Comic book awards showcase talent and storytelling

Josh Bradshaw

Winners and judges from the Fourth Annual James O'Keefe Comic Awards.

Collin James, News editor

DVC’s best comic book artists were honored at the Fourth Annual James O’Keefe Prize for graphic literature.

The award ceremony welcomed students of all level of talent in story writing and illustration.

The ceremony also welcomed a guest comic book artist Thiem Phan, know for his works in, “Level Up.”

“Everybody has the potential to create something,” Phan said. “There are people who are great artist but not so great storytellers. And then there are great storytellers who are not so great artists. A lot of the [comics] looked better that the people in my field.”

The comics gave awards in diverse categories, such as the tongue in cheek, “Please Get It Done Award,” which honored some of the comics that were submitted unfinished.

Others, however, presented a deeply personal message. Juliet Lasky won the “Alison Bechdel” award for best autobiographical comic for her piece, “Life with IBD.” The story of her struggle with illness was presented with sketches, collages and diary notes to convey her ordeal.

Arthur King, one of the event’s host,  spoke highly of Lasky’s piece.

“Juliet’s piece is really remarkable,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage and strength to tell people what you are going through.”

The winner of the grand prize went to Tasha Pleasant for her 13 page comic that was left untitled. This comic took its reader on a surreal journey into her imagination.

According to Pleasant, her inspiration came “mostly from the idea of wishing that the things in comics and movies were real.”

One of the judges, English instructor Adam Haslam said of the piece, “it looks like something that should be in production right now.”

Andreia Wilson was also honored with a showcase of her comic, “Shifter,” that earned her a runner-up spot for the Grimm award for best fairy tale inspired comic.

Prizes for the winners and runner-ups included free comics and tickets to the upcoming “Big Wow Comic Fest,” in San Jose on May 17 and 18.

The themes of storytelling in comics harkens back to the philosophy of James O’Keefe, the late English instructor who helped promote DVC’s comic production classes. He is responsible for the creation of English 176, a course on graphic novels as literature.

“He believed in the idea that comics and graphic novels use the left and right side of the brain allowing the reader to use their whole mind while reading,” noted King.

To view the entire catalogue of this and previous years’ winners, visit,


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One Response to “Comic book awards showcase talent and storytelling”

  1. Comics A.M. | Winter pours cold water on comics' hot streak | Robot 6 @ Comic Book ResourcesRobot 6 @ Comic Book Resources on March 18th, 2014 7:00 am

    […] Awards | Level Up creator Thien Pham was the special guest at the awards ceremony for Diablo Valley College’s James O’Keefe Prize for graphic literature. Yes, the Pleasant Valley, California, college has its own award for student comics, with categories like the Alison Bechdel Award for best autobiographical comic and the Please Get It Done Award for unfinished work. The awards are named for an English professor who created a course on graphic novels as literature. [The Inquirer] […]

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