Visual Storyteller Contest

Are you the artist who will create the next great graphic novel? Don’t miss this opportunity to get published!

Contest Details

Imaginary Friends is excited to host the 2021 Visual Storyteller Contest. This is your chance to make your publishing dreams into a reality. Each entry will be judged by our panel of judges who have experience with visual storytelling and constructive feedback will be given to the entrant. Professional level feedback can help the contestant grow as an artist and discover more about what it takes to become a professional.

The winners will also have 50 copies of their book made and sold. (Junior contestants will have 25 copies.) They will have a hand in selecting the paper any finishings our sister company Print Zoom offers. The winners will determine the final price of their book and this process will assist in doing so.

The Categories

storyteller categories

Expert – This category is available for creators age 18 and over who will write and illustrate a graphic novel that is at least 40 pages long. This can either be one story or an anthology of no more than 3 stories.

Junior – This category is open to contestants who are age 17 and under unless a parental waiver is signed. The Junior submission is a minimum of 24 pages.

Collaborator – This category is open for a writer and artist team age 18 and over who will write and illustrate a graphic novel that is at least 40 pages long. This can either be one story or an anthology of no more than 3 stories.

Each category will have a top 3 and those top 3 will have the options of an additional 2 weeks to polish or do anything else to their piece and resubmit for a final review.


Each original and unpublished graphic novel will need to be at least the required length of their category (40 pages or 24 pages). One story can take up the entire length of the graphic novel or up to three short stories can be combined to create a compendium of stories.

The story can be submitted in a digital format, a physical format or a combination of both. For a physical blank book please visit Imaginary Friends HQ.

All contestants will be required to join the Visual Storyteller Contest Facebook page so entrants can communicate with each other and the Imaginary Friends Design Studios staff about any questions, comments or concerns they have about the contest.

Visual Storyteller Contest Deadline

Selection Process

Upon submission all qualified entries will go to the judges. The judges will select the top 3 from each category by October 15th and provide constructive feedback for all. The top 3 of each category will then have the option of leaving their work as is or perform any edits they think will improve the work and resubmit for a final round of reviews on October 31st.

The winners will be announced November 10th.

The winning novels are expected to be available for sale on the website by Black Friday 2021.

The 2020 Visual Storyteller Winner

Blake Wilde’s – Destructo Boy

“Destructo Boy and other Exciting Tales” is a comic book by the winner of the Imaginary Friends Design Studios Art Book Contest, Blake Wilde. The book’s cover is 10pt. C1S and the inner pages are on beautiful Eggshell Solar White paper. The book has 43 pages and is 8.75 x 9.75 inches in size. This is a limited edition printing of only 50 copies.


Destructo Boy by Blake Wilde
Destructo Boy by Blake Wilde

Submission Window Closed.

The deadline for submitting a story to the contest was October 1, 2021. Thank you for your submissions and interest in our contest.

The Judges

Shawna Mills

Shawna Mills

Shawna is a professional Story artist, Director, and designer. She has been a professional since 2008. She has worked on many shows including Black Dynamite, Hulk: Agents of Smash, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade ninja, Ultimate Spiderman, Guardians of the Galaxy Star Wars Rebels, Invader Zim, Rise of the TMNT, and more. She has worked at all of the major studios as a story artist based in LA for seven years but originally started her directing and storyboard work in NYC producing animated music videos for projects featuring J’Cole, SYOR, and MC Frontalot.

In 2017, Shawna founded her 1st company, SodaMonkeyENT where she produces and directs original IP.

Soda Monkey Entertainment Website

Joel Santana

Joel Santana

Imagine your favourite cartoon character. Now take away the solid black outlines, and picture them rendered in the soft, familiar style of a painter like Norman Rockwell. What you’ve got in mind is the work of Joel Santana, who creates fun, charming and expressive illustrations in a unique style that’s inspired by two of the finest traditions in American image making – Disney movies and mid-century Realism.

Based in Tampa, Florida, Joel paints with a cinematic eye for light, colour and composition as well as a strong sense of narrative. Having worked in advertising, he knows how great campaigns come together, and Joel’s clients enjoy the way he collaborates on their projects. He attended the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan before graduating from the International Academy of Art & Technology in Tampa.

Joel Santana’s Website

Jon Perry

Jon Perry

Lover, learner, leader. These are the 3 pillars of Jon’s life. He loves the creative world he works in, loves the complex simplicity of pop culture and loves to solve problems for those around him in unique and clever ways. Jon is a constant learner. Using all tools at his disposal, from books to people, online sources to work shops, when he wants to learn something, nothing can stop him. He understands life is a constant evolution of behaviors and mindsets and is surging to optimize both of his. Jon is a low key leader. He does prefer to lead by action primarily. When he gets in front of a crowd his words can sway and persuade those to his cause with his trademark empathy. Jon is the founder of Imaginary Friends design studios in 2002 and Print Zoom in 2015 and both entities help serve his drive to aesthetically build up Yuma and beyond one entity at a time.

Personal Tidbit: Jon proudly owns/wears Malcom Reynold’s dog tags and brown coat.

Imaginary Friends Design Studios Website

Lia Littlewood

Lia Littlewood

Born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, I was inspired by everything around me: agriculture, nature, music, and a good sense of humor, developing a deep love for my hometown. I live, breathe and crave art. My love for it has spread to teaching Yumans all about it. I believe art changes the way we think and how we approach the world. Without it, how do we express ourselves? How do we communicate our creativity? I love seeing people’s faces light up when they see their finished product. Make earth a better place, make some art, brighten your day.

Littlewood Art Website

Blake Wilde - Destructo Boy

Blake Wilde

Blake Wilde is the 2020 winner of the Imaginary Friends’ Visual Storyteller Contest. He was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona.  Blake developed a fascinaion with both drawing and storytelling at a young age. Originating as a desire to become a filmmaker, it has since evolved into the wide world of comic books.

Blake is currently working on a 166 page western graphic novel.

Destructo Boy Graphic Novel

Have questions? Let’s talk.

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