Kate Beaton earns emerging artist accolade at Doug Wright Awards

Beaton nabs top Canadian cartooning book award

The Chronicle Herald    |    BILL SPURR    |    May 8, 2012

Kate Beaton, the Mabou native whose cartooning talent has taken her to New York and Toronto, has won a Doug Wright Award for best book.

The awards, to recognize the best in Canadian cartooning, were held in Toronto, and Beaton won for her book Hark! A Vagrant, based on her Internet strip featuring historical figures.

“It’s hard to quantify. I really wasn’t expecting it,” Beaton said of the honour, while waiting for a taxi at the airport in Newark. “I won the Doug Wright Award for best emerging talent in 2009 and that was also pretty surprising. They were one of the earliest, of the bigger institutions or awards in the comics industry, to really show strong faith in me. I don’t know where I would rank it, but it feels pretty good.”

Beaton said the emerging artist award is for relative newcomers.

“But this one, you’re against pretty seasoned people. There were books by Seth, by Chester Brown and by Michael Deforge, who I think is maybe the best cartoonist in the country right now.”

Beaton, who now lives in Toronto, said you don’t wear an evening gown to an awards show that recognizes cartoonists, but it’s not a pie-in-the-face evening, either.

“I haven’t been to too many cartoon awards, and some of them are quite formal I suppose, but this one they really strive to award excellence in the field, so there’s a program and a guest host and a panel of judges that range pretty far across the media spectrum,” she said.

“There are jokes in there, but they really go for rewarding craft. It is a comics award show, so there are quite a few chuckles, but that’s usually by the presenters and the winners.”

Beaton said she’s trying to determine the next direction her career should travel in, and doesn’t want to just repeat herself.

“I’ve been trying to take on different illustration jobs and grow as an artist, take a step back from Hark! A Vagrant a little bit,” she said.

“I am lucky to have the opportunity to do that, so I would like to switch gears, and what I’m doing now is figuring out what the next thing will be. My feeling now is that whatever comes next shouldn’t be Hark! A Vagrant Vol. 2. It should be something else. I’ve been doing that one thing for so long that it’s not an easy decision, but the possibilities are exciting.”

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