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The 9th Art Award:

The Best in Graphic Literature

Graphic Scotland has announced that submissions are now open for the inaugural 9th Art Award for Graphic Literature. The 9th Art Award will choose the best work of graphic literature originally written and published in English between May 2012 and July 2013, from anywhere in the world.

I am delighted to join acclaimed arts critic and writer Hannah McGill, Freight Books publisher Adrian Searle and Costa award-winning co-author of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Mary Talbot, in judging the prize this year. A casting vote will be given to Graphic Scotland chair John McShane in the event of a tie. The award will be presented during an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August as part of their Stripped programme for their 30th Anniversary on comics and graphic novels.

Graphic Scotland Co-Director Gordon Robertson believes the prize could become a fixture on the international arts scene, and as important to sequential art as the Man Booker Prize is to literary fiction: “The 9th Art Award will be a significant annual award for recognition of excellence in the field of Graphic Literature. Its introduction as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival recognises graphic literature’s rightful status as an art form.”

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “We have featured graphic novel authors and illustrators in our programme at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for a number of years now and I believe that this new Award will give the genre the wider recognition that it deserves.”

The deadline for entries is 31 July 2013. For details of how to enter your graphic novel, see the submission guidelines on the website. You can also find and follow 9th Art on Facebook, and on Twitter: @9thArtAward. Please direct all enquiries to info[at]

I asked Gordon Robertson from Graphic Scotland to answer a few questions:

Paul Gravett:
What has motivated you and Graphic Scotland to set up this new 9th Art Award?

Gordon Robertson:
Graphic Literature’s ‘time has come.’ We wanted to celebrate that and give the form a major award, the first that accepts submissions in the English language from anywhere in the world, one that will become a fixture in the annual arts calendar. This will be a yearly event and one that we expect to grow in stature and influence each year. Its launch as part of the biggest celebration of the written word in the world at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is a major coup and further recognition of the stature and respect that Graphic Literature is receiving. Long overdue respect I must add.
Why ‘9th Art’?
The term 9th Art is long established in Europe to describe comics and graphic storytelling. As an international prize we wanted to reach out across the world. We’re very much a part of a worldwide art movement and we proudly take our place as practitioners of the 9th Art. We want people to recognise comics as an art form – the 9th Art. It’s also handy as a conversation starter too – I’ve been asked many times to name the other eight!
How will the nomination and judging processes for the Award work?
Submission’s are welcomed from publishers worldwide for any work published in the English language between May 2012 and July 2013. The deadline for nominations in July 31st. We have been incredibly lucky in putting together an illustrious panel, including yourself, Paul, Costa award winner (for a graphic novel) Mary Talbot, Adrian Searle and Hannah McGill. From the nominations, our judges will each make their choices for the prize and from that we will collate our short list. A meeting will then take place to decide on the ultimate winner to be announced on the evening of Sunday August 25th.
What are the plans and hopes for the 9th Art Award in the future?
We hope the 9th Art Award does establish itself as a major fixture on the arts calendar. While we’re trying not to look towards the Man Booker Prize it is an obvious comparison to make. If the award can go on to carry some of the prestige and influence of the Man Booker we’d be very happy indeed.

As part of their campaign, Graphic Scotland has launched a crowdfunding campaign to create an anthology of excerpts showcasing the works shortlisted for the 9th Art Award. The anthology will shine a spotlight on the best contemporary graphic work and provide our supporters a unique chance to be part of graphic novel history. They aim to raise £1,000 by 9 August 2013 to make this exciting anthology a reality. I’m supporting their campaign as you can see in the video above, in which I also ride on the statue of Glasgow’s favourite cartoon cowboy, Bud Neill’s Lobey Dosser, astride Elfie, the only two-legged horse in the Wild West.

Rewards for your support include: A copy of the 9th Art Anthology; More valuable books than you can shake a stick at; Premium Membership to Graphic Scotland, entitling you to discounts at certain book and art shops; Entry to the 9th Art Award ceremony at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August; The chance to pitch your graphic novel idea to a major publisher ( Please note: the publisher is not guaranteed to publish any work pitched to them. Publishers are busy people and can’t promise to feedback on submissions within a specific timeframe, just ASAP. They also can’t return any materials, so just submit copies please!); Inclusion of your own work in the anthology; and Graphic Scotland’s eternal gratitude.

For more details on what your pledge will get you, visit Graphic Scotland’s page at Bloom VC and get involved in the project now.

Posted: July 14, 2013


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