Out of Sequence
The Third Annual City Paper Comics Contest--Plus . . .
First Place: Sheet Comics by Nick and Leo Hussey
The main course is our third annual Comics Contest. We got more entries than ever this year—more than 60—and, perhaps concurrently, more disagreement than ever among our esteemed panel of judges. Marc Hempel, the Baltimore cartoonist behind Naked Brain, Gregory, and “The MAD World of . . . ” regular feature in MAD magazine, says he couldn’t find much humor in the submissions, so he favored those with outstanding draftsmanship. Atomic Books co-owner Rachel Whang, on the other hand, was looking for The Funny and judged accordingly. CP’s resident comics guru, Christopher Skokna, wanted to find that certain weirdness that makes for a good alt-weekly comic strip.
And we think we came up with a winner that fulfills all three requirements with Sheet Comics, by Baltimore’s Hussey Brothers, Nick and Leo—not a big surprise, since it won second place last year. (This year’s winning strip will run in the paper each week for the next year. Second place gets a $100 prize; third takes home $50.) One of last year’s judges, Brian Ralph, said of Sheet, “It’s like Edward Gorey collaborating with Ben Katchor. Not so much funny in a ha-ha way, more funny in a way you might say, ‘Whoever writes this comic is kind of . . . you know . . . funny.’” That’s pretty much what all of this year’s judges said as well, though not as eloquently, so we happily steal Ralph’s praises.
In second comes Plein Air Kitty, by John Ebersberger of Annapolis, a whimsical, beautifully drawn strip about a cat that seems to do pretty much whatever it wants to do. Whang calls it “a beautiful ripoff of Tony Millionaire,” while Skokna sees the inspiration of Millionaire’s own influences—the magazine illustrators and newspaper strip cartoonists of the late 1800s and early 1900s—in Ebersberger’s fine lines. “He’s plainly interested in comics history,” Skokna says. PAK, it should be noted, was Hempel’s first-placer.
Alan Laidlaw’s untitled strip takes third, though none of the judges could really figure out why. “Nice drawing—but I don’t get it,” Hempel says. “Good art, interesting character, fine writing,” Skokna says. “But I’m not sure where it’s going.” Nevertheless, all agreed that they want to see where this Pikesville cartoonist’s strip leads.
Finally, the judges felt Babe’s Bar by Sevilla King and Soulless Joe Retail Zombie by Alex Gershenow also deserved recognition, and so dubbed them “Honorable Mentions.” Congrats to the winners, examples from whom, and plenty of samples from other submitted comics, follow. (This year’s weird, inexplicable trend: dragons—look for ’em.)
8th Annual City Paper Comics Contest (9/9/2009)
First Place: Just Ask Larnell (9/9/2009)
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201