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The Best Webcomics Of 2004, 2005, And Maybe A Little Bit Of 2006

You might have seen it at Comixpedia, or at their home page — the Webcartoonist’s Choice Awards have announced their timeline for the year. What struck me about the announcement is the scheduling: nominations open on 15 May, with the awards themselves dropping on 17 July. The logical question here is, “Why are awards for achievement in 2005 happening closer to 2007?” For answers, let’s hear from WCCA Chairman Mark (Zortic) Mekkes:

There are a couple of reasons that it’s set when it is. For one thing, it’s a quieter time of year for everyone. People have more time to look at nominees than they do immediately following the holidays (like now). The other main reason is to coincide with ComicCon. By announcing the results just before ComicCon, it gives people something to discuss, brag about or debate in San Diego.

There’s some logic there, although I have to wonder how much more bragging and debating might occur if the awards were to take place sooner. As of this writing, the Golden Globes for 2005 took place three days ago, which was scarcely two weeks after the close of the year. Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, and a myriad of semi-fake awards (Grammys, anyone?) have all generally moved themselves earlier in the year or season, hoping that whatever discussion, buzz, or controversy they evoke are within memory of the audience. And drat him, he answered my next question before I could ask:

Of course this also raises the question of what is meant by “comics from the previous year”, is it specifically 2005, or May 2005 to May 2006? And to be honest, we’ve purpously left this kind of vague. We’ve kind of allowed the two ranges to overlap to simplify the definitions and to allow a greater range of potential nominees.

The only area where this could be a concern is the category of “Best Newcomer”. If, for example, a comic came out early in 2005 would it be eligible in 2005 or 2006? The answer is “either, but not both”, it has never come up, but a comic can be nominated anywhere within that 17 month range, but a “Newcomer” can only be nominated once.

Fleen would like to thank Mark for taking the time to address our questions. Now it’s your turn — you’re the audience and creators of webcomics: Do you think the schedule for the WCCAs is good as it is, or could it stand to be tightened up? And, more importantly, if you have a strong feeling on this, are you willing to help out? Mark can be reached through the WCCA page, so be sure to let him (and us) know how you’d help make things more timely/relevant/shiny in future.

I think they need to firm up their dates better. Making it vague and ambiguous somehow simplifies things? I just don’t get that. I personally think it’s easier just to say “anything that happened during the year 2005”, and hold the awards sooner in 2006. Quit trying to be “different”, WCCA, and just go with the flow. I think too many creators and/or nominators may get confused and end up missing the inclusion of some content that really should be getting some recognition.

I think the entire process is retarded. let’s all pat ourselves on the back again this year.

I tend to support any effort that works to put webcomics in a positive light and present them to a larger, more mainstream audience. You can’t argue that that isn’t a good thing for the webcomics industry as a whole.

It does seem a bit slow. Three months to prepare to vote, a half a month to actually vote in nominees, a half a month to announce nominees, and then one more entire month to vote and tally a winner? Are people mailing in votes? Are they counting them on an abacus? This is the internet, which runs on internet time. You could get all this done in a couple days.

One of the problems with firming up the dates is that it’s not always possible to tell exactly when something was published. Not everyone dates their work, so especially for comics published in winter, it can be difficult to figure out if something was published before or after New Years.

I question the wisdom of awarding someone a “Best Newcomer” trophy when, at the time of the award, they’ve been in the business for more than a year.

What is the average lifespan of a brand-new comic these days? Three months? Six months?

They have a Best Newcomer Award? Oh, hell. I retract my previous comment. The timeline and schedule they have set up is absolutely perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing! And Mark Mekkes is a stunningly handsome gentleman.

I agree with Jeff. Best Newcomer should be able to apply to comics that have been online between one AND two years.

Maybe call it a “Best Undiscovered” award and give it to a page with small pagecounts or something.

Maybe call it a “Best Undiscovered� award and give it to a page with small pagecounts or something.

That just restates the problem, rather than solving it. And restates it in a less useful fashion, as well. How small is small? How many people have to know about something before it is no longer ‘undiscovered’?

i understand that, which is why it’s really a difficult category to begin with.

“I tend to support any effort that works to put webcomics in a positive light and present them to a larger, more mainstream audience.”

I support that effort too, but I don’t know that that’s the WCCAs. Or wait, was that why Mark went on TV? Maybe it is a good idea after all.

I’ve been pretty critical of the WCCA in the past, but last year they did get quite a decent mainstream coverage. Mekkes was on G4techTV (ok maybe not the most mainstream of tv channels but still) and the article in the NY Times was also based on the WCCA.

I know as a reader, I’d be confused as hell if a Best of Year X awards article came out halfway through Year X+1. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Payne’s first comment. Ambiguity and vagueness are hardly bedfellows with simplicity.

I criticized this competition before, and I got an e-mail from some anonymous ass saying I was just bitter that I wasn’t nominated. It would be practically impossible for me to be nominated by my “peers” because I think I’ve told off just about every artsy fartsy creator out there.

I’ll stick by what I said before, and even if I was nominated for an award through them, I’d ask that it not be listed.

I also think it’s pretty retarded when someone quotes the fact their a winner of these awards– I guess to the outside, it does sound pretty fucking impressive that you won the best of something or other….

YIRMUMAH, Winner of the 2005 BEST COMICS EVER awards.

I agree with Jeff. Best Newcomer should be able to apply to comics that have been online between one AND two years.

Actually, you disagree with me.

Any comic that has been around for at least a year is not a newcomer.

Or maybe you’re going along with Chris’s joke, and are just trying to get your own comic included. That’s all well and good – but you’re still not a newcomer.

First of all I want to say that we love this kind of debate. Anything that makes us think about improving our process is more than welcome. Please don’t hesitate to pass on any of your suggestions!

I just wanted to touch on what seems to be the main point of this debate; ironing out the dates of what we’re awarding. And the reason I said that it was “easier” to leave it vague wasn’t because we couldn’t make a firm time requirement. But because the votes are really entirely subjective anyway. Creating rules that can’t be regulated is just creating a level of complication that’s easier to avoid.

Unfortunately, without drastically changing our voting process (and possibly creating some kind of mind reading device) there’s no way to verify that the voters really are basing their vote on a comic’s performance during a specific time. So to be honest, the “previous year” objective is really more of a guideline than a rule.

However, as always, anyone who wants to join our planning committee and help us find ways to make the awards stronger and more respectable are more than welcome!

I’m on staff again this year, trying my best to influence things in the direction I see as most productive, and I echo Mark’s call for the other critics to do the same.

The fundamental criticism of the awards– that we’re “patting ourselves on the back”– is arguably true of any industry-inclusive set of awards up to and including the Oscars. The Oscars are far from perfect, but without their presence I don’t know if certain artistically ambitious films would even get made, much less widely seen.

As Scott McCloud has it, “the challenge is to grow outward.” Rather than see the WCCAs dismissed, I’d prefer to see them supplemented by a set of awards that are clearly “Critics’ Choices,” that come from people who are not cartoonists themselves nor at risk of becoming cartoonists at any moment.

What say you, FLEEN editors?

The WCCAs are nothing more than a group of webcomickers telling some of their peers they thought they did a good job and deserve accolades for it. Certain folks find that offensive for some reason. Go figure it’s from the same guys you always see looking for a small dog to kick.

Anyway, I always just assumed voting was for the previous 365 days before the current awards ceremony. Not too difficult of an idea to hang your hat on. Probably be a good idea for Mark to use if he isnt already.

I have to admit that I’ve never understood that argument. If you really do pat yourself on the back it’s simply considered “self promotion” but by patting someone else’s back it means we’re patting ourselves on the back?

I’m also a firm believer that these awards (like any others) are only as meaningful as you make them. There have been several winners that didn’t interest me, then again there were some that I had never heard of that I’ve become a fan of.

And William G’s right, if we did narrow down a time frame, it probably would be 365 days from the event rather than a calender year.

>I think the entire process is retarded. let’s all pat ourselves on the back again this year.

He says that out of love.

I’ve a better idea. Critics who wish to can do the nomination process. However, in that case their comics are no longer valid for consideration.

Of course, then you have to ask… why critics? What gives a critic the right to say who gets an award or not? And who decides what makes a critic? I mean, anyone can have a blog. Anyone can talk about comics. At what point does that blog make someone a “critic”?

Perhaps the entire thing should be fan-based. Let fans do the nominations, being allowed to nominate one comic for each category. The top 6 of each category are the ones who will ultimately be considered. Sort of a two-tier fan-based award ceremony.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents

[…] The WCCA nominations are out, and there are some tough categories this year. Achewood vs. Scary Go Round vs. Perry Bible Fellowship? Copper vs. A Lesson Is Learned vs. Applegeeks? We talked about their process earlier in the year, but a question has occurred to me just now as I’m typing this. I want to know — even more than the size of the electorate on these things, about which I’m curious — “Outstanding Comedic Comic”? Isn’t that a tad redundant? Mark Mekkes, if you’re reading this, fill us on on the decision to use that wording. […]

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