Graphic Novel Making Contest 2018

Speech bubble with a pencil. Text: 10th Annual San José Public Library Graphic Novel Making Contest

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our annual Graphic Novel Contest!

June 1 – July 31, 2018

If you have a talent for creating comic/manga style illustrated short stories, you are invited to enter San José Public Library’s Graphic Novel Making Contest for all ages as part of our 2018 Summer Learning. This contest is sponsored by San José Public Library, San Jose Museum of Art, Sakura of America, Tokyopop, Seven Seas, Crunchy Roll, and First/Second Books.

First time creating a comic?  Not a problem! The library is offering programs to help you learn how to create your own graphic novel.

Submission Guidelines

  • Create your own comic book with a maximum length of 8 pages, including the cover page.
  • Use letter-size paper (8.5 x 11) with black-and-white drawings and text on one side only.
  • Each submission must be the creative and original work of the submitting author/illustrator.  Any submissions with more than one author/illustrator listed, will be considered a single entry and will share any prizes possibly awarded.
  • The contest is limited to amateur authors/ illustrators only.
  • Computer generated images are acceptable as long as they are your original work (no clip art)
  • Consider submitting a photocopy that is an accurate reflection of the original (as submissions are non-returnable).
  • San José Public Library reserves the right to reproduce your work. You can reuse all your work after the contest.
  • Print and complete the Graphic Novel Making Contest Entry Form and the Photo / Creative Works Release Form (English / Español). Forms turned in without the Photo/Creative Works Release Form will be ineligible.
  • Entries can be submitted to any San José Public Library location no later than 7:00 PM on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.
  • Entries can also be submitted online to as a JPEG or PDF attachment. Digital entries may be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Tuesday, July 31.
  • There is a limit of one entry per contestant.

Entries will be judged using a rubric scale covering the following: overall story, originality, creativity and illustrations; by a panel of library staff and comic industry professionals. All cash prizes will be awarded as gift cards.


  • Children (up to age 7): Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second and third place winners.
  • Tweens (8-12): Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second and third place winners.
  • Teens (13-17): First place $100; second place $75; third place $50
  • Adults (18 and above): First place $125; second place $75; third place $50

Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony will be held at the Seven Trees Branch Library on Saturday, August 25, 2018, at 2:00 PM in the Banquet Hall. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded. Check out photos from the event.  We encourage all participants to attend!

Past Entries

Check out the award winning entries from 2010-2017 at your local San Jose Public Library or in the Library’s catalog.  UPDATE: 2017 winners are now featured on our BiblioBoard page!  Check them out now!


San José Public Library staff members are ineligible to participate.

San José Public Library reserves the right to refuse submissions that are not appropriate for a general audience. This contest is open to all California residents.


i have a questions about this year contest regarding author /illustrator. Are we allow to have a separate author and illustrator for a single entry? Let's say 2 people working on the same book, an author and an illustrator.

Hi! You can have a separate author and illustrator for a single entry. However, if you win, you will only receive one prize, so you will have to share it.

Is this competition for US citizens only or for immigrants who are residing in US as well? Thanks

Immigrants are welcome to enter as well!

sorry about the other comment. are we allowed to copy a drawing style from a book or somewhere else?

You may copy a drawing style, but the artwork must be your own. So for example, you could draw in the style of a certain manga artist, but you can't copy the picture line by line.

The subject matter is up to you. If you do non-fiction, add a panel that says "based on a true story" or citations, if necessary.

What do you mean by “with black-and-white drawings and text on one side only“?

No color, and use only one side of the paper.

Does being a college art student count as a non-amateur?

You can be an art student. If you have had a graphic novel published, then you are a non-amateur.

I’m wondering if I have to add a cover or not. Is it okay if I have just a title and author name on the top of the first page? Thank you!!

You don't have to have a cover. It's up to you if you'd rather do a title and author name on the first page.

Can the subject matter be crime related? Like a bank heist or a detective investigating a murder?

Yes, that's fine.

Are we allowed to mix photographs with drawings? Or do the entries need to be entirely drawn?

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