By Derek Cornet
After years of commitment and education, a former graduate of the University of Regina’s fine arts program has won his first award in comics.
The prestigious Gene Day Award for Self-Publishers was bestowed on Dakota McFadzean at the 2012 Joe Shuster Awards in Montreal on Sept. 15.
While he was unable to attend the event due to a comic convention in the United States, McFadzean was with friends and colleagues when he received the news.
“This is the first comic award that I’ve even won, so it was really nice in that sense because I had never won any award for my comic work before,” McFadzean said.
Born in Regina, McFadzean attended the U of R and received a fine arts degree in 2005, then continued his education at The Centre for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, where he received a masters of fine arts in cartooning.
Reflecting back on his time spent on campus in Regina, he said his main goal was always cartooning, but he signed up for drawing because it was the closest subject available. Although there wasn’t a cartooning class, he didn’t leave the program empty-handed.
“I’ve never regretted it because I learned a lot about other things that have totally helped my ability to make comics,” McFadzean said. “It expanded what I think is possible when I make art and sort of raised my expectations of what a good comic book should be.”
As it turns outs, McFadzean was no typical student during his time in Regina. Even though his former professor, David Garneau, admits none of his students are typical, McFadzean was as atypical as they come.
“He came here to really increase his skills, but we didn’t have to teach him to be a cartoonist or an artist. He already came with that,” Garneau said.
Garneau remembered McFadzean as a student who was already active in the comic world and commended him for the innovation he brought forward in his work. Garneau said his skills were recognized not only by him, but his classmates as well.
“People admired him for his stick-to-it-ness, but also greatly admired him for his inventiveness for trying something new.”
Next month McFadzean’s work will be included in the Best American Comics Anthology, but if readers would like to see some of his comics beforehand, he’s the artist who produces Chilblains, the comic that runs in each issue of prairie dog magazine.