SDCC 2023: Kate Beaton asks for “more diverse perspectives” from working class and industrial voices in comics


Last Friday night at San Diego Comic-Con 2023, Kate Beaton won two awards at the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for her 2022 graphic novel, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands. Although she was not on hand to receive the awards personally — instead, Peggy Burns, publisher of Drawn & Quarterly, did so — she wrote a speech to be shared in the event of her win that touched upon one of the core themes of the book… and Popverse has been given permission to share that speech.

Ducks is an autobiographical look at the reality of working in the Alberta oil sands, where Beaton lived and worked for two years in an attempt to pay off student loans. It’s a beautiful, haunting book about what that labor and environment actually means in practice to the men and women working alongside her, and it doesn’t shy away from more difficult topics.

The book won both categories it was nominated in at this year’s Eisners: Best Writer/Artist, and Best Graphic Memoir. (You can read a list of all this year’s winners right here.) Beaton’s speech, delivered by Burns in response to the Best Writer/Artist win, runs below, with kind permission from Beaton and Burns.

“I have a lot of people to thank, but since this is a comic event — the comic event — I really want to thank the people at Drawn and Quarterly who believed in this book and who helped bring it to the page and to the shelves. Especially my publisher Peggy Burns, my editor Tracy Hurren, and my publicist Julia Pohl Miranda. And I am thankful for this award, thank you. I have been very fortunate.

“What I really hope the success of this book encourages, in comics, is more narratives from working class spaces, from industry, and more diverse perspectives from those places in comics form. This book often gets called ‘a look into a hidden world,’ but it is not a hidden world, it is an industry with hundreds of thousands of laboring bodies enacting massive long-term environmental, economic, political and emotional consequences. I hope the success of this book encourages more stories from places that other people consider hidden when usually, they bear the scars of capitalism the loudest.

“Thank you.”

Popverse saw it and did most of it, and you can find all about our guide to All the big news, magic, and moments from San Diego Comic-Con. And if you want to go to SDCC next year, we have the San Diego Comic-Con 2024 dates as well.

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