June 15, 2008 | News
Outstanding artist winner Dale Eaglesham, from left, outstanding writer winner Cecil Castellucci and outstanding cartoonist winner Jeff Lemire show off their hardware on Saturday after the 2008 Joe Shuster Awards in Toronto.
Whether they’ve just entered the field or been pouring blood, sweat and tears for over 20 years, the winners of this year’s Joe Shuster Awards all share one thing in common: An ear-to-ear smile.
Twelve of the 13 Canadian comic book creator awards given out at the fourth annual ceremony in Toronto on Saturday night went to first-time winners, many of whom were humbled, yet expressed great appreciation for the recognition.
“It’s an honour on just an enormously grand scale,” said Cecil Castellucci, an ex-Montrealer now living in Los Angeles, who took home the outstanding Canadian comic book writer award.
“Plain Janes is my first book, but I love comics and I love writing comics, so I feel like it’s a real nod of encouragement to have a lifelong career in comics.”
Veteran illustrator Dale Eaglesham, a resident of Vankleek Hill, Ont., between Ottawa and Montreal, called winning the outstanding Canadian artist award, primarily for his work on DC Comics’ critically acclaimed series, Justice Society Of America: “the highlight of my career.”
“After 23 years of working my butt off in this industry, it was really nice to get acknowledged like that,” Eaglesham added.
“It was very stiff competition and I’m really, really flattered that they chose me.”
Another excited first-time winner was Toronto’s Jeff Lemire, who took home outstanding Canadian cartoonist honours for his work on the first two volumes of his Essex County Trilogy: Tales From The Farm and Ghost Stories.
“It’s certainly an honour to put in the same breath as people like (fellow nominees) Darwyn Cooke and Bryan Lee O’Malley and Julie Doucette,” Lemire said.
“I’ve been working a long time at it and it’s nice that the last year or so I’ve finally gotten something out there that people are picking up on.”
A rare outstanding achievement award was given to David Watkins, a comic book artist and history teacher at Toronto’s Weston Collegiate Institute, who has racked up a lot of honours recently for his ingenious use of comics as a teaching tool.
Watkins said that while he loved being given the teacher of the year nod from Niagara University as well as the prestigious Governor General’s Award, the Joe Shuster Award, named for the Canadian co-creator of Superman, is closer to his heart.
“I’ve been a comic geek a lot longer than I’ve been a teacher, so (a Joe Shuster Award) ranks very high,” Watkins said.
The only non-first-timer on Saturday was Montreal’s Drawn And Quarterly, which won its third consecutive award for outstanding Canadian publisher.
The results of the 2008 Canadian comic book creator honours — the Joe Shuster Awards:
Outstanding writer: Cecil Castellucci
Outstanding artist: Dale Eaglesham
Outstanding cartoonist: Jeff Lemire
Outstanding colourist: Dave McCaig
Outstanding web comics creators: Ryan Sohmer and Lar De Souza
Outstanding cover: Steve Skroce for Doc Frankenstein #6
Outstanding publisher: Drawn And Quarterly
Fan-favourite International creator: Ed Brubaker
Fan-favourite Canadian creator – English: Faith Erin Hicks
Fan-favourite Canadian creator – French: PhlppGrrd a.k.a. Philippe Girard
Hall Of Fame inductees: John Byrne, Stanley Berneche, Pierre Fournier and Edwin “Ted” McCall.
Outstanding achievement by a Canadian related to comic books: David Watkins
Harry Kremer Award for outstanding retailer: Big B Comics, Hamilton, Ont.