Nfld. & Labrador

Beyoncé, Jay-Z ... and a Newfoundlander? Snagglepuss illustrator snags GLAAD award

A Newfoundland illustrator was honoured alongside Beyoncé and Jay-Z at an annual awards show celebrating fair media portrayals of LGBT people.

Mike Feehan found out through Twitter that he and the Snagglepuss team won the prestigious award

Mike Feehan was part of the team behind DC Comics' reboot of Snagglepuss, which won a GLAAD award on Thursday night. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Mike Feehan was in St. John's getting ready for Sci-Fi on the Rock when he was tagged in a tweet saying he'd just been honoured alongside Beyoncé, Jay-Z and the cast of Queer Eye at the GLAAD awards in Beverly Hills on Thursday night.

"I'd known that we'd been nominated last month but I did not expect us to win," the Newfoundland illustrator said.

He's part of the team behind DC Comics' Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, which picked up the GLAAD award for outstanding comic book.

"To know that we also won an award on that same stage is completely mind-blowing to me."

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles won a GLAAD award for outstanding comic book. (DC Comics)

The annual awards celebrate films, television shows, music, writing and even video games that fairly and accurately portray members of the LGBT community.

"I think that there's a lot of ways to handle LGBT characters badly," he said. "Getting the acknowledgement that we would have done right by people I think is a huge honor and something I'm really proud of."

Queer Eye got a nod for outstanding reality program and Beyonce and Jay-Z were given the vanguard award, which celebrates queer allies who have done important work for the LGTB community.

From a joke to a McCarthy-era playwright

The Snagglepuss Feehan drew is a lot different from the pink cougar who first strolled onto television screens in the late 1950s as an aspiring stage actor who made a lot of theatre references and wore cuffs, a collar and a string tie.

"I think for decades he was kind of the butt of a joke [that] was, 'Oh Snugglepuss is gay,'" Feehan said. "We take it as: It's not a joke. This is something that is very serious. It's true to the character, it's canonical now."

In the DC Comics reboot, which was written by Mark Russell, Snagglepuss is a successful playwright in the 1950s McCarthy-era U.S.

"He's being essentially blackmailed by the U.S. government to out his friends and family, and they're essentially trying to ruin his career," Feehan said.

"Every time I got a script. I was like, 'Oh we're doing this? OK.' Like, it was amazing." 

Mike Feehan started drawing each issue of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles with a rough sketch before sending in his finished pages to be coloured, inked, and lettered. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Feehan was the so-called "penciller", which means he laid down all the initial drawings for each of the 134 pages in the six-issue series. Someone else inked over his drawings, another person coloured them, another added speech balloons and letters, someone else did the covers and then there was an editor, he said, to "keep us all in check."

The whole team behind the series, which is selling in stores as a collected paperback, got the award.

The talking-animal guy

Feehan said the reception to the comic, even by fans who may have been shocked by the series' dark reimagining of the character, has been overwhelming.

"I've been completely blown away by the response and the amount of attention it's got and the sales that we've had," he said.

"It's just been really cool to be a part of it, and also it's cool to be part of something that seems to really mean something to people."

This isn't the Snagglepuss your parents knew. (www.mikefeehan.com)

He's hoping the gig with DC and now this GLAAD award will lead to more opportunities to draw for himself — he's in the process of pitching a series with a character he created — and for more major players in the comics universe.

"I'm the guy who drew a bunch of talking animals. Maybe if another series comes along where someone wants me to draw talking animals, I might be the guy that they think of but I'm trying to branch out now and say, 'Hey I can also do other things.'"

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Heather Barrett

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