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Graphic Novel Making Contest 2020

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

Thank You!

Thank you for your interest in our annual Graphic Novel Making Contest! Our contest closed on July 31st, 2020 and we annouced the winners at our Virtual Awards Ceremony on August 22, 2020. See our blog post linked below for the recap, recording of the ceremony, list of winners and more! We hope to see you again at our future graphic novel programming! 

Winners of the 2020 Graphic Novel Making Contest  


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. 

Kid drawing a comic, they are inking in panels with a black marker


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.


Green banner that says "Graphic Novel Making Contest Awards Ceremony: Saturday, August 22nd 2-4pm. Includes headshot photos of our 4 guest speakers.

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. Guest speakers wil provide inspiration messages to contest participants. Our guest speakers this year include Chad Sell, Shannon Wright, Shea Fontana, and Gene Ha. Click the time below for more information about this event and our speakers. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 2:00pm

All participants and family are invited, this event is also open to the public!

Comic artist stands in front of a white board while teaching a class. The whiteboard has comic panels and layouts on it.

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! 

Creating Comics: Books for Kids 

Creating Comics: Books for Teens & Adults

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!


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?

Your Comment
Hi there, we only accept entries with illustrations the creator has made themselves. If contestants are using a program or software to create the graphic novel, all images must be the artist’s original work. Contestants may not use premade images or clip art, this includes Pixton and Bitmoji. From our FAQ: "I want to submit an entry, but I can’t draw OR I can’t write, what do I do?"

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!

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!

Your Comment
Hi there, we hope you don't feel like you wasted your time! If you have already colored your comic, you can still submit your comic by scanning your submission and saving it with a black and white or grayscale filter! We recommend testing different settings and levels to make sure your work is the best it can be. We hope you are able to submit your entry to the contest this way. You can read more about scanning in our guide here:

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,

Your Comment
Gracias por su respuesta! El concurso está abierto a aquellos que vivan en California. Quienes vivan fuera de California no pueden participar en el concurso. Sin embargo, todos pueden participar en nuestros talleres virtuales sobre dibujo gráfico. Estamos planeando un taller de dibujo en español a mediados de Julio. Por favor sigue monitoreando nuestra página de eventos sobre actualizaciones de los talleres que estaremos incorporando. Gracias

Your Comment
Hello, thank you for your question. The maximum length is 8 pages, if you submit more than 8 pages you will not be eligible for an award.

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.

Your Comment
Hi Maya, we will be announcing the winners at our virtual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, August 22nd. If you've submitted a graphic novel for the contest, you will be contacted via email with more information about the ceremony. We will also create a blog post a few days after the ceremony listing the winners as well.

Submitted by Sophia on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 9:37 PM


Your Comment
I am using the BiblioBoard to submit my work. But I don't know what is Add A Contributors?

Submitted by Juan Martinez on Fri, 08/28/2020 - 6:25 PM


Your Comment
Hi. Today is Friday 28 August 2020.
I thought this was supposed to be the date when the contest results were going to be posted. When will we know the results?

Your Comment
Hi there, sorry for the delay, we had some technical difficulties. Our recap blog is live and includes the list of winners and a recording of the ceremony. We are waiting for our digital collection to be processed so everyone can read the entries this year.

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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.