Bigfoot, by Montreal-based cartoonist and illustrator Pascal Girard, tells the story of a small-town teen's coming-of-age struggles. ((Courtesy Drawn & Quarterly))

Three rising stars stepped into the spotlight at the Doug Wright Awards in Toronto Saturday, picking up kudos and trophies for their alt-comic creations.

Named after the cartoonist behind the internationally syndicated comic strip   Nipper (later Doug Wright's Family), the annual awards celebrate excellence in the Canadian art and alternative comic scene.

Montreal-based cartoonist and illustrator Pascal Girard won the best book award for his graphic novel Bigfoot, the tale of a small town teen named Jimmy whose modern day coming-of-age struggles include dealing with a loser uncle and a lousy friend who uploads an embarrassing video of him that goes viral.

Bigfoot is "a great story" that "crests and ebbs with fantastic and wonderful tension," said juror Michael Redhill, the poet, author and publisher of literary journal Brick.

"This is a story of late childhood…The colours that Pascal brings to the page are the colours of late childhood. The tints and shades are coming in, but everything is still bright and hopeful."

Fellow Montrealer Alex Fellows nabbed the emerging talent honour for Spain and Morocco, a graphic novel being serialized online that follows two awkward friends on a backpacking trip.

"Spain and Morocco is a beautifully crafted story about love, friendship and, most of all, life. With an artist's eye and a poet's tongue, Fellows chronicles the strange journey of two lost men without ever losing the reader's attention," said juror Mark Medley, the books editor at the National Post.

After winning the title of best emerging talent in 2010, Michael DeForge returned to the winner's circle Saturday night as the recipient of the Pigskin Peters Award, which celebrates non-traditional, experimental and avant-garde comics. The Toronto artist and illustrator was recognized for his work Spotting Deer.

The 2011 ceremony, held at the Art Gallery of Ontario and hosted by actor, filmmaker and writer Don McKellar, also included the induction of Vancouver's David Boswell  into the Giants of the North hall of fame. Cartoonist and photographer Boswell, the creator of Reid Fleming: World's Toughest Milkman, was interviewed onstage by cartoonist and illustrator Seth, who co-founded the Wright Awards.

Past Wright winners have included included Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, Ann Marie Flemming, Bryan Lee O'Malley and Jeff Lemire.