UK competition The First Graphic Novel Award is returning with a new name, new partners and a new logo after a brief hiatus. Editor Corinne Pearlman will continue the award, with publisher SelfMadeHero, London’s Cartoon Museum, and literary management company The bks Agency. Winners will be offered a publishing contract from SelfMadeHero and a £500 cash prize sponsored by The bks Agency. The competition has also received grant aid from the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Other partners of the award include former publishing partner Myriad Editions, UK comics events Lakes International Comic Art Festival and Thought Bubble, and the LDComics network.

New logo!

The competition has been a vital part of the British graphic novel landscape, helping to promote new voices in the longer form of the medium. Formerly known as the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition, it began in 2012 and was spearheaded by Myriad Editions’ then-creative director Corinne Pearlman. It place every two years. Previous winners have included Gareth BrookesThe Black Project (published in 2012), Jade Sarson‘s For The Love of God, Marie! (published 2014), and Jenny RobinsBiscuits (published 2018). The last edition of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition was in 2020, the winning title was Veronika Muchitsch Cyberman, which was published in 2022. Many other shortlisted authors discovered through the competition were also published by Myriad – such as Hannah Eaton with Naming Monsters (2013), Zara Slattery‘s Coma (2021), and Sabba Khan‘s The Roles We Play (2021 – and rereleased in the US as What Is Home, Mum? with Street Noise Books in 2022).    

Submissions of a 15-30 page extract of the work-in-progress are now open, with the window closing September 14, 2023. [Note: There is, however, a small administrative fee for entrants of £10 – or £5 for students and those on benefits]. Those that make the longlist and shortlist will be contacted via email in late September and November, respectively, and the winner declared at an award ceremony on December 7, 2023.

The SelfMadeHero contract to the winner will include an advance against royalties plus editorial and design support to bring the work-in-progress project to publication. Longlisted work will be displayed at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Bowness-on-Windermere, September 29 to October 1, and shortlisted work displayed at the Thought Bubble Festival in Harrogate, November 10-12. 

There is no age criteria but all participants (be they single authors or a creative team) must be residents of the UK, not have an agent, and not previously had a full-length work commercially published. It can be fiction or nonfiction. 

According to the website:

“We are looking for a wide range of creators from different regions within the UK, and with different backgrounds. We want to reflect our society, inclusive of neurodivergent and disabled people, and those with the full rainbow of social, gender and ethnic identities.”

The judges for the newly reformed First Graphic Novel Award will include editors Ayoola Solarin and Corinne Pearlman, artist Mark Wallinger, the London Cartoon Museum’s Learning & Outreach Officer Steve Marchant, comics journalist and academic Alex Fitch, and graphic novelist – one of the competition’s published shortlisted authors – Sabba Khan. According to the competition website, creators that make the longlist will have their work reviewed by literary agent James Spackman of The bks Agency. All longlisted and shortlisted work will receive feedback from the judges.

A stack of previously published winners and shortlisted titles