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About Varied / Artist Core Member Samuel Kim22/Male/United States Groups :iconartists-at-the-ready: Artists-at-the-Ready
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Deviant for 8 Years
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Given by Mistress-Ink
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Random Favourites This is a journal to people i've featured. If possible i would link every person i've ever watched but these people are exceptional and deserve to be noticed! GO LOOK AT 'EM


:iconartists-at-the-ready: :iconworldsofmonsters:
Man, I haven't written a journal here in half a year. Haven't written much at all actually, so this is gonna be rusty as fuck. Nothing's really prompted me to write this, but I've always had these thoughts in my mind about OCTs so I thought I could try and share them. I don't think I'm saying anything that people haven't already thought about, but this is also to help me organize my own thoughts a little.

Also judging Round 2 of AATR4 is hard so I'm takin' a break...

Fair warning, i'm a cynic. You can skip to bottom for TL;DR

"How do you compare two comics?" Well, what comes to my mind first is to separate the comics into different categories like genres and themes. Then you can get down to more objective stuff, like technical ability, tone, facts, writing ability. But when objectivity isn't enough, then the nonobjective things start showing up again, like tastes, "entertainment value", plot points and tropes. 

But the real question I want to ask is, "When comparing two comics, how do you judge one better then other?" On one extreme opposite end, if you were to judge by completely abandoning the nonobjective principles and stick purely to facts and technical prowess, you'll find a game of rules and technicalities. "Is this about the dialogue?" "Is this about their ability to ink?" "Traditional inking is a different process then Digital inking so you can't really compare the two comics because of it." Call me full of it, but I think judging purely "objectively" and with completely micromanaged rules will lead down the path to uninspired but "purely better" works, possibly with hints of elitist notions. Of course on the other extreme opposite end, is judging completely non-objectively; or at least not judging objectively to such a degree that there is no consistency and rules. What you will get most of the time is, well, a blithering mess. But sometimes it can lead to works that transcend boundaries that will impress people on merit alone, but also leave others scratching their heads cause it's not clear how to judge it. This type of vague setting can lead to radically swaying moods and serious mob mentality.

So finding a balance between inspirational work that transcends boundaries and judging technical prowess, is the finest edge you can stand on. And this is where categories come in. By diverging the works into smaller groups and eventually complete niches, it becomes much more easier to start focusing on objectivity. You've turned the nonobjective subjects into categories and people only need to find the ones they like so they can scrutinize their works into their perfection.

And this is where OCTs truly shine. It's one giant category of pitting original characters against each other in a duel between two artists. When the theme of the tournament is crystal clear, it creates a new subcategory that attracts like minded people that like that kind of genre and theme. The comics that are produced from those types of tournaments are also tied together by that theme or have a similar goal! The comics are by no means EASIER to judge, but it cuts down nonobjective points to really give a sense of direction in the contestants. Everybody knows where to go from the beginning, and it's all a mad dash towards the finish line.

But then there's OCT's that give the artists a giant blank canvas to "draw something." No clear message, an eye catching gimmick, and a rainbow of assorted people who think their story is gonna win. It's fundamentally flawed. To do away with the niche theme can lead to spite, regret and losing because of some vague reason that you didn't know about. It's only when they're a few rounds in do the contestants start to get a real feel for the judges and vice versa. By then, if the judges are not handling things well, the entire thing will fall apart or just leave everybody sour and bitter. But it will always end. OCTs will sometimes have different judges, different rosters, and different themes! But the beauty of OCTs have also been their greatest downfall, their short lifespan, and little to no consistency among its counterparts. The only legacy they leave are the people who were involved with them. Outside of that small pool, they're either forgotten or exist only as a faint memory. 

So how the hell is Artists-at-the-Ready still going? In some ways, it's the biggest offender of being completely unclear in message. It has no theme, just gimmicks about summoning tools, sucking artists into the fight and being a literal blank canvas dimension. It's got a list of rules about the types of OCs you can bring along that's longer then any other section of it's journals combined (i don't know if that's actually true, but that's what it feels like) and yet almost no strict set of guidelines for plot points, themes, or tone. And to top it off the panel of judges have changed with each iteration, so no two iterations have had the same experience. It was by chance that the judges kept changing, but soon that too became a gimmick. Now AATR is in it's 4th iteration and I somehow found myself on its panel. Why are there people still invested in this tournament? I'm not trying to downplay it, but I want to figure out why is it the only OCT (that i know of) to still be alive after so long?! Is it just because of the frequency of each iteration every year? If we skipped a year would it finally die? Or is it because it has a legacy of alumni that keep on coming back for whatever reason? Have they fostered a new generation yet? Or again, will it fade after the old guard leave and never come back? Is there some winning formula here? Even the people that are up in arms about it seem to keep coming back. But that point could just be coincidence and a matter of perspective. So what do people even expect from AATR anymore? When I ask my close friends that have been around the OCT circuit a lot more extensively then I have, they always mention it's for "improving their art" and "having fun". 

The fun part I get, but what are you necessarily improving by having your comic compared to another comic which might be completely different in tone, theme, and execution? That doesn't just boil down to technical prowess, that's comparing apples and oranges! Here I come full circle to my original question. Can you objectively say one is better then the other in that case? Wouldn't it really come down to the judges preferences in the end? What if you're a newbie to the OCT scene, and you find yourself up against a veteran. Or 2 amazing contenders are paired up in the first round. Isn't that just luck of the draw? For the sake of argument, let's say that every single contestant available submitted a comic that was entirely different from each other and were all so masterfully crafted that complete objectivity was not possible (this could be the case in semi-final rounds). Would winning by a technicality really fucking matter? Let me rephrase that, would winning by a technicality necessarily make one comic better then the other? And I'll answer that; by the definition of the rules, winning by a technicality would indeed make something objectively better. But for the sake of "improving your art", would that matter after an OCT ends? When the rules don't matter anymore because you're moving onto another OCT with another set of rules, would your previous OCT experiences always prove fruitful? By the end of a tournament, when you're pitting two amazing artists against each other for the sake of "improving your art", are they really winning on merit alone? 

My roundabout thought process was bumpy, but the question is clear, "When comparing two comics, Can you necessarily say one comic is better then the other?" In the context of OCTs, it has always had an answer. Yes, it just requires strict rules and guidelines. OCTs can get away with being super strict because it's always been about short experiences and knowing what to expect. There's no need for flexibility in the rules cause it's a niche experience! If you want something else, go look for an OCT that fits your bill! Why would the judges confuse the heck out of their contestants by playing with the rules, when everybody just want things to just be straight sailing towards the end? The path is clear, so don't muddle it up with rule bending. It's gonna be over right?

But it's been a strange ride with AATR, cause it's not over. It hasn't been over in a long time. More cynical people would say it went down the drain a long time ago, but I'm not so sure. How else has it managed to have 4 iterations of it already? With a large audition pool to boot each time! Again this could just be the beginning of the end for AATR, but I feel the real reason people keep coming back is because AATR has always been a wildcard of OCTs. There's no end to its surprises, whiiich some people might resent. (I make a note here that does not excuse any faults I've had in the short time I've run up till now.) The new question I pose is, "if AATR still has a future, would people really want it to keep adding and changing rules and guidelines for the next to follow or just let the rules remain the same (maybe with some better wording) and trust the judges to be consistent and fair?" Yes, I believe that's a fair question to ask because while trusting the judges to do both fairly would be optimal, that will not always be so. Sometimes you'll have incompetent judges, and sometimes you'll have competent judges that make a new rule that screws things up in a way they didn't expect. The point is, which would secure AATR's future to run smoothly and fairly consistently?

This is a question that's never really had a two ways about it cause the judges are always different, so you can really only trust the rules to be as stringent as possible. Almost all OCTs have been a one shot, with different rules, different themes, and different panels of judges and so on. While AATR has changed its judges each and every time, it's still largely kept the same rules. "Do whatever the hell you want, just no god tier OCs. Have fun." It has been the broadest definition of freedom. Sure there are connotations and examples from beyond the grave that newcomers won't be privy to at first. And sure this panel of judges might not always have the same opinions as the last panel, but with only the judges to worry about, you can always just wait for the next iteration can't you? If you can't wait that long, then check out another OCT in the mean time! The OCT scene is saturated to hell and back, you'll probably find SOMETHING you like. Hell, maybe you'll even become part of a panel of judges! (This is all assuming AATR still has a future which I sincerely hope it does. If it doesn't, feel free to burn me at the stake.)

TL;DR, AATR to my mind is first and foremost about having fun, growing a sense of community, and providing a fruitful experience that people can take away from it. I hope it will never have stringent guidelines that prioritize nonobjective points like plot and tone. As confusing as that can be at first, I don't believe it should ever matter as far as the rules are concerned. And hopefully the contestants will stick around to help the next generation of OCT'ers grow even bigger. Then maybe one day people can start looking back at all of the OCTs that have succeeded and acted as stepping stones, and say, "fuck yeah, those actually mattered."

A person that has never been in an OCT.
  • Mood: I Have To Pee



Did you actually want to see how many people picked yes? 

29 deviants said Yes.
12 deviants said No.


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Zeikier Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Whoa nelly, thanks for all them faves, broman!
Devonition Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2015   General Artist
np! good stuff~ :D 
Alerane Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2015  Professional General Artist
I see you in ma gallery, faving my 4 year old grody monster 8U
Devonition Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2015   General Artist
just clickin' around while readin' the rounds, dohoho
Alerane Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2015  Professional General Artist
lol of all things to spot...
Devonition Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2015   General Artist
yeeep haha
Misfit400 Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks so much for the fav~! :tighthug: :D
Devonition Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2015   General Artist
nice stuff!! and thanks for the favs back! xD
Misfit400 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks~! and you're welcome :D
OliviaLynn Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the fave Hug 
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