December 2016 Competition Results
December’s adjudicator was Catherine Wild, Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Winchester. Catherine is a PhD candidate on Comics Writing, with particular reference to Pat Mills, so is perfectly placed to adjudicate a competition titled ‘Introduce a new comics character’ with one picture if desired. Entries were plentiful and Catherine took time to enjoy them before writing her comments, which are below.
1st Place: Honey Stavonhagen – Piccolo Pine
2nd Place: Scott Goldie – Barb
3rd Place: Damon L Wakes – Captain Redundanc
Highly Commended: Wendy Fitzgerald – I am Freyja and Rosie Sutcliffe – Verda Beech
1 st – Piccolo Pine by Honey Stavonhagen
Catherine Wild: Chosen for its full and clear character description, excellent layout and originality. It is believable and quite charming.
Name: Piccolo Pine
Power: She can control music and sounds. Manipulates musical staves to solve problems (a bit like Spiderman’s web-shooters).
Physical appearance: Six-year-old girl, curly afro pigtails, freckles, 1.15m tall. Horizontal black and white striped t-shirt (staves).
Origin Story: Piccolo’s mother, Octavia (piccolo player) wore a magical chime pendant around her bump during pregnancy. Her mother died in childbirth, but her father, Quentin (a composer) placed Octavia’s piccolo in the baby’s cot to soothe her hoping some of the mother’s breath would still be inside the instrument. The first time Piccolo blew into it, a string of notes flew across the room, picked up a toy duck and brought it back to her.
Superhero Personality: Gregarious, loyal and a good listener. Has perfect pitch and names the tones and keys of everyday sounds: car horns, doorbells, sirens. She loves a ‘drop of silence’ when she’s tired.
Trademark: Her pigtails make the shape of treble clefs when she is playing the piccolo.
Alter-Ego Personality: Bubbly and full of questions, she has a tantrum if she’s ever told she can’t do something because she’s too young.
Sidekick: Wild blackbird called Maestro who lives in her garden. He is the sage, teaching her useful/powerful tunes to help sad or lonely children/adults.
Tragic Flaw: She often forgets the tunes, or which magic melody does what. She loves to play for pleasure but her improvised compositions sometimes get her into trouble.
Community Relationship: Only Maestro knows of her abilities. He is training her up to be a maestro (magical, musical do-gooder) like him.
Colour palette: Grayscale colourway on plain white background, yellow boots and beak. Newspaper print for buildings/trees.
Main Enemies: People who hate music or tell her to be quiet. The noise polluters: diggers, motorways, loud noises that drown out all others.
2nd – Barb by Scott Goldie
Catherine Wild: Chosen for its attention to detail, character history and believable protagonist. I particularly liked the collaborative aspect between SG and IG, as illustrator.
Barb, a feisty goblin warrior, doesn’t cut an imposing figure. Young, small, slight of build, she hardly looks formidable. But Barb is lightning fast, her fierce determination making up for her lack of stature.
And Barb has landed her dream job: chasing magical beasts for the Creature Retrieval Service. Craving adventure, Barb wants to fight trolls and discover the best way to capture giants.
So far, all she’s learnt is that catching gnomes is very, very boring.
Brought up in Mildew by her blacksmith mother, Barb’s favourite toy as a goblet* was her wooden sword. Much of her young life was spent at the Arena, watching the warriors face the hazards of The Gauntlet. Her admiration of these tall, swaggering figures made her believe that a true warrior doesn’t need friends, shouldn’t feel fear and should never, ever put aside their weapons.
Barb has green, almond shaped eyes and sharp features. A warrior’s topknot ties up her long, black hair and a small pale scar runs through her left eyebrow. Barb’s mace and her notched short sword hang at her belt, her buckler shield from a strap on her back. She wears battered leather armour, the hide skirt cracked and split with age. At least second-hand, Barb reckons it’s older than she is. She thinks her nose too long.
Quick tempered, Barb can be impetuous and reckless. This hotheadedness leads her into an unwise wager with handsome, ruthless Quarrel, the leader of a rival squad.
Barb dreams of completing The Gauntlet and owning a suit of beautiful yale-horn scale armour. Her favourite smell is leather polish. She loves crumpets, properly toasted of course, and pickled snake’s eggs.
Barb must learn to trust her squad and desperately needs a friend.
Her greatest fears are looking foolish. And bats. She hates bats.
3rd – Captain Redundancy by Damon L Wakes
Catherine Wild: It has not gone unnoticed that this submission seeks to parody the comic hero concept and indeed this competition itself, which I found to be quite refreshing. That said, the character is effective, as is his side kick Tautology Boy. The submission itself is very dry and errs on the side of metafiction.
Mild mannered jobseeker John Johnson by day, by night Capt. Captain “Redundancy” Redundancy is a superhero whose superpower is redundancy! Wherever there is crime and somebody is already dealing with it, Captain Redundancy will be there, his sidekick Tautology Boy by his side.
A dark and brooding figurehead of justice, Captain Redundancy spends his nights staring out over the city he is sworn to stare out over. As a symbol of his calling as a hero, he wears a pair of underpants over his tights in addition to the usual pair worn underneath. The outer pair are redunderpants. They are red. Captain Redundancy wears red redunderpants.
John Johnson gained his powers after a bite from a radioactive mosquito caused him to stumble into the path of a chemical truck full of vacuum cleaner cleaner. Following this workplace accident—which granted him the incredible powers of redundancy—he was made redundant. Having accepted Tautology Boy as his sidekick, Captain Redundancy’s sidekick became Tautology Boy. Tautology Boy’s powers of tautology are a natural and direct consequence of being Tautology Boy, whose power is tautology.
Villains across the city fear Captain Redundancy, for by the time they see him it is already too late: the arrival of his dreaded carmobile guarantees that some other superhero has doubtless foiled their plans already. Captain Redundancy will never respond to a crime unless his presence is completely redundant, and thus—in doing pretty much nothing of any consequence himself—he is a beacon of hope in dark times: not the hero the city needs, but the hero it doesn’t.
Also Tautology Boy is there too.
Highly Commended – I am Freyja by Wendy Fitzgerald
Catherine Wild: For its ability to characterise through prose and attention to plot set-up.
After the Apocalypse of 2120, those who lived became Undergrounders.
Named from the underground railways where we first survived, we burrowed vast networks of foodfarms, living off fungi-base and lampcrops whilst the earth above us died.
Now 2270, food is short; conflicts erupt, led by Frage, a malcontent. We have learnt nothing.
Of late, the Overland recovers: rich jungle now covers barren wasteland. My people fear the Outside; shun its promise. But I love its wild beauty.
Lost there one day, Gaya rescues me. She is beautiful, youthful, but her tree marks show she is old compared to Undergrounders. She shows me her food growing in earth; tells of her people hiding from Undergrounders who kill them. Returns me to my homegate safely. Gaya is kind.
I stop trusting Undergrounder teachings; only Gaya’s. I sneak away often to find her.
We grow plants in her earth; craft from wood; are at one with the Outside.
But one day, too late, I find her wounded; she dies in my arms. Grief overcomes me: I hold her body until it is cold, but her warmth still courses through my veins.
I bury Gaya in her earth. Line up twigs to mark her grave. They burst into leaf.
Shocked, I move away, line up more twigs. They too leaf. I scatter seed: it crops in hours.
It seems she has given me … a gift.
So this is my quest: I must find out what this portends. Find Gaya’s people, see who they are; learn how to use this gift for good, not evil.
With it, Undergrounders could move Overland. Without it, we fight and die.
But Undergrounders hunt Overlanders down. There will be hatred, violence and more war.
Do I share this gift – or die with it…?
Highly Commended – Verda Beech by Rosie Sutcliffe
Catherine Wild: For its adherence to the brief and effective message.
Verda Beech is a young biology teacher, working in her local secondary comprehensive school, well liked by her students, she is fun, creative and her lessons are lively, unusual, often packing a strong environmental punch, wherever possible. During the working day, Verda inspires her students to think ethically and care about other living beings. She is a strong, statuesque woman in her late twenties, with long light brown hair and striking green eyes.
Weekends and holidays see Verda travelling to destinations where animal species are under threat or danger where she tackles both individuals and huge multi national companies in her valiant attempts to save these creatures.
When on her rescue missions Verda has a costume comprising a green shirt, with lace up front, brown trousers and brown boots, which could be from any era throughout history, this costume, however, has the ability to change, chameleon-like to match its surroundings, giving it a near invisible quality.
It is also adaptable to any environment, cool in steamy jungles, warm in the freezing artic, dry after swimming.
Verda’s powers include a telepathic ability to understand and communicate on a basic level with animals, resulting in great empathy which drives her to fight for them. She has some healing abilities, is highly intelligent, perceptive and can detect weaknesses in an enemy and use it against them. Verda is proficient in self defence, though prefers to use her wit rather than her considerable strength to defeat her adversaries.
Enemies include hunters, whalers, logging companies, huge building corporations, battery farmers, bear bile farmers and similar.
Verda had a relatively ordinary childhood, although from an early age she recognised a close connection with animals. Her main flaw is that she can be too trusting.
Her aim – to banish animal cruelty worldwide.