Region does well in nominations for Joe Shuster Awards

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Southwestern Ontario creators — from David Finch to Jeff Lemire to Scott Chantler — form a large contingent among this year’s Joe Shuster Award nominees, the populist Canadian prizes that recognize excellence in comics.

Lemire, who hails from Woodslee in Essex County, is a double nominee in 2017.

He was nominated in the artist category for his work on Secret Path, a collaboration with ailing Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie about a residential-school student who freezes to death when he departs the facility to return to his family. It was inspired by the true story of Charlie Wenjack, an indigenous boy who died under those circumstances.

Lemire is also nominated in the writer category for his work on such ongoing series as Image Comic’s Descender, and Marvel’s Extraordinary X-Men and Old Man Logan.

“It’s certainly been a good year, I think. We have our renaissance guys (like Lemire),” said Kevin Boyd, the co-founder and director of the Joe Shuster Awards.

The prizes will be given out the first weekend in September in Toronto.

Boyd handed them out personally the last two years in London during the Forest City Comic Con at the London Convention Centre.

“The whole southern Ontario region is very strong for comics. There’s a great network,” Boyd remarked.

Native Londoner Bryan Lee O’Malley, known for his Scott Pilgrim series of books, was nominated in the writer category for the first five issues of his Snotgirl series, published by Image.

Known for her self-described horror fairy tales, former Londoner and Stratford resident Emily Carroll snagged a nod in the webcomics category for her story Some Other Animal’s Meat. “She’s someone who uses the internet to her (artistic) advantage,” Boyd noted.

Among the nominees for the Dragon Award, which singles out creators who do comics aimed at kids, is Scott Chantler, who lives in Waterloo and grew up in St. Thomas. He is nominated for The Iron Hand, which is Volume 7 of his Three Thieves book series.

Windsor penciller David Finch received a nomination for his work on two of DC’s biggest titles, Wonder Woman and Batman.

“It’s a strong group of nominees. We’re always really strong in the writing and the art categories. This year is no exception,” said Boyd.

Among the others to get a nod is Downey himself. The rocker was recognized with a nomination for his writing on Secret Path.

Among those who didn’t make the cut is legendary novelist Margaret Atwood, whose Angel Catbird is a tribute to the comics of her youth.

“Some of the nominating process can be quite a debate,” Boyd explained.

“You always try to look to a balance” of gender and geography, he added.

The awards are named after Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster, who co-created Superman.

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