Pennsylvania Center for the Book


History | Definitions |Criteria |Selection Jury | Advisory Board |
Submission Information


The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize (also the Lynd Ward Prize for the Best Graphic Novel of the Year) honors Mr. Ward’s formative influence in the development of the graphic novel and celebrates the gift of an extensive collection of Ward’s wood engravings, original book illustrations, and other graphic art donated to Penn State University Libraries by his daughters, Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Between 1929 and 1937 Ward published his six ground-breaking wordless novels— Gods’ Man, Madman’s Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years, Song without Words, and Vertigo —which have been re-issued by The Library of America in a two-volume boxed set entitled Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts, the first time the nonprofit publisher has included a graphic novelist in its award-winning series.

First issued in 2011 and sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize is presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident.

The award announcement takes place each spring, with the prize of $2500 and the two volume set of Ward 's six novels published by the Library of America being presented each fall to the creator(s) of the a ward -winning book at a ceremony to be held at Penn State.


A graphic novel is a narrative work of fiction or non-fiction in which the story is conveyed to the reader using images arranged in sequential form such as the traditional comic form. Integrated or incidental text may be incorporated in the work, but a graphic novel is, by definition, a visual work rather than an illustrated text-driven novel. The term suggests a complete self-contained work.

 Graphic novels are bound using the same materials and methods as printed books and are generally sold in bookstores as well as specialty comic book shops.


In identifying the best graphic novel of the year, the selection jury will consider:

Reprinted or reissued works are ineligible for the prize, but a new or a substantial adaption of an original work may be eligible. A new or reissued collection of comic strips would only be considered eligible for the award if the collection contained an overarching story arc.

Books designed primarily for adults and young adults will be considered for the prize, but there is no age limit imposed upon the potential readers of the winning book. Books designed primarily for children below 13 years of age—the traditional picture book or picture storybook—would be ineligible.  All eligibility issues will be resolved by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

Books must be published within the assigned calendar year, January 1 to December 31, but when a book with a copyright is not available in the year of its copyright (due to publisher delays, for example), the book may be considered the year it is actually available for purchase. No book may be considered more than once.

Nominations for the Lynd Ward Prize may be made by readers, creators, and publishers as long as FOUR copies of said books are shipped to: 
Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Assistant Director 
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book 
502 C Paterno Library 
University Park, PA 16802 
Attention: Lynd Ward Prize 

Thanks to the Library of America for their generosity in providing the donation of the Ward novel prizes.

Selection Jury

The selection jury has representatives from various Penn State University academic departments who use the graphic novel in their teaching or research, as well as representatives with graphic novel expertise from among Penn State’s alumni. The selection jury for the 2016 prize: 

Kendra Boileau is Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State University Press, and the acquiring editor for the Press’s Graphic Medicine book series.

Collin Colsher is creator of the Real Batman Chronology Project, and has a Master of Arts in Cinema Studies from NYU. He currently teaches kindergarten in Brooklyn, NY. 

John McComas has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Penn State, and puts his twenty-year “fascination for all facets of the comics medium” to good use as a full-time staffer at the Comic Swap in State College, PA. 

Dustin Perna is an undergraduate student at Penn State majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with a fervent interest in comics and graphic novels. 

Beth Theobald is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at the Penn State University’s Beaver Campus. 

Advisory Board

Scott T. Smith, Associate Professor of English and comparative literature in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University.

J. Harlan Ritchey, freelance illustrator, designer, and videographer and Library Assistant, Engineering Library, University Libraries.

Wilson Hutton, Visual Communications Specialist, Penn State University Libraries.

Sandra Stelts, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Pennsylvania State University Libraries, where she oversees diverse collections that include art and architectural history, art education, graphic arts, the history of photography, children's literature, utopian literature, Pennsylvania German broadsides and Fraktur, African-Americana, and dance history.  She has published articles in the fields of art history and the history of photography and has curated exhibitions on a wide variety of themes.

Steven Herb, Director, Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Affiliate Professor of Language, Culture and Society in the College of Education.  He has administered the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children’s Poetry and the Baker’s Dozen Award for Family Literacy for the PA Center for the Book, and served on the Boston Globe/Horn Book, Geisel, Newbery, and Caldecott Award Committees.

Ellysa Stern Cahoy, ex-officio, is an Education Librarian and an Assistant Director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book in the Penn State University Libraries. A former school and children's librarian, she administers the Pennsylvania Public Poetry Project and the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize.  She also served as chair of the 2014 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award Committee, and serves on the selection committee for the Baker’s Dozen Award for Family Literacy for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book

Submission Information

We are accepting 2015 copyright submissions from publishers beginning immediately through December 31st for the 2016 award.

Please submit FOUR copies of any or all books that meet the criteria to:

Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Assistant Director
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book
502 C Paterno Library
University Park, PA 16802
Attention: Lynd Ward Prize


Penn State Libraries Center for the Book - Library of Congress