thee Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency presents



1st place  – $500 cash prize to the winner

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: August 30 2016 midnight new york city time


PAY ATTENTION!! THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT! Hereand Here and Here are last three years if you haven’t heard of the contest. This isn’t a scam, silly.

Here are the specs:

Original art page size: 5.5  x 8.5 inch originals with a 5 x 7.5 inch live area. Three equal “landscape” oriented panels. No exceptions. Each panel will be 5 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall. The “Tezuka Grid”. MEANING: YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE PANEL SIZES. 14 pages with 3 panels per page means you only have 42 panels to tell your story. And two covers. tumblr_o9waos4DLT1rzbt9wo5_500

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

You may also cut paper to the standard panel size of 5 x 2.5 inches and arrange them on your 5.5 x 8.5 paper quarter inch margins east, north and west with a three quarter inch margin south.

These “specs” were derived from Osamu Tezuka’s proportions for his first manga, The Mysterious Underground  Men. It is a classic 2:3 proportion which is the same as traditional North American comic books. See above photos–I determined the live area and then scale’d up to a standard North American size which is affordable to print.  See my ideas about the two most used comic book proportions HERE.

International students must use the same specs. No complaining.

It is recommended that you use one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper to compose the “spread”. The point is to draw small. And to draw by hand. And to learn how to draw in a “1 to 1″ fashion, as this proportion is perfect for North American “mini-comics” and for makers worldwide to produce comics from office supplies. And can be reduced to make a traditional 100x150mm live area for manga. See thoughts on this subject HERE.


Thats 14 pages of story plus two covers. Meaning seven spreads and a front and back cover. A 16 page signature. Follow this example here.

THE STORY MUST BE COMPLETE. SERIAL INSTALLMENTS of a longer narrative ARE NOT ELIGIBLE. THE STORY MUST BE NEW. IF YOU REPURPOSE AN OLD STORY THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN PUBLISHED YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED. 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.

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! Also post the front cover as the lead image and the back cover as the final image. 

Email me – santoroschoolATgmailDOTcom – that you have posted your entry to your tumblr – complete with your name and title of the work in the text field and that it is for the composition competition 2016 – and I will reblog it on to the comicsworkbook site. 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 cash prize. Any questions about the competition – please 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.

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. Remember the page size: 5.5  x 8.5 inch originals with a 5 x 7.5 inch live area. Three equal “landscape” oriented panels. No exceptions. Each panel will be 5 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall. Work may be in color OR black and white – OR – a combination of both.

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

You may enter as a writer/artist duo.

DEADLINE is August 30 2016 at 11:59 pm EST

Winners will be announced the following week.

please reblog this announcement

GOOD LUCK! signed Frank Santoro


1. Can I have gutters in between the panels and can I work digitally.

ANSWER: You can have gutters – and you can work digitally. However I still want you to draw it at 5.5 x 8.5 inch original page size with a 5 x 7.5 inch live area – don’t draw large and shrink it down – ideally you are drawing panels that are 5 x 2.5 inches.

2. I understand that we are to post the comics as a two-page spread. But does the comic necessarily need to actually/physically be a spread? What I mean is, do I need to actually divide an 8.5 x 11″ page down the center to make two 5.5 x 8.5″ pages, or can I have two *separate* 5.5 x 8.5″ pages, completely independent of each other, which I then place side by side in order to post a picture on Tumblr? I would hate to draw a sloppy page and have to trash two pages because of it.

YES you may use two pieces of paper

3. I assume there is to be no sub-dividing of the three horizontal panels into separate, smaller panels, correct? For example, sub-dividing the top panel into three small vertical panels so that the comic page reads 3 -> 1 -> 1 is reason for disqualification, yes?

Correct. 3 panels per page – all 2.5 inches tall x 5 inches wide. No subdividing.

4. Is it alright to work on a page larger than 5.5 x 8.5″ provided that we DO NOT reduce the art in any way, and we DO adhere to the correct panel sizes and space orientation? This would merely be a technical convenience to me as I find it easier to draw on larger pages due to hand positioning/orientation etc.


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  1. Two questions:
    1. Can an image pass between panels and/or spreads?

    2. Does a *montage of images and/or text count as dividing the page in a way that would break the contest rules? *not sure I’m using the right word here

    PS. Gutters are NOT required, right?

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