Duncan The Wonder Dog, a debut graphic novel by Adam Hines, has been awarded the inaugural annual Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Fiction by the Pennsylvania Center for The Book. Published by Adhouse Books, Duncan the Wonder Dog, was named a PW Best Book and recently was nominated in the graphic novel category for a L.A. Times Book Award. The jury also awarded an honor book prize to Drew Weing for Set to Sea published by Fantagraphics Books.

The Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Fiction is named to honor Lynd Ward, whose pioneering wordless graphic works published in the 1920s and 1930s are key to the development of the original standalone graphic novel we know today. Last year the Library of America published Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts, a boxed set featuring all six of his acclaimed graphic novels with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Speigelman. The Lynd Ward prize was established to celebrate the donation of a large collection of Ward’s wood engravings and other graphic works to the Penn State University Libraries by Ward’s daughters, Robin Ward Savage and Nanda WeedonWard.

The award also marks the remarkable reception Duncan the Wonder Dog has received since the book was released last fall. It is the first published work by Hines and details the complex and richly illustrated story of a world where animals can speak, think and act and debate the consequences of their treatment by humans. The book was one of PW’s Best Books of 2010 and has been featured on the PWXyz blog and Hines was interviewed in PW Comics Week. The initial printing of the title has soldout completely and AdHouse says a new print edition should be available this month. A digital edition ($9.95) can be purchased through MyDigitalComics.com.

Jurors commenting on Duncan The Wonder Dog said that they were, “surprised and astounded at each page: the composition, layout, drawings, and writing were so masterfully done, and Hines opens up new possibilities for comics as a creative medium. The content and form of the book are challenging but always rewarding, and the ranging compositional techniques are ambitious and innovative. This book presents an experience of reading unlike any I have ever encountered in comics—a visually smart book.” Hines will receive a cash prize of $2500, the two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by The Library of America, at a ceremony to be held at Penn State University later this year.

The jurors described Drew Weing’s Set to Sea as, "a small wonder of visual narrative, the book's superbly executed single-panel pages combine iconic cartooning and realistic detail to deliver a quietly moving story that unfolds primarily through image. It epitomizes the whole notion of the graphic novel set forth by Lynd Ward—the illustrations are brilliant and the balance between word and image is spot on." Weing will accept his honor prize at an event co-sponsored by Penn State and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council at 6 pm on May 23 in Foster Auditorium on the Penn State University Park Campus.

Reached for comment on receiving the award, Hines said, “The jurors liked the book, and for that I am happy, but since I have very little to do with their relationship to it—they do not know me personally, and so are uninfluenced by my motives—it feels strange to comment on it or even be pleased to win, as if I could be pleased that a stranger had a successful one night stand. But I am happy, nonetheless, and will gladly accept on behalf of their tryst.”