Monday 25 April 2011

Nipper gets a regal re-do

It's been a long time coming. The Doug Wright Awards finally have a new website which launched Saturday night. The old site served us valiantly for a long time --- okay, too long, really --- and we've been talking about relaunching it for a couple of years now. But it was only when Diana Tamblyn came along last summer and politely (she's very nice) suggested an overhaul that we started talking it seriously.

You may not know this, but in addition to being a talented cartoonist Diana is also a dab hand at web design which she brought to bear on our sorry old site. There are still a few pages to tweak/update, which we'll get too in the coming weeks, but overall we are all very pleased in how it turned out.

Seth even re-designed our trusty logo for the occasion, which you can see all over the site. Check it out and let us know what you think (click on the image below top see it in context). We plan on using the blog to roll out news on a more timely basis; we had previously been using Twitter and Facebook for updates, but often had no home for these on the old site.

Hail to the King!: Nipper's regal re-do, courtesy of Seth



Thursday 14 April 2011

Getting dressed by Seth

Contrary to what you may believe, my involvement in The Doug Wright Awards is not all parties, showgirls and celebrity hobnobbing. Most of the time it's a lot of grunt work, anxiety and stress. Which is okay; after all, no one was exactly begging me to start up a Canadian comics awards back in 2004. So I can't/shouldn't gripe, right?   

Still, it can be a lot of work sometimes. Then there are times when it seems to all pay off; like today when I received an unexpected package in the mail from Seth (the "Creative Director" of the Awards).

As you probably know Seth designed a lot for us over the years, starting with our distinctive awards to a set of buttons and even a t-shirt. So it shouldn't have surprised me when I opened the package and found this:


According to the note included in the package, this is the official Doug Wright Awards club jacket to be worn by the organizations director (me) on the night of the awards ceremony. The plaid tie came with. Talk about spiffy! The image on the breast pocket is an embroidered version of our new logo which will debut on our new website in the coming weeks):

You know, the last time I was told how to dress I was about 10-years-old.  But somehow, I'm willing to make an exception in this case. Thanks Seth! 

Tuesday 12 April 2011

A lost monument to a comic strip of the past

I suppose I should have saved this post for Canada Day, but the guys over at Sequential compiled a thoroughly satisfying post today about Canadian cartoonist landmarks that roused me from my lazy blogger tendencies. Is there anything more satisfying than a statue or structure to a once-great comics character? They serve as permanent reminders of the profile these characters once enjoyed, even long after their cultural gravitas has waned. Just think of Chief Wahoo (who is based on the 1940s comic strip character Big Chief Wahoo) or,my personal favourite, Hamilton Tiger Cats mascot/booster Pigskin Pete who is the direct descendant of Jimmy Frise's boisterous Birdseye Center character Pigskin Peters.      

All of this got me thinking about a great lost monument to Birdseye Center, made by Frise's replacement on the strip, Doug Wright. On top of being a master artist, Wright was also an obsessive model-maker. During the research for The Collected Doug Wright Volume 1 I heard stories of his model plane, cars and trucks -- all made from scratch in his spare time. So it only made sense that after inheriting the popular strip from Frise, he would eventually turn his model making to the strip's fictional namesake.

At some point in the 1950s, Wright turned his obsession to Frise's great creation and built a scale model of Birdseye Center (which had become known as Juniper Junction due to copyright issues). The model (seen below) featured "Noazark" (a sightseeing ship/tourist trap), a dock building and a structure that looks to be the town hall.    

For comparison's sake, here's a Juniper Junction strip as drawn by Wright depicting the sink-prone  "Noazark".

I was lent the picture by Phyllis Wright, Doug's widow, who told me that he passed the model on to a neighbourhood teen after the strip came to an end in the late 1960s. That was very kind of him, if a bit foolhardy. The teen eventually grew up and grew tired on the model and threw it out years later. Egads, that shattered a little piece of my soul! But at least Wright was smart enough to take this picture, which remains the last evidence of a great comics -- if little-seen -- monument to Canadian comics history.