I just wanted to write something the composition competition I ran over at Comics Workbook on Tumblr.
Tumblr is an interesting phenomenon. It’s sort of like Facebook, sort of like Twitter, and sort of like Instagram. But it’s different. It feels perfect for sharing short comics. You can “reblog” a post similarly to how on Twitter you can “retweet”. So the post that you reblog shows up on your own Tumblr homepage. Forgive me if you know all this.
I’ve been surprised how Tumblr has taken off within indie comics. And I’m surprised how many comics makers I have gotten to know all over the world simply from following different people’s Tumblrs. It’s really widened my eyes to how many different kinds of comics are out there. For example, I became aware of Simon Hanselmann, the Australian cartoonist, because I was seeing some of his comics being reblogged. I think Tumblr has really changed the indie comics landscape for the better.
The thing about Tumblr though is that if someone posts something on the other side of the world while I am sleeping I may just miss it entirely. Posts just seem to disappear. There are specific url links of course that you can locate – however when you go back to look through someone’s Tumblr usually they have added so many new posts since the last time you visited their homepage that it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.
So, I wanted to share the amazing comics that poured into the Comics Workbook Composition Competition with the TCJ audience who may not be on Tumblr.
Now that the Xeric Foundation no longer exists there are very few institutions that offer cash rewards for making comics. The Xeric grants also provided something for makers to aim for on the calendar. Having a deadline is often the thing that really kicks one in the ass to MAKE something; to finish something.
I was truly humbled by the response. There were, in the end, over 70 entries. I thought there would be about a dozen. I was surprised when it went over 20. In fact, with only two weeks to go before the deadline there were under 30 entries. Then the floodgates opened. Deadlines work wonders apparently. (Add smiley face icon here)
Myself and the other judges (three women and three men) crafted this response when we announced the winners:
“The evidence is piling up: comics is THE ascendant art form. The sheer amount of energy and talent that poured into this competition during its relatively brief window provides ample testimony to this. It is our belief that artistic creation is a two way street. An artist, or any other creator, grows in the process of creating; the greater the efforts, the greater the growth. By this measure, comics creators in general – and those who submitted work to this competition in particular – are growing by leaps and bounds, and so, by definition, is the comics form; as in the final analysis, the value of a form is coincident with the work that it contains. It is our hope that all of the makers who participated in this contest have been TRANSFORMED in some way – artistically, personally, spiritually, and/or physically (improved eye-hand coordination? yes!) – by the time and energy dedicated to the creation of their submissions. Everyone who took part in this exercise has completed a hero’s journey.”
When I took part in the Eisner Award judging this year, I learned that everyone has different tastes (duh). For some judges on the Eisner Awards, the art in the comic book is the most important factor. For other judges it seemed that the story was the most important thing. Obviously, the combination of great art and great writing makes for great comics. However, I was very surprised for example when a fellow judge didn’t care for a comic that I thought was brilliant. I asked why and the response was,”I just don’t like the art style.”
The same thing happened when judging the Comics Workbook contest. Certain comics that I thought were stunning registered a “meh” by some of the other judges. And vice versa. It was a very difficult process. Everyone has different tastes.
So, with that in mind I hope that the TCJ audience will sift through these wonderful comics and discuss them in the comments section. Feel free to “vote” for your favorites. However, please refrain from taking the time to bitch about the ones that you don’t like. Cool? Cool!
The requirements for the competition were that each entry had to use the same page size and panel arrangement. Each comic had to be 14 pages in length plus a front and back cover. This, of course, creates a 16 page “signature” which can easily be made into a comic book. The requirements, I believe, leveled the playing field and allowed the maker to easily print the comic up when complete.
COMPLETE LIST OF ENTRIES to the COMPETITION
The winners, as chosen by the judges:
FIRST PLACE - $500 cash prize
SECOND PLACE - $250 gift certificate at Copacetic Comics
In Second Place, Zoe Choughlin’s “Shield” puts an inventive twist on the mutant superhero theme, and in so doing gives new meaning to the phrase, “prickly personality.” Here is an adolescent power fantasy right where it’s needed most: the hallways of high school. Bullying takes many forms, some invisible to all but the victim. By recognizing this in a convincing and dramatic fashion, Ms. Coughlin has effectively demonstrated the power of comics to contribute to the eventual remedying of this unfortunate human trait.
THIRD PLACE - $100 gift certificate at Copacetic Comics
The Comics Workbook Competition’s Third Place, “Old Port”, clearly embodies excellence in both conception and execution. In telling the story of youth’s first forays into independence and how the discovery of a nurturing space and mentorship can lead to creativity’s first flowering, the story provides an apt recapitulation of the very ideals powering this competition; its excellence in execution is plain for all to see.
HONORABLE MENTIONS - $50 gift (each) at Big Planet Comics
SPECIAL MENTION - $25 gift certificate at PictureBox
THANK YOU to everyone who participated. The plan is to make it a yearly event. I think it worked out to have the contest deadline so close to SPX. It seems like everyone in the small press community furiously makes comics over the summer to debut at SPX. So for those who can’t make it to SPX this contest and the deadline allowed them to join in that special mania. Many of the comics that were created for the contest will be on display at SPX, so check ‘em out! Thanks again. This was a truly humbling experience for myself and the folks involved in making the contest possible. Cheers.