Alert message

: Due to our temporary closures, we are currently not accepting book donations at any location.

Graphic Novel Making Contest 2020

Graphic Novel making contest logo, written in blue and red comic font with a pencil

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.

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 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 (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.

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.

Past Entries

Check out the 2019 submissions and winners on our Biblioboard Page!

BiblioBoard also hosts our 2018 submissions and winners, and the 2017 winning submissions.

Winning submissions from 2011-2016 can be viewed as PDFs in our library catalog!

Comic Creation Resources

If you're looking to build your comic and drawing skills, check our booklist reccomendations from staff to help you learn from the experts! 

Creating Comics: Books for Kids 

Creating Comics: Books for Teens & Adults


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.

Blog Category
Graphic Novels


Submitted by LC on Sat, 05/16/2020 - 10:20 PM


Your Comment
Hi! Does the author have to be currently living in San Jose or is it all of California?

Your Comment
Hi, thanks for your question! This contest is open to California residents. However, prizes must be picked up at a San Jose Public Library location.

Submitted by IJ on Thu, 05/21/2020 - 4:58 PM


Your Comment
I'm glad that this contest is gonna be open midst covid-19, this is my 3rd year participating now.

Your Comment
We're glad to hear that! Keep checking back as we'll be adding up-to-date information, an FAQ, and supplemental art programs to help you make your best comic!

Submitted by Kathleen on Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:50 PM


Your Comment
I seem to remember last year had an instructional class you could take on how to do create a graphic novel. Will there be a class online class or one at the library this year?

Submitted by Suzanne on Sat, 05/30/2020 - 2:10 PM


Your Comment

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?
Thank you.

Your Comment
Hi there, thank you for your question. Yes, this is so we can host the comics within the SJPL digital collection, as well as promoting the contest. Examples of reproduction for promotion include using portions of the comic to showcase examples of submissions we've received. This could be on our website, printed in SJPL Bound, or other SJPL collateral. Additionally, in the past, we printed the winning submissions into a booklet that we gave to contest participants and added to the library collection (we are unsure will be able to print this year).

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!

Add new comment

Comments are expected to follow the basic rules of civility and be relevant to the topic being commented upon. Comments will be reviewed prior to posting. Blog comments represent the views of the person commenting, not necessarily those of San José Public Library. For more information see SJPL's Comment Guidelines.