Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Stopover at 2005 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards: Vote, Damnit!

May is the month of comics. We had the rather obsolete Webcomics Awareness Day, then Free Comic Book Day and now it's time for the nomination round for the 2005 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards.

Now, the mission statement more or less says that the formation of the WCCA is to encourage and reward outstanding online comics. Sadly, the WCCA HAS had kind of a bad reputation, mainly because in the recent years, it appears to have failed at it. These awards have been dominated by the likes of the 'big guns' of webcomics (PvP, Mac Hall, Penny-Arcade)... ironically those who are already drowning in fan-mail and accolades; those beyond the need to have this kind of encouragement already.

Now the odd thing here is, the winners of the WCCA awards are NOT decided by the votes of the fans. It is decided by the votes of their peers (if I may use such a term for other webcomic creators). One would presume that the majority would have had better sense than this. Unfortunately, looking at a few comics in some of the categories, it more like a popularity contest than a serious evaluation of anything.

I have nothing against the said big guns, but throwing awards at comics that are already widely-acknowledged to be at the top of the field seems rather redundant to me. It's a waste of resources, and I highly suspect it makes very little difference to those that receive the awards. Naturally, many people get turned off the awards because of this, and supposedly, boycotted last year's awards as a result... Ironically giving control of the whole thing to the people who vote for what they know instead of what they think is the best out of the lot.

(Or they vote for themselves, which is another matter entirely)

There's nothing much we can do about this really. I suppose it's too much to hope for people that will actually take a look at the other comics in the category and before selecting one of them for their vote... But one thing we CAN do however, is make sure that at least there's a decent selection up there. That means nominating comics you think really DO deserve the award, regardless of how futile the effort is.

And not only voting for that comic... but by making sure others know that you're voting for that comic, just in case someone else who agrees with you but would have never thought of voting is inspired to vote as well.

It's easy to be apathetic, but ignoring a problem will not make it go away. Before giving up, at least try to attack the problem head on first. Boycotting anything always should be the last resort.

I started this blog because I believe that there are a lot of good comics out there that people just don't know about. And they can't care about the comic you think deserves recognition if they don't know it's there. So make sure they know it's there!

If you have a webcomic, you have one vote. Same as me or any other eligible person out there. The playing field is level. The choice is up to you.



please don't hurt me.

William G over at Delineated Life posted up his list of nominees. Interestingly, I was planning to do the same thing before he did, which is not the first time he's eeriely done something when I was considering doing the same thing.

Regardless, here they are. Like William G, I'm am not trying to tell you what to think. I'm just telling you I think, in hopes of giving the reader ideas for nominations. If you agree with my nominations and have a vote, please feel free to nominate that comic too. If not, please nominate another of your choice. In some case, I've also included my second and third choices, for variety's sake, and comments on categories I declined voting for because I'm not sure what it was about.

Nominees, Part One

Nominate those you know, but vote for the nominees you think are the best...

Outstanding Newcomer - This is an award that acknowledges the best new comic of this year. Eligible candidates would be any comic that debuted within the last year.

These are hard choices to make, but for my first choice I would have to go with Gianna Massetti of The N00b. While the art is not spectacular (but adequate) the writing, spirit and humour itself is a phenomenon that captures the heart. I would genuinely miss The N00b if it stopped, because it's one of my top favourites right now.

My second choice is probably one you've never heard of, but regardless: Zack Giallongo of The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat. The comic concept is original, Zack is a top-notch artist, and the story is intriguing and compelling.

I would have liked to nominate Scarecrow for the third choice, but I'm not too sure if it's too early for this comic, it's started such a short time ago...

Outstanding Artist - This to award the artist whose body of work best demonstrates all of the visual elements of art including line, color, design and composition.

Kazu from Copper. Beautiful colours, poignant images and they go perfectly well with the context they are presented in. It's not perfection, but it comes close.

Second choice goes to Sarah Ellerton of Inverloch. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the prettiest and consistent (also in terms of production) comics I've seen.

Outstanding Black and White Art - This award recognizes an online comic that makes use of highly successful black and white art.

Personally, I really think that this category should be split into Outstanding Black and White Art and Outstanding Greyscale Art, because the two types of art are so different and require such different techniques altogether. But to get down to business:

Digger. Unfortunately the currect page doesn't lend itself well to showing off the gorgeousness of the art, but a peek through the free samples the archive should convince most people Ursula Vernon is the master (or mistress) of black-and-white!

Fallen Angels Used Books would get my first vote for the Greyscale category if there was one. Unfortunately, there isn't, so here it goes.

Let's not forget Flatwood, which makes a good marriage between pure black and pencils... and the creepiness that produces.

Outstanding Character Art - This award recognizes an artists' skill at rendering the characters of an online comic during the previous year, where the visual flavor of the character design is effectively presented.

Sadly, I couldn't think of anything for this. Mainly because I couldn't understand the point of the category.

Outstanding New Character Design – This award recognizes the original creation of visually effective character design specifically from the previous year.


Outstanding Environment Design - This award recognizes visual design work of environment, props, or setting of an online comic, where the visual flavor of the environmental design is highly successful.

Nahast: Lands of Strife, get first choice for this one. The world is complex and intricate, and best of all, it draws you right into it.

Reman Mythology I'm still waiting patiently for Amy to come back and update this thng, but damn, yes, the world building here is astounding and I want more.

Outstanding Character Writing - This award recognizes an online comic whose character or characters have been rendered though image and narrative development to an extraordinary level of quality.

Eight to One. Brian Duffy is just very very good at ripping out the core of a person's soul and transplanting it into a character drawn on a piece of paper.

Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic - This award recognizes comics that make the best use of anthropomorphic characters such as talking animals, plants, or usually inanimate objects.

I don't really see much point in have a whole category just for anthromorphism. A comic is a comic, but if I had to pick one I'd say Digger would do.

Shivae might count as well. What can I say? I'm a sucker for cute carnivores.

Outstanding Fantasy Comic - This award recognizes comics that stand out in their use of fantasy elements.

It took me just 0.3 seconds to come up with a name for this one:

No Rest for The Wicked.

I could read this thing over and over and over again. And again. It's the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meeting Grimm's Fairy Tales. The results... instant genius.

Outstanding Gaming Comic - This award recognizes comics that successfully base their stories around video or roleplaying games, their characters, players and/or creators.

The N00b. I'm a bit jaded with the gaming genre, but the N00b really breathed new life back into it for me.

Outstanding Superhero/Action Comic - This award recognizes the finest comics that incorporate action/adventure elements including superpowered characters.

Probably predictable of me, but Magellan. I generally don't like the superhero genres, but this has made me like at least this comic in it, damnit! Relying more on good stories, grounded logic and excellent characterisation than the 'wow what powers does X have!'. Ultimately engrossing.

More to come, but I'm running out of time, so I'll finish the list of nominations later.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, post and let me know. It's astonishing how much your brain clogs up with cotton-wool when faced with all theses choices...

ps: Image of 'Captain Planet' is copyrighted, i think. Used here for parody purposes.


  1. "I have nothing against the said big guns, but throwing awards at comics that are already widely-acknowledged to be at the top of the field seems rather redundant to me. It's a waste of resources, and I highly suspect it makes very little difference to those that receive the awards."

    I don't agree with this. You have a "Best Newcomer" award. For the other awards, I think everybody should pick what they feel is the best comic in the current year. If it's one of the old familiar comics, so be it. This is supposed to be the Cartoonist's Choice Awards, not the Cartoonist's Encourage Little Guys Awards.

    The awards are NOT about helping out struggling comics series; or at least they shouldn't be. They should be about identifying the best webcomics, period.

    I certainly think recognizing less well known works has its place; that's what Webcomics Finds excels at. And all of my personal picks for the best webcomics are lesser known comics like Copper, The Perry Bible Fellowship, Dicebox, and A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage Is Irreversible. But if my fav comics were better known, I still wouldn't want to vote for something else just because it was the nice thing to do.

  2. I think the problem with the big guns is that they're juggernauts. Even if they aren't the best webcomics out there, they're the most popular (and I'd argue there's a distinct difference between the two), and you get so many rabid fanboys/girls who vote for a comic simply because it is so popular, not based on any sort of objective criteria.

    Admittedly, it's something of a slippery slope--the big guns are big because they're good, right? But maybe we remember how good they have been in the past even if recent work isn't quite up to snuff. I don't know if there's a fair way to strike balance between big guns/underdogs, really. I mean, regardless of the merit of a smaller or lesser-known comic, it's tough to go up against something like Sluggy or Megatokyo or Penny Arcade.

  3. Joe, I must be slipping. Shows how much finals wreck one's clarity of expression:

    My reasoning behind the statement was made after looking through the WCCA mission statement:

    ....This kind of recognition comes in a diversity of levels and a variety of forms; financial rewards, critical acknowledgements, and of course fan recognition. Every form of entertainment also promotes itself and it’s participants, as well as encouraging their strife for greatness, through some kind of award system ... But every kind of award helps to feed this desire for recognition from a target audience.

    A fair goal, and don't get me wrong... I'm not talking about excluding the Big Guns just because they are big guns. I'm talking about turning attentions elsewhere because they've already won it.

    But problem here is that the WCCA was created to emulate the Grammys/music awards. But unlike the Grammys or movie/music awards, webcomics don't come in crops of a completed one a year. Some of them last forever (seemingly) because it's a constant work-in-progress. They may be good, but because of the extended time scope, they also end up being accoladed for the same thing multiple times for no reason other than a stretched time frame to completion.

    The big guns have already gotten their accolades and awards long ago. Getting it again for the same thing over and over seems... redundant.

    Imagine a "Grammys" where all movies ever made are eligible instead of the new ones completed. No matter what new movie of whatever quality comes out, movies with cult followings are probably still going to dominate.

    I see WCCA in the same situation. Instead of rewarding the best AND the new, they're giving the awards to the same people over and over again. And this breeds stagnation in the 'industry', because it's not about who's best anymore. If it's about those with the biggest fanbases who will vote for them. Isn't that what Top Web Comics and Buzzcomics are for?

    It gets to the point where the awards start looking worthless to everyone else because it's been warped out of its purpose.

    And ironically an effect of this is people stop bothering to nominate comics, so you have this narrow list of nominations comprising of fans of the previous winners.

    If the WCCA was all about "The Top Webcomics" or "Most Popular Webcomic Championship", then by all means, Best/Most Popular Webcomic, small fry, big gun, I wouldn't care.

    But I think WCCA is about what is acknowledging best that comes out. I know everyone and their mother will disagree with me, but I think the WCCA started on a flawed premise. They should be about the BEST and the NEW, not just the same of few BESTS that have already been acknowledged the best of their batch time and time again.

    As time goes by, it's going to become a bigger and bigger problem, especially at the rate webcomics have been growing. The WCCA need to realise this or risk becoming obsolete (much like Webcomics Awareness Day)

    And begging your pardon, despite the ramblings of this girl on this blog, I know my limits, and the top guns are going to get nominated again and again by their fanbase regardless of anything this girl says. The least I can do on my part is to offset that and try and get a little variety into the WCCA nominations.

    I will nominate the lesser known, but I will still VOTE for the best of the nominees, regardless of popularity.

    But if you have poor choice of nominees then all is lost. (remember that other thing about the Eagle awards where they had a 'webcomic' category and the only 'webcomic' out of the three was PvP?)

    If I'm not clear on my points, then I apologise. My mental state should default to normal in two weeks or so. But I must thank you, Joe, for keeping me on my toes pointing out that very poorly worded paragraph. I guess I'll have to go on and explain that further, else all hell's going to break loose.

  4. " Even if they aren't the best webcomics out there, they're the most popular (and I'd argue there's a distinct difference between the two)..."

    Oh hell yeah there's a difference between the two. But the one thing a lot of seem to forget it that the webcomics world is, by and large, still in highschool or university. Even if the fan world doesnt like to admit to it, they're just as swayed by the concept of being the most popular girl on the block being the best as any Usher fan.

    And until the "Surface Sixers" and the rest of the hangers-on, drop out of the game this will always be a problem for the WCCA's and other award ceremoneis that rely on popular vote.

    Or we can hope that the passage of years and the gaining of something resembling wisdom and knowledge on their parts will enable these "Surface Sixers" and various hangers-on to be able to recognize that the comics they like aren't always "the best".

    And people should always vote for the best*. Simple as that.

    *(my comic, obviously)

  5. And Ping, you're as clear as church bell on a Sunday morning.

  6. I'm gonna have that twatting theme tune in my head the rest of the day now. Good thing that's an hour and a half