Upon scrambling to get through the judging of round one of DeviantDead last night, I realized some common shortcomings that I feel people should pay mind to. Not to say everyone didn't put in a fantastic effort and make some really great stuff, but these are the things that wear me down and make me cranky and tired to be wading through a pile of comics at midnight when I should be sleeping before I go to work.
1) GET TO THE POINT
I will readily admit that if I get to the fifth page of a comic and nothing terribly gripping has happened yet, I'm inclined to not read the rest of the comic. I know pacing and character exposé are a huge thing to worry about, but characters can talk and give us some insight into the kind of people they are while they move around and push the story forward. If you dawdle, you're just wasting everybody's time with the pile of extra work you made for yourself.
2) MIND YOUR OPPONENT
OCTs are not one-way street. If you want to draw a comic about your characters then by all means, go ahead, but if you've chosen a tourney as your venue you have to be willing to give your opponent some decent exposé. I see these things kind of like an elaborate art trade and very few things disappoint me more than seeing someone cop out on their side and invent reasons for their opponents to act out of character. "They're acting weird because blah blah blah whatever" basically translates to "I can't use your characters so I made up my own that superficially resemble them"
3) GO OUT WITH A BANG
Nothing wrong with a cliffhanger, but don't just drop in some massive plot hole or something and assume that you'll get passed on because the judges want to see you explain it. You might think you're leaving people on the edge of their seats but personally, I find endings like that unforgivably lame. On the same note, don't just let things fizzle out. Every story should feel like there was a reason you had to tell it to people. These things are collected into an overall arc, but each round should have a self-contained arc unto itself. I can't speak for the other judges, but when I read these things I'm paying attention to the standalone segment you've presented, not carrying over cred from previous rounds or inventing cred for future ones.
Not naming any names, these are just common themes I feel show up in these a lot, so I'm throwing out my two cents. Like I said, I can't speak for the other judges, these are just personal opinions.