British Columbia

Graphic novels win big at Doug Wright Awards

The Doug Wright Awards honoured the best in Canadian graphic novels this weekend. CBC books columnist Erin Balser spoke with North By Northwest's Sheryl MacKay about the winners.

CBC books columnist Erin Balser shares her thoughts about some award-winning graphic novels

“Swinespritzen” by Connor Willumsen is the recipient of the 2015 Pigskin Peters Award. (Connor Willumsen)

The Doug Wright Awards honoured the best in Canadian graphic novels this weekend. CBC books columnist Erin Balser spoke with North By Northwest's Sheryl MacKay about the winners, and provided some graphic novel recommendations  of her own.

Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac

Recipient of the 2015 Doug Wright Award for Best Book

Fatherland is an autobiographical graphic novel about author Nina Bunjevac's family, who moved from Yugoslavia to Canada because of the Balkan conflict.

Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac is the recipient of the 2015 Doug Wright Award for Best Book. (Penguin Random House)

Bunjevac's father, a Serbian nationalist, continued his activities while in Canada. In 1975, Bunjevac's mother took her back to Yugoslavia. Two years later, Bunjevac's father died under mysterious circumstances.

Balser calls Fatherland a beautiful and moving novel that gives personal context to a devastating conflict.

"When you have just a text-based autobiography, the writer really needs to go there with words," she said.

"I think with pictures, you can convey so much more through a frame, or a page that really gets at the emotional truth of what you're experiencing or what you're trying to convey to the reader."

Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald

Photobooth: by Meags Fitzgerald is the recipient of the 2015 Doug Wright Spotlight Award. (Conundrum Press)

Recipient of the 2015 Doug Wright Spotlight Award

Photobooth is part memoir, part cultural history of the photo booth.

Author Meags Fitzgerald, having traveled in North America, Europe and Australia, looks at the rise and fall of the booth through the eyes of technicians, owners, collectors, artists and fanatics.

"She became really obsessed with [photo booths] when she was young and it was an obsession that informed her teenage years and now," said Balser. "It's a beautiful little book."

"Swinespritzen" by Connor Willumsen

Recipient of the 2015 Pigskin Peters Award
Connor Willumsen has won the 2015 Pigskin Peters Award for “Swinespritzen”. (Connor Willumsen)

The Pigskin Peters Award recognizes Canadian comics for being unconventional, experimental or avant-garde.

Balser says "Swinespritzen" by Connor Willumsen certainly fits that category, as the story is essentially a series of comics drawn on paper that are scanned and uploaded online.

"It's about a man and his dog, but it's not actually about that all," said Balser.

"It's definitely got some humour and irreverence and I just really like the play, within technology, that he's using to create this comic."

Other graphic novel recommendations by Balser include The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, and The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua.

To hear the full interview with Erin Balser, listen to the audio labelled:  Erin Balser on this year's Doug Wright Award winners

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