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PG Tips No. 18:

The Doug Wright Awards 2007

In a PG Tips special edition, Paul surveys the winners of the 2007 Doug Wright Awards (as announced at the 3rd Toronto Comic Art Festival in August 2007), together with other books by Canadian comic creators.

The Doug Wright Awards are named after Doug Wright (1917-1983) whose strip Doug Wright’s Family graced newspapers from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. The Awards were established in 2005 to cast a spotlight on the range of cartoonists and comic artists working in Canada, with the intention of encouraging a new generation of cartoonists while also honouring the achievements of past decades.

In 2007, the 10 nominees for the Doug Wright Awards featured an eclectic mix of personal memoir and travelogue to short fiction and experimental graphic fiction - all from the pens of Canada’s finest cartooning talents. The nominees were:

Best Book:
Shenzen: A Travelogue From China by Guy Delisle (D&Q)
This Will All End in Tears by Joe Ollman (Insomniac Press)
Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni)
Gilded Lilies by Jillian Tamaki (Conundrum Press)
Nog-a-dod edited by Marc Bell (Conundrum Press)

Best Emerging Talent:
Gray Horses by Hope Larson (Oni)
House of Sugar by Rebecca Kraatz (Tulip Tree Press)
Was She Pretty? by Leanne Shapton (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)
Bacter-area by Keith Jones (D&Q)
Mendacity by Tamara Berger & Sophie Cossette (Kiss Machine)

This Will All End In Tears
by Joe Ollmann
Insomniac Press, $16.95
Doug Wright Award Winner 2007: Best Book
"Fish, company, and especially your own stories, all tend to stink after three days. And the same is true of five years." Like his subjects, Ollman punishes himself too much. Five years have resulted in five compelling character studies, which bagged him Best Book of the Year. His blunt scripts and unsanitised caricatures in line and grey tones pull you into their inner turmoils ticking in nine-panel grids. The self-hatred, desperation and poisonous fury at everyone bottled up inside ‘big boned’ Charlene. The guilt and revulsion that ‘spindly intellectual’ Schultz suffers after his macho, hunting-loving co-workers cajole him into shooting a deer, which he can’t bring himself to butcher in his garage. The bagel shop employee Kevin betrayed by a colleague and harangued by his boss for a moment’s kindness. The ressures on Dennis, youngest son in a disintegrating, dysfunctional family, to shoulder responsibility for his older, mentally handicapped brother. The doubts and desires plaguing the faith of Amy, a young, motherless virgin waitress, drawn to the diner’s moody new chef. Few graphic novelists write as fiercely, unflinchingly and unforgettably as Ollman about those bitterest recriminations people hold against others and themselves. A deserved winner

House Of Sugar
by Rebecca Kraatz
Tulip Tree Press,  $11.95
Doug Wright Award Winner 2007: Best Emerging Talent
What can you do in only four panels? Rebecca Kraatz does a lot in her dense miniatures, sharing her observations and memories and those of other family members. From 1976 to 2006, her art changes as she gains confidence using brush, but from the outset she knows a telling image or anecdote and how to express them succinctly and lyrically, imagining her home inside a snow-globe or her Dad as a kid in his new tap shoes dancing in the snow. Recalling an acid trip, she came up with her theory of ‘Treal’, or all that is true and real; her strips put that theory perfectly into practice. Get the book from Kraatz and see why it won her 2007’s Best Emerging Talent Award.

Hello, Me Pretty
by Line Gamache
Conundrum Press,  $15.00
New imprint BDANG makes Quebec’s best available in English. This is a love-letter from an older sister to her younger sister, Jose, born with a hole in her palate and mentally disabled but protected by a little guardian angel. "I think she came here to teach us about life." She and her family come to accept and embrace Jose’s differences and rise above some people’s hypocrisy and prejudice. It’s also a daughter’s love-letter, especially to her mother battling cancer. Drawing with the directness of folk art and art brut, Gamache doesn’t sugar-coat the stresses her family faces but what shines through is her portrait of Jose, to whom "life is beautiful. And because of her, the lives of the people around her are also filled with beauty."

Essex County Volume 2: Ghost Stories
by Jeff Lemire
Top Shelf, $14.95
Shelve this under ‘Farm Life and Hockey’. Not the commonest subjects for a graphic novel, but very Canadian and central to this tale of two brothers, farmboys who find big-city success at sport but fall out for 25 years after older brother Lou has one night of sex with his younger sibling’s wife. We revisit Louis’ childhood, his games and fellow players, his guilt and loneliness as a Toronto streetcar driver, his growing deafness and burden of guilt, all filtered through Louis’ elderly mind, confusing time and place. Living as much, if not more, in the past as in the present. Movingly, Lemire shows how memories haunt us but also how sometimes they
can heal us.

Posted: April 27, 2008


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This Will All End In Tears
by Joe Ollmann

House Of Sugar
by Rebecca Kraatz

Hello, Me Pretty
by Line Gamache

Essex County Volume 2: Ghost Stories
by Jeff Lemire