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POSTED AT 6:37 PM ET, 07/14/2010

Imogen Quest: Winner!

Check out all of the contest materials from America's Next Great Cartoonist, Olivia Walch:

Video chat transcript: Watch a video of Olivia answering reader questions about her comic strip, cartooning and the contest.

See Olivia react to the news through photos and video.

Winner announcement: Va. student Olivia Walch named 'America's Next Great Cartoonist' in Post contest

Winner profile: Young 'America's Next Great Cartoonist' winner honed craft at Va. college paper



Jerry Scott: "Olivia's panel is really current and smart. Her ideas are fresh and funny, and the drawings are consistent and likable. I'd like to know how she got to be this good at such an early age! Three of the multi-panel strips in this submission would be very hard to make out without the aid of a magnifying glass on a typical newspaper page today. That would be something for Olivia to consider addressing if she's interested in traditional newspaper syndication."

Stephan Pastis: "There's a cleverness and originality to it that just jumps off the page.The burial of the family pet strip is one I wish I'd thought of. Very smart humor that is brave enough to be deadpan and not telegraph jokes."

Signe Wilkinson: Olivia Walch's first one -- 'She's had work done' -- was my favorite cartoon [of all the finalist samples]. ... She's in the 'Rhymes W[th Orange' vein with a primitive style that, unfortunately, isn't as distinctly primitive as Hilary Price's."

Hilary Price: "I like the intellectual subjects Olivia explores, and felt like even if I was not familiar with classic story or reference, I was then curious to look it up. It think it is Olivia's writing skills that make this true. I was glad to see that while her characters mostly used dots for eyes, she was willing to change it up in one of the strips in order to show an emotion. Eyes are an important tool in creating emotion and I would want her to have that available in her cartoonist tool box."

Gene Weingarten: "I respect this for its surrealist edge, and I like the drawing, which seems like 'Rhymes With Orange' on hallucinogens. I like the out-of-box thinking. But I am seriously worried by that dead-Fluffy-as-a-password gag. ... If the joke is original, then so is she, and I'm impressed."



"I've had a really great experience with the competition so far and am incredibly thankful for all the fantastic feedback I've received. The judges' critiques were very helpful and have convinced my younger brother (both of us being big fans of their cartoons) that I am cool for the first time in about a decade. One quick note: The joke with the Hesiod cartoon is that Hesiod is wearing a Roman toga when, as a Greek, he would in fact be far more likely to wear a chiton. Sorry for any confusion on that front!"







Hilary Price: "I am really excited by Olivia Walch's 'Imogen Quest.' I get that lovely surprise when the strip takes me off the beaten path of my usual thinking. I look forward to seeing her name in ink and encourage her to keep cartooning!"

Richard Thompson: "This Sunday is ingenious and funny, and pushes metahumor about as far as it can go. I like a comic strip that professes confusion at itself. The character sheet is similarly entertaining and meta, because I guess self-awareness is what a character sheet is all about."

Amy Lago: "While the gag makes sense for Post readers, many daily comics are now printed in color. So it wouldn't work for national syndication. Love the idea and its execution, though. Would have liked to see more characters on the character sheet. Like the 'about' paragraph, but then I'd lose some of the lesser stuff on the characters, such as the 'jealousy' line for Young Olivia and the '...is a math and biophysics major in college' in Ophelia and Muffin."

 

BY Olivia Walch

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POSTED AT 12:27 PM ET, 07/ 2/2010

Imogen Quest

See Olivia Walch's response to the second challenge and read what the judges had to say.




Hilary Price: "I am really excited by Olivia Walch's 'Imogen Quest.' I get that lovely surprise when the strip takes me off the beaten path of my usual thinking. I look forward to seeing her name in ink and encourage her to keep cartooning!"

Richard Thompson: "This Sunday is ingenious and funny, and pushes metahumor about as far as it can go. I like a comic strip that professes confusion at itself. The character sheet is similarly entertaining and meta, because I guess self-awareness is what a character sheet is all about."

Amy Lago: "While the gag makes sense for Post readers, many daily comics are now printed in color. So it wouldn't work for national syndication. Love the idea and its execution, though. Would have liked to see more characters on the character sheet. Like the 'about' paragraph, but then I'd lose some of the lesser stuff on the characters, such as the 'jealousy' line for Young Olivia and the '...is a math and biophysics major in college' in Ophelia and Muffin."

 

BY Olivia Walch

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POSTED AT 12:21 PM ET, 07/ 2/2010

Stupid Inventor

See Zachary Snyder's response to the second challenge and read what the judges had to say.





Amy Lago: "The denouement should have ended with 'outdone by Starbox again.' Color choices left something to be desired -- for instance, the blonde hair of the female judge blends into the yellow wall. The character sheet is too wordy, needs more white space."

Michael Cavna: "Drawing upon the fact that cartoon is itself a finalist in a contest is a double-edged sword: It's clever, but it might be too clever by half -- calling the reader's attention to this fact can slow suspension of comic disbelief and getting on with the matter at hand. That said, the punchline has potential, though it needs an extra jolt."

 

BY Zachary Snyder

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POSTED AT 12:14 PM ET, 07/ 2/2010

Forever Endeavor

See Thomas Mullany's response to the second challenge and read what the judges had to say.




Stan Lee: "After carefully scrutinizing the final cartoon contest entries ... I feel that -- while all are humorous and imaginative -- 'Forever Endeavor' is the cleverest and most professional looking."

Amy Lago: "Byline should not appear within the comic (for this size/format). I think I'd prefer to see the gag flipped horizontal, so the sick guy is on the left and the other stuff (which I think is a better visual) is on the right. Either that, or somehow make the sick guy look more dramatic. Character sheet was creatively written and designed. Well done."

 

BY Thomas Mullany

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POSTED AT 11:10 AM ET, 07/ 2/2010

Real Time

See Bob Erskine's response to the second challenge and read what the judges had to say.





Amy Lago: "Nice color work, but the gag seems to be lacking something. For the character sheet, I'm wondering why the images aren't shown as snapshots."

Michael Cavna: "I've drawn a few elephant/weight jokes for publication myself over the years (as have many gag cartoonists), so such a joke has to feel utterly fresh. Like the elephant herself, this gag feels straight-ahead and a little underweight for me -- I'd like to see either a strong twist or perhaps a visual embellishment. Something else to think about: Gag cartoonists might have the toughest job on Sundays -- a single joke, out there in one panel covering a wide expanse, with no multipanels for 'cover.' I'd recommend what some gag cartoonists do: Run two or three cartoons in that Sunday space -- gives you a coupla more rounds to hit the target."

 

BY Bob Erskine

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POSTED AT 10:49 AM ET, 07/ 2/2010

Hoxwinder Hall

See Daniel Boris's response to the second challenge and read what the judges had to say.




Richard Thompson: "The Sunday gag is well set up and drawn; I like the looseness of Byron's face and hair. The Silent Penultimate Panel is used nicely too, with the slight roll of Dozi's eyes And who can't warm to a tiny pet with a potential taste for kids? The character sheet is also well thought out, and I like the possibilities that a newly-laid-off dad could bring to the strip."

Amy Lago: "Nice gag construction. I'm not usually a fan of the denouement (anything after the punchline), except when they provide added value, which this one does. Character sheet was well done, except shouldn't Byron and Dozi appear above Rowdy?"

 

BY Daniel Boris

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POSTED AT 1:49 PM ET, 06/14/2010

Over Nite Sensation

See Dave Mitchell's entry, then read what the judges had to say.

Richard Thompson: "I like this one. It's got personality and recognizability and all that, and I'd like to read more of them. The art is simple and bold and it's got a nice flow from one panel to the next. And I like the dialog and the acting, it's natural yet cartoony. I don't know how much consideration you give to niche-filling, but I can't think of any strips specifically about musicians with old bands reforming. The only problem might be with how much it transcends that plot line and grows in other directions."

Michael Cavna: "The best thing going for this strip -- at least based on a mere six samples -- is that this midlife rocker is likable. It also helps that there's tremendous potential to make him fully three-dimensional as a character. Job One for this strip is sharpening it in most every way: Sharpening the gags, sharpening the artwork and sharpening the larger story arc. I'd also be tempted to tweak Dad's look some -- however unintentional, the visual echo of that black vest (particularly resting on the paunch of a bespectacled Boomer) is too strong to the all-too-familiar Dad from 'Zits.' A tie-dyed 'Dead' T-shirt, anyone?"

Amy Lago: "Good set up of characters -- we feel like we know people like Jeff and Jools. While the story-telling is compelling, the punchlines are, comparatively, weaker. That's okay, but it's something to pay attention to -- the cartoonist will need to focus on generating some conflict between characters to help generate the humor instead of relying solely on funny situations. The panels feel crowded. I'd like to see a reduction in unnecessary elements. Visually, Jeff is interesting but Jools is boring. If she's a co-star, she should be more interesting to look at, have more expression. The lettering is a little small -- I'd like to see more focus on brevity for the sake of enlarging the letters. One thing a lot of cartoonists do when they make the letters larger is reduce the leading/white space. Don't. Last: Use the characters names even more often."

 

BY Dave Mitchell

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POSTED AT 1:48 PM ET, 06/14/2010

Imogen Quest - Entry Challenge

See Olivia Walch's entry, read what the judges had to say, and see Olivia's reaction, below.

Jerry Scott: "Olivia's panel is really current and smart. Her ideas are fresh and funny, and the drawings are consistent and likable. I'd like to know how she got to be this good at such an early age! Three of the multi-panel strips in this submission would be very hard to make out without the aid of a magnifying glass on a typical newspaper page today. That would be something for Olivia to consider addressing if she's interested in traditional newspaper syndication."

Stephan Pastis: "There's a cleverness and originality to it that just jumps off the page.The burial of the family pet strip is one I wish I'd thought of. Very smart humor that is brave enough to be deadpan and not telegraph jokes."

Signe Wilkinson: Olivia Walch's first one -- 'She's had work done' -- was my favorite cartoon [of all the finalist samples]. ... She's in the 'Rhymes W[th Orange' vein with a primitive style that, unfortunately, isn't as distinctly primitive as Hilary Price's."

Hilary Price: "I like the intellectual subjects Olivia explores, and felt like even if I was not familiar with classic story or reference, I was then curious to look it up. It think it is Olivia's writing skills that make this true. I was glad to see that while her characters mostly used dots for eyes, she was willing to change it up in one of the strips in order to show an emotion. Eyes are an important tool in creating emotion and I would want her to have that available in her cartoonist tool box."

Gene Weingarten: "I respect this for its surrealist edge, and I like the drawing, which seems like 'Rhymes With Orange' on hallucinogens. I like the out-of-box thinking. But I am seriously worried by that dead-Fluffy-as-a-password gag. ... If the joke is original, then so is she, and I'm impressed."

"I've had a really great experience with the competition so far and am incredibly thankful for all the fantastic feedback I've received. The judges' critiques were very helpful and have convinced my younger brother (both of us being big fans of their cartoons) that I am cool for the first time in about a decade. One quick note: The joke with the Hesiod cartoon is that Hesiod is wearing a Roman toga when, as a Greek, he would in fact be far more likely to wear a chiton. Sorry for any confusion on that front!"

 

BY Olivia Walch

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POSTED AT 1:47 PM ET, 06/14/2010

Odd Bluff Inn

See Mark Thompson's entry, then read what the judges had to say.

Garry Trudeau: "Only strip that really clicked for me. The ghost is the star here, although not clear why an English rocker would have expired in a bed and breakfast. Haven't had an edgy cartoon ghost character since Spooky [cousin of 'Casper'], and this one has promise. Like the breezy, unfussy drawing style."

Stan Lee: "I think this has great potential because it's an original theme -- a single mother takes over a country inn, which includes a resident ghost. The gags are good and his timing and pacing are very professional."

Jerry Scott: "I'm a sucker for character-driven comic strips. 'Odd Bluff Inn' interested me because it looks like it's going to be fun to read. The drawing style is not self-conscious or labored. This strip would be very readable within the current space confines of newspaper syndication. It's difficult to judge the staying power of a comic strip on a year's worth of samples, let alone six measly dailies. But the dialogue is sharp, but spare, the characters have potential, the drawing pleasing and clean, and the premise is promising."

Gene Weingarten: "This is my choice for the winner, but only because it's got the best concept and is the best drawn, the most fully realized, the best paced, and the funniest, with the most compelling characters and the best use of sequential art. Other than that, it doesn't have much going for it. Of all the strips, this is also the only one that seems to me to have a rich enough storyline to sustain years of developments. You've got several promising themes: Dysfunctional single-mom family life; past-present culture shock; stoner-rocker and pop culture humor; urban-rural tension. I think this is the real deal, and whole package."

Signe Wilkinson: "Mark Thompson's (do we need another Thompson?) strip had a clever premise that actually seemed to use its characters consistently with some energy. The drawing style is problematic with so many washes un-anchored by any black lines or boxes. He could work on the style, but he seems to have created the most appealing world. 'Keith Richards' was a riot [and should have been in Paul Scolaro's]."

Lalo Alcaraz: "Though the premise of 'Odd Bluff Inn' is too cute by one, I think I'd like to see what happens with the '70s rock star ghost, it seem like comic possibilities are promising."

 

BY Mark Thompson

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POSTED AT 1:46 PM ET, 06/14/2010

Big Daddy

See Joe Sutliff's entry, then read what the judges had to say.

Gene Weingarten: "The characters are really likable, and if you're looking for someone to dump on poop jokes, you won't find him here. I like the magic trash-can gag, and Satcom. But someone's going to have to explain to me the engine of the pledge chairman joke."

Signe Wilkinson: "Given the state of the world, 'Big Daddy' by Joe Sutliff seems the 
most commercial of all, but we don't need another 'Baby Blues.' I could get used to his disturbing drawings of Dad balancing the kid on his arm, but not of the kid himself, whose face is a 10-year-old's, not a newborn's."

Michael Cavna: "The two things that immediately distinguish this authentic-feeling strip: 1. The drawing of shadowy 'horror' in Big Daddy's terrified reaction to the Diaper Genie works beautifully (much of the rest of the artwork needs sharpening, even within its loose style; particularly Big Daddy's too-generic facial expressions); and 2. There's a rich vein to be mined -- particularly in current times -- in the wife/mom serving in the military. That fertile aspect of the strip is as hot to this judge as her uniform is to Big Daddy. Based on those two elements alone, there's potential here."

Amy Lago: "Great use of visual punchlines, especially in 'Diaper Genie Is Full' and 'Work Clothes Get Me Hot.' The cartoonist uses shading well; it maximizes depth in an otherwise flat style. In 'Pledge Chairman,' the long denouement takes a bit away from the punchline itself ('pledge chairman'). The cartoonist should try to make the denouement as short as possible or make the type a little smaller, to minimize its importance. Also concentrate on what the actual punchWORDS are, not the whole line, and place them most prominently in the sentence. Also in 'Diaper Genie,' the cartoonist probably didn't need 'magic' before 'trash can.' Only a woman would notice this: The mom can get her chin-length hair into a bun. Last: Use the characters' names."

 

BY Joe Sutliff

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POSTED AT 1:45 PM ET, 06/14/2010

Stupid Inventor - Entry Challenge

See Zachary Snyder's entry, read what the judges had to say, and see Zachary's reaction below.

Richard Thompson: "This looks too much like a college strip, which is not always a bad thing but here it just means it looks under-developed. Several of the gags have potential; holding the door, the drive-thru window. I like the idea of a science geek strip (which is why I love Monty), and I wish he did more with that side of it. I like the idiotic clanky robot in the final strip, but not so much the monkey. It just seems likely that the strip might devolve into snarky animals arguing about pop culture."

Michael Cavna: "The iconic style of art is bold and functional, if not overly distinctive. And the lettering -- which looks to be a standard computer font, awkward spacing/leading and all -- is clear but too crude. Ah, but the real laugh-out-loud gag here -- the 'Twilight'/'Twilight Zone' joke -- is deftly played and paced here. It's the kind of joke that makes me look twice for that spark of atypical talent -- and the kind that makes some cartoonists admit under their breath: 'Wish I'd thought-a that.'"

Amy Lago: "'Stupid Inventor' left me looking for more strips to read. It's the same feeling I get when I finish a good book. Although this concept owes much to early 'Dilbert,' there's room for growth."

"It is truly humbling to be one of the 10 finalists, let alone one of the final five! Thank you to everyone who voted for me. No matter who is chosen as "America's Next Great Cartoonist," this has truly been an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience! I want to also thank the judges for their keen insight, and I will try to take that advice into account as I continue to work on Stupid Inventor. My favorite user comment was the person who disliked my comic while fully admitting he didn't actually read any of them. To the people who actually read the strips and voted for me, I hope to live up to your expectations with my Sunday strip!"

 

BY Zachary Snyder

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