Comics Contest 2009

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it American Idol? So You Think You Can Dance? RuPaul’s Drag Race? No! It’s The Scope’s second annual…

You know, this judging thing doesn’t get any easier.

It’s the second year we’ve held a comic contest, and it’s the second year we’ve had a heck of a difficult time deciding what comics to include on our comics page. We received almost 30 entries from Newfoundland and Labrador artists this year—each one with its own merits. Even the ones drawn in crayon on the back of Tim Horton’s placemats.

So it was tough.

Like with all good reality TV, fresh blood came head to head with the more experienced participants. There were dramatic upsets. Tears. Elation. Dramatic theme music. Harsh judges. In-fighting. Gun battles. Zombies. Rats. Sharks. Rock stars. Drugs. And, of course, poop jokes.

So, without further ado, here are the winners of the comic contest.

Emilie Bourque • Erin McKee • Ricky King (From Earth—retired) • Sydney Blackmore • Lesley Marie Reade • Kerri Breen • Adam Clarke • Wallace Ryan • Rachel Harding • Mark Callanan • Rodney Wall • Elling Lien • Mark Bennett • Andreae Prozesky • Susan Kent • Bryhanna Greenough

Some thank yous and farewells…

Some of last years’ winners who will not be continuing on the comics page this year.

Some honourable mentions

So close!

First runner-up

($100 prize)
First Aid Comics by Matt Grant and Jessica Butler.

Second runner-up

Boneified by Darren Whalen

($50 prize)

The big winners

Werebears and Only Children by Jennifer Barrett

It was Jennifer’s first year actually competing in the contest, but she’s been in The Scope more or less since the dawn of time. She stuck to her guns with the submitted strips, and it paid off. If it ain’t broke…

What is Werebears?
Werebears and Only Children is a crudely drawn gag comic strip featuring two nameless protagonists who may or may not care for each other. The boy is of the nerd persuasion, while the girl is more of a closet-nerd type.

Who are you?
I’m an artist and I make comics and paintings these days. My new favorite thing is going to comic conventions and trying to defeat my painful shyness by giving away minicomics and buttons. I also work as a screenprinter and I’m on the board of directors at St. Michael’s printshop. My favorite animals at the zoo are giraffes and beavers.

What’s your inspiration for this strip?
I was actually invited by The Scope a couple of years ago to contribute a comic to the Bottom Line and I began making odds and ends that were somewhat auto-biographical. Then the strip took on a life of its own, much to my delight and relief. I just try to incorporate things that I like and think are funny and/or weird, like cooking or role-playing games.

Was there a moment in your history when you knew you wanted to draw comics?
I don’t have an exact moment, but I used to make up my own Garfield comics and I invented a character called The Big Apple, who was a fat dude in an apple suit that lived in New York City. And he had a dog and stuff. I always thought I’d like to have a comic strip in the newspapers.

What the judges said:
“I like that she can get so much life out of essentially a bunch of circles, four dots for eyes, and a couple of other slivers of line. Her dialogue feels like real conversations and her characters manage to be funny, sweet, and kinda mean all at the same time. It is one of the first sections I flip to in The Scope—sorry everyone else—ever since you started publishing.”

Everybody Cheer Up by Bryan Melanson

You probably know Bryan better by the name Errand Boy. He’s famous locally for producing ornate, emotionally-charged electronic music, but little did you know he’s also a sarcastic wit and can draw Lego people real good.

What is Everybody Cheer Up?
I’d explain it in really clear terms as a story about a ghost with a bowtie and a Lego man in boxer shorts, dealing with the constructs of my diseased mind.

Who are you?
My name is Bryan Melanson, I’m 25, I’ve been drawing my whole life but kind of got sidetracked making music as Errand Boy for a few years, until someone reminded me I could make money drawing for The Scope.

What’s your inspiration for this strip?
My inspiration has always been my stubbornness. If I get an idea that I want to do something and be good at it I’m more driven by the urge to get better than any kind of goal. So I’ve been reading a lot of webcomics to try to get a feel for punchlines and analyzing who would win if I arm-wrestled all of the web comic authors.

Was there a moment in your history when you knew you wanted to draw comics?
When I was a child, I can remember the satisfaction I felt the first time I understood coloring inside the lines when I was drawing a picture of the Ninja Turtles jumping off a building. I knew then that this day would come.

What the judges said:
Everybody Cheer Up consistently had the best punchlines of all the entries this year. Really funny and full of nice, simple art and pop culture references.”

Ms. Quote by Tara Fleming

Tara has a drawing style full of nuance, and her comics are clever without relying heavily on gags. This strip has been endearing itself to readers ever since it appeared one year ago, and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

What is Ms. Quote?
Ms. Quote is a comic about a sassy little woman with a sharp tongue and a penchant for using catchy quotes to underscore arguments with her sweet and very patient boyfriend. The idea is pretty straightforward; with the excess of one-liners, expressions and memorable quotes making for endless possible situations in which to place the two key characters.

Who are you?
I am a visual artist living and working in St. John’s. I love to read and have a habit of perusing insignificant (and sometimes newsworthy) items on the Internet while I sip my morning coffee. I do try to memorize certain quotes if they have particular significance to me, my favorite being J.R.R Tolkien’s, “not all those who wander are lost.” and I have been barraged with choice expressions on issues such as tardiness, propriety and insobriety (not really just threw that in cause’ it had a nice alliterative quality.) In addition to illustrating I also enjoy painting with watercolor and acrylic mediums and my favorite hobby is cooking.

What’s your inspiration for this strip?
Well it just so happens that I have found myself in a handful typical scenarios like the ones I illustrate in the comic, and my feelings on the matter of petty arguments are usually as follows: If you have nothing nice or productive to say don’t say anything, but if you can’t resist go with sarcasm. It really gets the other person’s dander up. I guess the strip is slightly autobiographical, to answer the question.

Was there a moment in your history when you knew you wanted to draw comics?
Well, this is the second year that The Scope is featuring Ms.Quote, I am very pleased to say, and my response the first time was something to the effect of having always enjoyed reading, writing and drawing it just seemed inevitable that I would try my hand at combining those skills in the typical format of a comic. I greatly enjoy reading certain comics and graphic novels and I regard the opportunity of creating and having this strip published as a springboard for further efforts. Plus it’s fun!

What the judges said:
“I’d like to see Ms. Quote in the Scope again because Tara has such a great drawing style. And her illustrations for DIY are always excellent too. Plus I really liked that she included sources for her sometimes-cryptic quotes underneath the strips. This is an exciting new development, a combination puzzle/comic of sorts. (Ms. Quote 2.0?)”

Comic Sans by Andrew Power

One look at Andrew Power’s Comic Sans and you see he’s a good visual storyteller and knows his way around image editing software. He’s also good with eyebrows.

What is Comic Sans?
It’s about a student attending graphic design/print production school. Loosely based on myself, he’s a bit of a jerk and a total design-snob with a temper. I try to use a combination of nerd and design-related humour, but often stray from this into much broader subjects. It’s really not funny, but the art is clean and vectory…

Who are you?
I’m an 18 year old graphic design student attending CNA while living in CBS. I’ve always been very passionate about art and have been pursuing it in any way possible since I was about 14. This has lead me to compete at Skills Canada the past few years where I have won national medals representing Newfoundland in graphic design. I also do some freelance design work.

What’s your inspiration for this strip?
The strip is mostly inspired by my life and being so involved in the graphic design community. I don’t really read a lot of comics so most of my style is influenced by cartoon shows. I like to take ideas from personal frustration with the media or internet memes. Watch out Susan Boyle.

Was there a moment in your history when you knew you wanted to draw comics?
I can’t recall an exact moment, but I know in the second grade I had this fascination with drawing comic strips of stick men being killed in various ways involving boulders. Maybe then.

What the judges said:
Comic Sans is really polished. The illustrations are professional looking, each of the storylines are well-developed and the writing is sarcastic.”


  1. Matt Grant · November 17, 2010

    Congrats to the new winners! I’m excited to get my laugh on! A note for the new winners: Elling has a whip for cartoonists who don’t meet deadlines. It’s true. He calls it ‘Pullela’.

  2. Elling Lien · November 17, 2010

    It’s true.