Published in National Post [Toronto magazine, Aug. 16, 2008]
Cartooning world tips its hat
Lynn Johnston inducted into Hall of Fame
Canadian cartooning was feted last week at the fourth annual Doug Wright Awards. Held at the Metro Toronto Reference Library, the ceremony included the induction of For Better or For Worse cartoonist Lynn Johnston into the Canadian Cartooning Hall of Fame and a new award celebrating unorthodox work with an unorthodox prize - a bowler hat.
"In a way, I ripped it off," admitted awards co-founder, cartoonist Seth. "Years ago, I was at an awards ceremony in Finland and they had a very funny hat they gave to someone."
In this case, the hat has a direct connection with Canadian cartooning history - it was the staple accessory of Jim Frise's unflappable Pigskin Peters. That type of attention to detail impressed Anne-Marie Fleming, who won the best book award for The Amazing Life of Long Tack Sam, a biography of her grandfather.
"So much thought, love and care went into the show, which is exactly like comics," Fleming said. "So much love and care goes into every frame."
Named after Doug Wright whose Doug Wright's Family was syndicated in newspapers throughout the world from the 1940s to the 1980s, the ceremony included an appearance from Wright's widow and two of his sons. "We're very grateful [that] Dad's name [is being kept] alive," said Jim Wright. "We tend to forget talented people when they're not in the limelight."
Although Johnston remains in the limelight, during a 30-minute question-and-answer period, she gamely answered questions that touched on her 35-year career.
"This is the beginning of something that's going to grow," she said as she signed books following the ceremony. "The Reuben Awards [the premier American cartooning awards] started with this group of guys in New York who wanted to get together, socialize - and then they said, 'Let's give ourselves a few awards.' Now it's really international."
Link to story in National Post here.