And now, our Champion has been crowned, the City shall be saved...
The City final
All right then, let’s kick things off with 1nky’s round.
1nky has consistently given us strong, clear rounds, and her entry does not fail us this time. I am more than pleased with the quality of art, and writing 1nky has crafted for the finale. Nice, sharp lines and what I am starting to see as a signature use of color in strategic places make this round a visual pleasure. Even the ‘sketchier’ pages still had a nice sharp look to them.
The writing is what really makes it shine. We start the round from the ‘Cracks” point of view. It always interests me when a competitor starts off focusing on their opponent- in this case, playing off the end of Sting’s round so we get to see more of Evan and his psychological dilemma. Including his continued struggle against the dead.
Bringing back Dacre to assist Miral made me smile- tying in your first round with your last, even in a small way is a good move.
Using the flashbacks to flesh out the Flecks was smart, I just wish we could have seen a few more of them in earlier rounds, had time permitted. Using them now though did the trick, and set up Cigul and Miral’s motivation very well. 1nky also did not neglect Evan, which again was good. (Also, nice job of rounding up the contestants for a pretty snazzy ‘Last Stand’)
Having Cigul utilize the cracks to make a body was not something I predicted. It was also nice to finally be able to understand him- admittedly one of the things that annoyed me the most out of 1nky’s entries was how hard it was to puzzle through the flecks miming. It was never enough to really detract from entries, but finally getting a little bit of clear story from him was refreshing.
(“The End” page has to be one of my favorites. Even if everyone dies, I LOVE how you put it together, that final push to make Cigul become strong)
(And then “Death Wish” good lord that page really got to me, Cigul handled the situation better than anyone could have hoped and few could have written.)
Then the warm tones in the next pages. The rejuvenation of the City- a very fitting ending to a wonderful tale. 1nky wound things together splendidly.
I know this is the point where I would point out flaws. But I addressed the few things that bothered me already, and all I can honestly say is thank you, 1nky, for a splendid and well balanced round. Everything tied together in a neat little bundle, and you delivered it to us in a lovely package.
Now, on to Stingdragon’s entry. Oh boy oh boy was I looking forward to this. Sting’s inking style has consistently been one of my favorite things in this tournament, the bold cross hatching and uses of various greys. I am so pleased I threw my vote your way during the auditions- you’ve risen above and beyond my expectations, Sting.
I also have to say I appreciate how you chose to keep some pages sketchy, so you could focus your energy on pumping life into the important ones- and boy does Sting ever pack a one-two punch when those important pages pop up. (also, the use of paneling was really on the ball this round, very well done)
The plot hits fast and hard, with Evan getting both physical and mental attacks. The mysterious voice pulls him through, and I found myself getting more and more excited at the prospect of us finding out who or what it was. Then we have poor Miral finding Cigul’s body, falling into peril once more.
And then Sting pulls out the trump card- a moral dilemma of life and death proportions. IS one life worth the entire multiverse? Evan’s internal struggle with his duties and his role as a hero were a riveting read- if almost TOO text heavy at times. (one of the few detractors to the round- there were a LOT of speech bubbles, some to the point where it was almost tiring to read them all. Of course in a few pages that was intentional! And used well! But it still got a tad bit overwhelming. Which was the point I suppose- ignore me I am rambling now hahah)
His better nature wins though. I was glad to see that, how he got to be true to himself in the end. I think that was one of the moments that really made me connect with Evan as a character- when he gave Cigul a chance to make his own choice. Using his bag to make Cigul a new body was a clever choice. (And one of the motorcycle gloves for his hand- that made me smile)
Also, good going Evan. Your super-pokey-fingers strike again. Thanks for the good laugh Sting, with as serious as your entry was, that tiny dose of humor was timed very nicely. When the crack revealed the scales- I nearly lost it. Making the interior of the wall a giant snake, an Ouraboros, was something I never would have thought of in a hundred years. (That also ties in to how the dead were confusing it- a snake biting its own tail physically and metaphorically!)
It seems Evan was destined to sacrifice himself though. And the monologue at the end, along with those last few panels- the use of angles! His heroic leap into the snakes maw! His smile and finally seeing his eyes… Oh the emotions Sting crafted were wonderful!! It’s been a long time since an OCT entry made me want to cry like Sting’s entry did.
But the abrupt ending… that’s what I have the biggest problem with. We get the resolution of the City being saved but… what happened to Evan? Was everything repaired, did those who die or get injured become healed? I feel like there was so much left unanswered!
As I said to 1nky, and now I say to you, thank you Sting. Thank you for taking the bare story I and my judges laid out for you and winding it into a tapestry any oct host or contestant should be proud to display. Thank you for making an ending that really left me sitting there in stunned awe.
Now, here comes the hard part. Having to choose between the two entries. Never again will I berate a judge for having to choose emotional intensity over the satisfaction of a steady, if less intense, round. While Sting’s round had an emotional impact with me that 1nky’s didn’t quite create, the ending threw me off- so abrupt. 1nky managed to keep a steady storyflow, a steady emotional impact, AND delivered an ending that left me satisfied the whole way through. Even if Sting’s entry has so much I love about it! The art and emotional impacts are stunning!
Ah but I must choose between the two of you… even after writing this all out, it’s a hard, near impossible task. I want to just let you both win, each rounds have such strong cases for them!
My heart wants to vote for Sting. But my head and my gut tell me to go for the solid, steady story.
Of course, being the finals it’s not easy picking the winner. The best of the best have made it to the end due to their superb story telling abilities! Both Sting and 1nky displayed some top-notch comic skills, and like I said, making our jobs as judges all the more hard. The one thing I loved equally of both stories was the fact that both artists incorporated each others plots into their own, and yet still managed to focus mainly on their own, original plot. So story-wise they were evenly matched. 1nky and Sting both had wonderful character interaction and development going on all over the place. Overall, both entries kept you at the end of your seat wondering what the conclusion would be.
As for a winner, my vote is going to 1nky.
Her entry felt it had a more, complete ending and story over all. She’s shown from the start, her effort and drive to strive for first place. One of my favorite qualities of her comics is the presentation. There’s nothing wrong with using classic, square panels for every scene, but 1nky took it up a notch this round as she did every other round. The visual storytelling helped readers understand what’s going on and even what her characters were saying or trying to convey. Each panel flowed into the next wonderfully, not once having the reader to reread panels. I’m still amazed at the amount of story she slipped in for both her character’s and her opponent’s, all while maintaining the current plot of the City and the climax taking place. It made the entry that much more full.
But again, saying this, Sting’s entry still held par with 1nky’s. It was a few things that pushed my vote for 1nky’s though. Again, this was rather difficult to choose, both are exceptional comic artists and rightfully deserve to be here in the finale.
TLDR : both are awesome, but get's my vote
Let me give you a round applause for the hard work and the wonderful stories you delivered to us. And now let me hit you (lovingly) for giving me such a hard time deciding... my feelings, you played with them and now it's being really troublesome to put them back in order.
Both entries ended with a strong emotional weight, each of them solved The Wall issue in their own way, with their own justification, but in the end they both provided a very satisfactory wrap up to the plots that tangled up through the tournament.
Sting's entry felt more focused on Evan's side of the story, sure it wrapped up greatly and played nicely with her opponent's characters, but felt a bit one sided to say somehow.
1nky got a better hand at working with both her characters and Sting's, she even included the other characters that had been floating around the City to help out.
Both entries are great, but in the end 1nky's felt much more satisfactory.
My vote goes to .
Once more, thank you all for such a great tournament!
And so, with a unanimous vote, has become the victor of The City.
There's a lot I could say right now, about how much I have learned and how much you all have put into this. All of you, the contestants and watchers from the sidelines, have made this OCT a great success. The two finalists BOTH deserve a round of applause, and I ask you give them both ALL the praise- along with every other competitor who lifted pen, pencil or tablet to contribute.
But I'll save the long speech for another time, if ever- you all know how great and amazing you are.
For now I'll let the winners bask in their soon-to-be-given rewards ((I will get to contacting the prizegivers today and tomorrow)) and the success of victory.
The Wall has been fixed.
The City has been Saved.
The tournament is officially over.