The 1st Shuster Awards

By Jamie Coville

The 1st Shuster Awards took place at Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon on Saturday, April 30th 2005.

The 1st Shuster Awards Ceremony started at 5pm. It was standing room only with a mix of pro's, fans and other people involved. The one pro that was noticeably missing was Seth. He's involved in another Canadian Awards ceremony that's picked by judges, while this one is picked by popular vote.

The awards were hosted by Rick Green (the Frantics; Prisoners of Gravity; the Red Green show) and Rob Salem (Toronto Star & Drive-In Classics TV).

Having Rick Green was a big deal. In the late 80's his Prisoners of Gravity tv show talked intelligently about comic books and had a lot of great interviews with big names at the time. Anybody in Ontario that read comic books during the 80's & 90's probably watched his show regularly.

And now the Winners (with my notes).

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Publisher Awarded to Arcana Studio publisher of Ant, Kade, Ezra, and 100 Girls.

Outstanding Canadian Achievement Related to Comic Books Awarded to Dave Sim and Gerhard for completing the landmark 300 issue run of Cerebus, the longest running creator owned & published comic book series.

(Sim and Gerhard got a standing ovation.)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer Recognition Award Awarded to Harry Kremer, the late owner of Kitchner's Now and Then Books. This award, in the future, will be a voted award and renamed the Harry Kremer Memorial Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer Award.

(For those that don't know, Kremer was very enthusiastic about comic books and spread the love with more than just words. He supported his former employee, Dave Sim with money during the early years of Cerebus.)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer A tie was declared and awards were given to Ty Templeton for his work on Batman Adventures, and Sarah "Samm" Barnes for her work on Doctor Spectrum.

(J. Michael Straczynski made a surprise appearance in order to support Sarah Barnes. She had worked with him on a TV show called Jeremiah.)
(Also: When Ty Templeton took the stage he said he just shook hands with Jerry Robinson and he's won this award, he said his life is now complete.)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist Awarded to Kaare Andrews for his work on Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One.

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist Awarded to Darwyn Cooke for his work on DC: The New Frontier.

(Darwyn Cooke was moved to tears over his award. He said people far better than him never got the appreciation he was receiving now.)

In addition to the six category winners the inaugural six Hall of Fame inductees were also presented, posthumously, to surviving family members ---

The six Hall of Fame awards went to:

Joe Shuster the Canadian-born artist and co-creator of Superman, and the comic book pioneer the awards were named in honour of.

Jerry Robinson told the story of the settlement he and Neal Adams got for Siegel and Shuster. He also told a funny story about how he and Joe would often go out on double dates. Jerry would line up Shuster with the most beautiful women he could find and Shuster would always complain they weren't tall enough for him. Jerry and Joe would often take weird night courses for fun and one time they had accidentally enrolled into one teaching communist theories. At the end Jerry Robinson got a standing ovation. After he left, Ty Templeton left briefly to meet with him.

Shuster's sister Jean told us how her father was a bad business man who tried to run a garment shop in Toronto, but when it failed he moved the family down to Cleveland and that's where Joe would meet Jerry Siegel. She joked if her father had been a better business man we wouldn't have had Superman. Also with Jean was Rosie Shuster of Saturday Night Live fame.

Leo Bachle a.k.a. Les Barker, creator of Johnny Canuck.

Writer and comics historian Robert Pincombe remembered Leo as a consummate storyteller, sharing one of Leo's real-life experiences, just as Leo himself told it. He then told a funny story about Leo's trip to Libya. Libya had a lot of armed guards around and everybody was afraid of them. Leo saw one guard standing there for a long time and he asked him if he could get him something. The guard was impressed by Leo's bravery and generosity. He told Leo he didn't need anything, but asked him to come back at 11pm as he had something he wanted to show him.

Leo's wife did not want Leo to go, but Leo went anyway. The guard drove Leo a long, long ways out of the desert and showed him some old ruins that were very recently uncovered by a sandstorm. They were under military protection, but they could go there at night undetected but they had to leave before sunrise or they'd be caught and killed. The guard had a belief that Leo would know something about the ruins, he though Leo might have been there in a previous lifetime. He asked Leo to look around. As Leo walked around he went up to a wall, examined it, removed a stone and behind it was another oddly shaped stone.

The guard insisted that Leo keep the stone and he was convinced that Leo was in fact there in a previous time and knew of the stone. They then took off as it was getting close to sunrise. The guard asked Leo on the way back for a prediction or something as he was now convinced Leo had some special powers. Leo wanting to say something to the armed guard so he didn't feel he wasn't getting snubbed and pissed off told him the country would be soon be overthrown by a military leader. Leo said that because he thought the guard would like that prediction.

Little did Leo know that the prediction would come true one year later with Khadafi taking over. He would also later discover that in an early issue of Johnny Canuck he had drawn a trip to Cairo and in it he drew the exact same stone he found there. Leo's family even brought the page and showed the drawing of the stone in a couple of panels.

Then he said it was a bunch of hooey. He didn't mean the story about Libya, that was all true. Leo didn't believe in past lives.

Adrian Dingle, creator of Nelvana.

I've got a photo of his grandson holding the award. We spoke for a while afterwards. He is into comics a little bit, reading the "big" books like Watchmen.

Hal Foster, creator of Prince Valiant.

Dave Sim contacted the Foster estate and they requested he accept the award on his behalf. He spoke of how important Foster was the early comic artists, both in comic strips and comic books. Most of the golden age artists wanted to be like either Foster, Milt Caniff or Alex Raymond. Most of all action cartooning comes from either one of those three sources. He said Foster in particular was a master at autonomy and illustration, his influence goes through to Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson and many, many others. Dave got very emotional over being asked to accept the award on the Foster Estates behalf.

Ed Furness, artist and co-creator of Freelance.

Rand Holmes, underground cartoonist and creator of Harold Hedd.

Ed the Sock (from Comedy Central) presented this award, using plenty of raunchy humor that was very much in the spirit of underground comics that Rand Holmes created.

About the Award: Dave Sim designed the font/did the lettering for the Shuster Awards and Tom Grummet drew the picture of Shuster on the award itself.

See my pictures of the Shuster Awards here.

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Text Copyright © 2005 Jamie Coville

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