Thursday, June 24, 2010

Joe Shuster Hall of Fame 2010 - Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin

2010's Joe Shuster Awards were handed out this past June 5.

Along with this year's Hall of Fame inductees Deni Loubert, Dave Darrigo and Serge Gaboury, the Shusters also chose to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the creation of Captain Canuck (way back in 1975!) by inducting the three creator's most associated with the Captain's popularity -- Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin.

Claude St. Aubin's award was presented by Canadian artist Kalman Andrasofsky.

George Freeman's award was presented by Canadian author or co-founder of, Lesley Livingston.

Richard Comely's award was presented by artist-designer-letterer and font of all 80's Canadian indie comic knowledge, Ron Kasman.

Videtape and posting of the inductions was provided by my oh so patient wife.

Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame 2010 Inductees: Jean-Claude St. Aubin, George Freeman and Richard Comely from Jill Leger on Vimeo.

Since Freeman and St.Aubin were unable to attend, all three awards were accepted by Richard Comely. Comely will hand delivering the awards when he sees Freeman out west in a month or so.

Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame 2010 Acceptance speech: Richard Comely from Jill Leger on Vimeo.

As you can see in Richard's gracious acceptance speech, both he and Freeman were specific about wanting to give Ron Leishman credit for designing and co-creating Captain Canuck. though they made it happen, without Leishman's inspiration, the Captain would never have existed.

You can find write-ups on all Shuster Hall of Famers at the main HoF page.

Claude St. Aubin's Shuster bio is here. Read an extended Comics Bulletin interview with Claude St. Aubin conducted Hall of Fame committee member Phil Latter a. Get a copy of Aubin's "March on Fort Whoop-Up" project here.

George Freeman's Shuster Award bio is here. Check out Freeman's website and get a copy of the first Captain Canuck archive here.

More on Richard Comely and Captain Canuck at the official website. A recent Comely interview can be found Jeffery Klaehn's Pop blog.

Beavers Up!

Joe Shuster Hall of Fame 2010 - Deni Loubert

We continue our video coverage of this years Joe Shuster Awards Hall of Fame inductions from Toronto's Innis Hall last June 5. With special thanks to my wife Jill for her videography and editing skills. This year's inductees included Dave Darrigo, Serge Gaboury and Captain Canuck writer-artists Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin.

This time we greet the Queen of the Independents. Deni Loubert quite literally helped lay the groundwork for a modern Canadian comic book industry and for independant comics in general.

The publishing, promotion and distribution system she put in place for Aardvark-Vanaheim while publishing Cerebus with her then-husband Dave Sim was adapted and refined by Sim, enabling him to achieve his incredible, uninterrupted 300 issue run.

She then ran Renegade Press for years, featuring an amazing array of talented artists and awesome comics. Watch comics writer-artist-teacher-bon vivant Ty Templeton induct Deni.

Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame 2010 Inductee: Deni Loubert from Jill Leger on Vimeo.

More about Ty (including regular Saturday morning comics and original art sales!) at Ty Templeton's Artland.

I wish I had more time to spend with Deni after the awards. She is smart, insightful and has a very unique and broad perspective on the industry. Her thoughts on how artists represent themselves for better and for worse (based on her experience as an artist's rep in Hollywood) alone is worth a round of drinks.

Deni Loubert's Shuster bio is here. The Shuster Halll of Fame main page is here.

For your enjoyment and edification, here is the short speech I wrote for her induction, which presenter Ty Templeton delightfully threw out in favour of his own unique take on Deni.

Originally hailing from Timmons, Ontario, Deni Loubert grew up living a nomadic existence with her family, crisscrossing the continent as her Dad followed work from the local McIntyre Mine to the railroads of Arizona and northern California and back to the Great White North in the nickel mines of Sudbury. Because her parents frowned on comics as proper reading material she caught up on fave comic book by reading them in the grocery store. The family settled in the San Francisco Bay area long enough for Deni to attend high school and rediscover comics in the form of Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Another family move to Kitchener, Ontario led Loubert to discover science fiction fandom. Inspired by local comic artist and fellow Joe Shuster Hall of Famer Gene Day’s self-published work, she began to self-publish a zine of her own, Cerebus. Loubert met artist and future husband Dave Sim at Harry Kremer’s Now And Then Books, the hub for Kitchener’s local fandom and artistic community. Together, the two budding publishers formed Aardvark-Vanaheim to put out a Cerebus comic book based on their aardvark mascot. Loubert’s reputation as publisher eager to help artists create their best work was born here.

Determined to let Sim create, Loubert took the business reins and learned publishing from the ground up, forging alliances with printers, writing text pages, overseeing the printing and arranging for now legendary Cerebus tours. Eventually, her love of artists and desire to forge her own identity inspired her to expand the Aardvark-Vanaheim line, publishing early work by Image Comic’s Jim Valentino, Arn Saba, Bob Burden and Max Allen Collins. When Loubert and Sim’s marriage ended, the infrastructure she had set up for Aarvark-Vanaheim were the foundation of Sim’s extended run on Cerebus - the longest running independent comic in history.

Already partially responsible for helping a new generation of Canadian artists and publishers to step up to the plate, Loubert moved to Los Angeles to start fresh with her own imprint, Renegade Press. In addition to publishing numerous US artists, Loubert helped shepherd new work by Canadian creators like Dan and David Day (Cases of Sherlock Holmes), fellow Shuster inductee Dave Darrigo and R.G. Taylor (Wordsmith) and Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkas (Silent Invasion).

Loubert closed Renegade’s doors in 1989 but it’s a testament of the wide respect and popularity she held within the industry that the founders of Image Comics first approached her to be their publisher when they broke away from Marvel Comics. Loubert also worked for Wendy and Richard Pini as the Managing Editor at WaRP Graphics and was VP of Comic Book Development for Full Moon Entertainment, overseeing works by Marv Wolfman, Harlan Ellison and others.

For several years, Loubert worked as an artist representative in Hollywood and Friends of Lulu pamphlet, “How To Get Girls Into Your Store”, remains a must-read for comic shops wishing to avoid alienating half the world’s population. In 2003, her comic savvy and natural entrepreneurship continued with NovelGrafx Inc., an early developer of concepts and technology for delivery of comic books to cell phones and is currently laying the groundwork for a new, as yet unannounced comic project.

While we're celebrating all things Deni, check out this terrific and candid video interview with Margaret Liss and Jeff Tundis during the 2008 San Diego Comic Con.

Next Up: The creators of Captain Canuck share the spotlight.

Beavers Up!

Joe Shuster Hall of Fame 2010 - Dave Darrigo Video

More of the Joe Shuster Awards 2010 Hall of Fame Video from Toronto's Innis Hall last June 5. This year's inductees included Deni Loubert, Serge Gaboury and Captain Canuck writer-artists Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin.

Our next inductee is Dave Darrigo. Dave has a long history of independent publishing and self-publishing through his Special Studios imprint. Despite not seing the same level of public awareness as some Canadian creators, Dave has provided work and a showcase for a great many Canuck artists. He was also one of the original group that founded and got the the Shuster Awards up and running.

The Hall of Fame committee was proud to shine the spotlight on a man who rarely gets such attention and when he does, he usually tries to give it to someone he feels is more deserving!

Though family concerns have taken Dave away from comics creation for a while, he assures us he has some ideas percolating.

Dave's award was presented by Joe Kilmartin, manager of Toronto's Dragon Lady comic shop.

Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame 2010 Inductee: Dave Darrigo from Jill Leger on Vimeo.

Dave doesn't have a big online presence as yet. Time to fix that, Dave! :) His Hall of Fame bio is coming soon though. Keep checking the Shuster Hall of Fame main page.

For more info on the Dragon Lady Comic Shop you can join their Facebook page.

Next up, we'll see the induction of a true founder and builder of the modern Canadian Comics scene. We all owe the very idea of making it as a Canadian Comic artist to this woman and her fellow early movers and shakers. Stay tuned for Deni Loubert!

Beavers Up!

Joe Shuster Hall of Fame 2010 - Serge Gaboury Video

The Joe Shuster Awards have come and gone once again, held this year at Toronto's Innis Town Hall on June 5.

Each year of the Shusters brings surprising and delightful additions to their Hall of Fame and this time around is no different. (*Full Disclosure: I was one this year's Hall of Fame and as usual, debate was lively but respectful.) Inductees included Deni Loubert, Dave Darrigo and Captain Canuck writer-artists Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin.

I'll be posting video of all the Hall of Fame inductions shot and uploaded by my lovely, talented and oh so indulgent wife.

The night kicked off with the induction of prolific Quebec cartoonist Serge Gaboury. I had the honour of presenting Serge with his trophy and chatting at length with he and his beautiful Mrs. Gaboury after the event.

Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame 2010 Inductee: Serge Gaboury from Jill Leger on Vimeo.

Serge was gracious, humble and quite moved by the event. See more of his comics and animation at his website, and at his bdquebec page. If you need a readable Anglais version, here is the Google-translated version.

You can find Serge's Shuster Hall of Fame page here.

For a complete list of Hall of Fame members check out the Shuster's HoF main page.

For those who are interested, here is the text of my speech:

Serge Gaboury was born in Quebec in 1954. By the time he studied Graphic Communication at Laval University, he had already published strips in the Peuple-Tribune and was drawing cartoons for the university’s newspaper. Despite a rise in awareness and recognition of Québec culture during the seventies, the province’s indigenous comics scene was still struggling to find itself when Jacques Hurtibise founded Croc magazine, a hybrid of Quebec comics and satirical humour that became a leading showcase for Quebec’s top cartoonists. Gaboury joined the Croc team in 1979 and never looked back, contributing strips throughout its legendary run.

Since then, Gaboury strips have appeared regularly in comic magazines like Safarir and Les Debrouillards while his cartoons and caricatures appeared in publications as diverse as the Journal de Québec, Le Devoir, Le Soleil and 7Jours, and La Terre dé Chez Nous (Quebec Agricultural Producer’s union newspaper). Gaboury’s animation work has appeared on Radio-Canada and the Canoe website. In the last decade Gaboury’s popularity and renown has only increased with the publishing of his award-winning Glik and Gluk collections. At one point, along with all his comic work, Segre was also designing all the floats for night parade of the Quebec Winter Carnival.

It’s easy to dismiss exceptional, consistent output like that. After years of incredible basketball, we take a Kobe Bryant 50-point night for granted. That’s because someone that good is no longer measured in normal terms. They’re only measured against themselves. That is Serge Gaboury’s legacy. Artist Gabriel Morrisette calls Serge the best gagman in the business and mentioned an old joke about Gaboury, who did comics for every level of government at one time or another… Except for the Ministry of Revenue, because he works for them every time he does a job! Artists and fans admire Gaboury’s versatility – from his caustic humour in Croc and the Lewis Carroll-like adventures of Alys in Titanic to editorial caricatures and children’s books like the funny bees of Zzzzzoé (pronounced hEY!) and his well-known Glik and Gluk series.

Morrisette also points to Gaboury’s generosity with his technical expertise. He was one of the first to move to digital colour and helped teach Gabriel when he needed to learn it for a job. In terms of sheer output, Gaboury is amazingly prolific - the Jack Kirby of Quebec comics, constantly working to support his family. Tonight, since I started this speech Serge has finished another Glik and Gluk collection, an ad for Quaker Oats and a 350 page graphic novel about the history of the pogo stick… all since taking his seat! You might be surprised to find there are very few Serge Gaboury anecdotes. But how could there be? The dude never goes anywhere. He’s always at working. Some might think that a dull life. Maybe… but never dull on the page.

Gaboury’s loose, cartoony style sometimes gets taken for granted but it’s very effective and he is highly regarded by his peers. Pierre Fournier tells tales of everyone at the Croc office gathering around when Gaboury’s artwork came in and laughing out loud at his pages. Even an artist like Henriette Valium, whose extremely underground work is miles from Gaboury’s, used to buy kid’s magazines to read his Glik and Gluk and was terrified to meet the talented Serge in person. As you’ll soon see, Serge is in no way terrifying so that says a lot.

By the way Serge, Pierre requested that I relay a message to you. Usually he meets you at the Quebec Book Fair so you and your wives can catch up. This year Pierre couldn’t make it. He assures me that is because he’s avoiding you, as you suspected.

Fellow Shuster Hall of Famer Jacques Hurtubise did share one anecdote. Croc magazine was the most important Quebec humour/comics magazine of its day. And rival magazine Safarir (or Saf) was very competitive. So when Croc magazine folded, they quickly moved to scoop up three key Croc artists: Pierre Fournier and Real Godbout, who didn’t last, and Serge Gaboury. The Editor-in-Chief of Saf was bragging to Gaboury about the advantages of working for them over Croc and assured Serge that they would never make him draw bloody and violent strips like Croc had him do. Serge happily replied, “They were not forcing me. I love to draw bloody and violent comics!” Dull life? Never on the page.

We are seeing a slow evolution in English Canadian comics. Where once there was a great divide between comic books, comic strips, comic albums, animation, caricature and graphic art, creators are coming to see the link between all these forms. In Quebec that is how it has always been. The meaning of the term “comics” is vast and broad thanks to the versatility of pioneering artists like Serge Gaboury. Gaboury fans were able to find his work not just in comic magazines, but also in newspapers, on TV and in advertisements. The examples set by Gaboury and his peers (like fellow Joe Shuster Hall of Famers Jacques Hurtubise, Real Godbout and Pierre Fournier) inspired a new generation of creators to view comics as an art form with no boundaries.

For over thirty years Gaboury has been a force for Canadian comics in Québec with consistently enchanting, engaging work and we are proud to induct him into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame. Ladies ad Gentlemen… Serge Gaboury.

(*With thanks to Gabriel Morrissette, Jacques Hurtubise and Pierre Fournier)

Next up, an under-appreciated but potent force in Canadian Comics is inducted -- Dave Darrigo!

Beavers Up!