So, if you haven't already seen the news somewhere else, the winners of the WebCartoonists' Choice Awards have been announced. Looks like the ceremony is still upcoming, at least as of this writing.
Let's break them down, shall we?
Outstanding Comic: The Perry Bible Fellowship - This was actually the dark horse candidate, with Achewood coming off a critically acclaimed year and both Inverloch and Scary Go Round giving out a lot of the good stuff. Still, it's nice to see Perry Bible Fellowship finally getting some acclaim after toiling in obscurity for so long.
Outstanding Newcomer: Gunnerkrigg Court - In my opinion this award really should have gone to Wally & Osborne, but they didn't even make it to the final nominations round. All I've got to say is, how did Starslip Crisis not win this award? I mean, Gunnerkrigg Court does look like a pretty cool webcomic, but Starslip has been fabulous. I think this is just an example of the awards committee being somewhat biased toward more artistic strips than more mainstream ones. But that's just conjecture.
Outstanding Artist: David Hellman (A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible, design for OhNoRobot) - I don't think anyone's going to question this one. The art in A Lesson is absolutely stunning.
Outstanding Black and White Art: Digger - Digger wins this award, like, every year. I think it would have been nice to see it go to someone different this year, but really, Digger is the best.
Outstanding Character Art: Ugly Hill - Nice to see Ugly Hill win this one, as Paul Southworth truly has created a unique, distinctive, and utterly perfect character style for Ugly Hill.
Outstanding New Character Design: Templar, Arizona - Not much competition here. And the characters in Templar are among the most vibrant and utterly alive that I've ever seen.
Outstanding Environment Design: Copper - You've gotta throw Copper at least one bone every year, and this one's not a bad bone to throw. The thing which most sets Copper apart from the rest of the webcomic pack are the lavish environments that Kazu Kibuishi manages to throw Copper and Fred into on every page.
Outstanding Layout: A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible - A Lesson really wasn't competing with anyone here. The other entries were Inverloch and Copper, and none of them is nearly as layout intensive as A Lesson.
Outstanding Use of Color: A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible - This one's kind of a toss up. I mean yes, A Lesson has a really wide range of mood-setting colorwork, but I've never seen anyone who can do subdued colors the way Kazu Kuishi does in Copper, and that's a heck of a lot harder than bright colors or dark colors, or even contrasting colors. I probably would have given this one to Copper.
Outstanding Use of Flash: Alpha Shade - See also: Only use of Flash in a meaningful way. And even they don't do it well.
Outstanding Use of Infinite Canvas: Five Ways to Love a Cockroach - Actually, this one should have won best use of Flash, too.
Outstanding Web Design: Applegeeks - I'm going to assume Applegeeks won this one because professionally designed sites like Penny Arcade and Ctrl+Alt+Del were disqualified. Otherwise I think one of them would have been a shoe-in. Oh, and if the category had been "Website with Outstanding Functionality", Starslip Crisis would have won hands down. Unfortunately, the actual design of the Starslip website looks somewhat cluttered, thanks to all the functionality (and advertising).
Outstanding Writer: Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics, Whispered Apologies) - This is a tough category, and honestly I would have given it to Megatokyo (which had a fabulous year), but I think Fred Gallagher is in general on the outs with the webcomic community. Among the actual final nominees, it's hard not to choose Achewood, which really had some awesome stuff going on with the Great Outdoor Fight. Looks like Chris Onstad really got the shaft this year, with Achewood not taking home any awards at the end of it all. And I think Dinosaur Comics really had a subpar year, overall.
Outstanding Character Writing: Templar, Arizona - This was a tough category, with a lot of heavy hitters in terms of great characters (Order of the Stick, Questionable Content, Scary Go Round, Something Positive...), but I honestly think Templar deserved this award. Those characters are pretty fantastic.
Outstanding Dramatic Comic: Something Positive - Something Positive certainly did bring the drama this year, and without any other serious contenders in the category, it was a shoe-in to win.
Outstanding Comedic Comic: The Perry Bible Fellowship - Eh... you already gave Perry bible Fellowship Outstanding Comic, shouldn't that preclude it from winning the Outstanding Comic's little brothers? I would have given this to Shortpacked, which consistently had me in stitches this year.
Outstanding Long Form Comic: Inverloch - At last Inverloch wins one of the awards it was nominated for! And honestly, it deserves it. Inverloch is a classic example of a long form comic, with the story slowly unfolding and growing, rather than playing out in episodic format, which is what we so commonly see these days. A long form comic should feel like a movie, not a TV show.
Outstanding Short Form Comic: The Perry Bible Fellowship - Again taking a sub-category to an award it's already won, I would have instead given this to PartiallyClips, and actually I'm surprised it didn't go to Overcompensating, which seems to be popular among the webcartoonist crowd.
Outstanding Single Panel Comic: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - This is kinda like choosing the best dish at a mediocre restaurant. Chopping Block used to be great, but it's really lost a lot of its edge of the years. There still hasn't been anyone from the webcomic ranks that's really mastered the single-panel comic.
Outstanding Story Concept: Girl Genius - Girl Genius certainly does manage to have the most uniquely frenetic storyline generation of any comic out there. It goes to crazy places, and yet somehow it all ends up making sense.
Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic: Digger - Digger wasn't really competing with anyone in this category. Feral Calf is interesting, but the other nominees aren't so much anthropomorphic as they are normal humans trapped in different bodies.
Outstanding Fantasy Comic: Order of the Stick - Inverloch could have taken this, but D&D fans will always carry the day in any sort of online competition. And Order of the Stick is worthy.
Outstanding Gaming Comic: VG Cats - VG Cats didn't really impress me this year, what with a lot of missed updates and half-conceived comics. This category Order of the Stick actually deserved to win. After all, a gaming comic doesn't have to be a video gaming comic, you know.
Outstanding Slice-of-Life Comic: Devil’s Panties - This one I think could have gone to Candi, which didn't get nominated. But from among the nominees, I think Devil's Panties was a good choice.
Outstanding Romantic Comic: Questionable Content - Questionable Content is practically a shoe-in to win this category every year, despite it being more of a "Romantic Tension" comic, as there's very little actual romance that occurs. Still, Questionable Content had a heck of year, and it deserved to win something.
Outstanding Science Fiction Comic: Nine Planets Without… Starslip Crisis - Nice to see Starslip finally win something, especially in such a tight category. Science Fiction is a pretty popular genre for webcomics, and there's some very good ones out there. It was also interesting to see Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life come basically out of nowhere and get the tie against some much heavier hitters.
Outstanding Superhero/Action Comic: The Green Avenger - Let me just say this: When the winner of a certain category is hosted by Comic Genesis, there's some serious deficiency in that category. Superhero comics are probably even worse off than single panel comics in webcomics, most likely because most people seriously interested in making a superhero comic prefer to go the traditional comics route, where there is already a majorly established market.
So there you have it. The big winners were Perry Bible Fellowship and A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible, taking home three awards each. Templar Arizona and Digger both managed to snag two, which serves to highlight that most of the winners this year were the more artisitically done webcomics, rather than the more mainstream oriented ones. Inverloch and Starslip Crisis, with 11 and 6 nominations respectively, each managed to only pick up one award. Achewood, in spite of being nominated for four categories, didn't win anything! And that's the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.
I look forward to seeing the actual award ceremony, which is always a lot of fun. Definitely be sure to check it out.