The T.M. Maple 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.

About T.M. Maple
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. Burke’s letters were quite popular among readers as well as editors, and he wrote prolifically to a diverse number of comic publishing companies and titles. Burke originally signed his letters as “The Mad Maple,” but Marvel Comics editor Tom DeFalco abbreviated it to “T.M. Maple” to make it sound like a real name (thus circumventing a new policy at the company to stop printing letters submitted under pseudonyms). Burke took a liking to the new name and began using it exclusively (including variations like “Theodore Maddox Maplehurst”) until 1988, when in Scott McCloud’s Zot! #21 he revealed his real name. Burke published a fanzine about comics in the late 1980s. With artist/publisher Allen Freeman, Burke co-created the superhero Captain Optimist. Jim Burke had a fatal heart attack in 1994.

*2014: T.M. MAPLE

maple-775697Jim Burke (1956-1994)

    a fan who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994. Burke’s letters were quite popular among readers as well as editors, and he wrote prolifically to a diverse number of comic publishing companies and titles. Burke originally signed his letters as “The Mad Maple,” but Marvel Comics editor Tom DeFalco abbreviated it to “T.M. Maple” to make it sound like a real name (thus circumventing a new policy at the company to stop printing letters submitted under pseudonyms). Burke took a liking to the new name and began using it exclusively (including variations like “Theodore Maddox Maplehurst”) until 1988, when in Scott McCloud’s Zot! #21 he revealed his real name. Burke published a fanzine about comics in the late 1980s. With artist/publisher Allen Freeman, Burke co-created the superhero Captain Optimist. Jim Burke had a fatal heart attack in 1994.

*2014: DEBRA JANE SHELLY

1556240_10152052158083159_217955737_oDebra Jane Shelly (1974-2014) was a comics fan, supporter, and self-described (and celebrated) nerd. She was known for her years of behind-the-scenes support at Toronto comic cons and other events celebrating comics and pop culture.An active member of many online fan communities such as the Comics Cube and the International Comics Society. In 2013, she was a volunteer at many conventions such as Fan Expo Canada, she contributed biographies and counsel to the Joe Shuster Awards, she co-founded the Comic Book Lounge’s Ladies Night, a seasonal event that has become a gathering point for women comic book fans in a community still largely dominated by and catering to a male audience. It was a first for the Toronto comics community, and came at a time when the critical question of diversity in comics (readers as much as creators and characters) was gaining serious momentum internationally.  Debra was known for her positivity, and did less to criticize the comic community’s shortcomings than to nurture the people, spaces, and ideas that were inspiring. In early 2014 she passed away from a epileptic seizure in her sleep.

“To so many people she was the first person we told of our successes and failures & she always knew the best way to respond -how to congratulate and console us. That kind of contribution doesn’t fit on a resume but it was felt throughout the community.”

–Alice Quinn, Ladies’ Night co-founder

*2015: MICHAEL HIRSCH & PATRICK LOUBERT

617eOAla5wL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_MICHAEL HIRSH (1948-) AND PATRICK LOUBERT (1947-)
– Authors of the book The Great Canadian Comic Books, published in 1971, which looked primarily at the Canadian Whites, comics published in Canada during World War II. Hirsh and Loubert acquired the Bell Features archives and reprint rights for the comics, which included Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Johnny Canuck, from Bell’s capital investor John Ezrin. The archives included copies of the comics, original artwork and more which were used as the foundation for the book. It was followed by a two-year touring gallery exhibit ‘Comic Art Traditions in Canada, 1941-45.’ They would go on to form animation studio Nelvana, Ltd. (named after Adrian Dingle’s character) with Clive Smith and would later donate the material from Bell Features to the National Archives where they reside to this day, preserving part of our national comics heritage. Without their efforts, recent collections of Adrian Dingle’s Nelvana and Leo Bachle’s Johnny Canuck would not have been possible.

*2015: ROBERT CHARPENTIER

3031997ROBERT CHARPENTIER (1960-2014)
storefront4– Rob or Bob as he was known to his friends and customers, was a long-time fixture on the Toronto comics scene as a comics retailer and fan. At his Danforth Avenue store Shining Knight Comics, later rebranded Comics & More, Bob believed strongly that the local comics shop should be active in, and support the local community. He sponsored many local teams, schools and young people’s organizations. In the summer of 2014 he was diagnosed with brain cancer and began treatment, but succumbed to the disease in late 2014, he was 54 years old.

*2016: JOHN BELL

invaders1John Bell (1952-)
John Bell was born in Montreal in 1952. When he was ten he moved with his family to Halifax and has since always considered himself a Maritimer. After 26 years as an archivist for the National Archives in Ottawa, Bell retired in 2008 to Lunenberg and has based himself there. John Bell has published over 20 books as a cultural historian working in the areas of Canadian Science Fiction, Atlantic Canadian Literary History, Canadian baseball writing, Canadian pulp magazines, Canada’s connection with the Americanjb3 Civil War and, most importantly for the Shusters, three books on Canadian comic book history His Canuck Comics (1986), Guardians of the North (1992), and Invaders from the North (2006) have become essential reading and classic source books in the field.  Between the mid-70s and mid 90s, Bell collected every comic book published in Canada and this collection along with his collection of Canadian war-time comics, Canadian original comic art, and Bell Features correspondence were all donated to the National Archives and serve as a rich repository of information in the field. He is currently editing a collection of memoirs from the First World War and working on a guide to vintage Canadian non-sports cards.

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