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Washington Post to host “cartoon project” (UPDATED)

Starting May 10, the Washington Post’s “Comic Riffs” will begin what the blog’s author Michael Cavna calls “a better way” to aid aspiring cartoonists.

Sharpen your pencils, sharpen your comic minds — and check back here in this space come Monday, May 10.

UPDATE: I asked Mr. Cavna if he could elaborate at all on the nature of the “cartoon project”. What he could say on record:

“Formally, it will be a project over several months to promote aspiring comic strip cartoonists. Informally, we’ll see what grows out of this project. Comic Riffs is always open to new ideas.”

UPDATE: Apologies to Kelly who submitted this story. I didn’t realize comments were turned off. Please discuss.

Community Comments

#1 Bearman
May/10/2010
@ 6:52 pm

I mentioned on the WP post that I am concerned about their wording on copyright in the rules.

“The work performed or produced by the Challenge Participant for the Challenge portion of the Contest (collectively, “Challenge Submissions”) shall be work made for hire and that, in the event that the work is deemed not a work for hire, Challenge Participant agrees to assign to Sponsor all right, title and interest in all Challenge Submissions performed or produced by Challenge Participant including all copyrights, and exclusive worldwide rights to reproduce, distribute, modify, and create derivative works for all media or forms now known or unknown, including (without limitation) distribution through the Washington Post Writers Group. All documents, magnetically or optically encoded media, and other tangible materials created by Challenge Participant for the Challenge portion of the Contest will be owned by Sponsor. This subparagraph (i) shall be referred to as the “Ownership Provision”.”

#2 Kelly McNutt
May/10/2010
@ 8:09 pm

@ Bearman: Concerning, indeed. I haven’t read the rules yet, and that, to me, seems like a non-starter for anyone who’s even somewhat serious about their work.

#3 Bearman Cartoons
May/10/2010
@ 8:47 pm

Looks like Michael is going to check with the lawyers about some of the language in it.

“As a cartoonist who’s signed more than one syndicate contract over rights to my creations, I’ve asked The Post to review this clause again for clarity.”

#4 Tony Piro
May/10/2010
@ 9:07 pm

Wow, so I get to lose my copyright, whether I win or not?

Sign me up!

#5 Shawn Labadie
May/10/2010
@ 10:26 pm

I read through all the rules today and that was a HUGE concern for me as well. It looks like it only applies to the challenge portion of the contest which means that the original 6 strips or panels that you submit are not subject to this. Based on the way the rules read the challenge portion looks like you will be asked to create some original work that may or may not include any current features that you are working on.

I’d be interested in seeing the clarification from The Post on this.

#6 Ted Rall
May/11/2010
@ 6:05 am

I was recently asked to judge a new cartoon contest. The rules contained the same language about transferring copyright in toto to the organization sponsoring the contest.

It got changed–after a lot of argument–but this is clearly something of a trend: Lawyers Gone Wild.

Certainly contest organizers need the right to reproduce winning entries, but the right to reprint is sufficient for that. Six decades after Milt Caniff waged the battle against his syndicate, it is standard for cartoonists to retain copyright in their work.

#7 Michael Cavna
May/11/2010
@ 7:19 am

Thanks again, Bearman Cartoons, for pointing to the clauses that most concerned you. They need revision.

I met with the contest’s producers and Post legal yesterday and I have proposed new wording so that, among other things, the Entrant/Creator does NOT forfeit rights to his/her work. Revisions are absolutely TK in the days ahead.

My cartoon creations have always been like my children; there’s a big difference between letting my “kid” go on an audition with hopes of landing a national commercial VS. signing away my firstborn. (And feel free to run with that metaphor however you see fit — it’s a fertile one, to be sure.)

I’ll definitely keep folks apprised.

–M.

#8 Kelly McNutt
May/11/2010
@ 7:50 am

Leave it to lawyers to take a good idea and lame it up.

#9 Mike Cope
May/11/2010
@ 8:26 am

Too bad the eligibility isn’t more inclusive like Comic Strip Superstar was — it was a fun experience.

#10 Bearman Cartoons
May/11/2010
@ 6:28 pm

Thanks for the continued updates Michael.

#11 Michael Cavna
May/12/2010
@ 6:32 pm

Absolutely. After three straight days of rules-revision meetings, I’ll continue to update until this is hammered out.

–M.C.

#12 Eileen Conley
May/13/2010
@ 6:20 pm

Thanks to Michael C. for keeping on through three straight days of rules-revision meetings. For those of us who like to draw cartoons, we know that kind of serious engagement must have seemed like twelve days. With those changes, I am happy to jump into this too. Thanks again.

#13 Bearman Cartoons
May/13/2010
@ 9:31 pm

Rules have been updated to what I consider favorable terms for the artist and now they announced a $1000 grand prize

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