The Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize 2021 – enter now!

The annual award for aspiring cartoonists offers the chance to be published in the Observer and win a cheque for £1,000, with past winners going on to land film and book deals

Calling all aspiring cartoonists and graphic novelists: a little later in the year than usual, the Jonathan Cape/Observer/Graphica graphic short story prize opens for entries today. The competition is now in its 14th year and our stellar guest judges this time around are Samira Ahmed, the journalist and presenter of Front Row on Radio 4, and Alison Bechdel, the award-winning author of, among other comic books, Fun Home and The Secret to Superhuman Strength. The winner will receive a cheque for £1,000 and their work will appear in the Observer in print and online. The runner-up will receive £250 and their work will also be published online.

People sometimes ask whether this prize has the power to change lives – a question to which the answer has to be an emphatic yes. Among those who have been winners and runners-up in the past are Isabel Greenberg, the acclaimed author of Glass Town, Matthew Dooley, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize-winning author of Flake, and Joff Winterhart, whose exquisite graphic novel, Days of the Bagnold Summer, a story that began its life as his entry in the 2009 competition, became a film last year (Monica Dolan and Rob Brydon starred). Edo Brenes, who won in 2019, published his first book, Memories from Limón, a story of family secrets set in Costa Rica, last month.

Entering is simple (though it’s tricky, too). All you have to do is create a four-page comic, designed to run over a double-page spread in the Observer New Review – a story that will ideally have a beginning, a middle and an end, and which will be accompanied by some suitably gorgeous and arresting illustrations. After this, we do all the hard work. To enter, and to read the terms and conditions, click here. Deadline for entries is Friday 10 December.

Contributor

Rachel Cooke

The GuardianTramp

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