Submit your graphic novel to the annual Graphic Novel Making Contest!
June 1 – July 31, 2020
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 2020 Summer Learning Challenge.
- 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 on single-sided pages only.
- Each submission must be the creative and original work of the submitting author/illustrator. Any submissions with more than one author/illustrator will be considered a single entry judged under the age category of the oldest author/illustrator listed 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 (we cannot guarantee that submissions will be returned).
- 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 Photo/Creative Works Release Form (en español). Entries turned in without the Photo/Creative Works Release Form will be ineligible. Entries with more than one author/illustrator must each provide a Graphic Novel Making Contest Entry Form and Photo/Creative Works Release Form with their submission.
- Entries are encouraged to be submitted digitally through our BiblioBoard online portal (as a PDF) or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org (as a PNG, JPEG, or PDF attachment). Digital entries can be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Friday, July 31, 2020. More information can be found in the "How To" guide below.
- Entries can also be submitted to any operating San José Public Library location no later than the end of the business day on Friday, July 31, 2020.
- There is a limit of one entry per contestant.
How to Submit Your Graphic Novel
Due to COVID-19, we highly recommend submitting your comic digitally as it is the safest, quickest, and most reliable option. Online submissions are completely contactless and are accepted 24/7 until July 31st, 11:59pm. We cannot predict if there will be more restrictive health guidelines later in the summer which may prevent us from accepting paper submissions. If you don't have a scanner, please refer to our Scanning Guide (coming soon) located in the How To: Submit a Graphic Novel Making Contest Entry (see below) for options to digitize your entry. If you are still unable to submit digitally, we will accept paper submissions at operating San José Public Library locations for as long as we are able through the deadline, end of business operation on July 31st. Please plan accordingly.
Check out How To: Submit a Graphic Novel Making Contest Entry for a complete walkthrough of each submission process.
Entries will be judged using a rubric scale covering the following: overall story, originality, creativity, and illustrations; by a panel of library staff and community professionals. To understand what the judges will be looking for, you can view the detailed judging criteria and rubric (en español).
Age Groups and Prizes
- Children (0-7): Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second, and third place winners.
- Children (8-9): Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second, and third place winners.
- Pre-Teens (10-12): 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+): First place $100; second place $75; third place $50
All cash prizes will be awarded as gift cards.
Virtual Awards Ceremony
Come celebrate the creative efforts of everyone who has participated in the 2020 Graphic Novel Making Contest! At this virtual awards ceremony, contest winners will be announced. A guest speaker from the comic book industry will also have a special message for participants (more information to be announced).
- Saturday, August 22, 2020
All participants and family are invited, invitations to this digital event will be emailed.
Graphic Novel Making Programs
Want to cultivate your comic-making craft, hone your illustration skills, and become a better storyteller? Or maybe you just want to have fun drawing and making comics? Check out and sign up for our Virtual Graphic Novel Making Programs! We will be adding more engaging classes throughout the summer, remember to check back!
Comic Creation Resources
If you're looking to build your comic and drawing skills, check our booklist recommendations from staff to help you learn from the experts!
Check out the 2019 submissions and winners on our Biblioboard Page!
Winning submissions from 2011-2016 can be viewed as PDFs in our library catalog!
Please check our Graphic Novel Making Contest FAQ for answers to any questions you may have.
For additional questions not answered in the FAQ, please leave a comment below and a staff member will answer your question.
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.
You can work with a friend who can draw or write, and co-author your graphic novel together! We provide programming throughout the summer to help you gain new skills and build more confidence. We also have library resources (see above for Comic Creation Resources) to help you learn from experts. We accept entries of all skill levels, please don’t be discouraged!
I had a question in regards to what the rules said, "San José Public Library reserves the right to reproduce your work". How would the library reproduce our work? Will our work just be reproduced in regards to posting up our work online for everyone to see in the "Submissions and Winners page"? Or what exactly will our work be reproduced in?
San Jose Public Library does not claim any rights to your characters or comic content and SJPL will not profit off your work. We will be adding an FAQ containing an "Ownership and Privacy" section soon. If you still have any questions after the FAQ is posted, do let us know!
The black and white/grayscale requirement has remained the same each year of the contest, it is the second requirement listed in our guidelines in bold text. You may check out our FAQ for more information on our guidelines, https://www.sjpl.org/blog/graphic-novel-making-contest-faq
If you are having difficulty with the page limit, look at your drafted panels and find the most important moments in your comic. Panels that don't support or to lead to these moments, or panels that are redundant, are areas to consider cutting if they don't serve your story. Additionally, longer comics don't always equal better comics. Some past winning entries were only 3 pages long. We hope that answers your question.
I am using the BiblioBoard to submit my work. But I don't know what is Add A Contributors?