Hartley Lin, Ariane Dénommé, and Xiaoxiao Li take home 2019 Doug Wright Awards, Fiona Smyth and Alootook Ipellie inducted into Giants of the North

Hartley Lin, Ariane Dénommé, and Xiaoxiao Li take home 2019 Doug Wright Awards, Fiona Smyth and Alootook Ipellie inducted into Giants of the North

May 15, 2019—The winners of the 15th annual Doug Wright Awards, recognizing the best work and most promising talent in Canadian comics, were announced on Saturday evening during a ceremony at Toronto’s Marriott Yorkville. 

Hartley Lin’s debut graphic novel, Young Frances (Adhouse Books), won the 2019 Doug Wright Award for Best Book. Young Frances is the story of an evolving relationship between two twenty-something women, told through small moments of everyday life. The book originally was serialized in Lin’s comic series, Pope Hats, which itself was previously nominated for four Doug Wright Awards, winning the Doug Wright Spotlight Award in 2012. 

Rotem Anna Diamant, of the Canadian Comics Open Library and one of this year’s judges, announced the winner, saying:

This narrative captures quiet moments of pause, as well as how life can shift so quickly we hardly notice, and suddenly we are changed. This is a thoughtful, funny, frightening, and sympathetic portrait of the humanity and inhumanity of corporate culture, young professional life, and stumbling into adulthood, made with care and great skill. 

Ariane Dénommé, a first-time DWA nominee, took home the 2019 Doug Wright Spotlight Award (also known as “the Nipper,” named for Doug Wright’s signature character) for 100 Days in Uranium City (Conundrum Press), a book that explores an under-examined corner of Canadian industry with intimate detail. The Spotlight Award is presented to a Canadian cartoonist or writer and artist team deserving of wider recognition. 

The cartoonist Dalton Sharp, another of this year’s judges, announced the winner, which was accepted by Conundrum publisher Andy Brown. Of Dénommé’s work Sharp said:

I suspect most of us don’t want to know too much about our parents’ lives before us—who did what to whom at the dance, the office party, the camping trip. But at times we wonder. We all wonder—a few of us even ask—usually getting half answers, deflections, knowing looks, mystery. Tonight’s winner got the goods. She did ask. She did speak to her dad about the days before she arrived on the scene, days of hard rock mining, 100 days on, 14 days off, and we have a great book with quiet moments of longing, anxiety about the future, and, yes . . . I’ll say it . . . love.

Retomber, by first-time DWA nominee Xiaoxiao Li, won this year’s Pigskin Peters Award, which recognizes the best experimental, unconventional, or avant-garde Canadian comic of the year. Retomber, a hand-stitched object printed on translucent paper, is a diary comic that looks to the future by experimenting with new forms of storytelling. 

The winner was announced by poet and illustrator Sabrina Scott, a member of this year’s nominating committee, which chooses the winner of the Pigskin Peters Award. Scott said of the winning book:

This little book is a gentle force that provokes reflection on what we see of each other, what we expose to each other; what we don’t, what we can’t. The artist’s unique play with layers and visually transparent media evokes reflection on fragmentation, embarrassment, desire, shame, inclusion, and omission. Form echoes content in this raw and revealing work.

Alongside this year’s winners, Fiona Smyth and Alootook Ipellie were inducted into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame, which celebrates creators who have made a lasting contribution to the field of Canadian comics. 

Fiona Smyth, an artist whose work straddles art, comics, and murals, and is marked by a bold and overt sexuality, was inducted by her longtime friend and colleague, the artist Maurice Vellekoop. During his induction speech, Vellekoop said: 

Fiona is a supernova feminist icon; a pop culture razzle-dazzler. She’s a miraculous magician who can transubstantiate paint into mouthwatering flavour. She is up there with the very greatest of the greatest greats.  . . . Fiona can do anything. 

Alootook Ipellie (1951–2007) was an Inuk artist born outside of what is now Iqaluit, Nunavut. He developed an early and abiding interest in comics, creating work that often satirically examined the modern world’s impact in Inuit life. Ipellie was inducted by his longtime friend, the writer Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, and Louisa Gillespie, who attended the Indian residential school system with Ipellie. “What he said and what he drew is what we felt, but were too shy to say,” Gillespie said before performing a traditional drum song alongside Monica Ittusardjuat, another childhood friend of Ipellie. She then read a letter provided by Ipellie’s daughter, Taina, which, in part, spoke of the anger she once felt for not having known her father, and how she came to forgive him. She further wrote:  

I would like to thank you for honouring my father’s work, as I feel much of it applies to the world we live in, even today. . . . I won’t profess to know exactly how he would feel on this day. But I imagine he would feel honoured and very grateful for this recognition. 

The evening also paid tribute to artist Teva Harrison, author of the graphic novel memoir In-Between Days (House of Anansi), who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer five years ago and died on April 27. 

The Doug Wright Awards ceremony, a featured event at this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, was hosted by Steve Manale, who kept the evening moving with an unlikely basketball theme. Manale, a Toronto-based artist and cartoonist, entered the awards accompanied by musical fanfare, wearing a sweat-suit and dribbling a basketball. He explained he had come from his Saturday night rec-league ball game. 

After pausing to hydrate, he tore off his suit to reveal a custom, handmade black, white, and gold Doug Wright Award basketball uniform. Manale later distributed several silkscreened DWA T-shirts and failed to initiate a game of one-on-one with the artist Joe Ollmann. 

Finalists for this year’s awards were chosen from dozens of works published during the 2018 calendar year.  The nominating committee consisted of Ehab Arafeh, Alex Hoffman, Betty Liang, and Sabrina Scott. 

The jury for the 15th annual Doug Wright Awards included Rotem Diamant, president and librarian of the Canadian Comics Open Library; Rebecca Roher, winner of the 2017 Doug Wright Best Book Award for her full-length debut, Bird in a Cage; Joe Ollmann, the 2007 winner of the Best Book Award, for This Will All End in Tears; and Dalton Sharp, a cartoonist and long-time wrangler for the Toronto Comic Jam.

Guest Update: Shannon and Dean Hale Saturday Only

Due to scheduling issues, Shannon and Dean Hale will only be participating in TCAF on Saturday, May 11th. Other than these creators and Jeff Lemire and Tillie Walden, all other creators at TCAF are scheduled to appear at events on May 11 & 12.

HOWEVER! Shannon and Dean have a jam-packed schedule that day though, with the following events and signings!

Signing: Penguin Random House Table
Saturday, May 11, 10am-11am
Booth 126-127, Toronto Reference Library, 1st Floor

Squirrel Girl Panel: Talk Nuts, Kick Butts – Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Shannon & Dean Hale share with us their love of Squirrel Girl and give us a look behind the scenes of creating Doreen. Moderated by Hélène Deval
Saturday, May 11, 12:15 PM-1:15 PM
Forest Hill Ballroom, Marriott Bloor Yorkville

Spotlight: The Princess in Black
The creative team behind the celebrated Princess in Black series launch the latest installment: Science Fair Scare. Join Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham as they tell you all about the making of your favourite series!
Saturday, May 11, 4:00pm-5:00pm
Beeton Auditorium, Toronto Reference Library

See you there!


TCAF is pleased to present Word Balloon Academy, a full day of creator-focused programming on Friday, May 10th at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville, located at 90 Bloor Street East (Bloor/Yonge Subway).

Admission to Word Balloon Academy is ticketed, and tickets are now available on Eventbrite.

You can see the Schedule and Detailed Programming Descriptions on the Word Balloon Academy Page on this site.

Go check it out, and we’ll see you Friday!

Word Balloon Academy Crest by Dustin Harbin

Zineland Terrace Announces Exhibitors and Programming for 2019

Zineland Terrace is a unique space for zine creators, readers, and well, everyone! Last year’s fair was a huge success, and we are excited to continue to offer a different kind of space for self-publishing during TCAF weekend.

Zineland Terrace will occur at The Cumberland Terrace (2 Bloor St W) on May 11-12, 2019. The event will run concurrently with the TCAF festival floor directly across the street at the Toronto Reference Library, but will focus on creators using self publishing, DIY, and zine culture to forge new and critical narratives and communities.

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TCAF 2019 Masonic Temple Programming Live – Tickets Available!

Tickets available at Eventbrite

This year TCAF returns to the beautiful Masonic Temple Concert Hall for two full days (and one great night) of Featured programming events!

At the request of our venue, publishing partners, and staff, all events at The Masonic Temple will be ticketed this year. Tickets are free for daytime events on Saturday and Sunday, and will be available on the Eventbrite page on Tuesday, April 30, at 11am EST.

Another exciting piece is that this year we’re able to provide ASL interpretation for all main stage programming at the Masonic Temple! Tell your friends!

Keep reading for details on the amazing programs taking place this year!

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TCAF 2019 Posters Now On Sale!

Gorgeous printed versions of our TCAF 2019 Posters are now in stock at Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop at Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, and at TCAF’s Premiere Sponsor The Beguiling Books & Art, 319 College Street. Posters are $10 each, or all 3 for $20.

Total poster size (with show info and sponsor logos) is 13″ wide by 21.5″ tall. Main poster image area is 13″ x 19″. Printed on bright matte stock. They look great!

Fiona Smyth, Alootook Ipellie To Be Inducted into “the Giants of the North Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame”

Fiona Smyth, Alootook Ipellie To Be Inducted into the Giants of the North Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame 

April 23, 2019—Fiona Smyth, an artist and teacher known for her groundbreaking comics tackling female sexuality, and Alootook Ipellie (1951–2007), a multi-faceted artist, writer, activist, and cartoonist recognized for his satirical comics about Inuit life in Canada, will be inducted next month into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame for Canadian cartoonists.

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Junji Ito Events at TCAF 2019

Ever since we announced that the incredible horror manga creator Junji Ito would be participating in TCAF 2019, fans have been excited to learn exactly how they can interact with him at the Festival! Well here’s all the details for his signings, panels, and more!

Special Event #1: TCAF Kick-Off featuring Junji Ito, Friday May 10th (Tickets required)
Special Event #2: Junji Ito Live Drawing Session @ The Masonic Temple, Saturday May 11th (Tickets Required)
Signing #1: Junji Ito signing at Toronto Reference Library, Saturday May 11th (Wristband Required)
Signing #2: Junji Ito signing at Toronto Reference Library, Sunday May 12th (Wristband Required)

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