The 2023 Minicomic Awards took place via livestream on March 3. The second edition of the awards celebrating the world and community of micro self-publishing is run by Sloane Leong and Leslie Hung. The 2023 guest judges were creative duo Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh (Lucky Penny, Pixels of You).

Nearly 500 minicomics were sent in physically and digitally across all categories, reportedly a near tripling of submissions from the awards’ 2022 debut. Some entrants reportedly submitted multiple works in the same or different categories, with a significant skew towards autobio/nonfiction comics.

Sloane Leong said on the big submissions boom:

“Ya’ll were busy last year. It was so cool to see all the comics. Even that was probably just scratching the surface. I can imagine there was still so many that couldn’t make it.”

Minicomics had to be no more than 32 pages in length and could be part of a longer work. The awards format comprised a winner and up to four notable runners-up, each selected by a judge.

The Awards Livestream – (clockwise L-R): Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota, Leslie Hung, Sloane Leong

Sponsorship this year provided the Minicomic Awards with a prize pool of $5000, spread across each of the five submission categories – Autobio/Nonfiction, Horror, Scifi, Fantasy, and Romance. Sponsors included Bulgilhan Press, David Brothers, Emily Carroll, and Silver Sprocket, among others. Each winner received $1000, and the print editions of their minicomics will be featured at Wakeup Comics in Nashville, TN.

Reflecting on the importance of the Minicomic Awards as a guest judge Yuko Ota said:

“I’ve been feeling very disconnected from the comics community – I haven’t been to a convention in a really long time. I haven’t seen my friends, I haven’t seen my peers in a really long time – and it felt like I was spiritually reconnecting to the comics community in this really pleasurable way. I was happy to be able to read all of these.”

Sloane Leong echoed the sentiment:

“[Feeling] disconnected from the scene and getting this explosion of comics within a month was very powerful, I was like ‘Oh wait, I like this medium’. Also I am not toiling alone and making these comics. We’re all out there struggling to express ourselves through this very niche medium, and this was very nice that there’s at least 400 people that are still trucking away at this specific craft.”

Below are all the winners and runners up with quotes from the judges.

2023 Minicomic Awards – Autobio/Nonfiction


WINNER: now I can never know you more than those white walls, by Edgar

Sloane Leong: “I am such a huge fan of Edgar’s work. I know I was thrilled when they submitted this piece in particular. I am obsessed with how they stylise everything…the way they handle light and subtract facial features. All of that is so genius to me. It blows me away.”

Yuko Ota: “We were pretty unanimous in being totally blown away by this one. One of the things that I keep on coming back to with this work…is a luxurious treatment of time – the moment to moment action is so delicately and deliberately presented.”

Ananth Hirsh: “I really like how the greys and blacks and whites are used to very subtly create depth…I saw that attention over and over again, and it was really spectacular.”

Leslie Hung: “There is so much restraint in this comic – which has no text, no dialogue – it is so impressive. A lot of the time when people make comics, sometimes they go a little bit too crazy with their framing. This one is creative and very restrained. I just love flipping through all these pages. So beautiful.”

Runners-up (2023 Minicomic Awards – Autobio/Nonfiction)

Yuko Ota: “I really enjoyed this one. I thought this cartoonist wove in a lot of themes that kept on coming up over and over again in a really elegant way. I want to keep on reading more comics by them. I was totally thrilled reading this.”

Ananth Hirsh: “The drawings are really evocative…I liked how the walk that is the title of the comic is fairly eventful but at the end it is collapsed down by the main character… I thought that worked pretty effectively. I liked this one a lot.”

Leslie Hung: “I just really loved how beautiful this comic was. It’s a pretty short comic and it doesn’t have any text; it’s a visual narrative. It’s a nice little breath of fresh air. I think that it is pretty hard to make a cohesive narrative without any text at all – but I thought they did a really good job. It’s just really hypnotic to look at.”

Sloane Leong: “I was just really blown away by the intensity of detail and their visual style – and also I was really struck by the narration in this – it was funny and kind of absurdist, and deeply in tune with this person’s stream of consciousness. I really enjoyed this comic a lot.”



WINNER: Sediment, by Bhanu Pratap

Note: Pratap had two entries in category (other was Cutting Season) and they were both on the winning shortlist.

Ananth Hirsh: “Bhanu just draws in a way that I have never seen or experienced before. Looking at his drawings is an experience. It is very abstract but there is volume to it. A very strong sense of what is the correct shape and how to break that shape so that you can know what it was meant to be and that is what makes the distortion even more unsettling.

“The thing that made me gravitate to this one [over Bhanu’s other submission, Cutting Season] was the use of a single colour. I thought it was such an effective use of one colour in unexpected ways.”

Sloane Leong: “I feel like he is making such unique depictions of body horror that I haven’t seen before. I feel like he is drawing from a cubist feel of Yuichi Yokoyama but he also knows how to play with texture and the weight of meat, and so it is very Francis Bacon-y. He just has an aesthetic that is all his own, and I find it really exciting and viscerally upsetting to read his work.”

Leslie Hung: “I was not familiar with Bhanu’s work before I read these comics. I was very unnerved by them but also very fascinated. Their draftsmanship seems pretty unparalleled. It is simultaneously really flat but also really meaty and has so much dimension.”

Yuko Ota: “This person has a voice that is unlike anything I have seen before. There is also a dark humour that runs through his work which is really surprising and actually very fun when you find it. There is a lot of very subtle absurdist humour that runs through the stories that is actually really fun and you wouldn’t expect.”


Runners Up (2023 Minicomic Awards – Horror):

  • Sortie: I Am A Man Of Peace, by Meanboss & Barbatus[Note: these authors submitted two entries to the Award. Sortie is part of an ongoing.]

Sloane: “I really love these two cartoonists’ work…They are doing some really insane Ichi the Killer level gore and action and insane psychological thrillers. I really like this comic.”

Yuko Ota: “I loved this comic! This was so much fun. This was exactly to my tastes. It was such a delight to read: I love stupid horny protagonists and it had that in spades.”

Leslie Hung: “I just love Nozmo’s work. This was no exception. It was very fun to read. Not very scary but very thrilling.”

Ananth Hirsh: “It is almost like a walk in the dark towards something ominous. When you have something like that, where it is building up to something, that thing needs to pay off – and that worked for me here really well.  [The final page was] …(a)n arresting image that stuck with me.”


2023 Minicomic Awards – Scifi

WINNER: Speirochory, by Karenza Sparks

Ananth Hirsh: “It’s a fun series of stories. The chapters are connected but they all revolve around different science experiments. I found the storytelling to be really appealing. I liked that it leaned science fiction but with ambiguity there were things you could wonder about.”

Sloane Leong: “This story felt very complete which I feel is very difficult to accomplish in a short form story. It felt narratively rich. It had a lot of interesting character branches, you had a main plot going on. I was really impressed by it.”

Yuko Ota: “I liked that it was a little bit psychological. It reminded me of watching The Andromeda Strain, when I was way too young to be watching it, with my mom on the couch. It had vibes like that. I really liked the moment to moment cartooning. I really enjoy seeing time presented in a very slowly paced way, through lots of intricately drawn panels. It is something I envy in other people to be able to do.”

Leslie Hung: “I really liked this comic. After reading a couple of hundred mini comics, sometimes it is really hard to get into something; hard to be drawn into a narrative. I found this one to be really compelling.” 


Runners Up (2023 Minicomic Awards – Scifi)

Sloane Leong: “I thought it was really beautifully drawn, with some really great bouncy, squishy, stretched cartooning. The colour is wonderful. It’s pretty short but I thought that it was a really evocative little moment in this character’s life.”

Leslie Hung: “An interesting-to-look-at comic. It was just so gorgeous. A lot of showing off every skill that this person has – which are numerous – and every page was just a new delight, a new fun thing that they are really good at drawing. It was so pretty to look at.”

Yuko Ota: “Every single page, the artist feels like they are showing off in a different way. The composition or the way that the text is placed…Really incredible skill.”

  • Phone Home, by Jenny O’ Grady

Yuko Ota: “It’s only superficially a scifi comic – one of the protagonists is an alien – but really the whole story is about relationships. It was like ET meets a John Hughes film. Just about teens having a difficult time. I really loved it.”


2023 Minicomic Awards – Fantasy

WINNER: Why Don’t You Like Me?, by Gaia Papoila

Leslie pointed out that Papoila also submitted work in several categories this year and Sloane said, “they were all contenders”.

Yuko Ota: “It’s so fun. It’s such a great comic. This person can really draw and has a great sense of humour. Really nice breakout panels…The sense of girls being mean at boarding school is really, really fun – I love mean girls being mean to each other.”

Leslie Hung: “The Venn diagram of different things that it crosses over into that I am interested in was kind of crazy. A little bit of fairy tale, magic, and mean girls at boarding school, and bullying…This is so up my alley. I just love the antics. They are so life and death.”

Ananth Hirsh: “I was cackling as I was reading it… There is something about the way Gaia put this together – the fairy tale part of it fills a lot of the blanks. It felt very confidently told, knowing what they could rely on their reader to fill in. This is a great comic. I really encourage everyone to read it. It’s really fun.”

Sloane Leong: “There are so many hilarious moments in this. I loved it.”


Runners Up (2023 Minicomic Awards – Fantasy)

  • Faustfall: Bleeding Spirits, by Steven Dardon[Note: this was originally submitted by author only to the horror category but Sloane considered it Dark Fantasy as well]

Sloane Leong: “Steven’s work is really cool. I find it aesthetically unique.  I love just how relentless his inking is, just the textures blow me away. I love the Heavy Metal lettering. You’ve got constant bloodied, suffering characters in every story. I really liked it.”

Yuko Ota: “We talked about this one a lot. I loved this comic. It’s pretty short but I really liked the lettering and the layouts. I feel like the very beginning and the very end have these really incredible crowd scenes that are very detail dense but are easy to parse visually. I thought that it was really masterfully technically done. Really nice arc and follow though that was very creepy.”

Leslie Hung: “I loved how short it was. It was very mysterious and beautiful. It has a very pretty storybook quality to it. I just thought it was super successful for such a short comic.”

  • Boxed into a Corner, by Serena Cirillo[Note: Impressively, Cirillo submitted entries into almost every category of the 2023 Minicomic Awards which Ananth “really encourages you to do” if you are thinking of entering.]

Ananth Hirsh: “There were a couple of Serena’s that I was looking at and this is the one that I ended up picking. Generally speaking, they are an amazing cartoonist. I liked the diversity of designs in this. Each one of them reads really legibly. The writing and the sense of humour is really fun…This person is super talented, I am very excited to see what they do in the future.”

Yuko Ota: “I really enjoyed this comic. It has a lot of similarities to my pick for scifi. It is very much about teen angst and the difficulties of growing up and trying to make connections with other people. This one is really nicely done…The intent in the storytelling was confident and really well crafted.”


2023 Minicomic Awards – Romance

WINNER: when it started, by Leecie
[Note: Minicomic is published in anthology Divine Judgement]

Sloane Leong: “We were pretty unanimous on this one…This one struck us all a lot….When this story opened I thought this was a typical guardian angel story but I was really blown away by how unique this story is.”

Ananth Hirsh: “This one was really, really awesome. It was gorgeously drawn. The through-line of the story is really interesting. There is a sense of suspense that gets built up, where you don’t know really how it’s gonna unfold, and the payoff was really satisfying to me.”

Leslie Hung: “I love Leecie’s work. I was happy to see this comic in here…It’s very restrained but also I can tell there is so much love put into it. I just love the cute drawings. There is a touch of darkness and bizarre uncanniness to it which I think is really effective with the subject matter.”

Yuko Ota: “It was really pleasing to see the push-and-pull of people who want different things and treat each other badly”

Runners Up (2023 Minicomic Awards – Romance):

Sloane Leong: “Just incredibly delicate comicking. They have such an eye for detail – they do a lot of gothic dark dramas so it was nice to see this short adaptation of this poem and it is stunning.”

Leslie Hung: “I just love this comic – it was so cute. I just loved these characters. I just love Paul’s art.”

(Everyone also loves the ruffles on the skirts)

Ananth: “Such a fun romance. Aatmaja’s really good at getting that sense of yearning through. I love when someone can capture that.”

Yuko Ota: “Such a great comic. Basically a person going to a sex dungeon as research and surprising himself that he is getting kinda into it. I really loved the moment-to-moment action – it is really well researched. There are a lot of moments of ‘The Gaze’ which is really well done…It felt really lived in, it was honest and messy in a way I really loved.”