Graphic Novel Diversity Award

VLA Graphic Novel Diversity Award  


2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

VLA Graphic Novel Diversity Awards: Embracing Diversity


  • To increase the chance for diverse readers to see themselves within the page

  • To increase the visibility of diversity in graphic novels

  • To recognize quality graphic literature promoting subjects or characters of diversity

  • To support the role of libraries to educate and promote reading


  • Feature a diverse protagonist (casual or issue-based), a diverse supporting character that impacts the story, or a diverse subject
  • Published in English by a North American “publisher” in the year that will be honored. Self-published nominations are accepted.
  • Be a stand-alone or a story arc. The last volume of a story arc must have been published in the year being honored.
  • Are submitted for only one of these age categories: Youth (ages 6-17) or Adult (ages 18 and up)


Definition of Diversity

  • Differences both visible and invisible that may separate an individual from the story’s mainstream. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.

  • Eligible diversity groups may include color/race, ethnicity/nationality, disability whether mental or physical, feminism, ageism, religion, forced minority and LGBT/sexual orientation.

Definition of Groups

  • Color/Race/Ethnicity/Nationality – Character(s) are recognizably portrayed as a member of a specific race, color or nationality through the art, dialogue, narrative. The character shows flaws and strengths in dealing with life as a member of a specific race, color or nationality.

  • Disability (visible and invisible) – Character lives a normal life despite any limitations placed on  by the disability, whether mental or physical

  • Feminism – A female is surviving in a male-dominated environment or breaking free from gender norms.

  • Ageism – Character is being diminished due to the character’s age. The story should reflect how the character succumbs to or overcomes age barriers.

  • Religion – Character is of a specific faith and may deal with persecution because of religion or faith.

  • Forced Minority – The main character, although not normally a minority, through circumstances becomes a minority. 

  • LGBTQ+/Sexual Orientation/sexual identity/Intersex – Character is LGBTQ+ or identifies as non-heteronormative and is coming to terms with this identity or dealing with discrimination.

The reviewing panel will consist of five judges and the Diversity Awards Chair. Publishers will fill out the nomination form (which will be accessed by the Awards Committee Chair for the current year.

 Publisher's Nomination Form

Please submit nominations here. The deadline for entries is January 31, 2025.


The publisher will then send by email to the current chair the following:

  • An introductory letter outlining why the material is deserving of this award.
  • Bios of the writer(s) and artist(s) of the nominee (up to 200 words per person).
  • JPEGs of the writer(s) author(s) and the cover of the nominee.
  • Reviews of the nominee (optional).

Once the nomination and additional materials are received, the Chair will email the six addresses to the contact person for the publisher to send one copy of the nominee (digital ARCs from NetGalley and Edelweiss are acceptable). If the nominee is a story arc, a copy of the whole arc must be submitted.


Is there a cash reward for the winning title?
The winning title of each category will receive $500.00.


Who receives the cash award, the writer or the artist?
Both or all of the creators receive the cash award to split among themselves or to invest it in some way.


Are nonfiction graphic novels eligible?
Yes, entries can be fiction or nonfiction. There is no separate award for either.


Can anyone nominate a title for the award?
Only publishers can submit a title, since they are responsible for submitting a package to each member of the judging committee. If you feel strongly about a particular title, contact the publisher and let them know to submit the title for the award.


Does the author or artist have to be a citizen of a North American Country?
No. The entry is being viewed on its merits. The nomination has to be written in English and published by a North American publisher. If a Japanese Manga has been translated and published by a  Publisher like DC Comics or Fantagraphics, the translated version is eligible if the translation was published in the year being honored..


Are digital/web comics or graphic novels eligible for submission?
Not currently. We may look at adding them later if we can resolve issues pertaining to publication dates and permanence. Downloadable graphic novels are eligible. See the next question.

I published my graphic novel as a downloadable only. Is it eligible?
Since more and more self-publishers are making the decision to publish electronically, a downloadable graphic novel is eligible because it fits the criteria of being in print just not in the traditional sense. A downloadable differs from a web-based comic which is not eligible. To nominate a downloadable graphic novel, the publisher must add two more pieces of information: 1. proof that the downloadable was first available for purchase in the year being honored; 2. libraries should be able to purchase the graphic novel for the electronic collection to circulate for their users. Libraries may have platforms which allow them to add self-published materials for checkout.


Can a title be submitted for both age categories if the story is for all ages?
No, the submitter must choose the age category that best suits the age of the prominent readership.


Our title focuses on diversity but does not fit any of the categories listed. Can we still nominate this title?
Yes, the judges can determine if the title fits our broader definition of Diversity.


What will the cover images of the books be used for?
The images will be used for our web page and other publicity to announce the winners and honor books. 


Can you explain the story arc?
Some series break their story arcs between several volumes. In some cases, the reader must begin at the first volume and read to the end to understand and enjoy the story. Some volumes are not complete on their own. In the case of such a story arc, the whole arc must be submitted for review as long as the last volume was published in the year being honored. If a single volume can stand on its own without reading the whole series or arc, then this volume may be submitted on its own.


What countries are considered part of North America?
According to the CIA World Factbook, the following countries, Bermuda, Canada, Clipperton Island, Greenland, Mexico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and United States, are part of North America. We are currently abiding by this definition. Any North American publisher of English language graphic novels is eligible to submit to the award. Translations of foreign language graphic novels into English are eligible if the translation were published by North American publishers in the year being honored.