by Martha Sadler

The top 20 finalists in a young cartoonists’ contest sponsored
by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary won a day trip to
Santa Cruz Island with Mad magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones
(pictured) last Sunday, while the top six teenage cartoonists also
took home cash prizes. At a ceremony on the deck of the Shearwater
in the Santa Barbara harbor, the artists were congratulated by
representatives of Congresswoman Lois Capps and state
Assemblymember Pedro Nava for creating cartoon strips focusing on
ocean-water quality. “We appreciate it,” said sanctuary deputy
superintendent Todd Jacobs, “and we hope to make you all famous.”
Most of the six top award-winning strips featured talking fish
consuming toxins and humans consuming the fish.

The contest was the brainchild of another group of teenagers
from the youth media agency Generation Communications, a project of
the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. The Marine Sanctuary hired the
agency to kindle Latino youths’ interest in watershed protection.
Working for stipends, those teens researched the demographic,
planned and publicized the contest, and helped judge it along with
Screaming Pixels animator Keith English, international cartoonist
Mike Gordon, Aragones, and watershed experts. Consistent with
Generation’s marketing plan, the sanctuary will post grand
prize-winner Elise Pham’s (pictured) cartoon strip on buses and
publish a bilingual graphic novella. The contest attracted 70
contestants, most of them high school students from Santa Barbara.
The sanctuary plans to repeat the contest annually.


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