The men and women of America's alternative-comics industry deserve our respect and admiration. These hard-working artists spend lonely hours and days bent over drawing tables, poring over clip art, combing the thesaurus for synonyms for the word "poop," with shockingly little compensation. They speak the truth to power, a concept mainstream cartoonists abandoned long ago. But more importantly, they make us titter, guffaw and chortle. These overlooked lords of the sketch pad put their foibles on the page for all to snicker at, naked before God and creation. Sex, politics, trash-talking aliens, he-boobies -- nothing is out of bounds, as long as it produces a laugh or offends a conservative. Or both. Preferably both.
Here at Orlando Weekly, we exploit cartoonists as ruthlessly as the next paper. So we've decided to throw them a bone and publish a few of their scribblings. Call it a contest, as we've done, and they can't send in their efforts quickly enough. We get low-cost, mildly entertaining content, they get to continue the fantasy that one day they'll be able to make a living at this. Everybody wins. Or at least we do, and that's what really matters.
We solicited 'toons from local artists, and nonlocal artists. To be fair, we judged them separately because, in reality, some of the nonlocal folks do make a living at this. Which means they've attained a certain level of professionalism, which means they don't completely suck. (Tip for burgeoning cartoonists: Put your name on your work.)
Our panel was made up of the crackerjack staff that brings you the Weekly every week. After years of doing this, we know funny. Left to novices, we might be forced to print Dilbert or Cathy or something equally execrable, and that just can't happen.
We judged each entry on three criteria: Content (Does it say something worth saying?); artistic merit (Can this person draw?); and hilarity (self-explanatory). Each category was worth five points, so the best possible score for each cartoonist is 15 points. The worst, obviously, is zero. (The comic that scored closest to zero, by the way, was Space, which scored .31 out of 15. That's execrable.). And so, without further ado, the winners of the first-ever "Orlando Weekly Comics Contest." Please enjoy our products responsibly.
1st place: Clowntime Comics, by Shawn Belschwender
Overall score: 10.85
Comments: "If Mike Meyers had done a "Sprockets" comic strip, this would have been it. The Ron Jeremy picture on the last page is uncanny."
"Disturbing, not always top-shelf, but provocative enough to make me want to read more. Great."
"Talking asses are inherently funny. Inscrutable in a heady sorta way."
2nd place: Don't Look at Me, by Thomas O'Donnell
Overall score: 10.62
Comments: "Brilliant, absolutely hilarious. It's too dry and cerebral for the average schmuck who will complain that it has 'too many words.' The lowest common denominator will definitely hate this."
"Too many words. I fucking hate this shit."
"Funny in spots. 'I can see your balls' and other comments were unexpected."
"Actually produced a belly laugh. Damn funny stuff. How can you miss with lines like 'sweet-ass alien dirtbike.'? Twisted, deviant and smart. Love it."
3rd place: The City, by Derf
Overall score: 10.51
Comments: "Funny, intelligent and not too self-absorbed. I like this guy, and he used the phrase 'anal leakage.' Awesome."
"I've seen better strips out of Derf. Who decided to submit these?"
"Man tits! What's funnier than man tits?"
Stumptown, by Josh A. Miller
Overall score: 9.8
Comment: "A cartoon about cartoons. How meta. Nicely done, though."
Partially Clips, by Robert T. Balder
Overall score: 10.1
Comment: "Someone has been reading a lot of "Red Meat.'"
Troubletown, by Lloyd Dangle
Overall score: 9.28
Comment: "Tries to make a point but just can't do it in an interesting way."
Permatrip, by BERK
Overall score: 9.21
Comment: "Twisted enough to poke fun at Stephen Hawking, Nice. Very frenetic."
Cultural Jet Lag, by Jim Siergey
Overall score: 8.78
Comment: "Eh. Boring."
Maakies, by Tony Millionaire
Overall score: 8.75
Comment: "Gave me eye strain."
Evan Waite's comics
Overall score: 8.57
Comment: "I hate 'What kids think' comics. I hate kids. They're not cute. They scream their heads off in supermarkets."
Overall score: 8.50
Comment: "Two words: anger management."
Topics, by Harley Schwadron
Overall score: 7.68
Comment: "Resembles something you'd see in The New Yorker, but far shittier."
Yucca, by David Guess
Overall score: 7.55
Comment: "Nice try. I'm sure somebody somewhere likes this."
Krazy Krum, by John Menzies
Overall score: 7.48
Comment: "These are the kind of comics that get passed around the office by middle-aged suburban women who exchange muffin recipes. They think this stuff is a riot."
Aminals, by David Sung
Overall score: 7.35
Comment: "Crappy 'Far Side' rip-off. Gary Larson was to comics what Nirvana was to alternative rock."
Minimum Security, by Stephanie McMillan
Overall score: 7.14
Comment: More bad leftism. Not innovative, nothing insightful or compelling. In short an extremely cheap and shallow version of Michael Moore."
Psyclops, by Norman Read
Overall score: 6.25
Comment: "This looks like it was drawn on a bathroom wall or my notebook in seventh grade."
Humble Shine, by John Orth
Overall score: 5.71
Comment: "A strange, marginally interesting set of works. Which is not to say 'good.'"
1st place: Rose Crow's comics
Overall score: 8.06
Comments: "Too gentle to be funny. Lots of sex references, though, which is a good thing.
"A cute strip, albeit a total swipe from the already published "Tiny Seppu-Ku." Hello lawyers!
"A comic about a girl who dates rock musicians in a state of stunted adolescence who want to have sex to bad heavy metal, or play video games instead of having sex -- way too close to my own past to be funny."
2nd place: The "photo caption" comics, by Brian Moses
Overall score: 7.85
Comments: "A good idea, but I'm not sure this dude is mean or twisted enough to pull it off. He can't even make a good cocaine joke, for god's sake."
"Know how those photos would reproduce in our paper? Not well."
"A great idea gone horribly wrong, kind of like this contest."
3rd place: Barefoot and pregnant, by Dave Mitchell
Overall score: 7.5
Comments: "I hope these aren't for our readers."
"If I want trailer-trash humor, I can drive two blocks west to Ocoee and see the real thing."
"Pretty funny. The phonetic language is tiresome, but it works. Definitely a few hundred steps ahead of its competition."
Runners-upIn descending order as ranked by our judges
Roadside Haunts, by Charles Treadwell and Neal Davies
Overall score: 7.3
Comment: "Tries to be deviant but comes off milquetoast."
Coo Bear Comics, by Corey Miller
Overall score: 6.75
Comment: "Has this guy been sued by Matt Groening yet? He will."
Jemal McClary's comics
Overall score: 6.5
Comment: "A bank-robbing snail? That's got mad potential, but the strip goes nowhere with it."
Where's Ruby?, by J. Sanchez
Overall score: 6.31
Comment: "Old people in Florida should be an easy target. Why isn't this funny?"
Johnny Mohammed and his Ohio Family, by Christopher Jammal
Overall score: 6.25
Comment: "Wow, that's ugly."
Art Crespo's comics
Overall score: 5.93
Comment: "I hate this style. Very "I work as a caricature artist at Disney."
Randy Messer's comics
Overall score: 5.68
Comment: "Does every cartoonist dream of being Gary Larson?"
Brendan Sullivan's comics
Overall score: 4.81
Comment: "What the hell is this about?"
Pockets of Evil, by David Almeida and Stephen Miller
Overall score: 4.71
Comment: "A gay comic strip. I'm down with that. But it needs to be a lot more gay, if you know what I mean. Besides, the artist draws a woman's butt crack too convincingly. I wonder if he really is gay."
Herman the Bastard, by Erick Jara
Overall score: 4.48
Comment: "Why are none of these comics funny?"
Off Property, by Little Smitty
Overall score: 4.43
Comment: "Does the world really need a Gary Larson who can't spell the word 'meant'?"
John Otto's comics
Overall score: 3.62
Comment: "Like we really need more 'cubicle' humor."
Veruca's Diary, by R. Anselowitz
Overall score: 2.87
Comment: "At last, a comic strip for women that's even more vapid than 'Cathy.' IF this is the average female mentality, I'll be starting on testosterone therapy ASAP."
Beer, Chiken and Friends, by James Engelking
Overall score: 2.5
Comment: "Eat more cartoonists."
The Adventures of Parasail Joe, by Aldo H. Falconi
Overall score: 1.75
Comment: "One time at band camp I started drawing in my notebook and I came up with this exact piece of shit! How anyone can fuck up a strip about a wheelchair-bound guy is beyond me."
Syx Syko Styx, by James Simon MacDonald
Overall score: 1.56
Comment: "WTF is this?"