Crawl Space by Jesse Jacobs wins 2018 Doug Wright Best Book Award

The Doug Wright Awards honour the best work and most promising talent in Canadian comics.
The 2018 Doug Wright Award winners (from left): Sami Alwani won the Pigskin Peters Award for The Dead Father, Jesse Jacobs won the Doug Wright Best Book Award for Crawl Space and Jenn Woodall won the Doug Wright Spotlight Award for Magical Beatdown Vol. 2 and Marie and the Worrywart. (Jane van Koeverden/CBC)

Hamilton, Ont. comic artist Jesse Jacobs took home the 2018 Doug Wright Best Book Award for his book Crawl Space at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

The Doug Wright Awards annually celebrate the best work and most promising talent in Canadian comics.

Jacobs' Crawl Space follows a teenage girl as she discovers that the washer and dryer in her family's new suburban home is a portal to a vibrant, rainbow-tinged world. The peaceful inhabitants are disturbed when her fellow high school students use the plane to party.

"One part John Hughes and one part Terence McKenna, Crawl Space transforms the common corners of a suburban adolescence into a cosmic philosophical landscape," said the jury, composed of Bo Doodley, Jim Munroe, Marc Nui and Pamela Marie Pierce, in a press release.

"It flies high with masterful visual storytelling, and a mind-bending drawing style all the while staying grounded in its gentle humour and pathos. It's a book that's hard not to love."

The 2018 Doug Wright Spotlight Award, which goes to a Canadian cartoonist deserving of wider recognition, was won by Jenn Woodall for her books Magical Beatdown Vol. 2 and Marie and the Worrywart. 

"Worrywart was uniquely vulnerable and relatable, and we loved seeing the protagonist contend with anxiety as a tangible character that never leaves. Magical Beatdown deploys violence in a very satisfying way, and that, coupled with Jenn's gorgeous illustrative style made this book a clear winner," said the jury.

The 2018 Pigskin Peters Award, given to the "most experimental, unconventional or avant-garde comic of the year," was given to first-time nominee Sami Alwani for The Dead Father.

"Alwani explores the pressures and obligations of our arbitrary circumstances and the anxiety that comes inherent in every opportunity," said the jury.

"Alwani's debut leaves us with great expectations for his future work, the irony of which is clear in his story of poor Baby Alwani, who seems both deserving and devastated by the expectations of his father and a clamouring, rabid throng of reporters."

At the Toronto ceremony, the Doug Wright Awards also posthumously inducted Duncan Macpherson into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame for his iconic political comics published in the Montreal Standard and Toronto Star. Macpherson received several National Newspaper Awards throughout his career. He died in 1993.