It’s a great season for awards fans, but once the Oscars end I fear we who need reaffirmation of the arts and multimedia we like will be without a glitzy lifesaver. Or at least without one that isn’t MTV related. Worry not reader. Seriously, don’t worry so much.
If you’re a comic nerd and love seeing Canadians get their dues, and oh that is a good feeling indeed, then you… well actually you probably already know about the Joe Shuster Awards, which celebrate the most talented artists and writers who make Canuck dorks proud. Like any good ceremony, there are some tight races and brilliantly savvy works up for recognition. With Bryan Lee O’Malley, Darwyn Cooke, Jeff Lemire, Kate Beaton, Stuart Immonen, James Stokoe and Annie Koyama all getting thrown into the mix, no matter who the winners are, the 2011 awards will, at the very least, help us reflect on just how damn talented this country can be. Here are my personal choices for some of the bigger categories versus who I’d suggest you put your money on. If you actually bet on awards this specific. I think you have a gambling problem.
Outstanding Comic Book Artist nominees:
- CAMILLA D’ERRICO – Sky Pirates of Neo Terra #4-5, “Little Red Riding Hood” from Fractured Fables (Image Comics)
- STUART IMMONEN – New Avengers #61-62/Finale/Vol.2 #1-7, “The Avengers” from Origins of Marvel Comics #1, “Second Coming: Prologue” from X-Men – Second Coming: Prepare (Marvel Comics)
- JACQUES LAMONTAGNE – Aspic 01: La naine aux ectoplasmes (Soleil)
- FRANCIS MANAPUL – Adventure Comics #6, The Flash #1-6, Superman/Batman #75 (DC Comics)
- JULIE ROCHELEAU – La fille invisible (Glénat Québec)
- FIONA STAPLES – Mystery Society #1-5 (IDW), Northlanders #29 (DC/Vertigo), Fringe: Tales from the Fringe #4 (DC/Wildstorm)
- CAMERON STEWART – Batman and Robin #7-9, 16 (DC Comics), Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm (Disney Press)
Heart’s on: Francis Manapul. While I never really liked his initial work with Legion, he’s really hit his stride with the current run of The Flash. Softer colours compliment his line work, and unlike earlier he seems more comfortable than trying to emulate others. To get the award here, for what he’s doing now, would be like the Canadian seal of approval for this direction.
Cash’s on: Cameron Stewart. Stewart has been doing some top notch work on top tier properties. His stay with Grant Morrison’s rollercoaster Batman and Robin run was one of the highlights, reigniting the Knight and Squire voyage with enough charisma to keep a story’s momentum, even at its weirdest moments.
Outstanding Comic Book Cartoonist nominees:
- SCOTT CHANTLER – Two Generals (McClelland & Stewart), Three Thieves Book One: Tower of Treasure (Kids Can Press)
- DARWYN COOKE – Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Man with the Getaway Face (IDW), Weird War Tales #1 (DC Comics)
- PASCAL GIRARD – Jimmy et le Bigfoot (La Pastèque) / Bigfoot (Drawn & Quarterly)
- JEFF LEMIRE – Sweet Tooth #5-16 (DC/Vertigo), “A Civilized Thing” from Strange Tales II #1 (Marvel Comics)
- BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY – Scott Pilgrim Vol.6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (Oni Press)
- SIRIS – Vogue la valise (La Pastèque)
- JAMES STOKOE – Orc Stain #1-5 (Image Comics), “Silver Surfer” from Strange Tales II #3 (Marvel Comics)
- TIN CAN FOREST (aka Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek) – Baba Yaga and the Wolf (Koyama Press)
Heart’s on: James Stokoe. I am in love with Orc Stain. If Image is our getaway from superhero fatigue, Orc Stain should be the very definition of what that escape entails. Gorgeous art in a lush and imaginative world with writing that’s fierce as it is original, invoking the sort of reaction you haven’t felt since the first time you peeked at Heavy Metal when your parents weren’t looking.
Cash’s on: Darwyn Cooke. This may be one of the tightest races of all, with Lemire receiving so much public attention post Canada Reads and O’Malley fresh off, well, a blockbuster movie. But no outside influence changes the fact that Cooke’s work has made him one of the contemporary cornerstones of graphic novels, and his latest, a serial adaptation of Donald E. Westlake’s The Hunter, has cleaned the house of acclaim years before and probably years to come. Not like it doesn’t deserves to do so.
Heart’s on: Koyama Press. If I’ve talked to you at all in the last year, I’ve probably made it none so subtle that Annie Koyama and her humble little label has got my attention in a vice grip. Bringing to light the magnificent efforts of Michael Deforge, Team Macho, Diego Bergia and the nominated Tin Can Forest, Koyama has become a go-to for upcoming Canadian artists. In short, Koyama is super keen!
Money’s on: Drawn & Quarterly. D&Q has become not only a Canadian staple for independent graphic, but globally. I’ve had art teachers raving about them since high school. Unsurprisingly, 2010 was another solid year in a very solid history, with releases from Daniel Clowes to Chris Ware, Drawn & Quarterly has no reservations for working with absolute legends. Don’t get my sentiment wrong, in a perfect world Koyama and D&Q would both win, this isn’t David and Goliath. This is more like David versus David with a beard.
Outstanding Web Comic Creators
- ATTILA ADORJANY – Metaphysical Neuroma
- KATE BEATON – Hark! A Vagrant
- EMILY CARROLL – His Face All Red, Dream Journals, The Death of José Arcadio, Out the Door, The Hare’s Bride
- KARL KERSCHL – The Abominable Charles Christopher
- DRAZEN KOZJAN – The Happy Undertaker, Friday’s Fables
- SIMON ROY – Dead Lands SIMON ROY & ED BRISSON – Skimming the Till, Catching Up
- SALGOOD SAM (aka Max Douglas) – Dream Life
- CONNOR WILLUMSEN – Everett, Hot Brunette, Batman Comic, Explanation for Sator Stuff
Heart AND money’s on: Kate Beaton. Kate Beaton’s a big deal. Covering historical figures to absurd teen mystery covers, Beaton has become a staple for academics and Tumblr bloggers alike. Her addictive, simple style and seemingly effortless brand of comedy is practically a mental comfort food for those who need cheering up in any circumstance. She’s making web comics cool, though, that’s bound to happen when you’re good and talk about things other than Mega Man.
Outstanding Comic Book Writer
- ANTHONY DEL COL & CONOR MCCREERY – Kill Shakespeare #1-8 (IDW)
- KATHRYN IMMONEN – Heralds #1-5, X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #1-4, “Good to be Lucky” from Girl Comics #2, “It’s Not Lupus” from Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way #1, “A Chemical Romance” from Marvel Heartbreakers (Marvel Comics)
- SYLVAIN LEMAY – Pour en finir avec novembre (Mécanique Générale)
- JEFF LEMIRE Brightest Day: The Atom Special #1, “The Atom” stories in Adventure Comics #516-521, – “A Look At Things to Come In… Superboy” from Action Comics #892, Superboy #1-2 (DC Comics)
- J. TORRES – Lola: A Ghost Story, Yo Gabba Gabba: Good Night Gabbaland (Oni Press), Batman: The Brave and the Bold #11 (DC/Jonny DC), Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E #2-3 (Boom! Studios), “Psyche” from Hack/Slash: Trailers #2 (Image Comics)
- ÉMILIE VILLENEUVE – La fille invisible (Glénat Québec)
- JIM ZUBKAVICH – Skullkickers #1-4 (Image Comics), Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #1-4 (Udon Entertainment)
Heart’s on: Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery. This duo has proved that there’s more potency in dumb hypothetical pitch conversations than killing time in a bar. They’ve taken the world of Shakespeare and fleshed out a wonderful adventure inside of it, one that appeals to both lit nerds and those who only muscled through Hamlet in grade ten English.
Money’s on: Jeff Lemire. Between Essex County and Sweet Tooth, Jeff Lemire is beginning to find a hard time finding things to do that won’t earn him unrelenting praise. His unique style of storytelling, strange and subversive laced with personality, Lemire’s become a voice all his own. And in a industry full of loud voices, that’s really hard to do.