OK, we admit it. Last year we kind of screwed up the Comics Contest a little bit. But it was the first time we'd ever done anything like this, and well, cut us some slack. Errors were made. Like allowing syndicated artists to compete against rank amateurs, and not separating entries and awarding prizes for each.
This time around we didn't even allow syndicated strips in the fray, and we judged in two categories: Florida artists, and national artists. Winners in both categories get a $50 prize. Then we took the top-scoring strips and selected a grand prize winner, which gets the coveted spot in Orlando Weekly for a year.
Lakeland artist Christopher Wilson grabbed top honors in the Florida category with his strip, "The Invisible Life of Poet." Wilson has since moved to Boston, but the judges ruled he was living in Lakeland at the time of his submission and is therefore still eligible. Judges thought the strip was well-drawn, if tame.
Emily Flake, an illustrator from Chicago, won the National category, and also nabbed the grand prize with her strip "Lulu Eightball." Our judges gave Flake's work high marks for simplicity, creative cursing and the fact that it's damn funny. Look for "Lulu Eightball" every week on the astrology page (where you used to find "Don't Look at Me.")
All entries were judged on three criteria: content (does it say something worth saying?); artistic merit (can this person draw?); and hilarity (is the damn thing funny?). Each category is worth five points, so 15 is the highest possible score. Judging was kept in-house again this year; while we botched a few things last year, we still think we know funny. Feel free to disagree.
And so, without further ado, the winners of the 2003 Comics Contest.
1. "The Invisible Life of Poet," Christopher Wilson
2. "Indifferenceland," Daryl Fefee
3. Unnamed strip, Carlos Romero
4. "Housewife's Monthly Turned my Ugly Ass Down," Corey Frederick
5. Unnamed strip, Paul Volonino
6. "Kick the Dog," Jim Seufert and Wayne Mackesy
7. Unnamed strip, Russ Wiggins
8. Unnamed strip, Brendan Sullivan
9. TIE: "Lappy," "Suckafoot," Robert Wolpert; "Barfly," Ryan Sanscrainte
10. "Wrench Farm," Jeff Lofvers, Michael Buonauro
11. "Return to Sender," Matthew Heyd
12. "Salivation Army," Erick Jara
13. "Oddities," Mark Dail
14. Unnamed strip, Michael Coxson
15. "Revenge Tour," Justin Cold
16. Unnamed strip, Jeffrey Lee
17. Unnamed strip, Magda Maria Schueli
1. "Lulu Eightball," Emily Flake
2. "Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles," Neil Swaab
3. "Small World," Tom Briscoe
4. "Clip Clop," Scott Matthews
5. "Permatrip," Jonathan Berkowitz
6. "No Exit," Andy Singer
7. TIE: "Idiot Box," Matt Bors; "MonkeyNaut," Jaime Paxton & Mat Pruneda8. "The Zoo," Gabe Stine
9. "I'm no Quidnunc," David Lester
"Lulu Eightball," by Emily Flake
Judges say: "I like the woman's point of view, more touchy-feely than strident." "I like the cursing. And it's easy to read." "Emily Flake lives a pathetic, introspective life and exploits said life ruthlessly for material. Good stuff."
"The Invisible Life of Poet," by Christopher Wilson
Judges say: "Funny, but six frames too long." "Cute but tame." "Head and shoulders above the other locally produced garbage."
"Indifferenceland," by Daryl Fefee
Judges say: "Attitude without focus -- or proper punctuation." "Nicely drawn, interesting perspectives, tired political clichés."
Unnamed strip, Carlos Romero
Judges say: "This kid is 11? I think young Carlos has issues." "The sad part is this doesn't scream '11 years old' any louder than a lot of the entries." "Funny stuff, but way too raw in thought and form."
"Housewife's Monthly Turned My Ugly Ass Down," by Corey Frederick
Judges say: "The 'petting zoo/beating zoo' almost redeems this entry." "What's funnier than abortions and animal abuse? Lots of things." "Offbeat situations win the day."
"Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles," by Neil Swaab
Judges say: "These have to be the ugliest cartoon characters I have ever seen." "Disgusting, deviant and delightful." "Bizarre, clever, naughty."
"Small World," by Tom Briscoe
Judges say: "Folksy, easily accessible, but fun with a kick." "This should win."
"Clip Clop," by Scott Matthews
Judges say: "I bet the animal angle gets old real fast." "Looks like clip art, not hand-drawn." "I like the art, even though it is probably clipped. Funny too."