Hello, comic fans, and welcome to Round One of "Comic Book Idol." I'm your host J. Torres. And just like on TV programs such as "American Idol" and "Pop Stars", the "audition process" for our show proved to be exciting, amusing, and full of surprises. Also, kind of like Oni Press' monthly output.
If you're just tuning in, "Comic Book Idol" is an amateur art competition. It's a five-week, five-round contest in which aspiring comic book artists must complete certain art assignment by a deadline. We have judges who will comment on and critique said artwork, and you, dear reader, will get to vote on which contestants get to move ahead and which need to move along.
Last week, we invited people to post links to their online art samples and virtual portfolios in the official "Comic Book Idol" moderated forum. We received 166 entries. Some good, some… not so good. While others were surprisingly very good for so-called amateur artists. Some of you should expect some calls. But I digress…
166 hopefuls but only ten spots in the competition. Some hearts were bound to be broken, and someone had to do the heartbreaking. That task fell to yours truly, CBR Executive Producer Jonah "Love 'Em And Leave 'Em" Weiland, "Pipeline" columnist Augie "Call Me Daddy" De Blieck, and CBR staff writer Arune "He Makes the Girls' Hearts" Singh. It was up to us to visit all 166+ links and find the ten to compete in this contest. It took each member of this sexy screening committee hours and hours to visit all the links and browse the pages and pages of artwork, write down notes and send out memos, and finally come up with some finalists.
We employed a flawed but serviceable system wherein each of us "nominated" five artists and ranked them in order of preference, from first to fifth. All first place nominations were awarded five points, all second place nominations got four points, third place nominations earned three points, and so on. We ended up with a total of seventeen different nominees handpicked from those 166 hopeful. Out of those seventeen artists, eight of them scored high enough to guarantee them spots in our top ten but… we also ended up with a four-way tie for the last two spots.
To solve this dilemma, we discussed letting all four compete and thought about simply increasing the number of competitors from ten to twelve. But we knew we had to get the okay from our panel of judges, including our guest judges, before changing the line-up like that. After all, the eight judges had only agreed to critique a certain number of artists. Plus, we'd then have to agree upon how to alter the process of elimination with the two extra contestants (eliminate four in the first round? three in the first two rounds? have four finalists in the last round?). We weren't sure if there would be enough time to discuss all the changes to the schedule and get everyone's okay by the end of the day. Mostly, we worried that all of the above might remain unresolved too late in the day to execute any kind of Plan B.
For better or for worse, Plan B involved letting the comic people have their say. We decided to run our first elimination poll one week ahead of schedule, thinking it would be easier, more exciting, and more fun than voting privately amongst ourselves. At least we got two out of three right. Nonetheless, we left it up to the public to break the tie in a 24-hour poll. A lot of people on the message boards, including yours truly, were all: "Pinto! Pinto! Pinto!" And other posters were all: "McSweeney! McSweeney! McSweeny!" But the vocal supporters of those two were out-voted by the quieter Goni and Villalobos contingent. And while Goni led by a comfortable margin the whole time, Villalobos only squeaked by McSweeney… by one vote! And McSweeney actually voted for… Pinto! Oh, my stars and garters! What an upset! The thrill of victory! The agony of defeat! By… one… vote.
Really, folks, it was pretty exciting stuff.
Okay. Maybe you just had to be there.
Anyway, with the tie broken, we added the two people's choices to the eight chosen by the CBR staffers and came up with a very eclectic and somewhat international list of artists.
So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you our ten talented "Comic Book Idol" contestants…
Chris Ring (a.k.a. David Frawley)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Hector Enrique Sevilla Lujan
Florence, South Carolina
L. Frank Weber
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Michael J. Flores
New York, New York
Congratulations to our ten finalists!
And now it's time to throw these people into the lion's den where Ron Marz (CrossGen Senior Writer and Code 6 Editor), Joe Quesada (artist and Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief), and Jamie S. Rich (writer and Oni Press Editor-in-Chief) await them.
Joining our regular panel of judges as a guest judge this week is cartoonist and "Oddball Comics" columnist Scott Shaw!
So, how does this all work? What are the judges judging? What are the drawers drawing? When will the comic people have their say again?
Contestants, are you paying attention?
Your first assignment is a character design of a Greco-Roman god. This is for no specific "project", it's simply an assignment meant to give you a chance to show us your interpretive skills, your art style, your… thang. Pick a god, any god from the Greco-Roman pantheon, pose 'em, dress 'em, draw 'em how you like. Impress us.
Oh, it's also a test to see how well you follow direction:
Please limit your paper size to a standard comic board or 11x17" piece of paper. Present your "model sheet" horizontally or vertically, that's your call. But you should try to make the image around 500 pixels wide or larger with a maximum file size of 104k, and you might want to use the "Save For Web" option to help optimize the file size if you're using Photoshop.
As with every art assignment in this contest, and every round of competition, we leave it up to the individual artists to decide whether they want to submit only pencils, ink their work, or go all the way with colored art, once they consider the subject matter, format of the assignment, and the time constraint. Speaking of which…
Your deadline is Monday, August 18 @ noon (EST).
Once you're ready to post your artwork, head on over to the CBI message board and e-mail me that your message is in cue. One of our moderators will eventually approve your post in a thread titled "Round One: [Your Name Here]." This thread will then be open for the judges to view and post comments on your artwork. Fans may also view the art but will not be allowed to post in this thread. There will be a separate thread for comments from the peanut gallery.
The judges have approximately 48 hours to review and rant or rave about your work.
Then on Wednesday, August 20 around noon (EST) we open a 24-hour poll for CBR fans to vote in, and the two artists who end up with the least number of votes will be eliminated while the other eight move on to Round Two and the next art assignment.
One last note to our top ten: I'm hoping to see "American Splendor" tomorrow or Saturday, and go for dim sum with some friends on Sunday. Maybe even hit Toys R Us to pick out presents for a niece and nephew celebrating a birthday soon… What? I just thought that since I know what you're doing this weekend, it was only fair that you knew what I was up to.
Next week: Two will be eliminated. Eight will move on. Artist Darick Robertson is our guest judge and the art assignment will somehow involve his writer on "Wolverine."
Meanwhile, drop by the Open Your Mouth message boards and tell us what you're up to this weekend.
Thank you for your attention.