Graphic Novel Making Contest 2019

Graphic Novel Making Contest Logo

Submit your graphic novel to the annual Graphic Novel Making Contest!

June 1 – July 31, 2019

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 2019 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 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 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 the Photo / Creative Works Release Form (en 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 Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
  • Entries can also be submitted through our online portal or via email to as a JPEG or PDF attachment. Digital entries can be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Wednesday, 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 community professionals. All cash prizes will be awarded as gift cards.

Age Groups and Prizes

  • Children ages 0-7: Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second and third place winners.
  • Children ages 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

Awards Ceremony

Come celebrate the creative efforts of everyone who has participated in the 2019 Graphic Novel Making Contest.  To honor the amazing talent demonstrated in this program, guests will have the opportunity to view their original artwork on display, and all participants in attendance will receive prizes, a certificate, and a free graphic novel.  San José Public Library director Jill Bourne will be on hand to announce contest winners.  A guest speaker from the comic book industry will also be in attendance (more information to be announced). 

Seven Trees Branch Library
Community Center Banquet Hall
Saturday, August 31, 2019 - 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

All participants and family are invited to this event.  Light snacks and refreshments will be served. 

Past Entries

Check out the award winning entries from 2010-2017 at your local San José Public Library or in the Library’s catalog. UPDATE: 2018 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.


Hi, Is there a theme to this contest? Also, what do we have to make a cover? What about the back page?

Hello Nachiket, There is no theme for this contest. The content/theme/message/plot can be whatever you choose. You do not need to make a cover or a back page as long as your Graphic Novel does not exceed 8 standard 8.5"x11" pages.

The contest is open-ended, and entries on all topics are accepted. When designing your submission, you have the opportunity to decide if you would like to include a cover and/or back page. These features are not required, but it is important to work within the limitations of the contest rules. When considering how to design your submission please consider: - 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.

My bilingual (English-Spanish) graphic novel has just been printed on May 25, 2019 and consists of 48 pages. Can I submit a copy to your adult category contest?

Hello Jorge, Unfortunately, if your comic has found a publisher for printing that you are not consider an amateur creator. Best of luck with your comic though!

So no color at all? Not even on the front page?

All entries should consist of black and white illustrations only. Thank you for your question.

Unfortunately, based on the contest rules submissions must be limited to 8 pages including the cover page. We would not be able to accept a submission or 48 pages, but you are absolutely welcome to participate if you would like to create another original comic. When creating your comic, please refer to the contest guidelines listed above.

Can I use A4 paper?

Based on the instructions listed above, all entries should be created on letter-size paper (8.5 x 11) with black-and-white drawings and text on one side only. Thank you for your question. We look forward to your submission.

what if someone makes two entries? Let's call them person A. However one of them was written and illustrated entirely by them, but the second one they collabed with another person on (let's call the other person person B) can person A turn in the work made 100% by themselves and person B turn in the collab? And also, if so, can person A get credit for the collab if they win?

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, SJPL can only accept one entry per person including entries created by multiple people. I would encourage you to submit the work which you feel best represents your skills.

so i read in a reply that all entries on any topic is allowed, but i want to make a confirmation; is it allowed to submit a graphic novel that implies suicide? it doesn't show any actual death, violence, blood, etc, but it is implied. i just want to know if this is okay for a theme so that i don't waste my time working on a comic that won't be accepted when submitted.

Entries on all topics are accepted and judged including the themes mentioned above. Thank you for asking.

what does it mean text on one side and the comic is it like one page has drawings on both sides?

Thank you for your question! Your comic (both text and drawings) should only be on one side of the paper. If you submit a comic that uses both the front and back of a sheet of paper, it will be disqualified. When creating your comic, use a new sheet of paper for each page, do not use the back. If printing your comic, do not print double sided. I hope that answers your question.

Can I glue paper to cover up a bad mistake on the backside of a page?

Hello - Yes, if you need to correct a mistake by gluing paper, please feel free to do so. As long as your submission still fits the guidelines above, you will be fine.

Can comics be under 8 pages?

Hello Bao, Yes, your comic can be under 8 pages. The maximum length is 8, but you do not need to use all of the pages if it is appropriate for the length of your story. Please feel free to comment again if you have any further questions.

I won't be able to make it to the awards ceremony, can I still participate?

Yes, you are still able to participate in the contest even if you cannot attend the ceremony. Winners who are not in attendance will be notified and can pickup their prize from their local library branch.

So I want to make an original comic that uses real-life people [BTS] but the storyline/theme is gonna be all original, as well as the drawings of them, are going to be original; is that allowed? Or do my characters HAVE to be completely made up?

Please use original characters, as bands are trademarked. We suggest creating your own original band!

Do parents have to agree to the photography form for children to compete?

Yes, in order to compete in the contest, the Photo/Creative Works Release Form must be complete and grant permission to reproduce creative works and photograph or record video and/or audio. Entries turned in without the Photo/Creative Works Release Form will be ineligible. The collection of winning comics are photocopied into our yearly Graphic Novel Making Contest Winning Entries collection. Additionally, we take general photos of the award ceremony and photos of the winners from each age category. You can see examples of this in last year's blog post.

Do you have to be a San Jose Library patron to take part in this contest? I am from New York.

You must be a California resident in order to participate.

Can I use shades of gray?

Yes, black, white, and all shades of gray are accepted!

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