Comics / Comics News

Canadian Comic Book Awards

By Hervé St-Louis
July 30, 2008 - 21:30

While it is normal that several awards are created to honour professionals in one field, in Canada, this task is difficult because of the language divide. Very few Canadian awards cross the language barriers. Those who do are often handed from the top, such as the Governor’s Awards, the Gemini for Canadian television. Professional awards are signs that an industry is both active and healthy or needs reinforcement.

In the Canadian comic book world, awards are split by languages, and regionally. Many awards given to comic book artists are also used to organize the industry and build public awareness. My view is that most of these awards talk mostly to intellectuals and don’t try to reach average Canadian comic book reader. Press releases can be found in elitist media outlets such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Le Devoir, but rarely in the Vancouver Sun or Le Journal de Montréal. Magazines, such as The Comic Book Bin are rarely invited to events or sent press material, although its visitors are likely to be interested in such information.

In Canada as elsewhere, awards are often split for comic strips, comic books, editorial cartoons and animation. While it is easy to argue that cartoon animation is closer to cinema and television than comic books, editorial cartoons have the most organized awards structure due to the higher profile of newspaper editorial cartoons in Canada. The amount of fodder material in Canadian politics and society makes political cartoons very popular across the nation. Many editorial cartoonists, such as Chapleau, are publicly known figures with bestselling compilations of their books.

Original comic strips are rare in Canada. Comic books aren’t but creators often receive prizes in American awards because the industry in both countries is interrelated. This article will list Canadian comic books awards in both language and specific industries. It is hoped that it will help Canadian comic book readers become more familiar with the various awards available across the nation. It is by no means a closed article. If there is anything missing, just contact The Comic Book Bin’s editorial contact and tell us what we missed.

Editorial Cartoons


Award Name: Editorial Cartoons (Caricature)
Association: The National Newspaper Awards
French: Le Concours canadien de journalisme
Awarding Association: Canadian Newspaper Association (Association canadienne des journaux)
Prize Amount: $1,500
Donator: George McCullagh, late president and publisher of the Globe and Mail
Award Establishment: 1949, one of the original six awards given. This award has been given continuously since 1949.

This award is given to editorial cartoons published in Canadian newspapers. Either a single entry is used judged or a body of work from one cartoonist. Humour and the quality of the illustrations are judged.

This award has limited entry for most comic book artists as they are not on staff in newspapers. Most participants are likely to be stuffy baby boomers with old friends in the business rather than young cartoonists or people with messages differing from the mainstream media. The awards are not even advertised or announced outside of media circles. One good thing about this award is that it completely bridges the Canadian language barrier.

Award Name: (for cartooning category) Editorial Cartoons (Caricature)
Association: The National Press Club of Canada
French: Fondation du Cercle national des journalistes du Canada
Awarding Association:
Prize Amount: $1000
Award Establishment:
Awards Given:

Although this group, established in 1928, argues that it speaks for all Canadians, the French information on the Web site is lacking and poorly translated. The past recipients’ list reads like a Who’s Who of Canadian journalism’s history. The information on the awards for cartoonists is sorely missing and in between the time I started this article (2006) and now, the little information I had found originally is missing. More investigation will be needed.

Comic Books


Award Name: Bédélys
Association: Promo 9e Art
English: none
Awarding Association:
Prize Amount:
Award Establishment: 2000, but the first award was of course for the 1999 year.
Awards Given:
  • Bédélys d'Or;
  • Bédélys Québec;
  • Bédélys Jeunesse;
  • Mentions spéciales.

This award is the main one in Quebec and probably the best known. The organizers work hard to branch out to the media and also involve other groups such as Quebec-based librarians. They also make a lot of effort to reach out to other Francophones across the world and even award them prizes too. However, the Canadian cultural solitude is well in place as little about the Bédélys is known or advertised outside of French-speaking Quebec.

Award Name: Bédéis Causa
Association: Festival de bandes dessinées de Québec
English: none
Awarding Association: Festival de bandes dessinées de Québec
Prize Amount:
Award Establishment: 1988
Awards Given:
  • Prix Réal-Fillion (best new Quebec talent);
  • Prix Coup de coeur (dark horse hit);
  • Prix Maurice-Petitdidier (best comic book or foreign title);
  • Prix Albert-Chartier (recognition award for an individual);
  • Grand Prix de la Ville de Québec (best Quebec-based comic book).

This is one of the oldest Canadian awards for comic book creators. It is part of the annual Quebec City Comic Book Festival which is a popular event in the old capital. As this is a Quebec City-based event, it’s only normal, that unlike the Bédélys which is located in multicultural Montreal that the former is French only. The Quebec City festival has helped increase the knowledge about comic books and helps foster a new generation of creators in Quebec City and regions outside of Montreal.

Award Name: The Shuster Awards
Association: Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association
French: none
Awarding Association: Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association
Prize Amount:
Award Establishment: 2004
Awards Given:
  • Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer / Écrivain canadien exceptionnel de Bandes Dessinées;
  • Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist / Dessinateur canadien exceptionnel de Bandes Dessinées;
  • Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Publisher / Éditeur canadien exceptionnel de Bandes Dessinées;
  • Outstanding Canadian Achievement;
  • Harry Kremer Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer Award / La Récompense Harry Kremer pour détaillant exceptionnel canadien de Bandes Dessinées;
  • The Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame / Temple de la renommé créateur canadien de Bandes Dessinées;
  • Fan Favourite International Comic Book Creator / Créateur exceptionnel de Bandes Dessinées International;
  • Fan Favourite Canadian Comic Book Creator - English Language;
  • Fan Favourite Canadian Comic Book Creator - French Language;
  • Outstanding Canadian Webcomics Creator / Creative Team;
  • Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Colourist.

This is the one award that tries to bridge the language divide in Canada the best. It is named after Superman co-creator, Joe Shuster, who was born in Toronto, Canada. These awards try to be as comprehensive about the Canadian comic book industry and I think they achieve most of their goals, although I don’t like the wording used for some of the French equivalents of the awards.

Award Name: The Doug Wright Awards
Association: Giants of the North and The Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame
French: none
Awarding Association: Giants of the North and The Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame
Prize Amount:
Award Establishment: 2005
Awards Given:
  • Best Book;
  • Best Emerging Talent

These awards are named after the comic strip cartoonist Doug Wright, who created several comic strips for years, first in Montreal, and later in Ontario. These award clearly state that they will not accept French-speaking comic books that are not translated into English, which is a problem with me and most French-speaking Canadians.

This makes this award for English Canadians only, and hence, does not make it a national award which the name "Canadian" without any qualifier suggest it is. This award cannot be national in scope if it excludes 1/4 of Canadians creators and half of all Canadian comic books.

The second problem is that if only translated French comic books are eligible, it is an unfair request for the creator and the comic book, because it requires  a double qualification before being accepted. First, it has to be published in French, and then be published in English. No such hurdles are demanded of English comic books which are considered in their original forms.

Although the Wrights Awards think of themselves as being for English Canadian contents and creators, they do not market themselves as such. English Canadian contents and culture are not the sum of what is Canadian. Without the input and culture from French Canada, whether in or outside of Quebec, the Wrights awards cannot pretend to be national in scope and thus must make this clear to the comic book industry and the press. Canada has two main cultures and two official languages equal in all rights - French and English.

When I write about the Canadian solitudes this is exactly what I refer to.

So we know that Canadians are active in the comic book industry and that several groups across the land have rallied to honour outstanding creators. I only hope that all this institutional support can actually reach those who work in this field. Like I said, few of the organizations listed above ever bother to contact The Comic Book Bin – which is a Canadian magazine on comic books. We contacted each organization above, in 2006 and none replied to our request for more information. If they fail to speak us, how can they pretend that Canadian comic book enthusiasts will even know or care about these Canadian awards?

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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