'Rolling Blackouts' wins 2017 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq” by Sarah Glidden, published by Drawn & Quarterly, has won the 2017 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. Penn State University Libraries sponsors the juried award and its administrator, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

“Part memoir, part travel log, ‘Rolling Blackouts’ is the true story of Sarah Glidden, a cartoonist, accompanying two journalists and a former Marine to Turkey, Syria and Iraq to research the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East. Yet it is also more than Glidden’s story — ‘Rolling Blackouts’ is ultimately the story of the political officials, civilians and refugees there,” the jury said. “Her book brings her readers to the front lines of war in the Middle East and leads them through the thicket of obstacles journalists encounter to get their story with storytelling that is intimate, engaging and frequently humorous. The images welcome the reader into the complex, many-layered world of the Middle East, and Glidden is a terrific guide.”

The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize 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. It honors Ward’s 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 Penn State’s University Libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Between 1929 and 1937, Ward published his six groundbreaking wordless novels: “Gods’ Man,” “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Song without Words” and “Vertigo.”

Glidden will receive $2,500 and a two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by the Library of America at a ceremony this fall at Pattee Library and Paterno Library on Penn State’s University Park campus.

The jury also awarded two honor books: “Cousin Joseph” by Jules Feiffer, published by Liveright Publishing, and “Hot Dog Taste Test,” by Lisa Hanawalt, also published by Drawn & Quarterly. About “Cousin Joseph” the jury said, “Feiffer portrays an important part of American history — anti-union sentiments and the fear of socialists in Hollywood creating films that would shift our culture to the left — one that feels relevant in today’s political climate. It’s a captivating story meshed with gorgeous ink-washed drawings done in Feiffer's characteristic wobbly, lively line.”

Regarding “Hot Dog Taste Test,” the jury said, “Hilarious, quirkily drawn and often musing about taboo topics, Lisa Hanawalt's ‘Hot Dog Taste Test’ is a deliciously amusing read. The author skips from subject to subject in a frenetic, hyper sprint that very much simulates our nanosecond culture,” concluding that it is “a laugh-out-loud celebration of individuality and the goofy everyday thoughts that we tend to keep private.”

The Lynd Ward Prize 2017 selection jury included Penn State academic department representatives who use the graphic novel in their teaching or research, as well as Penn State alumni and student representatives with graphic novel expertise:

  • Amy Madison, adult services librarian at Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, Pennsylvania, and co-organizer of BookFest PA;
  • Stephanie Orme, doctoral candidate in communications, Penn State. She studies comic books from a feminist media studies approach, which involves examining how gender, race and sexuality intersect with comic book fandom and comic books as texts;
  • Jessica Sensenig, Penn State sophomore majoring in English and telecommunications, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She has a strong appreciation for the interplay of words and images used in graphic novels;
  • Emily Steinberg, painter and graphic novelist, Philadelphia. She also teaches courses on painting and the graphic novel at Penn State Abington; and
  • John C. Weaver, English teacher, Williamsport High School, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, who has been using comics in his classroom for 15 years. He also has published and presented on the use of comics in the classroom.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, it also administers the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, whose 2017 winner was announced Feb. 14; the Public Poetry Project, whose 2017 featured poets will offer a reading on April 20; Letters about Literature; A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy; and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the selection criteria and how to submit books for consideration for the 2018 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, contact Ellysa Cahoy at [email protected] or 814-865-9696, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s website at https://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/awards-contests/lynd-ward-graphic-novel-prize-introduction