I remember when giving and receiving awards for webpages was quite the big thing, and most pages would have an "awards" section full of little animated gifs of thumbs-up or a dancing woodchuck or something; it got to be such a glut of meaningless little awards that it eventually stopped, and is a little more rare and better organized now. So I bring up the Cartoonists' Choice Awards now because 1) nominations and winners were chosen by the general webcomic creator population, and 2) some of the comics I'm a big fan of won stuff, or were at least nominated.
This year's winners were just announced July 10th; they gave awards for about 30 categories, recognizing different styles of art, writing, theme/genre, character, etc. The award goes back to 2001, though this is the first I've heard of it... It's kind of a new crop of comics every year and this is what I enjoy about the whole webcomics thing. There're some I read years ago that are ended by now (purplepussy.net) or that stopped being funny or never were to begin with (*cough* userfriendly.org, sinfest.net *cough*), and plenty of new ones I pick up on all the time... it works mostly through finding out which comics are frequented by the folks who do comics I already read. But it's this whole changing landscape that makes comics on the internet so much more lively and dynamic than comics in the newspaper, besides their simply being a whole hell of a lot funnier and more original.
So, to highlight just a few: Scarygoround.com won the top spot this year, and I must say I agree. John Allison's slick, stylish art has always intruiged me, and his characters/stories have been getting even crazier and more enjoyable lately. It's I think also the only British webcomic, or at least the only that shouts Tupping liberty! every chance it gets.
Beaverandsteve.com won for best newcomer; it started just under a year ago and already stands out for an unfailingly goofy sense of humour and artwork I dare you not to giggle over. Something about the pairing of a short, bug-eyed lizard creature and a skinny bucktoothedbeaver spells comedic success.
Qwantz.com (properly titled Daily Dinosaur Comics) won best anthropomorphic comic. The art is just clip-art, the exact same six panels of dinosaur clipart at that, but it's the most postmodern thing I can think of, with the writing giving those same images a different context every time. Plus in the general sense of continuity the characters are a lot of fun, they stand out a lot. Also: If fan-submitted art is any indication, the comic has a huge cult following.
The Perry Bible Fellowship won a couple awards, best "comedic" comic and best short-form comic; each weekly installment is just some bizarre-ass concept that maybe you have to think about for a second and then you laugh, or maybe it's immediately hilarious or makes you cringe. In any event it's addicting.
A Lesson is Learned But the Damage is Irreversable, layout winner and finalist for several other categories, is another madcap comic but strays into slightly deeper territory... really one of the more imaginative artistic ones out there. Maybe more headtrips than chuckles.
Machall.com has won in the past and was nominated for art and colour this year; last year it shared with Scary-Go-Round for best art, and I mean for an artist from BGSU to share such a distinction with such a distinguished comic is really a big thing. I hope Ian and that other guy keep it up.
Also worth noting: A few very deserving comics I enjoy were nominated but didn't win so much as a runner-up, including Rob & Elliot and Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life. The former, despite being a standard formula of two male roommates, one crazy and the other normal, has attractive art and sometimes really funny moments. I think I like it because the art style strays more toward the realistic than the goofy or anime, which makes it even funnier when the stupid roommate grows a beard overnight in despair, and then shaves it off with some torturous helmet device. And while monkeys are done to death, their whole iMonkey concept is tons of fun.
The latter makes me think of Douglas Adams, and just the whole concept of a comic that starts with the end of the world is brilliant. I am a classic sci-fi fan at heart and the rambling adventures of two bohemian robots trying to find meaning in the universe is quite a big issue to tackle. Also unique about this comic is as I understand it the artist has a finite end in mind, I think he's already halfway through his planned 99 installments. While it lasts, eh folks?
Here's hoping Cat and Girl, Patches, White Ninja Comics, Achewood and A Softer World make the list next year.