The number of submissions to the annual art contest has been trending downward, and this year’s perfect storm of guest comic and unsurprising prizes has probably not helped. Fortunately the quality of submissions was once again excellent, and even with so few it really wasn’t any easier to judge.

I wish I had time to gush and comment more on these; I deeply appreciate the time and thought that went into all of them.

All images can be clicked and viewed larger (where possible) and I’d urge you to go ahead and do so and check out these folks’ work in better detail.

Karyl_Lee_lgKaryl Lee
Two Sides of a [Pumpkin!]

2013 Contest winner Karyl Lee is a NTO Art Contest superstar, overachieving with multiple, multimedia pieces every year. 2014’s no different – she made good on her 2012 idea for an NTO-themed pumpkin this year with a two-faced Jack-O-Lantern featuring Genevieve’s Author and Demon on opposing sides. Great work as always — I would love to see this lit. You can own some of Karyl’s work be paying a visit to her Etsy or Yessy galleries.


Bethany Joseph

Bethany Joseph draws a uniquely scheming Vane Black; her take on the character is a great capture of her mad scientist aspects. The watercolor background is totally great, too: rosy desert colors and rough-hewn landscape really make the dark, saturated subject pop. Great piece.

Find more of her stuff at her [really quite entertaining] comics blog.


S. Pwyll
Sunbloom / Dream Girl

S. Pwyll submitted two great watercolor entries. In his own words, the Vane/Nightmare Before Christmas fusion is only a “speed sketch”; the main attraction is the Sun Prairie Sun flower (which, actually, Pwyll also described as “slightly less than half-finished”; looks pretty great to me). He styled it a la Georgia O’Keefe – cool enough concept for NTO art by itself – but what’s extra awesome about trying to emulate O’Keefe painting a Sun flower is that the NTO town of Sun Prairie is named after the small town of Sun Prairie in my native Wisconsin – Georgia O’Keefe’s birthplace. The coincidence is almost as fantastic as the painting.

More of Mr. Pwyll’s work can be found on his deviantArt. Great work and congratulations!


Jessica Shainker

Some Say in Fire, Some Say in Ice

Jessica Shainker’s study in contrasts is a super clever breakdown of all the thematic opposites at play with Black & Hunter. I love the black and white, positive and negative composition but most especially the strategic splashes of color that call out their eyes – inversions of their elemental characters. Nicely done and congratulations!


Erin Smith
Vane and Diamonds in the Rain

Erin Smith’s fabulously melancholy painting of Diamonds and Vane is this year’s winner. Awesome use of negative space finds them looking off into rain-obscured desolation, which is ominous not only for what we don’t see but what we know is coming, since this can’t help but evoke the lead-up to Diamonds’ unfortunate “end” in Wayward. Vane almost looks like she’s just about to swing into the saddle, too, bringing the inevitability that much closer. Great painting!

You can check out more of Erin’s work at her tumblr.

Thank you so much for the most excellent submission and congratulations!

And there we are! Lean year for entries but nevertheless the art contest really remains a huge pick-me-up and slightly late birthday gift for me: seeing folks involved enough in the comic to put in this kind of work always inspires and revitalizes me.

Winners, I’ll contact you soon about prize preferences and mailing addresses!

Fondest regards,