Recap and Winners of the 2023 Graphic Novel Making Contest

The 15th annual Graphic Novel Making Contest Awards Ceremony was hosted by San José Public Library Director, Jill Bourne, at the Seven Trees Community Center on September 9, 2023. This year’s contest featured 158 submissions in five age categories. Booklets of the winning entries can be check out and all of this year's entries can be viewed in a digital collection on BiblioBoard.

Throughout the Summer of 2023, the Graphic Novel Making Contest Committee hosted a variety of in-person and virtual programs. These programs were designed to encourage and develop illustrative storytelling to help prepare those wanting to submit an entry to the 2023 Graphic Novel Making Contest do so.

The final program of the Graphic Novel Making Contest was our Awards Ceremony, where we heard from three industry leaders about their journey into graphic novels and comics, as well as sage advice on overcoming difficulties in creativity.

Guest Speakers

Every Awards Ceremony, the Graphic Novel Making Contest Committee strives to bring influential guest speakers to inspire the San José community. Here were this year's guest speakers:

Judd Winick is a cartoonist and creator of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Hilo series. Judd has written and produced animation for television and film, created the Cartoon Network series Juniper Lee; has written superhero comics, including Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow; and, along with his wife Pam, was a cast member of MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco. Judd is also the author of the highly acclaimed graphic novel Pedro and Me, about his Real World roommate and friend, AIDS activist Pedro Zamora.

Laura Gao is a queer artist, author, bread lover, and everything in between. Originally from Wuhan, China, Gao immigrated to Texas where their art career began, and has since blossomed to be featured on NPR and the Museum of Chinese in America.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Gao published the viral webcomic, "The Wuhan I Know", in response to anti-Asian racism during COVID-19. This inspired their graphic memoir, MESSY ROOTS, which debuted on the 2022 Indies Bestsellers List and has been shortlisted for numerous awards.

Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies, The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea, Squad, illustrated by Lisa Sterle, and Love in the Library illustrated by Yas Imamura with more books forthcoming.

She has a BA in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an MFA in Writing from University of San Francisco. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog.

Winners of the 2023 Graphic Novel Making Contest

And now, we are pleased to announce the winners of the 15th Annual Graphic Novel Making Contest by age category:

Children (0-7)

  • First Place: Sasha Arone for The One Thing That Never Goes Wrong
  • Second Place: Sehas Gamage for Mighty Cat and Attack of the Eyeball
  • Third Place: Ruana Pal for Snorkeling with Honu
  • Honorable Mention: Luke Ma for Juno is a Monster​ Vol (2)
  • Honorable Mention: Anya Tu for What a Month (A True Story)

Children (8-9)

  • First Place: Aishani Vinod for Math is Boring?
  • Second Place: Arjun Mahaaveer for The Dinosaur Race
  • Third Place: Chi Quynh Dinh for Budgiella
  • Honorable Mention: Claire Choi for Donut Be a Donut
  • Honorable Mention: Flora Tian for Berry in ​Sweets Land

Pre-Teen (10-12)

  • First Place: Audrielle Walter for Oh, Goodness! We’re in a Comic Book
  • Second Place: Jocelin Wun for Food or Foe
  • Third Place: Pushya Dutt for Meeting Place: Underworld
  • Honorable Mention: Soraya Ahmadzia for Try Hard
  • Honorable Mention: Meghna Rao for Midnight & Marshmallow’s Adventure Home

Teen (13-17)

  • First Place: Veronika Yakovets for The River to Happiness
  • Second Place: Elise Phan for Garden Magic
  • Third Place: Natalie Walter for The Villains
  • Honorable Mention: Grace Leonard for Emotional Suppawt​
  • Honorable Mention: Luna Yang for Geni

Adult (18+)

  • First Place: Brook Jiang for Tussle Tavern​
  • Second Place: Monica Pan for Thirsty
  • Third Place: Mohit Kherwa for Abandoned
  • Honorable Mention: Vince Liu for Speck and Speckle

Cosplay on Display

During the Awards Ceremony, we also highlighted our second annual Cosplay on Display! This year we received 44 photos of local Cosplayers, all featuring an SJPL library card. You can view all of the Cosplay on Display entries in a digital collection on Biblioboard.

Sponsors & Special Thanks

A big thank you to this year's generous sponsors! Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to provide every participant with a participation gift and winners with prize bundles.

  • San José Public Library Foundation
  • Sakura of America
  • San José Museum of Art
  • Illusive Comics and Games
  • JetPens
  • The Tech Interactive
  • Scarfff Comic Newspaper

A special thank you goes out to our Community Judges and San José Public Library staff who helped make this contest a success!