Winter Reading Comic Making Contest

Logo says "Story Telling Contest" in gold and blue letters, with a pen writing or drawing above it

Submit your short comic to the Winter Comic Making Contest!

December 13, 2020 – January 31, 2021

If you have a talent for creating comic or manga-style short stories, you are invited to enter San José Public Library’s Winter Comic Making Contest for all ages as part of our 2021 Winter Storytelling Contests!

Submission Guidelines

  • Create your own short comic for our short story dispenser. Since these will be printed on receipt paper, they can be no larger than 2.75 inches X 19.75 inches. You may use the approved Winter Comic Making Contest Template, measure your comic out, or follow the digital dimensions in the Winter Storytelling Contests Guidelines.
  • Black-and-white imagery and text ONLY. Bold lines and shapes using dark pens, ink, or markers work best. Please avoid using pencil for your final comic as these do not print well. You may use ONE mid-tone shade of grey, avoid multiple shades as these may not print. Please see the Winter Storytelling Contests Guidelines and FAQ for more information and drawing suggestions.
  • Your comic must be read vertically (up/down). Do not submit horizontal (left/right) comics.
  • Each submission must be the creative and original work of the submitting author/illustrator. Each submissions must have only one creator.
  • 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).
  • San José Public Library reserves the right to reproduce your work. You can reuse all your work after the contest.
  • Complete and submit the Winter Storytelling Contests Entry Form to or any operating SJPL location with your comic. Entries submitted without a completed Entry Form will be ineligible.
  • Entries can be submitted digitally (recommended) to the Short Édition portal by creating an account or emailed to as a JPEG or PNG attachment. Digital entries may be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Sunday, January 31, 2021. Note, if you submit using the Short Édition portal, you will have to email your Entry Form, make sure both names match.
  • Physical entries can be submitted to any operating San José Public Library Express Pickup location no later than end of business day on Saturday, January 30, 2021. Consider submitting a photocopy that is an accurate reflection of the original (SJPL cannot guarantee the return of submissions).
  • There is a limit of one comic entry per contestant(s). Participants are welcome to submit one comic entry for the Winter Comic Making Contest and one entry to the Winter Short Story Contest.

For more information on the format and submission of your comics, as well as suggestions, please see our detailed Winter Storytelling Guidelines and FAQ.


Why Such a Specific Format?

The Short Edition machine, a black and orange cylinder with 3 buttons and slot for receipt printing.

If you’re familiar with our Graphic Novel Making Contest, you may be wondering why the guidelines for this contest are so specific and different.

Last year, San José Public Library procured two Short Édition dispensers. At these dispensers, anyone can push a button and a randomized short story will be printed on receipt paper. The collection of stories the machine can print will include a mix of short stories penned by San José residents like yourself! The size and color guidelines are to ensure your comics will print as best as possible on the receipt paper within these machines, as well as our digital collections. Departure from these guidelines may result in illegible prints. While these dispensers may not be in public spaces soon, these short stories will be curated within our Short Édition online collection.

For more information on the format, submission process, and suggestions, please see our FAQ. If you still have questions after reading the FAQ, please comment below and we will answer your questions there. 

How to Submit Your Short Comic

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 January 31, 2021, 11:59pm. We cannot predict if there will be more restrictive health guidelines later in the winter 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 Winter Storytelling Contests Guide for options to digitize your entry. If you are still unable to submit digitally, we will accept paper submissions at any operating San José Public Library Express Pickup locations for as long as we are able through the deadline, end of business operation on January 30, 2021. Please plan accordingly.

Check out our Winter Storytelling Contests Guidelines for a complete walkthrough of each submission process.

Comic 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 Winter Comic Making Programs! 

Picture of Ngozi smiling in front of her workstation, computer behind her has comic drawing she's working on

Panel by Panel: Comics As A Career

Friday, January 8 from 5:00 - 6:00 PM

How do you become a full-time cartoonist? Follow Ngozi Ukazu, author and creator of Check, Please!, as she details her path from student and webcomic artist to published, New York Times bestselling graphic novelist. Register here!


How to Write a Comic Strip

Saturday, January 16 from 3:00 - 4:00 PM

Writing comic strips can be challenging, but there are some tried and true methods for making them both clear and entertaining! In this workshop, learn basic concepts found in most comic strips (GarfieldCalvin and HobbesNancyetc) and show you how to apply them to your own work. Register here!

Winter Comic Making Contest Q&A Session

Friday, January 22 from 5:00 - 6:00 PM

Have questions about formatting, scanning, and submitting your comic? Attend this question and answer session and staff will answer your questions! Please note, we cannot provide critiques or feedback on the content of comics. Register here!

How to Draw Anything

Saturday, January 23 from 3:00 - 4:00 PM 

Have you ever tried to draw something but it didn't quite look right? In this workshop, learn what makes a drawing "read" clearly and how you can apply those concepts to your own work. Participants will learn tips to become better at drawing, and habits to set them up for artistic success. Register here!


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!:

Get Inspired: Graphic Novel Making Contest Winning Submissions

Check out the recap, or watch the recording of our inspiring 2020 Graphic Novel Making Contest Awards Ceremony!

While a different format, check out the 2020 submissions and winners on our Biblioboard Page!

BiblioBoard also hosts our 2019 submissions and winners, 2018 submissions and winners, and the 2017 winning submissions.

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


Entries will be judged using a rubric scale covering the following: clarity, workmanship of illustrations, overall story, and creativity; by a panel of library staff and community professionals. To understand what the judges will be looking for, you can view the Winter Comic Making Contest Rubric.

Age Groups & Prizes

All participants will recieve a coupon code from our sponsor, California Art Supply Company

CA Art Supply Co. Logo: a paint tube in the middle of a black circle, the circle says "California Art Supply Co. East. 2014" in orange and white font

Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each age category:

  • Children (0-7): Art Supply Bags awarded for First, Second & Third Place
  • Children (8-9): Art Supply Bags awarded for First, Second & Third Place
  • Pre-Teen (10-12): Art Supply Bags awarded for First, Second & Third Place
  • Teen (13-17): First Place $75; Second place $50; Third place $25
  • Adult (18+): First Place $75; Second place $50; Third place $25

Winners will be announced late February 2021. Winners will be contacted via email for prize pick-up. All cash prizes will be awarded as gift cards. 



Please check our Winter Comic Making Contest FAQ for answers to any questions you may have. And don’t forget, more details information can be found in our Winter Storytelling Contests Guidelines.

For additional questions not answered in the FAQ, please leave a comment below and a staff member will answer your question. If you have circumstantial questions, you may email us at


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


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The winners will be announced this Saturday (Feb 27th) in the morning. All participants will receive an email once that announces the winners.

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