Celebrating Comics At The 2019 Doug Wright Awards At TCAF

by Koom Kankesan

The Doug Wright Awards, presented every year as part of the TCAF (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival) proceedings, are named after Doug Wright, a Canadian cartoonist who drew the strip Doug Wright’s Family for years in the Montreal Standard before switching to The Canadian. The strip was a favourite of Seth and Brad Mackay who created the Awards in 2004 to honour Canadian cartoonists and to celebrate their efforts. Being part of TCAF, the awards tend to focus on cartoonists of a more independent stripe.

The last time I went to the awards was more than ten years ago when they were held above a store. Now, they are held in The Forest Hill Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel downtown – this is a view from the floor the hall is on:

Here’s a list of who and what was nominated this year:


Seth was on hand to put the finishing touches to the ribbons and medals and flowers and awards:

Here’s a shot of the awards. Besides the Nipper and best book of the year award, you can see a box containing the hat that represents the Pigskin Peters Award. There are also a couple of medals for the inductees to the Giants of the North: the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame. The inductees this year were Alootook Ipellie (who passed away in 2007) and Fiona Smyth (still living – Koyama Press recently released an anthology of her work). The Pigskin Peters Award was won by Xiaoxiao Li for Retomber. The smaller of the statues, The Nipper, was won by Ariane Denomme for 100 Days in Uranium City.

The larger statuette represents the Best Book and was won by Hartley Lin for Young Frances, a story which was serialized in his comic Pope Hats (which he released under the pen name Ethan Rilly) and here is giving over his acceptance speech:

The host brought a lot of energy and mirth to the proceedings by dribbling a basketball to the stage and ripping off his tearaways to reveal a basketball outfit created especially for the Doug Wright Awards. A fair number of basketball related quips ensued. Here he is, randomly tossing out t-shirts at the audience:

Seth and Brack McKay wore their burgundy Dough Wright jackets and here they are on stage with Wright’s wife, Phyllis, acknowledging her continued support:

I’m glad I went this year although I had to go do my groceries at the market after the first day of the festival, take said groceries home, then rally, and come back for the awards. Young Frances is the only book I’ve read from the night’s nominees but they all seem interesting and though the gathering wasn’t large by awards standards, it seemed fun and the audience consisted of people who knew each other, giving a small intimate feeling to the proceedings that seems rare in the midst of what has become a ginormous festival. I went because someone I knew, Dalton Sharp, was presenting one of the awards and because other friends we had in common were going. This is what the Canadian comics scene can be at the best of times: a smallish but communal network of people encouraging and supporting each other.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: