University Libraries

Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel to be awarded at Nov. 16 virtual event

Sarah Mirk will receive the honor for "Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison"

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sarah Mirk, 2021 winner of the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year, will receive the award on Tuesday, Nov. 16 for “Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison.” Mirk’s talk will include a visual presentation and discussion of her latest work, described on her website as an illustrated oral history that shares the stories of 10 people who spent time at the prison since 2002. 

The virtual award ceremony and author talk will be streamed online for viewing via Zoom and begins at 7 p.m.  

“'Guantanamo Voices,'” the jury stated, “is a solid example of graphic journalism that gives a voice to the lives touched by the Guantanamo Bay prison, from prisoners and lawyers to social workers and military officers.” 

The jury also awarded two honor books: “Dragon Hoops,” by Gene Luen Yang, published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group; and “Welcome to the New World,” by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan, published by Henry Holt and Company/Metropolitan Books/Macmillan Publishers.    

The Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year is sponsored by the 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. It is presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or nonfiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident.

The award’s selection jury includes 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 and students.

Established in 2011, the Lynd Ward Prize honors Ward’s formative 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 Penn State University Libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Recently, the University Libraries digitized the collection, titled Lynd Ward Wood Engravings and Other Graphic Art, circa 1920-1975, and made it available online.

Ward, creator of the first American wordless novel, “God’s Man,” produced it and five additional groundbreaking wordless novels between 1929 and 1937 — “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Songs without Words” and “Vertigo.” They have been re-issued by the Library of America in a two-volume boxed set titled “Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts,” the first time the nonprofit publisher has included a graphic novelist in its award-winning series. 

Co-sponsors with the Pennsylvania Center for the Book for the Lynd Ward Prize include Penn State University Libraries; the Eberly Family Special Collections Library; Library Learning Services; the English Department in the College of the Liberal Arts; and the College of the Liberal Arts.

For more information about the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year, or questions about accommodations at the ceremony, contact Caroline Wermuth at 814-863-5472 or For more information about the selection criteria and how to submit books for consideration for the 2020 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, contact Ellysa Stern Cahoy at 814-865-9696 or, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s website.

Last Updated November 10, 2021