The winners of the 13th annual Doug Wright Awards, recognizing the best work and most promising talent in Canadian comics, were announced this evening at a ceremony in Toronto. One of this year’s winners was a first-time Doug Wright Award nominee, and all three are first-time winners.
The 2017 Doug Wright Best Book trophy
Doug Wright Best Book Award (for the best English-language book published in Canada)
Bird in a Cage by Rebecca Roher (Conundrum Press)
Doug Wright Spotlight Award (a.k.a. The Nipper) (For a Canadian cartoonist deserving of wider recognition)
Steve Wolfhard, for Cat Rackham (Koyama Press)
Pigskin Peters Award (For the best experimental, unconventional or avant-garde comic)
The Palace of Champions by Henriette Valium (Conundrum Press)
This year’s inductee to the Giants of the North Canadian cartoonist hall of fame, which celebrates creators who have made a life-long contribution to the field, is pioneering cartoonist and comics journalist Katherine Collins, formerly known as Arn Saba before transitioning in 1993.
Saba’s character Neil the Horse made his first appearance in Canadian newspapers
The 2017 Doug Wright Spotlight Award trophy
in 1975 before starring in a 15-issue run of his own comic from 1982 to 1988. Neil the Horse Comics and Stories (Aardvark-Vanaheim, Renegade Press) is often referred to as the world’s first (and last) singing-and-dancing comic book, in reference to Saba’s inclusion of intricately choreographed dance numbers and original sheet music written to act as a soundtrack to Neil’s adventures.
Saba spent several years contributing to Morningside, CBC Radio’s popular national morning show, where he carved out a niche as a commentator on comics and cartoonists. In 1979 he produced and hosted The Continuous Art, a five-part documentary series that explored the cultural ghettoization of comics via interviews with cartoonists Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer, Milton Caniff, Walt Kelly, and Gil Kane, among others.
Collins was on hand to accept her induction.
The 2017 Doug Wright Awards ceremony was a feature event of this year’s Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) and was held at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel Forest Hill ballroom in downtown Toronto. This year’s awards were hosted by Dustin Harbin, a cartoonist and illustrator from North Carolina, and a regular attendee of both TCAF and the Doug Wright Awards.
This year’s winners were chosen by a jury consisting of Sue Carter, editor of Quill & Quire, Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews, and the books columnist for Metro; Alison Lang, editor of Broken Pencil, a magazine focusing on alternative culture in Canada; and Dakota McFadzean, comic artist and author, and 2016 Doug Wright Award winner.