The 12th Annual Doug Wright Awards ceremony will be held at Toronto’s Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel this Saturday May 16, 2016 starting at 8:00 p.m. (a feature event of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival). This time around there are seven first-time nominees, many of which may not be well-known to Saturday night’s crowd.
So in anticipation of the Big Night we decided to take a closer look at this year’s new-comers, in a series we’re calling “DWA First-timers”. Basically we emailed them some question designed to help you get to know them better, and this is what they had to say. Next up is Rebecca Roher.
DWA First-timer: Rebecca Roher
Who are you?
I am Rebecca Roher, a cartoonist and illustrator.
Where are you from? And where are you based?
I’m from Toronto, I lived in Nova Scotia for eight years and then in Vermont for two years to attend the Centre for Cartoon Studies, and now I’m back in Toronto.
How long have you been making comics?
I made my first comic in 2009, but I started making comics more seriously in 2013 when a library in Nova Scotia asked me to teach a narrative art workshop for teens. I had previously been making narrative illustrations and didn’t really see myself as a cartoonist, but when presented with this opportunity I thought comics would be a perfect fit. I started reading all the comics and graphic novels I could get my hands on and started making comics myself. I realized the comics language was just what I was looking for to capture the stories I had been trying to tell in single illustrations. I still feel new to the comics scene, but it’s been incredibly welcoming and supportive and I’m diving right in!
What was your first comic?
My first comic was an auto-bio story about accidentally sitting on a sponge cake my mom made for Passover when I was a kid. It was a painfully embarrassing memory that my sisters made fun of me about for years. The process of making the comic was hugely cathartic. It helped me own the memory in a new way, turning it into something I could laugh at and was even proud of.
Who are your favourite Canadian cartoonists?
Kate Beaton, Maurice Vellekoop, Julie Doucet, Sylvie Rancourt, Seth, Chester Brown, David Collier, Ben Wicks, Jillian Tamaki, Michael DeForge, Paul Hammond…so many!
Is there anything that you think makes your work distinctly Canadian?
My new book, Bird in a Cage, is very much connected to Canadian geography and experience. It takes place in Toronto and cottage country in the Muskoka area from the 1920’s to 2015. The book is a memoir about my grandmother’s decline into dementia and eventual death, and has a lot to do with shared memory and the idea of home. My grandma and I both grew up in Toronto and at our cottage on Muldrew Lake which has been in our family for generations, so the culture of those places are a major part of the story. I’m also hugely inspired by the Canadian natural landscape and have done some comics about canoe tripping in the far north.
When did you first hear of The Doug Wright Awards?
Will you be at TCAF? If so, where can people find you?
I will! I’ll be at table 139 debuting my first graphic novel, Bird in a Cage with Conundrum Press, which is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year. Come say Hi!
Finally, which do you prefer: Nipper or Doug Wright’s Family?
I like “Nipper” because it captures an early 1960s vibe
Rebecca Roher is nominated for the 2016 Doug Wright Spotlight Award (a.k.a. “The Nipper”) for Mom Body (The Nib). You can check out more of Kat’s work at www.rebeccaroher.com