Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017


and thee Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency presents



1st place  – A week-long Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency (valued at $500 – travel and expenses not included)

2nd place – $250 credit at Copacetic Comics

3rd place  – $100 credit at Copacetic Comics

plus four $50 honorable mention prizes from Big Planet Comics


Create a 16 page signature comic book narrative to the specifications below


DEADLINE: Tuesday, September 5th 2017 at 11:59 pm NYC time


HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE are last four years if you haven’t heard of the contest. HERE are all of the 2016 contest entries. This isn’t a scam, silly.


Here are the 2017 composition competition specs:

Contest take 1 from Frank Santoro on Vimeo.


Watch the video above!

Take an 11×17 inch piece of paper and cut it down to 10 1/4 x 13 1/2 inches. Fold this piece of paper in half.

Measure in 3/8ths of an inch from the top and the sides, and 3/8ths of an inch in on both sides of the center fold. Measure in 3/4s of an inch from the bottom. This will make two 6 x 9 inch live areas on your 10 1/4 x 13 1/2 inch paper – as you can see in the example below. Watch the video for clarity.

Make three equal “landscape” oriented tiers on each live area. Make copies of this “spread”.

Do your layouts at this size.


***Draw your original artwork at 10 x 15 inches. Use 11×17 inch paper – make a 10×15 inch live area on the paper. Measure in 1/4 inch on each side and a 1/4 inch from the top to situate your 10×15 inch live area within the 11×17 inch paper. See video.

The top tier and the bottom tier must have two 5×5 panels. The center tier may be open completely to make one 5×10 inch panel or two 5×5 inch panels. Again see video for clarity.

The top tier and the bottom tier MUST have two panels. The center tier may have one panel or two. You may use the 6-panel grid throughout the entire 14-page story but one of the pages MUST have an open center panel. All of the pages may have an open center panel. Each page will have either 5 or 6 panels.

Watch THIS video and THIS video for context. Pay attention to the parts about opening up the center. Also read Layout Workbook 1 and 2 for more info about traditional North American comic book proportions.

You may break up your panels like this:

14 pages and two covers. Meaning seven spreads and a front and back cover. A 16 page signature.

Work may be in color OR black and white – OR – a combination of both.

International students must use the same specs. No complaining.

It is recommended that you draw the pages on 11×17 paper with a 10×15 inch live area. It is recommended that you print your comic at traditional North American comic book size – which is 6 3/4 x 10 1/4. Again, see video.


Consider this an exercise in short story writing. I think the 16 page signature is ideal to contain a short story. Adaptations of existing works are not eligible. Like, you can’t copy a sequence from a movie.

To submit your comic to the composition:

  • Photograph or scan your pages and post them on your tumblr AS SPREADS. If you don’t have a tumblr – make one just for this contest. No exceptions! No complaining! Post the front cover as the lead image and the back cover as the final image and put your name and the title of the work in the text field and that it is for the Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017.
  • Email me – santoroschoolATgmailDOTcom – that you have posted your entry to your tumblr and give me a direct link to the post – and I will reblog it on to the comicsworkbook tumblr.

I will be posting them – reblogging them – on comicsworkbook as they come in. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I will, however, only be posting stories that stick to the RULES. If you don’t follow the rules, I will not reblog the story and you won’t be eligible for the prizes.

I will reblog them as quickly as I can and keep the list of entries updated – if you do not see your entry right away do not panic – I will make every effort to keep the list up to date but as long as you get your entry submitted correctly via email before the deadline your work will be in the competition. Last year we had over 100 entries and near the end things were hectic – so be patient.

Any questions about the competition – please email me – do not leave a comment on this post – I will not reply here. Just email me.

The competition is open to all. You do not have to be a former student of mine. Former students of mine ARE eligible to compete, as are winners of previous competitions.

Again, if you have any questions about the rules please ask. Better to ask and be safe than to be mad when I disqualify you over some missed detail. Seriously.

Work may be in color OR black and white – OR – a combination of both.

You MAY have panel gutters. You MAY work digitally. And you MAY work as a team.

Remember! Email me – santoroschoolATgmailDOTcom – that you have posted your entry to your tumblr – I will reblog it.

DEADLINE is Tuesday, September 5th 2017 at 11:59 pm NYC time

Winners will be announced the following week.

Please share this announcement


signed Frank Santoro

Frank Santoro

Frank Santoro

Frank Santoro is the founder of Comics Workbook. He has been making and writing about comics since 1988. He is the author of Storeyville, Pompeii, Cold Heat (with Ben Jones), and Pittsburgh. His comics have been published in Kramers Ergot, Mome, and The Ganzfeld. His work has been exhibited at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He co-founded the comics criticism magazine ComicsComics, and is a regular columnist for The Comics Journal. He started the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers in 2011 and the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency, based in Pittsburgh, PA, in 2015. He’s considered to be a good egg and one of the most passionate proselytizers for comic books and visual literacy that you will ever meet.
Frank Santoro
CWCC 2017 Final Entries List
Quick Guide to Frank Santoro's Grid Theories

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