Pop Culture Classroom, Denver Comic Con Debut Excellence in Graphic Lit Awards

Pop Culture Classroom, a Denver-area educational organization, and the Denver Comic Con are teaming to launch the Excellence In Graphic Literature Awards, a new book publishing industry-focused awards program to honor the best of the graphic novel category.

The Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards will debut at the Denver Comic Con in June 2018.

Submissions for the awards open in December 2017 and close January 31, 2018. Nominations will be announced in March 2018. Winners of the EGL Awards will be announced during a special ceremony held on June 16, 2018 at the Denver Comic con.

EGL Awards for the best graphic books will be presented in four categories: Children’s (fiction/nonfiction), Middle Grade (fiction/nonfiction), Young Adult (fiction/nonfiction), and adult (fiction/nonfiction).  The EGL Awards program will also present a Mosaic Award to the best book representing diverse communities, ethnicities, nationalities, faiths, genders, and orientations.

The EGL Awards program will also present a Book of the Year award, which will be presented to one of the nine winning books from the aforementioned EGL Awards categories.

The winners will be chosen by a separate panel of judges for each category. The panels will include a mix of publishing professionals, librarians, teachers, independent retailers and academics. Sculptors Colin and Kristine Poole have been commissioned to create the EGL Awards trophy that will be awaded to the winners.

In addition, the EGL Awards program will be overseen by a 16-member Advisory Board that includes Tattered Cover co-owner Len Vlahos, Nikolodeon Comics/Graphic novels director Joan Hilty, comics writer/educator Alex Simmons, ‘PW’ Graphic Novels Reviews editor and Brooklyn Book Festival graphic novel chair Meg Lemke, librarian Kat Kan, and Earth 2 comics shop owners Carr D’Angelo and Susan Avallone, among others. 

Pop Culture Classroom is also the founder and organizer of the Denver Comic con, which it launched in 2012 as an education conference focused on the use of comics and other pop culture material in the classroom. Since its founding, the Denver Comic Con has grown to one of the largest pop culture conventions in the country, attracting more than 115,000 fans in recent years.

Pop Culture Classroom director of education Illya Kowalchuk, who is a  teacher as well as one of the cofounders of the Denver Comic Con, said the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards program is a natural extension of the mission of the Denver Comic Con.

Kowalchuk said, “we’re an educational event and we’ve seen the explosion of graphic literature in comic shops, bookstores, schools and libraries.” The EGL Awards program, Kowalchuk said, will be focused on validating the graphic novel format for educators as well as helping retailers sell books.

“There’s no book publishing industry award focused on graphic novel literature that serves the needs of educators, libraries and retailers,” Kowalchuk said.

Kowalchuk told PW, Pop Culture Classroom has been “focused on the launching the awards since 2012.” Their efforts to launch the EGL Awards program includes bringing on Udon v-p of sales John Shableski as a consultant, in addition to recruiting Len Vlahos, co-owner of the Tattered Cover, Denver’s premier independent book retailer, for the advisory committee.

“Len and the Tattered Cover will have a big presence at the show,” Kowalchuk said. “He filmed a video introduction to the awards, he’s giving us advice and people are really jazzed about the awards. “

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