The 2023 First Graphic Novel Award has announced its longlist of thirty potentials in line to have their debut long form work published by SelfMadeHero. Returning after a three year hiatus the British competition saw a 50% increase in submissions, a bigger jump than previous editions.

The thirty longlisted entries ranged from a silent tale about loneliness and connection in Mongolia; Scottish folklore and queer love; fictional, biographical and autobiographical tales of disability; mysterious murders and disappearances; documentary explorations of the right to protest, values and religious belief; and more.

Award director Corinne Pearlman said,

“This year we received 170 entries, nearly 50% more than in previous years, which is an illustration of the huge number of comics creators seeking publication in a very restricted market. Many have been burning the midnight oil to prepare their entries and we are grateful to all of them for sharing such a high standard of work. We had enormous pleasure in reading all the submissions, but several readings and vibrant conversations later, we are all happy to celebrate these 30 works-in-progress.”

Entrants were to submit 15-30 page extracts of their work in progress. The winner will be offered a publishing contract with SelfMadeHero, an advance against royalties, editorial and design support to bring their work-in-progress project to fruition, plus a £500 cash prize from The bks Agency. Longlisted entries will be also be displayed at Thought Bubble Festival in Harrogate from November 10 to 12; with the shortlist being declared November 10. The winner will be unveiled at an event held at Waterstones Piccadilly, London, on December 11.

The judging panel comprised broadcast journalist Alex Fitch; SelfMadeHero publisher Emma Hayley; graphic novelist, artist, and 2018-shortlisted entrant Sabba Khan (What Is Home, Mum?); Cartoon Museum Learning Officer Steve Marchant; writer/editor Ayoola Solarin; contemporary artist Mark Wallinger; and award director Corinne Pearlman.

For a synopsis of each title, check out the First Graphic Novel Award website. The thirty longlisted entrants are:

  • Charlotte Bailey, Saturday Soup Days
  • Anna-Maria Glover,
    The True Fish
  • Eszter Szimavari,
  • Elena Blanco,
    The Factory
  • Chris Halls,
    The Seeds of Merydyan
  • Alexander Taylor,
    Bone Broth
  • Cathy Brett,
    Mrs Thorwald
  • Christine Humphreys,
    O Sef!
  • Hariet Titlow,
    Hattie & Pod
  • Robbie Brewster,
    Click Memory Brick
  • Glenn Hustler,
  • Steven Thompson,
    The Call
  • Zoe Delautre Corral,
    April 17th
  • Graham Johnstone,
    Francis Bacon: The Black Triptych
  • Anna Trench,
  • Gareth Cowlin*,
    The Hiraeth Cub
  • Chris King,
  • Myfanwy Tristram,
    The Noisy Valley
  • Gareth Cowlin*,
  • Lucy Maughan,
    Staring into Space
  • Kelly Vassie,
    From the Bones of Old Horses
  • Wallis Eates,
    Old Cornflower
  • Lizzie Mikietyn,
    In Good Faith
  • Jonah Walker,
    Water, Blood, and Wine
  • Leina Elgohari,
  • Emma Pratt,
  • Corban Wilkin,
    The Infinite Benefits of Shame
  • Mereida Fajardo,
    Zayani Zam
  • Ying Ru-Chen,
    If Only Someone Sees You
  • Edie Woolf,
    Sea Nettle Beach

*two entries

Originally longlisted work was to be displayed at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on the weekend of September 29, two weeks after the September 14 deadline. The bumper crop of 170 submissions seemingly required more time for careful consideration to reach the longlist of 30 titles – as the award timeline has shifted slightly.

The First Graphic Novel Award has been around since 2012. Originally called the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition (sponsored by Myriad Editions) it ran until 2020. Each edition has lead to the publication of critically acclaimed work – from winners and finalists. The 2023 First Graphic Novel Award is sponsored by London’s Cartoon Museum, publisher SelfMadeHero, and literary management company The bks Agency; with grant aid from the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Other partners of the award include former sponsoring-publisher Myriad Editions, the LDComics network, VIP Brands, and UK comics events Lakes International Comic Art Festival and Thought Bubble.