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Comics Feature

Let’s Make a Deal

City Paper's 4th Annual Comics Contest

Comics Issue 2005

Let’s Make a Deal City Paper's 4th Annual Comics Contest

Posted 9/28/2005

So, how many big New York publishing houses were stalking the aisles at Baltimore Comic-Con and SPX in Bethesda? Anyone get a book deal? Seriously, if you’ve got chops and have a halfway decent idea for a graphic novel (GN) that you think would fit onto bookstore shelves, send it out now, everywhere. Get paid. The graphic-novels-in-bookstores bubble seems bound to burst, or at least lose some air, soon. It seems like every month we get a beautifully designed, momentum-shifting graphic novel from Pantheon, and we get press releases from publishers, old and new alike, about new graphic-novel lines on a weekly basis.

This year’s City Paper Comics Contest Issue touches on the GN boom with a piece by Tom Chalkley on Charles Burns’ brilliant, dark, funny, scary new Pantheon-published book, a decade in the making, Black Hole. For those thinking of trying out comics, but not sure where to start, The Pain—When Will It End?’s Tim Kreider is here to help. Violet Glaze unveils comic books’ dark side in her slash confessional. And local cartoonist Brian Ralph geeks out comic-style at manga-mad Otakon.

The judges for this year’s fourth annual City Paper Comics Contest—Creative Alliance at the Patterson program director Megan Hamilton, local cartoonist (One Plus One, Follow Me Closely) and illustrator Daniel Krall, and issue editor/comics geek Christopher Skokna—had a harder time than ever picking a winner. The top four-to-five entries were that close. In the end, Shabby Tabby, by Valerie Crosswhite of Sykesville, edged out by a whisker Dirt Farm, by Ben Claassen III of Hyattsville; the former gets a year’s run in CP, with pay. Of Tabby, Hamilton says, “As a fan of tap dance and kitsch, I couldn’t resist the stylish mix of Fred Astaire and the plastic cat clock.” Krall says, of Dirt Farm, whose creator wins $150: “It made me laugh. That’s hard to do. I thought the style was very slick and polished.” In third, winning $50, is Alicia Czechowski of Baltimore and her Tamara O’Day strip: “The narrative of the Scarlett O’Hara-courtesan-vampire heroine seemingly kept in a Washington condo by a corrupt senator was really compelling,” Hamilton says. Really, we wish we could run all three. Earning honorable mentions are Important Comics, by Dina Kelberman of Baltimore—the best of several formal-experiment type comics we got this year—and former MICA student Michael J. DiMotta’s Go to Your Room, whose Little Nemo-meets-Where the Wild Things Are narrative tickled everyone’s fancy but is probably too colorful and detailed for newsprint publication.

Get those proposals in the mail, kids.

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