Why Cartoonists’ Choice Awards?

Every year the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards draws more and more discussion and debate. Every single choice and decision is analyzed and debated, fought over and about; both by the committee members and through dozens of outside forums and discussion groups. Everyone has an opinion about our every move and it feels like we have to relive every fight a dozen times before we’re able to move onto the next battle in a seemingly unending cycle.Â

But each argument ultimately comes down to the same basic questions; why do we do these awards? Why do we need this? And believe me I ask myself this same question every year. Why do I put myself through this? Why haven’t I slept in three weeks? Why is my blood pressure off the scale? Why do I let this consume me? If these awards are supposed to be so frickin’ self-congratulatory, then what he hell am I suppose to be getting out of it?Â

But the ultimate answer is that I still believe in these awards and what they can do for the webcomic community. A lot of my motivations and reasoning can be found on the WCCA website, but every year I think it’s important to go back and revisit those motivations. Not just to renew the enthusiasm, but to look at how webcomics have grown and changed and how that motivation may need to change with it.

Every artistic and creative field has some kind of award process that helps drive people to exceed. Does an award (or lack thereof) ultimately mean anything about a comic’s quality? No, but if it can be just one more thing that helps drive people to do their best, it’s bound to help improve our art form over all. I don’t know how many people use these awards as part of their motivation, but even if it provides just a subtle, subconscious nagging driving factor in a few people that encourages them to push themselves just a little, it can’t be a bad thing.

And for the last 6 years that the WCCA has run, webcomics have grown expanded and improved. There are more comics and comic collectives now than anyone can keep up with. And with this growth in numbers, there have also been incredible leaps forward in quality. But how does someone wade through this infinite number of monkeys at typewriters to find which comics are truly outstanding?

When I started posting on Comixpedia this week, I talked about the importance of ego and self promotion. I stand by that argument, but the other side of that point of view is also valid; we need to appreciate the work of our peers. A million cartoonists yelling “look at me” isn’t going to attract anyone, it’s just going to cause confusion. That’s why it’s also important for us to take some time to say “look at him or her”. That's what's going to really draw attention to webcomics, that's what's ultimately going to mean something to a potential reader. And that’s what these awards are all about. Whatever most people may think, that’s when these awards work best, not when they’re used to “try to win”, but when they are used to try to get others to win.

And that’s the foundation of the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards. They’re made with the fundamental theme that none of our opinions are any more important than anyone else’s. That’s why we run things through a committee, that’s why voting is done by any and all webcomic artists, no one person’s voice is any more important than anyone else’s. But it’s only when those voices are used to bring appreciation to others that these awards really work and excel. And that’s what makes these awards so rewarding to me, because it’s not for me, it’s for the community as a whole.Â

I don’t want to make this sound like some kind of “poor me” sob story about what a thankless job it is, I do get plenty of thanks (mixed into the hate mail). But the absolute best bit of thanks is when I hear someone say that they’ve discovered a great new comic thanks to these awards. That’s what makes this worth while and that’s what keeps me going. If I can do that within our community, then the benefit has to be there to bring outside readers to comics that will definitely grab them and bring them into webcomics in general.

 I just want to wrap up by thanking Xavier for the opportunity to post here this week and thank all of you for following along with me. It's been great!


Mark Mekkes