TCAF, Thompson and The Doug Wright Awards: a report from the front lines (Part one of two)

Posted on 17. May, 2013 by in Uncategorized

So, that was pretty fun/crazy/unpredictable/hair-raising/Collier-esque weekend in Toronto, wasn’t it?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as Director of The Doug Wright Awards for nine years and counting, it’s that I have to accept — if not embrace — the occasional glitch as part-and-parcel of our annual awards ceremony. But who could have predicted this year that we would get our own Roberto Benigni chair-jumping moment (with a wee measure of Charlie Sheen), courtesy of Hamilton’s cartoonist David Collier?

For those who weren’t among the more than 300-strong crowd, Dave kicked the show off by hijacking the ceremony after winning the Pigskin Peter Awards as part of his stated effort to stall until his wife and son arrived. There was an impromptu cushion fight between him and Seth, a long-winded speech about force-feeding a group of Australian cartoonists pizza, and an effort by host turned hostage negotiator Scott Thompson to coax an overly enthusiastic Dave from the stage.

I have to admit, I felt a lot like David Niven at times. But you have to give it to Collier: it was a definite show-stealer.

Brad, wince-laughing at something.

But let’s start from the beginning: Saturday May 11, 2013.

This year the ceremony was held at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville’s Forest Hill Ballroom for the first time, and I have to say I was impressed. Despite not actually being in Yorkville, the venue has proximity in its favour — being a five-minute walk from the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) — and it was also a good space: large enough for a big crowd, with swanky chandeliers and good acoustics. As usual, Seth is our go-to guy for overall stage design and he out-did himself this year introducing a new DWA-themed custom tablecloth and banners (two) that were real eye-poppers.

DWA 2013 Ceremony stage SMALL



After wrestling with a few technical issues and scrambling to get the stage set up according to Seth’s wishes, we opened the doors. Typically our crowds for the ceremony range from 100 to 200, so we planned on filling the center bank of seats first — closing off the wings for last-minute stragglers. But to our surprise, the seats starting filling up pretty damn fast — and soon we had to start directing folks to the extra seating in the wings. This was great — in the end, i think we had more than 300 people in what was a great-looking audience.




Luckily, some of the nominees made the wsie move to bring theor drinks with them from the hotel bar pre-show party. Smart move and very Golden Globesy. DeForge is tippling some whsikey here, a la Don Draper. (And yes Candice Chung,  that is Don McKellar in the background!)

DWA_2013_Ceremony_Boozy noms

DWA_2013_Ceremony_Chet TomS

As you can see the stars were really out in the DWA night sky (note: next year we need a red carpet hosted by Robin McConnell in a dress!) Why, there’s Chet Brown and The Spurge – and here’s two-time DWA host  Don McKellar, who flew in from Montreal that morning to attend the show! We love you Don baby!

DWA_2013_Ceremonmy_DON M

So, everyting was going great and we were ready to close the doors and start the show when a fire-alarm started to go off. Luckily, it wasn’t a real emergency — but we had to wait a good 15 minutes before we could gets things rolling.

DWA_2013_ceremony_Brad JC

DWA_2013_ceremony_Scott Seth Brad

So, finally the alarm was over and I took the stage for my annual pre-amble, introduction and thanks to all who helped spiel. This is me in my  Century 21/Seth outfit.

DWA 2013 Brad podium SMALL

Is this thing on?

As usual, i kicked the show off by introducing the 2013 nominees and bringing them up on stage. It’s a nice moment, and really underlines the feeling that we appreciate and respect everyone nominated — not just the winners.

DWA 2013 Noms ceremony SMALL

The 2013 DWA All-Stars

Photo courtesy Robin McConnell

Then I got to introduce the man: Kids in the Hall alum Scott Thompson. I said it there, but it bears repeating: I love this guy. Whether it’s his Kids work or his role on the Larry Sanders Show, he’s a funny, smart presence in anything he does. So it was a true honour to have him host our show. He kicked it all off with a funny screed about the Marriott, and then got genuine and told a story about how his 2010 graphic novel (The Hollow Planet) helped get him through a cancer diagnosis. It was a perfect note of sincerity that he had never told anyone about, and I think the crowd appreciated it.




Then we had our annual Best Book video, which was gold — even though it was marred by some unavoidable and regrettable technical snafus.





The video was produced by Smiley Guy Studios, and in fairness to them here’s the complete thing, without audio/video hiccups for your enjoyment:

Then, we had the announcement of the nominees for the Pigskin Peters Award, which honours the best in avant-garde or experimental comics. Dave Collier won for his Hamilton Illustrated, upon which Seth took the stage to deliver an appreciation from the nomination committee of which he was a part this year. It was going great! Until Dave started to get embarrassed, and tried to hide under the cushion of his chair where he was sitting on stage.

collier cushion

David Collier, dressed in “L’il Abner” semi-formal; boots with a suit

DWA_2013_ceremony_Collier Seth

Then, as Seth continued his wonderful tribute Dave leaped to his feet and tried to beat him up with the seat cushion. I knew no one would believe me, so I took this picture:

collier seth

Seth wrapped it up fast, and Collier started talking:

DWA_2013_ceremony_Collier Seth3


And talking:

DWA_2013_ceremony_Collier stage

Eventually Scott took three stage in an effort to talk him down, but it didn’t work people!


DWA 2013 Scott ceremony Scott Collier SMALL


Somebody (Zach Worton) even made a Vine out of it thank God):

Anyways, David Collier won the Pigskin Peter Award everyone! Here he is enjoying/wearing his award with his publisher:

DWA 2013 Ceremony Collier seated SMALL

And here’s the hat-box with Collier’s decorations:

DWA_2013_ceremony_PPA box

Next up we had the Giants of the North section of the show featuring the work of Albert Chartier, and the announcement of the Best Book trophy. But I’m all Colliered out right now — so you’ll have to wait for Part Two in a couple of days.

(Many thanks to Robin McConnell, Seth, and Denny Silverthorne for contributing photos for this post.)

UPDATE: I’m happy to say Salgood Sam recorded the Whole Collier Thing:

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