Graphic Novel Making Contest 2017

Graphic Novel graphic

June 1 – July 31, 2017

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 2017 Summer Reading Challenge. This contest is sponsored by San José Public Library, San Jose Museum of Art, TRY Japan Culture Group, Sakura of America, Oni Press, and Action Lab Entertainment.

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 listed, will be considered a single entry 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 (as submissions are non-returnable).
  • 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. 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 Monday, July 31, 2017.
  • Entries can also be submitted online to as a JPEG or PDF attachment. Digital entries may be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Monday, 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 comic industry professionals. All cash prizes will be awarded as gift cards.


  • Children (up to age 8): Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second and third place winners.
  • Children (9-12): Gift and art supply baskets awarded for first, second and third place winners.
  • Teens (13-17): First place $100; second place $70; third place $50
  • Adults (18 and above): First place $100; second place $70; third place $50

Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony was held at the Seven Trees Branch Library on Saturday, August 26, 2017, at 2:00 PM in the Banquet Hall. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded. Check out photos from the event.

Past Entries

Check out the award winning entries from 2010-2016 at your local San Jose Public Library or in the Library’s catalog.


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 good afternoon. Are you accepting entries through online?

Hi, Rocelyn, Yes, we will be open to online entries. All online entries must be submitted to as a JPEG or PDF attachment. Digital entries may be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Monday, July 31. Thanks!

Hi! I would like to know what the terms mean by "text on one side only" and like some insight on this.

I think, "black-and-white drawings and text on one side only" means Do not Print it in both sides in one page.

I have two questions concerning the rules and scenarios that can result in a disqualified entry. 1. Would using computer-generated text (ex. a font from a program like Word) fall into the category of non-original computer-generated images and be prohibited? 2. Would showing artwork from one's own entry on social media prior to the contest be grounds for disqualification? Thank you and best regards.

Hi, Pablo. I hope this helps answer your questions. 1. The computer-generated images specifically refer to images that are not created by the artist, i.e. clip art. It does not refer to text. 2. Since the work belongs to the artist, it is their choice if they choose to share it on their own social media accounts. However, the work should not have been previously published. Thanks!

When submitting online, how would I send the form since I am under 18? Would I only be able to submit at a library?

Hi! You would submit the same way as an adult. You need to print the entry and model release form, you and your guardian both need to sign the form, and then upload it along with your original work. All original works along with entry form must be sent to: Thanks!

If I am turning 18 within this period, Sinai submit my art for group 13-17 or 18+?

If you turn 18 before the end date of 7/31/2017, then please mark your entry as 18+. If your birthday is in August, then you may submit for the 13-17 category. Thanks!

I go by my middle name, even on my artwork. Should I submit the form with my legal first name, or the name I go by? If I have to use my legal first name on the submission form, can I still write the name I prefer on the cover of my graphic novel when I submit it?

Please submit your entry form with legal name. You can include your entry form if you would like to avoid confusion. You may put your preferred name on your artwork. Thanks!

I apologize if this is a bother, but is LGBT+ content acceptable? I was thinking about making a comic of two girls in love (totally PG13, only hand holding is shown), but some people are still iffy about stuff like that.

Hi! The San Jose Public Library is open to all works, including those featuring diverse characters and story lines. As long as the content is appropriate for all ages, then it will be read and judged fairly. Thanks!

Hello, I wanted to know that is the entry should be original or photocopy of my original work?

We prefer originals, because they make it easier to preserve integrity when photocopying. However, we understand if you would prefer to submit a copy and keep your original. You will not be disqualified.

Hi! I was wondering, can the PDF files each be their own file or do they need to be all on one? I have all the pages on individual PDF files and should I consolidate them onto one or leave them as 8 separate files? Thanks!!

Consolidated into one file is preferred. We want to make sure that we have your comic in the correct order with all materials included. Thanks!

Is the submission limited to single participant? My 2 girls make 1 novel together, can they submits their work? Thanks!

Hi! As long as they co-wrote it together, and are ok with sharing a prize, they can submit they novel as one entry. Thanks!

hello! we are from Bangladesh and like to know if we can enter in the competition as well. we do not have the citizenship from your country.also we would like to know if the winners do not appear in the prize giving day due to circumstances ,will they get disqualified? thank you.

Hi! The San Jose Public Library Graphic Novel Making Contest is open to residents of all ages from the state of California. San Jose Public Library does not inquire about the citizenship of library users. While winners will be announced at the final event, you do not need to be present to win. However, the library will not be mailing prizes and all winners must physically pick up their prizes at a library location established after the event. I hope this answers your question. Thank you.

what do you guys mean by the text should be on one side? And it would be great if you could send me a sample comic following these rules and regulations

Hello. All text and graphics should be on a single side of the submitted work. We cannot have double-sided submissions. Unfortunately, we do not have samples to send you. Best of luck!

Should my 8.5 x 11 piece of paper be folded, and each half of the paper be one page? Or should one whole 8.5 x 11 piece of paper be one side of the paper be or count as one page?

Hi. All submissions should be on 8.5x11 paper; no folded pages, please. Thanks!

Hello, I won't be able to make it to the award ceremony because I have test prep. Will I still be able to pick up the participating prize/any other awards from my branch? Thanks!

Hello. If you are a winner for your category, but are unable to make the awards ceremony, we will arrange a pick-up location with you after the event. Thanks!

Can the layout of the comic be in landscape or does it have to be in portrait?

Yes, the comic can be in landscape as long as it still fits in the 8"x11" page size.

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