Legitimacy at last! Literary Arts recently announced the creation of a new category for "Graphic Literature" in the Oregon Book Awards. The 2012 Book Awards will mark the first time a specific award for graphic literature has been offered. (No graphic novelist has ever won the Book Awards' Ken Kesey Fiction Award.)

The submission guidelines are here. A few of the main bullet points:

Either the primary writer or primary artist must be an Oregon resident, whose legal residence is in Oregon at least six months of the year. A resident who moves away from Oregon permanently after the submission deadline will be disqualified. A qualified resident who dies after submitting their publication may receive a posthumous award.

Publications must have an original publication date between August 1, 2008 and July 31, 2011. In the case of a collected work, this timeframe applies to the publication date of the entire volume. A reprint of a book previously published as a volume before August 1, 2008 is not eligible.

The award is for the primary artist and/or the primary writer; editors are not eligible. If both the primary artist and primary writer are Oregonians, they will share the award.

Literary Arts is on the snootier end of Portland's literary establishment—by which I mean, I usually can't afford to attend their events—so it's great to see them shaking up their awards to include funnybooks.
I emailed Literary Arts' Susan Denning to ask if this is slated to become an annual award; she told me that the number of submissions they get this year will determine if it's an annual or biannual award.