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 through our online portal or via email 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.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 Crunchyroll Expo 2018

 All SJPL members are invited to use promo code sjpl05 to save $5 on your ticket to this year's Crunchyroll Expo, the largest anime streaming company in the world.  Join anime fans for three days of exhibits, screenings, panels, and appearances by some of the biggest anime personalities across US and Japan.   



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?

The judging criteria of this contest focuses on illustrations and how well these drawing pair with the submission's text. Therefore, it would be difficult to fairly judge photographs. Thank you. Diana Learned Librarian

So, does all of the text have to be on the right or left side of the page?

Text on one side is referring to the front and back of a page rather than right and left side. We ask that you submit your entry with text and images on only the front side of the paper. Thank you for your question.

If you can't fit your story into just 8 pages, can you write 'to be continued' at the end of your graphic novel?

You are welcome to use to be continued at the end of your 8-pages, but judges will only be reviewing the 8 pages that are submitted. They will be considering the story as it is submitted and will be looking at the submission as a full story so I do recommend building a full story arc in the submission when possible. Thank you.

What formation should you put the comic in, and are the pages front and back to be counted as a page? Also, I never read a comic or graphic novel before so... do you read it from left to right or right to left?

As to format, you can turn in a copy to your local branch or turn in a JPEG or PDF digitally and you should only use one side of the page. As to the direction, we'll be reading from left to right.

How do you participate? And WhAT IS A Graphic novel

You can participate by following the "Submission Guidelines" above. A graphic novel is like a manga or a comic book. Here is a good explanation:

yeah can I use grays for shading characters and backgrounds. Also is comedic bleeped cursing aloud, and is a use your imagination type of curse, like just a black box removing a sentence for humor?

Yes, you can use grays for shading. As to cursing, you can use a black box, or symbols $#!@

I was considering on submitting a graphic novel online. Regarding an online entry, is it also possible to submit the entry forms online as well by scanning or such?

Yes, you can scan entry forms and submit those digitally with your graphic novel.

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