In 2005, Scholastic launched Graphix with the publication of the full-color edition of BONE #1: Out from Boneville. Graphix is dedicated to publishing engaging, age-appropriate graphic novels for children and teens. Supported by librarians, teachers, and, most important, kids, Graphix titles have become bestsellers around the globe and continue to receive awards and critical acclaim, including multiple Eisner Award wins and nominations, a Stonewall Book Award Honor (Drama), a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor (Smile), an Edgar Allan Poe nomination (The Lost Boy), and 20 New York Times bestsellers to date.
Last month, Graphix announced an open submission contest inviting debut comic artists to submit their stories for a chance to be published by the Scholastic imprint. Submissions will be accepted via the dedicated website through April 1, 2017, and up to five winning entries will be announced on or about June 20, 2017. Winning entries will receive an offer to publish their work with Graphix and a $15,000 advance.
This contest will seek submissions from debut comic artists who are U.S. residents, 18 years or older, and who are unpublished and not currently under contract to publish a book with another publisher.
I sat down with Senior Editor Cassandra Pelham to find out a little more about the contest.
What makes this contest different from other contests or an open call for submissions?
The prize is a contract with royalties, but the artists will not have to put together anything other than their own pitch. We will have up to five winners we can offer contracts to and each comes with a $15,000 advance. This is currently for US residents only.
What are you specifically looking for?
The format needs to be a 12-page pitch for a graphic novel with completed art and a plot summary.
What is Graphix currently doing to court marginalized voices?
We are making the contest as accessible as possible by making it open and online. We are also going to as many comic shows as we possible can, including larger shows, like Emerald City Comicon and San Diego Comic-Con, but we are also focusing on hitting smaller shows like Small Press Expo and Toronto Comics Arts Festival.
What would you like interested parties to do when they see Scholastic Graphix at these shows?
We will tweet our panels and events at our official Twitter. Come out to our events with prepared questions! With prepared questions you’ll be sure everything you’re curious about will be answered. It helps to be prepared with knowledge of our line also. In addition to that I do my best to make time for talent. Some of the best ideas can come out of a brief conversation.
There is a lot of anxiety in the comics community about contracts. Can you tell us anything to put potential contestants at ease?
All of the contest information is available online. The creator retains the copyright of his or her original work and Scholastic Graphix prints, distributes, and markets the graphic novel.
What are Graphix sales typically like for your books? What makes Graphix special?
We are consistently on the New York Times Bestseller list. Part of that is due to our great placement at bookstores and schools. Scholastic is the largest distributor of children’s books. It has been steadily growing since it was founded in 1920. We have a full marketing team, a publicity team, and we even have reps dedicated specifically to accounts like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as independent bookstores. In addition, our Scholastic Book Fairs and Reading Club divisions work directly with schools. We are all very passionate about creating great content for children. Creators are regularly impressed with the treatment and placement they receive with us.
It sounds like you are looking for younger talent. Is that correct?
We are looking to find someone not currently under contract who has a distinct voice we can nurture. We really value forming relationships and careers with our creators. Our creators are not bound to interminable contracts, but they continue to return and publish work through us.
Is there any specific content you are looking for?
It is important to be aware of what our line already has in it. I really enjoy coming of age adventures, but I also enjoy humor, magic, and drama. Nothing needs to be overtly educational. But it definitely needs to be age appropriate.
And finally, is there anything else you’d really like to share with our readership?
In spring we will be putting out NewsPrints, a new graphic novel by Ru Xu. I met Ru Xu when I did a portfolio review for her class. She is a few years out of school, and I really look forward to working with her more!