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WCCA 2007

So the new WCCA nominations have hit, and one may notice a few changes over years past:

  1. Per Mark Mekkes’s report a month or so back, the genre categories remain, but fourth-tier categories for next year are up for nomination.
  2. The voting round will continue until 11 February, with winners announced on 19 February; this is not only a compressed schedule compared to last year (with nine full weeks between preliminary nominations and final winners), it’s much earlier in the year. Recall that last year, the awards weren’t announced until more than halfway through the year, which probably lessened their impact a great deal.

All that being said, what’s an award without some Whaaa moments? I mean, seriously, Best Adapted Screenplay? Similarly, some headscratchers at the WCCAs:

  • I thought it slightly odd that A Lesson Is Learned … is nominated for Outstanding Layout despite being officially on hiatus for fully a third of the year and having released a total of seven comics in 2006 (and none after May). But they are very good comics, it is a very nice layout, and the question of Should there be a minimum amount of work in the year to qualify for nomination? has been asked before.
  • I like the redesign of PvP that Thin Slice did; since the site took a nomination for Outstanding Website Design, I hope that Scott Kurtz will share it with them if he wins.
  • There’s always going to be differences of opinion; for example, I probably would have put Gunnerkrigg Court up for Outstanding Science Fiction Comic, instead of Outstanding Fantasy Comic as it was. Even Scott Kurtz seems to wonder if PvP is really a gaming comic (which would be a prerequisite to being Outstanding Gaming Comic). And in a crowded field of seven (!) entries, Outstanding Single Panel Comic inexplicably omits xkcd; if only for his tireless efforts to keep us warned as to the continuing threat of velociraptors, Randall Munroe deserved a nod.

But if these are the biggest things I can bitch about (and they are, pretty much), then the WCCA committee did a pretty good job. It’s especially gratifying to note that the nominees for Outstanding Comic represent a wide variety of artistic and storytelling styles. If you’re not familiar with Girl Genius, Gunnerkrigg Court, Narbonic, Perry Bible Fellowship, Scary Go Round, and Templar Arizona, now’s the time to get started.

Yeah, there are a couple of comics that I was surprised didn’t show up (xkcd for Single Panel, minus or Wonderella for newcomer), but I rather the like the new timeframe for the awards – though hopefully it will be a bit more well publicized next year.

I didn’t think it had been a full year since the last awards, but I figured I just hadn’t been paying attention.

Congratulations to all the nominees, even if their names were attributed to the wrong comic or otherwise mislabeled!

XKCD seems to have multiple panels pretty often. If I hadn’t so embarrassingly missed the bumped up deadline on nominations, I would have put it in the Short Form Comic category.

xkcd is not a single-panel comic. It is an “as many panels as I need at any given time” comic.

Also, use of the word “I” should be taken as a claim that I am the creator of that comic, since I’m not, but should instead be taken as a description of the process of panel assignation as experienced as if one were the creator of that comic, who is one Randall Munroe.

I didn’t design my new site. Hugh over at Thin Slice did based off my old design. His name should be on that award.

I don’t want to be nominated for any WCAA. Can I just take my name out of the fucking running for all categories please?

“I rather the like the new timeframe for the awards – though hopefully it will be a bit more well publicized next year.”

I’ll say. I know a lot of folks (including myself) who didn’t even get a chance to vote this year because they had no idea they were going on.

How come you don’t want to be nominated for WCCAs, Scott? Is it because of the people who complained so much when you got so many nominations in the earlier years of the awards?

I’m guessing it is because WHAT THE HELL ARE THE WCCAs AND WHY DO THEY MATTER

Well, how much they matter is sort of proportional to how many cartoonists actually participate in them!

I know at least one nominee besides Scott who would rather not be nominated, but I think that if the awards’ voters could be overruled by any cartoonists they choose to nominate, it’d be harder to take the WCCAs seriously than it is. “Of the people who deigned to be nominated, the outstanding ones are…”

If the point of the WCCA is to be like the actors guild awards — in other words, awards bestowed by peers — then it really shouldn’t matter if a cartoonist wants to be nominated or not…

Do we even need awards, though? Jockeying for attention hurts most major fields of art and entertainment, if you ask me.

That’s because I’m better than you. ME.

But… how are we supposed to know who we’re better than unless we have awards? Are we just supposed to guess? Maybe we’ll just randomly proclaim to be better than someone, like our friend Zach here?

That, my friends, is called anarchy, and I will have no part of it.

Do we even need awards, though? Jockeying for attention hurts most major fields of art and entertainment, if you ask me.

I’ve yet to see people jockey for attention at the WCCA. There was a to-do last year about judges disqualifying a comic because they disagreed with the genre choice, but that’s not really the same thing.

I really don’t see how it can hurt, unless the lack of an award is so discouraging that a cartoonist quits over it. As someone who was not only not nominated, but whose comic’s genre isn’t even represented, I don’t see that as a danger…

Yeah, these awards don’t mean anything. I know because I have one. AND YOU DON’T. YOU.

Because the WCAA appear to be webcomics giving itself awards. You’re all patting yourselves on the back for kinda, sorta, maybe, not really accomplishing anything yet.

And apparently you guys can’t even do the awards properly. You got Howard Taylor as the artist for Starslip Crisis and Fred Gallagher as the artist for Schlock Mercenary.

The best part is where people get mad at me for being nominated in your pretend-awards because it takes up a spot for their chance to win a pretend-award.

in other news: fuck webcomics.

Yeah, fuck webcomics?? If it weren’t for webcomics, that being “publishing your comics online”, you never would have been published at all Scott? Or maybe you would have been at some point, but it was PVP, a webcomic, that got you where you are. Didn’t you win an Eisner for a “webcomic” ???

in other news: Fuck Scott Kurtz.

I see Scott is in another one of his moods…

I agree with Kurtz. Also, the Oscars are meaningless because it’s just the movie industry giving itself awards. The Eisners are meaningless because it’s just the comics industry giving itself awards. I don’t recognize any award that isn’t endorsed by the twelve gods of Mt. Olympus.

Must be that time of the month.

Scott, the WCCAs are webcomics giving themselves awards. But the Oscars are the film industry giving the film industry awards, and the Eisners are the print comic industry giving itself awards. Are you sure that’s the aspect of the WCCAs that’s really bothers you?

Personally, I think the biggest problem is the number of categories, which is ludicrously enormous in an “industry” of this size. It definitely projects the image that they’re trying to give out as many awards as possible and make webcomics (and the WCCAs themselves) look more important than they really are.

But at the same time, is there really anything inherently wrong with a bunch of artists in a particular field getting together and recognizing their peers work? I work in the magazine industry, and there are tons of awards like that covering segments of the market that are far smaller and less-read than webcomics are.

I just wish webcomics had something that took itself a little less seriously, that was a bit more organized and way less overblown… something that more creators would want to actually participate in!

Man, they should figure out who won, but then never tell anyone.

Man, I do agree that the WCCAs have too many goddamn categories. I left more than half my ballot blank because I would probably have to move to a secluded desert island with a dedicated T1 line to read that many webcomics.

And even then I think I’d get distracted by the occasional coconut.

I realize I’m going to seem like a hypocrite for saying what I have to say, because I myself was cynical about being nominated for and winning the “Outstanding Web Design” award in the past.

I think every artist working in this medium would like for their work to gain at least some degree of attention. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t put our comics online where other people could see them. And we all need motivation and a sense of purpose in order to keep on creating, and for a lot of us, the recognition of other artists carries a lot of weight. The WCCAs are indeed “webcomics giving itself awards”, but that’s the whole point. Artists working in this medium are nominating other artists because they believe their work has merit. Putting down the WCCAs only belittles them for anyone who places some value on earning one.

Considering that I haven’t exactly embraced the webcomics community in the past, I think it’s pretty flattering and humbling that other webcomic artists were willing to see past that, find some validity in my work, and recognize me for it. Even if it was for my website design, and not the comics contained within it.

Something I would like to say about the WCCAs is that I think they would benefit of the “People can get an award only once” rule.

I do believe the WCCAs should be used to showcase new people and new talents. Awards aren’t entirely that useless: it’s a recognition you’re given by your peers.

I do think the WCCAs tend to be poorly administered; the non-inflammatory stuff Scott mentions in his post is good evidence of this. This is something they need to fix. However, I don’t believe they’re completely useless. It’s always nice to have your work complimented and to recognize the quality of your peers’ work in turn. That being said, I don’t bother nominating folks or voting or however it works; I prefer to express my admiration via linking people’s sites or high-fiving them at conventions or whatever.

As far as “fucking webcomics” goes, I don’t want my genitalia anywhere near a hard disk spinning at 7200 RPM. That’d chafe like crazy.

Something I would like to say about the WCCAs is that I think they would benefit of the “People can get an award only once� rule.

I do believe the WCCAs should be used to showcase new people and new talents. Awards aren’t entirely that useless: it’s a recognition you’re given by your peers.

No, they shouldn’t. The reason the same comics get nominated and awarded year after year is because either they’re really good or they’re really popular or sometimes even both.

Just because other comics can’t or don’t attain that doesn’t mean you should throw the current favourites out of the running just to give the other guys a chance. That’d just cheapen the intention of what the awards are for.

If other comics want a shot at WCCA internet superstardom, then they need to work at it, simply put.

I don’t have a problem with the WCCAs at all, provided that they’re handled professionally. I think it says something is missing when the website is at worst broken (i.e. last year), and at best looks like it was designed using AOLPress circa 1997.

Since you’re on the short list for “Snazzy website genius” maybe you can give them a hand, Kris.

I strongly disagree with everything that has been said here.

I disagree.

At their best, Choice Awards give talented but lesser-known artists acknowledgement for their work. At worst, they’re merely handing awards to those with the most name recognition. I didn’t see a requirement in the rules that a finalist cares about the award. I personally don’t quite get why one wouldn’t appreciate a nomination, but I’m not famous enough to be rude to people who praise my work.

I don’t want to be recognized so I’m thrilled that I didn’t receive a nomination. I’m underground like the mole-man, baby!

The WCCA’s are like the SAG awards – it is webcartoonists giving themselves a pat on the back. Unlike the SAG awards, there’s no traditional off camera circle-jerk led by George Clooney; whatever the cartoonists do after recieving an award is their business. Maybe some of the more successful people aren’t crazy about the WCCA’s, but there are a lot of talented people who go unnoticed, and would love to at least be appreciated a little by their peers. If anything, it gives some little guys attention they rightly deserve. Yeah, there’s plenty of people who get nominations every year, but there are a few people that nobody has really heard of, people who would have faded into the background and quit since they couldn’t get their work seen. Something like the WCCAs give them that little bit of validation, that bit of encouragement; that is the really wonderful thing about events like this. It can lift the spirits of the unrecognized talents, and help give them the drive to continue – that their efforts were worth it. So if you’re nominated and don’t give a shit, fine – don’t knock these awards because of it. It may not mean jack to you, but it does matter to a lot of other people who do get nominated, and a lot of people who probably never will. You may as well be taking a cheap shot at them; shame on you. Quit being so damn egotistical and selfish for five minutes and you might be able to see that.

N. Athgar sad…
No, they shouldn’t. The reason the same comics get nominated and awarded year after year is because either they’re really good or they’re really popular or sometimes even both….[]… That’d just cheapen the intention of what the awards are for.

YES. That’s exactly my point. Good and popular comics often get even better and more popular with each year passing. That means they’ll get the award every freaking year.

BORING. Boring for the voters, boring for the espectators, and boring for the winners.

I’m just saying, the WCCAS would be a lot more useful/fun/interesting if they showcased different comics every year. And let’s face it, the veterans really don’t need the awards. Newbies appreciate it a lot more… and it’s not like there’s only one or two webcomics popping up every year.

That means they’ll get the award every freaking year.

That’s because they’re giving the audiences what they want. I don’t care for many of the nominees at all, but I guarantee you they’re not on the list because they didn’t work to be there. What you’re suggesting is nothing more than a pity award. I sure as hell wouldn’t want one knowing that Penny Arcade or Megatokyo got bumped off the list just to give me a chance.

Whether or not the audiences get what they want is not *necessarily* as relevant in a scenario where the cartoonists are nominating people for the awards. Cartoonists are (in theory) a peer group rather than primarily an audience. That said, I see no reason a cartoonist shouldn’t nominate someone simply because they were nominated for the same thing last year.

They are not quite like the SAGs, because the SAGs are given out by an organization that actors are benefitted by their membership in. Since the Screen Actor’s Guild gives people other benefits besides yearly award opportunities (like the ability to work in the industry), people care about the organization as a whole. Thus, the organizations activities take on meaning. They are also benefitted by having a solid segment of the groupt hey purport to represent participating. Who knows how well the WCCA voting body reflects the webcomics community?

But, as to people who are not happy with the way the awards are structured, you should think about joining the WCCA planning committee, or whatever it is called. I joined it, since there were no requirements other than having a comic, and was able to effect some changes that I wanted to see (addition of a photocomic award, voter-defined genre categories).

There are a lot of problems that plague the WCCAs, on a lot of fronts, and there is only so much one can do by posting to the yahoo group e-mail list, so some problems were foreseen and not avoided.

I’m planning to write up some of my thoughts about my WCCA involvement on my blog soon, but the sneak preview is that the WCCAs are bogged down in a lot of ways that make it hard for people who want to help fix things do so, but that it isn’t entirely hopeless in the long run, if some serious structural changes are enacted in the process and planning.

Chris Wright said…

“That said, I see no reason a cartoonist shouldn’t nominate someone simply because they were nominated for the same thing last year.”

But the idea was not to nominate past winners, not past nominees.

But the idea was not to nominate past winners, not past nominees.

Well, OK, but my point was more that if the idea is that web cartoonists are voting for their peers, the focus should be more on who the web cartoonist genuinely feels should get an award. If I really think Dr. McNinja should receive “best comic strip about a Dentist who is also a Ninja” every year, then I should vote for Dr. McNinja every year. Putting in restrictions like the one you suggest opens up the field for more people to participate, but it does so at the expense of the people voting…

Well, that’s also a reason why categories should be broad and avoid being too specific.

I also think that it’d make nominations even harder in the tech end, but also would make webtoonist to think a little better their nominations overall.

I guess after winning an Eisner, the WCCAs aren’t good enough for Kurtz.

[...] If you’re in webcomics or you simply READ webcomics, you’ve seen this list, made your mind up as to who should win, who WILL win, and who shouldn’t even be on the list to begin with (Howard Taylor’s artwork on Starslip? O-V-E-Rated). Still, I love’s me some fiery debate, what some might even call drama, and so this little gem over at Fleen caught my eye. While most stories on the Fleen archives garner, on average, three-to-five comments each, some amass well over forty, usually due to the aforementioned debate breaking out. And lo! The god Kurtz doth bow down from his mighty mountain to deign what is right and righteous! Behold! Because the WCAA appear to be webcomics giving itself awards. You’re all patting yourselves on the back for kinda, sorta, maybe, not really accomplishing anything yet. […] [...]

I see no problem at all with any industry, even one as fluid and anarchic as the Webcomics industry, taking a moment to try and promote its forerunners. It’s a big pat on the back, and I don’t see anything wrong with that at all – in fact as a nominee for this year I’ve been strongly encouraged to work harder and continue to improve my comic because I know that people are ctually noticing it (which is as much a shock as it is an honour).

But I take serious umbrage with Mr Kurtz’s assertion that creating and maintaining a webcomic isn’t really “accomplishing anything yet”. Sure, from a business/financial perspective, one could argue that most webcomics haven’t achieved anything yet – but that treats them as a commodity, rather than as an artform. There are many excellent webcomics which haven’t been published in print, and aren’t financially viable, but which I think are tremendous achievements and ought to be recognised as such. For a lot of us, our goals involve telling stories, making people think, or making them laugh – any kind of financial “success” would be a bonus, not the objective.

You may have found your groove, Mr Kurtz, but for most of us it isn’t easy to get started online – let alone to get noticed.

Gunnerkrigg Court has had a minotaur, a ghost, an evil(ish) spirit in a soft toy, fairies, death-gods and suchlike, so I’d say Fantasy is the correct pigeonhole there.

[...] Fleen blogger Jeff Lowrey didn’t write the controversy-stirring post but he wrote the defining comment to that post, on the subject of the WCCA’s: Man, they should figure out who won, but then never tell anyone. [...]

So much hate in so many hearts. You all should try to read and make more romance comics! It’ll really chill you out.

Unless, of course, that whole “fuck webcomics” things was meant in an erotic way, in which case I see y’all’re already on the case.

Love Forever,
Eric M.

I think there was a Comixpedia cover about that.

“It definitely projects the image that they’re trying to give out as many awards as possible and make webcomics (and the WCCAs themselves) look more important than they really are.”

I’m with this sentiment… there is a sense of trying to make webcomics out to be a world-changing medium, and as far flung as some of us are now (big book deals, awards, in papers etc), generally we’re still not really that important overall. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say we’re an Industry in the classical sense of the term. We don’t pay enough Taxes for that…

I would love to find out why xkcd isn’t nominated… especially considering how popular it is right now.

I used to get mad that I didn’t get a WCCA nomination, but then I realized until they invent an “Outstanding Movie Comic” award, it’s all pretty much moot.

They have categories for Outstanding Fantasy, Anthropomorphic, Gaming, Romance, Slice-of-Life, Science Fiction and Superhero comics. I don’t know if those categories speak specifically to the artistry of web comics.

I mean, sure, there are stylistic cliches to superhero or sci-fi comics. But can anyone tell me the difference between a slice-of-life and romantic comic? As if, at first glance I could look at them and say “Oh, yes! THAT’S what romance looks like!”

If anyone can tell me why the artistic merit of anthropomorphic critters measures higher than any other sub-genre of comics, I’d love to hear it!

My point is, until the WCCA’s create awards for every single sub-genre of the medium, it’s really all subjective and therefore, not worth the time.

It’s not like the Oscars have “Best Comic Book Movie,” do they?

[...] Fleen: How does it feel to be nominated for such a controversial award as the WCCA? What do you think are your odds against such illuminated masters as Kris Straub and Phil Foglio? [...]

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