The webcomics blog about webcomics

Kicking Off Awards Season

The thing about comics these days is, the division between webcomcis and just comics is pretty much notional. Creators shift between the two distribution media, and the sorts of stories that work well in one are increasingly found in the other. Nothing reflects this as much as the annual Cartoonist Studio Prize (now in its sixth incarnation) from Slate and the Center For Cartoon Studies.

From the beginning, it’s been a simple arrangement: ten nominees for the best print comic of the prior year, ten for the best webcomic, notable connoisseurs acting as a panel to select the contenders. Even more than past years, the CSP for 2017 reveals that the most interesting comics are being done by women; eight of the print nominees and half of the webcomics nominees are women.

This year’s nominees for best print comic are:
The Academic Hour by Keren Katz, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, Boundless by Jillian Tamaki, Breath, Plucked from Heaven (collected in Elements: Fire) by Shivana Sookdeo, Gaylord Phoenix No. 7 by Edie Fake, Language Barrier by Hannah K. Lee, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, One More Year by Simon Hanselmann, Tenements, Towers & Trash by Julia Wertz, and You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis. One may note that the Elements anthology is shot through with webcomickers, that Julia Wertz made her mark with her autobio webcomics, and Tamaki is no stranger either.

The nominees for best webcomic of the year are:
A Fire Story by Brian Fies, Agents Of The Realm by Mildred Louis, A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance by Ted Closson, Leaving Richard’s Valley by Michael DeForge, Neighbors by Christina Tran, The Price of Acceptance by Sarah Winifred Searle, Reported Missing by Eleri Harris, Somebody Told Me by Jesse England, Whose Free Speech? by Ben Passmore, and Wonderlust by Diana Nock. I may note that The Nib continues to be recognized for the general excellence of its work in what can generally be called editorial/reportage comics, with four of the ten nominees (Closson’s, Searle’s, Harris’s, and Passmore’s) originating there.

I’m notoriously bad at predictions, but what the heck? There’s not a weak contender on the list, and several are already recognized as sitting at the top of various best-of lists. Over in the print world I’m going to nock out Davis only because she won the category last year; Tamaki, Hanselmann, and Ferris have been the recipients of a lot of attention for the past year, and Wertz’s collection is more recent but was eagerly anticipated. I’m guessing one of those four takes it.

On the webcomics side I’m eliminating Tran because she also won the category last year, then it gets a lot more difficult. Fies and DeForge are longtime respected creators, Closson’s work is both enlightening and enragingly current, and there may be nobody expressing the frustrations of Being Black In America as well as Passmore. Louis is delivering a great story twice a week for years, which is a longevity and sheer volume not present in a lot of the nominees.

But Eleri Harris’s six-part examination of a murder investigation/conviction in Tasmania, one to which she has a personal connection, one that may be the result of bungled police work — it’s unique. It’s Serial season one in comics form. I don’t get a say, but it’s my pick.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize awards will be announced on 31 March; winners receive US$1000 (which, frankly, more comics prizes should emulate … a fancy trophy — or brick — is nice, but so is sweet, sweet untraceable cash).

Spam of the day:

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I see that Gmail support now sends its notifications from, four hours before the claimed unusual activity time, and to my presumably-compromised account, rather than the recovery email they have on record. It would be a shame if people called that number and wasted their time (I can’t any more; they hang up as soon as they see my number).

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