Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book have announced that “Big Questions” by Anders Nilsen, published by Drawn & Quarterly, has won the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. Says one judge, “In its poetic, even elemental grasp of the workings of life at a range of scales, from the molecular to the universal, this comic opens up a potent space for meditation on the human/animal continuum, the origins and meanings of violence, and the inexorable, consoling cycle of life.”
The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize honors Ward’s 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 the Libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Between 1929 and 1937, Ward published his six groundbreaking wordless novels—“Gods’ Man,” “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Song without Words” and “Vertigo.” The six books were re-issued in October 2010, by The Library of America in a two-volume boxed set entitled “Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts,” the first time this nonprofit publisher has included a graphic novelist in its award-winning series.
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. citizen or resident. Anders Nilsen will receive a cash prize of $2,500, the two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by The Library of America and a suitable commemorative at a ceremony to be held at Penn State later this year.
The jury also awarded four honor books prizes: “Freeway” by Mark Kalesniko, published by Fantagraphics Books; “Habibi” by Craig Thompson, published by Pantheon; “Life With Mr. Dangerous” by Paul Hornschemeier, published by Villard, an imprint of Random House; and “Zahra’s Paradise” by Amir & Khalil, published by First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers.
The selection jury for the prize has representatives from various Penn State 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 2012 included Chair, Susan Squier, a Julia Greg Brill Professor of Women’s Studies, English, and Science, Technology and Society in the College of the Liberal Arts; Glenn Masuchika, an information literacy librarian in Library Learning Services, University Libraries; Henry Pisciotta, head of the Architecture Library and the assistant head of the Arts and Humanities Library, University Libraries; Esther Prins, an associate professor of education in adult education, in the College of Education, and the co-director of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy; and John Secreto, owner of Comic Swap, a popular and thriving comics store operating in State College since 1976.
For more information about the selection criteria and how to submit books for consideration for the 2013 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, contact Steven Herb at 814-863-2141 or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website at http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/activities/ward/index.html online.