Winners of the 2019 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries Announced

For Immediate Release
Thu, 05/02/2019


Tina Coleman

Staff Liaison

Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table

American Library Association


The American Library Association (ALA) and the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation will honor the three winners of the 2019 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries at the ALA 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, on Saturday, June 22, 2019. The grants, funded by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation, are administered by ALA's Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT).

The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries consists of three annual grants given in two categories. This year two libraries have been selected to receive the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grants – these provide support to a library that would like to expand its existing graphic novel services and programs. The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant provides support to a library for the initiation of a graphic novel service, program or initiative.

The 2019 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grants are awarded to:

  • Laura Panter and Stacey Paynter of the Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY  - their project “Mock Eisner Awards” seeks to grow their graphic novel collection to include more diverse, iconic and classic graphic works and expand the reach of their graphic novel programming to encourage aspiring young illustrators and writers to create their own graphic projects.
  • Rachel Podpaly of the Cesar Chavez Middle School Library, Hayward, CA – her project “English Learners and Graphic Novels: Enhancing a Middle School Library Graphic Novel Collection to Ignite Newcomer Immigrant Youth Literacy” will focus on enhancing the graphic novel collection and working with the school’s Language Arts teachers to develop corresponding lessons as well as expand its circulating collection for independent reading.

The 2019 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant is presented to:

  • Jerilynne Stewart of the State Correctional Institution Mahanoy Library, Frackville, PA – her project “Doing Time Doesn’t Have to Mean Behind the Times – using non-fiction graphic novels to boost visual literacy in a non-internet/no-smart-phone community” seeks to promote visual literacy through non-fiction graphic novels as well as promote reading and vocabulary development.

Each of these grants awards the winning libraries with a $2,000 voucher to purchase graphic novels from Diamond Book Distributors, the grants’ distributor-partner; $1,000 to host a graphic novel-themed event; and a $1,000 travel stipend to attend the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Additionally, the winners will receive the Will Eisner Library (a graphic novel collection of Will Eisner’s work and biographies about the acclaimed writer and artist) and copies of the graphic novels nominated for this year’s Will Eisner Awards at San Diego Comic-Con.

Nancy and Carl Gropper of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation said, “Our heartfelt congratulations to grant winners Jerilynne Stewart, Rachel Podpaly, Laura Panter and Stacey Paynter.  Their projects are forward looking, dynamic and inspirational. Their programs center around building graphic novel collections based on the needs of specific groups, enhancing literacy through graphic narratives, fiction and non-fiction, and encouraging future comic artists who will complete their own graphic projects. Innovation and experimentation characterized Will Eisner’s work. Our three winning librarians demonstrate elements of his essence in their work."

Amie Wright, the Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table President-Elect congratulated the recipients and said, “In 2003, Will Eisner wrote, ’the most significant evidence of comics' arrival, however, is their acceptance and acknowledgment by public librarians. The inclusion of graphic novels in their collections is a most welcome happening and, I might say, about time.’ With the 2019 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant recipients spanning the range of school, public, and correctional libraries, and with membership of the new GNCRT spanning library workers from public, school, academic, and special libraries, I believe that the time is now. Comics are the ultimate collaborative art form - collaboration between image and text, writer and artist; libraries are built on similar cooperative foundations. We are stronger together. Comics are for everyone; libraries are for everyone. I am so thrilled with our grant recipients and their work to build and grow strong collections that reflect and inspire our communities and our membership.”

More information on the grant and the application process can be found at


About The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation
The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation fosters innovation and creativity in graphic literature, sequential art and comics. It encourages others to continue and build upon the legacy of Will Eisner, who broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics. Will Eisner is best known for being the creator of The Spirit comic, for developing comics for education and training, and for writing the first modern graphic novel. For more information about Will Eisner visit

About the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table
The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association is dedicated to supporting library staff in all aspects of engaging with graphic novels and comics, including collection development, programming, and advocacy. For more information connect with GNCRT on Facebook: ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table; Twitter: @libcomix; Instagram: @libcomix; or the GNCRT ALA Connect page.

About ALA
Established in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.