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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 05/14/2010

POST CARTOON CONTEST: Why we revised the rules -- and the awards

By Michael Cavna



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One thing is clear: A pundit is not a comic-strip cartoonist.

Yes, both might traffic in opinions. And sometimes satire. And entertainment. And, we hope, truth. But the nature of creation can be quite different.

This difference comes to the fore this week as The Washington Post has announced its "America Next Great Cartoonist" Contest. The new contest -- a good-spirited campaign to help discover new talented cartoonists -- comes in the wake of The Post's recent "America's Next Great Pundit" competition.

In creating the new campaign, The Post adapted much of the "Pundit" Rules language, including in regards to rights and content reproduction. But that doesn't fully address at least one key distinction: Cartoonists sometimes spend years to write and draw a very specific creation, often with very personal characters -- a creation more akin to a short story or a play or, ultimately, a novel than a pundit's column writing.

Some members of the professional cartooning community, as well as prospective entrants, let The Post know just how much they value and protect their rights as creators. And having negotiated multiple syndicate contracts myself -- which prompted me to wade through reams of "legalese" to make sure I was safeguarding my creator's rights -- Comic Riffs worked with others at The Post to help revise the Cartoonist Contest Rules to more greatly benefit creators.

Or, as the contest itself now words it: "We want to make sure that America's Next Great Cartoonist provides a fair and equitable forum for aspiring cartoonists to submit their work, and that we are able to feature for our readers the best showcase of new talent possible."

The contest's wording continues: "We have therefore updated our rules and these FAQ as of May 13 in response to feedback from the public, and especially from the cartoonist community. We are now offering $1,000 to the winner (in addition to the previously announced prizes), and we are expressly limiting our license in the cartoons submitted to us to eliminate any doubt that contestants are able to pursue other opportunities."

Click to link to the new FAQ Sheet and the revised Official Rules.

So there you have it: a more spelled-out attempt to value creator's rights. And, literally, a "grand" prize -- the $1,000 award -- which represents the amount that the Washington Post Writers Group pays a creator upon signing him or her to a "development contract."

Your feedback in the Comments section below is welcome. And to all entrants, we say: Good luck!

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By Michael Cavna  | May 14, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  General  | Tags:  America's Next Great Cartoonist Contest, Arts, Cartoonist, Comic strip, Comics, Washington Post  
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