Friday, February 25, 2011

The Webcomic List Awards

Handing out awards has become so common even the highest forms of them are kind of diminished, especially on the entertainment side.  At one time, the Oscars actually MEANT something, now, not so much.

There have been many webcomic awards, several since I started this blog, but this is the first one I actually sat down and read, for a number of reasons, the main one being I found a link to it.  The other is that several comics I read, or have read before, were up for awards.  So let's see what they were doing and what I thought of the winners.

Best Writing:  The winner here was xkcd, a comic I don't regularly read, but it was up against many I do, including Sinfest, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Bug.  Which instantly makes me wonder what they defining as "writing."  When I think writing, I think storytelling, dialog and plot, not clever use of math or over using the same old joke, which is what all four of these really do.  The only other comic on the list, Oglaf, I've never read, so I won't make any judgments on that, but one has to wonder on this.  That said, there is a catagory for "longform comic" so perhaps they wanted something for the gag strips to grab, so why not call it "best joke" or "most clever" or something?

Best Color Art:  Dresden Codak won this, and if you've ever seen a strip from it, you know why.  The Meek, Hanna is Not a Boy's Name and Oglaf were also nominated, but I can't argue with any of that.

Best Black and White Comic:  There were only three nominees for this category, something that bugs me as there are a lot of black and white comics out there.  The winner is a comic called The Abominable Charles Christopher, and it's competition was Lackadaisy Cats and Sandra and Woo.  Now I've never heard of the winner, but I have heard of Lackadaisy, and I'm not sure Sandra and Woo should be put up against that strip.  They aren't quite the same, and as we'll see, Abominable Charles Christopher probably wasn't fair competition either.

Best Non-Traditional - Romantically Apocalyptic won out here, but I'm not sure why.  Oh, it's a great comic, but it is actually pretty traditional.  It is drawn by hand, just using photorealistic techniques that have been around a while.  Dreamland Chronicles uses computer generated figures, so that fits, and the other two nominees, Union of Heroes and Softer World, are photo based (like Terror Island from way back when).  Romantically Apocalyptic is very good, yes, but I'm not sure it actually fits into this category.

Best Character:  Why did Hanna is Not a Boy's Name get two nominees here?  Hanna and his partner are interesting characters, no doubt, but pick one or the other guys, not both.  The result is seven (!) nominees for this category, which was won by Cleo from Cleopatra in SPAAAACE! (which they misspelled in the award show, there are 4 A's).  Which I also question since the comic is maybe two years old, if that, and one of the other nominees is Annie Carver from Gunnerkrigg Court.  Sorry, Cleo doesn't even rank against Carver, who isn't even the best character in her own comic (I'd give Kat the nod myself).  Axe Cop, AXE COP, got a nomination for this.  Sorry, Axe Cop doesn't qualify here, his motives are based on a kid's imagination and randomness.  The other two nominees are from the comics The Dreamer and Imy, neither of which I've heard of, but somehow I'm not sure if they knew what they were doing in this category anyway.

Best Longform: Here's one of the big categories, and I'll tell you the nominees and you tell me who won:  The Meek, Gunnerkrigg Court, Girl Genius, Questionable Content and The Abominable Charles Christopher.  If you said The Abominable Charles Christopher, I have to wonder what the hell I'm missing.  The Meek is a great comic, Gunnerkrigg Court is probably one of the best webcomics of all time, Girl Genius is popular enough to win print comic awards and Questionable Content is oddly popular, but The Abominable Charles Christopher wins the award?  Either this comic is the best damn comic in the history of comics, or something odd is going on here.  I'll get to that in a bit.

Best Gag-a-Day:  The first category was the "writing" one, and featured some very funny comics.  So does this one.  In fact, it features THE SAME COMICS.  Exactly the same.  xkcd, Sinfest, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Bug and Oglaf.  Bug won here, and while I think Sinfest or SMBC are probably better, I won't rage on this.  What I will rage on is why this category and the best writing category have the same nominees, but different results.  VASTLY different.  xkcd is a very cerebral strip, yes, but funny, while Bug is much simpler and still funny.  So why are they even sharing ANY category.  If it weren't for the Best Writing category, this award wouldn't bother me at all, it's fine, but with the EXACT SAME NOMINEES in the other category, I really must question the vetting process for these categories and nominees.  Someone didn't think this thing through.

Best New Comic:  Aside from Axe Cop, I haven't heard of any of these comics.  Red's Planet, Minor Acts of Heroism and the winner, Scenes from a Multiverse, are all unknown to me, so I cannot, and will not lay a judgement here.  In fact, Red's Planet already looks good enough to read from one image, and I'll probably check out Scenes from a Multiverse as well.  Good choices for nominees here and this category did exactly what it was supposed to do:  Get you to read new comics.

Best Comic:  Best comic is supposed to be the overall best comic, right?  With nominees like Gunnerkrigg Court, Questionable Content and The Meek, none of which won, BTW, that comic has to be pretty damn good, right?  So why did Red's Planet win?  Yes, Red's Planet, the comic that was nominated for Best New Comic and DID NOT WIN, was given the Best Comic award, over some of the best comics on the web and another called Freak Angels, which I have not read, and may be very good as well.  I would say this is because they didn't want to give two awards to the same comic or something, but they did that with the Abominable Charles Christopher.  Red's Planet has to be about a year old, or else it shouldn't have been nominated for Best New Comic, and it somehow beats out comics that have half a decade of strips behind them?  I don't get it.  I'm not saying Red's Planet doesn't deserve it, it may very well, but I find it hard to believe given the competition and the fact that it didn't get Best New Comic for this year's awards!

For comparison sakes, I went and looked up 2009's awards.  Here are my notes from that:

- Abominable Charles Christopher won the Black and White award last year, so they really must like this comic to award it again in the same category.  In fact, the field was much denser that year, so I will respect that award much more than the 2010 award that featured THREE nominees.

- The Best Writing category actually meant what it should have in the first place.  Gunnerkrigg Court won, BTW, bringing it's total to 3 awards in 2009, including Best Comic.  It didn't get any in 2010.

- Non-Traditional was won by Dreamland Chronicles, which is fine.  Why were they nominated again this year?  And what happened to the other nominees from 2009?  Did they die?

Now I don't know the details of their nomination process.  It's a webcomic list site, so I would assume only comics on the list are eligible, but something doesn't resonate right when comics get repeated nominations for categories they won, and the other nominees vanished without a trace.  Why was the writing category changed so much?  Was it just to give xkcd an award?  How can a comic win Best Comic but not Best New Comic in the same breath?  How damn good is Abominable Charles Christopher that it earned three awards in two years, one of them against potent contenders?  And why did Hanna is Not a Boy's Name get two nominees for the SAME CATEGORY?

The only other thing I have to complain about is the utter lack of a proper list of winners.  The "presentation" was done via comics and I can respect that and enjoy it, but give me a link to the end that tells me who won each category please?  Not just the links to the comics at the end of every comic.

I want to make clear that I am not disparaging the winners here. You won, be proud and show it off, but I have some issues with how these awards were given out and the nomination process, not with the winners.  I have no doubt that simply being nominated means your comic is damn good and you deserved it.

Next time, I think I'll write out how I would organize my own webcomic award show thing. Until next time kiddies.

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