual who was born in Canada and now resides elsewhere (possessing either Canadian or dual citizenship). However, this is a fluid definition which can be re-evaluated by the nominating committee on a case by case basis. Awards may change from year to year, including or subtracting, as determined by the awards Executive Committee. In order to qualify as a resident, a creator must live in Canada for three years, and that residency status is revoked if the person moves away from Canada.
Location and timing of Ceremony
1. April 2005 – Hall F, Direct Energy Centre, TORONTO
2. April 2006 – Hall C, Direct Energy Centre, TORONTO
3. June 2007 – Regency Ballroom, Holiday Inn on King, TORONTO
4. June 2008 – Lillian H. Smith branch, Toronto Public Library System, TORONTO
5. Sep. 2009 – Innis Town Hall, Innis College, University of Toronto, TORONTO
6. June 2010 – Innis Town Hall, Innis College, University of Toronto, TORONTO
7. June 2011 – Boyce Theatre, BMO Round-Up Centre, CALGARY
8. September 2012 – Montreal Comic-Con, MONTREAL
9. August 24, 2013 – Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, TORONTO
10. September 20, 2014 – Back Space Toronto, 587A College Street, TORONTO
11. October 18, 2015 – Main Stage, London Convention Centre, LONDON
12. November 6, 2016 – Hall J, London Convention Centre, LONDON
Please visit the CONTACT US page for more information on how to contact the Awards Association.
Directorship & Membership Rules
As chosen by the majority of membership in the Executive Committee. The Directorship of the Awards Association includes a Director and an Associate director. In the first three incarnations (before the ratification of the organizational charter in 2007), the positions were referred to as Chief Coordinator and Assistant and were voted on annually.
In the winter of 2007, the CCBCAA membership ratified an organizational charter, (1) created the position of Executive Director and Associate Director (supplanting Chief Coordinator / Assistant Coordinator). Directors of the CCBCAA are voted into their positions for two award seasons, unless they vacate the position prior to the end of term. (2) Removal of an officer policy initiated – removal of any officer requires notification of reasons for removal one meeting in advance of the discussion and then a 2/3 majority vote is required for removal. No individual may hold the position of Executive Director for any longer than Five (5) consecutive years.
In March 2010 the association ratified a more detailed public conflict of interest policy (posted elsewhere on this website) which corresponded with, and formalized, existing internal organizational rules on the subject. Also, similar rules to those followed by awards administered by the Canada Council for the Arts were adopted.
Currently the executive consists of Kevin A. Boyd (Director), Tyrone Biljan (Associate Director), Allison Covey (Publisher Liaison), Scott VanderPloeg (Harry Kremer Award), Jennifer Haines (The Dragon Award), Andrew Walsh (Webcomics) and a Hall of Fame Committee (Ivan Kocmarek, Walter Durajlija, Hope Nicholson, Robert Pincombe and James Waley).
The Joe Shuster Awards were founded in 2004 by: James Waley, Kevin A. Boyd, David Darrigo and Tyrone Biljan.