Monday, July 17, 2006

The Doug Wright Awards

The Doug Wright Award nominees were announced last week. This is the second year of the Doug Wright Awards. I didn't know who Doug Wright was when the first round of nominees were announced last year. Canadian cartoonist Sandra Bell-Lundy set me straight.

Doug Wright (1917-1983) did a comic strip titled Doug Wright's Family for the Canadian Magazine and Star Weekly. A lot of Canadians grew up on "Doug Wright's Family." It was at first glance a suburban slice of life strip.

For instance, here's one about having your mom shopping for clothes, and how every male kid hates it. There are both very specific (the look of the mall, the different mothers and kids) and very cartoony (the swooshes of smoke delineating speed (panel 2) and frustration (last panel).) But there is also something even more inviting: the joy of drawing.

The Doug Wright Family strip had 2 boys (the real Doug Wright had 3 kids, but I digress). This strip shows the typical love/hate pattern that 2 siblings have. And we also see some loving details: the iron work in the screen door, that little mail box that millions of North American homes have. And there's a real knowing of the human condition too!

Not growing up in Canada, I did not see any other these strips nor did I know who Doug Wright was. Here is one that is just plain mean -- and very funny. I think Mr. Wright understood how nasty kids could be. If you look at the houses and the garage doors, you start to feel just how suburban this strips was. The surprise if how much like The Sopranos these kids can be at times!

This simple strip, another pantomime like most of Doug Wright's work, illustrates his love of detail. Look at that rain splooshing down in the last panel. And I love the kid's happy look as well.

Another rain-related gag. And that station wagon is consistent in all the strips. I picked these because I like Wright's pen work with the rain. Growing up on the great plains (of the U.S.) this is how the rainstorms would move in. And I like the fact that one of the boys (both unnamed, so far as I can tell) has come up with his own fix to the situation. Again, a kid has found a solution to the rain! 2 similar situations, 2 different gags.

The Doug Wright Awards are given to Canadian cartoonists in two categories: Best Book and Best Emerging Talent.

From the late 1940s until the 1980, Doug Wright's Family was a staple. The awards were founded last year "to cast a spotlight on the wide array of comic artists and cartoonists working within Canada." But the awards, with all their good intentions, do not embrace Canadian gag cartoonists, Canadian comic strip artists, Canadian illustrators, etc. Graphic novelists, sure.

I hope that as the years go on, other categories will be added. Since Wright was a newspaper cartoonist, I hope that the board will see fit to add newspaper cartoonist to its list of award nominees. It's dreadful to see Canadian cartoonists who are being published that are not considered. Heck, even Doug Wright, if he was drawing Doug Wright's Family, would not currently qualify for a nod. And it's not right that 3 of the 5 links to Wright's work do not work as of today at the Doug Wright Awards site! Please consider today's blog offering as evidence of interest in showcasing more of Mr. Wright's work on the Net!

Sure, they're casting a spotlight -- but it's a damn narrow beam.

1 comment:

Lisa Luby said...

Our family lived on the same street, Rankin Drive in Burlington, as Doug Wright's family and it is simply incredible looking at these collections now that I am older. My sister, Lynn and I, were in some of the comic strips. Sometimes Doug Wright would put my dad's station wagon in the strip as well as our house. Later on, he portrayed himself as the man with a bit of a paunch but really he was the tall, thin, snooty looking man. My dad was the man with the glasses.

One of the neighbours actually sued Doug Wright for showing her in her looking out her window like a nosy neighbour but the fun of it was she really was the nosy neighbour. I miss his strip looking back at it now. It was a staple in our house.

I have a few, saved strips but I'd really like to have the entire collection. I'm going to see if I can find some of his books somewhere.

I am actually working on a strip I intend to try to get published myself.
Thanks for the memories. It's nice to know someone took the time to remember Doug Wright's Family!