Observer launches annual graphic short story competition with Jonathan Cape and Comica

Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart, which was shortlisted alongside Hilary Mantel in the 2012 Costa book awards.

Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart, which was shortlisted alongside Hilary Mantel in the 2012 Costa book awards. Image Via The Observer

The Observer launched the 2014 Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story competition on Sunday. The winner will receive a cheque for £1,000 and the winning story will be published in the Observer New Review in November.

Now in its seventh year, the newspaper says “this graphic short story prize has established itself as the one to win if you want to make an impact in the world of graphic novels and beyond. Even runners-up have found themselves feted in ways they might not have predicted only a few years ago.

“In 2012, for example, our 2009 runner-up Joff Winterhart, was shortlisted alongside Hilary Mantel for best novel in the Costa book awards for his superb Days of the Bagnold Summer. Meanwhile, two previous winners – Stephen Collins, who won the prize in 2010, and Isabel Greenberg, who carried it off in 2011 – published their first books last year to ringing acclaim. Raymond Briggs praised Collins’sThe Gigantic Beard That Was Evil as “amazing” and “completely original” before it was even published, while Mark Haddon, among others, paid tribute to Greenberg’s The Encyclopedia of Early Earth as ‘a celebration of storytelling itself… strange and wry and funny and beautifully drawn’.”

Isabel Greenberg is one of the competition’s judges this year, joining the regular panel (Dan Franklin, publisher at Jonathan Cape, Suzanne Dean, creative director of Random House, Paul Gravett, director of the Comica festival and the Observer‘s Rachel Cooke) as well as the actor, comedian and writer Peter Serafinowicz.

If you’re thinking of entering, visit

You will also want to take a look at Shorties, a free e-comic that showcases a line-up of favourite entries from the early years of the prize.

“The talent on view there is impressive – but please don’t let that put you off,” say the organisers. “It is intended to inspire. And we hope to receive a record number of entries in 2014.”


The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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