Gene Day Award

Please note: We are now accepting 2021 submissions for self-published comics or anthology collections for consideration in 2022.

“Gene Day really showed me that success in a creative field is a matter of hard work and productivity and persistence.” (Cerebus creator and self-publisher Dave Sim)

The Gene Day Award for Self-Publishing honours Canadian comic book creators who self-published their work during the previous year (up to the submission end date).

In order to qualify you must be a citizen and current resident of Canada. Anyone who writes and illustrates a comic book of their own creation (includes creative teams) and publishes and sells that comic independently of any other publishing company and did not currently have said works originally distributed by a third party distributor may submit their publication for review.

The award was expanded in 2018 to allow for a second Gene Day Award Category for Anthology collections.

(For example: If your comic was solicited and distributed by Diamond, then you are not eligible for this category. If you only dropped off copies at your local comic shops and/or sold them yourself at conventions then you are.)

Format and content is at the discretion of the creators.

Must include new content, not reprinted material from other sources (such as webcomics).

There are no language restrictions for this award.

All entries will be reviewed by an independent jury. Entries will be judged individually based on originality, literary and artistic merit, and overall presentation.

Entries should be sent to:

305-484 Oriole Parkway
M5P 2H8

Closing date for submissions: June 30, 2022.

Watch for information on Canadian events where you can submit your entries directly to the Awards Association.

The finalists will be announced later in 2022 and the winner will be announced at the Joe Shuster Awards ceremony or online.

About Gene Day

Gene Day (1951-1982) began his career in the Canadian alternative comix scene. In the seventies he began his own publishing imprint, Shadow Press / House of Shadows and put out over twenty issues of Dark Fantasy, a horror/fantasy/sci-fi digest that featured the early writings of Joe Lansdale, Charles De Lint, John Bell and Charles R. Saunders, amongst others; a short-lived comic publication, Out of the Depths and various other one-shots, portfolios, and prints. Day drew for the Skywald magazines Psycho and Nightmare from 1974, as well as the Canadian comic anthology, ORB, and Mike Friedrich’s independent comics company Star Reach, contributing to the Star Reach anthology, Image and Quack. Day did illustrations for fantasy role-playing games and had a collection of his comic stories, ‘Future Day’, published by Flying Buttress Press as a hardcover graphic novel in 1979.

He was a longtime inker on Marvel’s ‘Master of Kung Fu’ title by Mike Zeck, starting in 1976 and later took over as full penciler on the series. He also inked on the licensed ‘Star Wars’ series, pencilled by Carmine Infantino, as well as ‘The Mighty Thor’ and ‘Marvel Two-in-One’ featuring ‘The Thing’. From 1985 to 1986, Renegade Press published four issues of Gene Day’s ‘Black Zeppelin’, an anthology series primarily featuring stories and painted covers Day completed before his death, as well new contributions by Sim, Bruce Conklin, Augustine Funnell, and Charles Vess. More of his work appeared posthumously in Caliber Comics’ anthology series Day Brothers Presents, which also featured the work of Day’s artist brothers, David and Dan Day.

Dave Sim credits Gene Day as his earliest and most influential mentor and the inspiration for his own self-publishing efforts. Gene Day was inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame in 2007.

About The Joe Shuster Awards

Established in 2004, The Joe Shuster Awards are Canada’s first national award recognizing outstanding achievement in the creation of comic books and graphic novels and 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.

For more information contact


Additional History


In 2002, Comic-book writer-artist-publisher Dave Sim and his collaborator, Gerhard, in memory of Sim’s late mentor and self-publishing pioneer Gene Day (née Howard Eugene Day) established the Howard E. Day Prize for outstanding achievement in self-publishing. The prize consisted of a $500 cash award and a commemorative plaque awarded annually at SPACE (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) in Columbus, OH.

The recipient was chosen by Sim and Gerhard from a pool of works submitted at SPACE the previous year. Each year the duo alternated duties, with one reading all entries received and drafting the Short List of final nominees and the other judging those books to determine the ultimate winner.

The Day Prize ceased being awarded as of 2008 with the withdrawal of Sim from participation and has been replaced by the SPACE Prize.

The SPACE Prize continues to be handed out annually at the SPACE Expo.


Members of the Awards Association had been discussing the creation of an award for Canadian creators who self-publish as far back as 2006. In 2007 it was determined that such an award should also include a financial incentive in the form of a bursary to encourage their efforts. In 2008, members of the Awards Association worked on the logistics of seeking submissions, reviewing and judging an award of this nature. Unlike the other awards, where the lists of eligible work can be derived from published solicitations and shipping schedules, self-published/non-professionally distributed works must be sought out.

In December 2008, the Awards Association approached Dave Sim about the possibility of establishing something similar to the Howard E. Day Prize as part of the Joe Shuster Awards as a means to continue to honour Gene Day and offer similar encouragement to Canadian self-publishers. Sim indicated that due to work commitments and other personal reasons he would not be able to participate, but specifically asked that if we chose to name the award after Gene Day that we obtain permission from Day’s family and that the name of the award not be the Howard E. Day Prize. Sim also provided valuable feedback on the logistics of administering an award of this nature.

In February 2009, the Awards Association received permission from Gene Day’s widow and brothers to name the new Award for Canadian Self-Publishers after the late Gene Day.


2009 – Jesse Jacobs for Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow.

2010 – Ethan Rilly for Pope Hats No. 1.

2011 – John Martz for Heaven All Day.

2012 – Dakota McFadzean for Ghost Rabbit

GR-cover-web2013 – Cory McCallum, Matthew Daley – The Pig Sleep: A Mr. Monitor Case

pig sleep2014 – Steven Gilbert for The Journal of the Main Street Secret Lodge

thehournalofhtemainstreetsecretlodge2015 – James Edward Clark for Evil #3


2016 –  Cloudscape Comics Collective for EPIC CANADIANA VOL. 2


2017 – Nunumi for Sky Rover


In 2018 we divided the category into two awards: Single Creator/Creative Team and Anthology Collection.





2019 – JAMIE MICHAELS and DOUG FEDRAU for CHRISTIE PITS (Single Creator/Creative Team)





21 thoughts on “Gene Day Award

  1. Yes, I have a question for you pertainning to a comic book that I recently purchased? I would like too know if a comic book titled “TALES FROM THE CRYPT” #20 was ever released in Canada. I have one of these and there’s a (maple leaf) in the upper left hand cornnor. The comic book is in very-good condition. And I would like too know if there ever was a comic book company named,Superior Co., that might have made this #20 issue of Tales From The Crypt. And would you also let me know W-H-E-N-? it was published?.,and the Y_E_A_R!!! Thanks Again! Jean Guy Michaud,

  2. Dear Jean Guy,

    Superior Publishing was a comics publisher based in Toronto that was active between the years 1947 and 1956.

    After WWII, the Liberal government re-introduced an import ban that included US comics. As the Canadian comics publishers were allowed to reprint and repackage American comics in Canada, this lead to a boom in Canadian comics publishing as many companies sought the reprint rights to popular American comics (instead of creating original ones), and Superior was the leading company at the time to do this.

    Superior acquired the rights to repackage EC Comics in 1949. Although the import ban was eliminated in 1951 (and American comics flooded over the border again to the delight of many), Superior continued reprinting and repackaging many US titles – including EC titles like Tales from the Crypt.

    By 1955, the anti-horror comics sentiment had spread far and wide and Superior ceased publisher horror comics completely that year and limped along for an additional year before closing their doors in 1956 and effectively ending comics publishing in English Canada for decades.

    The US edition of Tales from the Crypt #20 (the first issue of the title, incidentally) is cover dated October/November 1950, so I would surmise that since Superior had the rights to repackage EC Comics from 1949 on, that the Canadian edition was issued shortly afterward, but I’m afraid that I don’t know the exact lag time between first US publication and the Canadian repackaged edition.

    John Bell has some great information about Superior over at the collections Canada website:


  3. […] The Gene Day Award for Self-Publishers was introduced into the awards in 2009 and honours original self-published work by Canadian citizens and includes a $500 bursary. To qualify, any writers, illustrators or creative teams that publish and sell their comic independently from any other published companies and who have not had any previous works distributed by a third party can submit their publication for review. To learn how to submit your own publications for future nominations please visit here. […]

  4. […] The Toronto Comics Anthology is a annual series dedicated to celebrating upcoming GTA creators. It brings together indie veterans with years of experience, and fresh newcomers being published for the first time. The series has sold over 2,500 books since it began in 2014, and Volume 1 and 2 were both nominated for the Gene Day Award at the 2015 and 2016 Joe Shuster Awards. […]

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