The Washington Post selected Olivia Walch’s ’11 comic “Imogen Quest as a finalist in its “America’s Next Great Cartoonist” contest Thursday.
More than 500 cartoonists submitted six black and white cartoons to the contest as a sample of their work. From those submissions, a panel of judges from The Washington Post selected 10, which then received feedback from celebrity guests including “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau, “Pearls Before Swine” creator Stephan Pastis and Stan Lee of “Spider-Man,” among others.
“[The feedback is] hugely exciting, especially since I’ve been reading some of [the panelists’] cartoons for almost ten years now,” Walch said. “My brother is a big fan of Stephan Pastis and now thinks I am cool for the first time in perhaps ever.”
“Comic Riffs” blogger for The Washington Post Michael Cavna, who began planning the competition earlier this year, said the contest was aimed at introducing promising artists a chance to start in the comic industry.
“This contest — given all the publicity it’s received — ensures heightened visibility for the finalists, including from comics-industry folks who are watching closely,” he said. “At 20, I would have donated minor organs — Stan Lee vs. my spleen, now there’s a no-brainer — for such feedback from a legend.”
Online visitors to the competition’s website voted on the 10 entries selected. The top five advanced to the second round of the competition, which will require a full-color Sunday strip and character sheet, providing more information on both the style of the comic, as well as a response to comments from the judges.
For non-character based comics including Walch’s, Cavna said a character sheet can be used to further explain the philosophy behind both the style of art and sense of humor.
Walch’s sample comics make jokes ranging from the use of dead pets as family passwords to the Greek poet Hesiod, who contributed names to constellations.
Her comic received comparison to the strip “Rhymes with Orange” by Hilary Price for both similar humor and style.
“I’m tremendously flattered,” Walch said. “Rhymes with Orange is hilarious.”
Walch said most of her drawings are the evolutions of doodles that she works on in class.
“My notes are categorically appalling; half numbers, half doodled faces,” she said. “I’ve doodled on essentially every sheet of paper I’ve come into contact with during my time at William and Mary.”
Walch has previously submitted to publications including The New Yorker, however this was the first time she received a response.
The “America’s Next Great Cartoonist” competition can be viewed here.
__Editor’s note: Olivia Walch is a Flat Hat cartoonist, image courtesy The Washington Post.__