So, we had an idea to have a contest for comics in order to help us find a talented potential contributor for the McSweeney’s Internet Tendency website. We launched this idea with only the purest of intentions, to find someone whose work is unknown or underappreciated. We’ve done something similar for the past three years with our columnists and had great good fortune in being introduced to writers we never would have known otherwise.
What we didn’t know, but should have found out prior to launching our contest is the tradition and practice of “no spec” work for artists, designers, cartoonists, and other visual artists, and that contests of this sort are sometimes used for the purposes of exploitation, which couldn’t be further from our intent.
In prose writing, particularly in today’s day and age, while we all wish things were different, much of the work is done on “spec” and we made a very bad assumption that it would be the same in this case.
We offer this as an explanation, not an excuse, which we do not have. It was our job to fully inform ourselves of these things and we didn’t, and for that, we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We initially thought that changing the terms of the contest would be appropriate, and sufficient, but we’ve come to understand and believe that the entire enterprise is a bad idea, poorly executed.
We have, therefore, decided to withdraw the contest. We apologize again for our carelessness and will endeavor to do better in the future.