From a prizewinning graphic essay by Juana Medina. (used by permission of Fusion 2016)

FOR JUANA MEDINA, the journey isn’t over. The Washington-based artist and author must wait another year to apply for U.S. citizenship and then, she still hopes, the chance to vote.

But this week, Medina adds to the recognition she’s received for how poignantly she documents that journey. Her comic published on Fusion a year ago — “I Juana Live in America: A decade in immigration purgatory — my struggle to become an American citizen” — has just received a National Headliner Award for newspaper/magazine illustration, the Press Club of Atlantic City announced Tuesday.

The autobiographical comic tells of how Medina, a gay woman seeking a more tolerant home, left the “homophobia and discrimination” of her native Colombia in 2002 at age 22.

The move involves the loss of close friends and being far from home while a kidnapped aunt was held captive for years. Yet Medina was finding success in the United States, as a comics scholarship recipient and intern turned educator. She attended and then taught at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The comic was assigned by Fusion editor Jen Sorensen, who last week was a Pulitzer Prize finalist herself for editorial cartooning.

Medina, an NCS Silver Reuben nominee last year, also illustrated the 2015 book “Smick.”

Also winning a National Headliner Award, in the editorial cartooning category, was Newsday’s Matt Davies.

by Matt Davies / Newsday 2016

“It’s a pleasant surprise to enjoy the occasional glimmer of positive recognition from contest judges, but it’s particularly gratifying in an era when my editorial-cartoonist colleagues are doing some of the strongest, most relevant work I’ve ever seen,” Davies tells Comic Riffs. “Any prize right now for what we do actually does feel genuinely humbling.”

Michael Ramirez of Creators Syndicate placed second for editorial cartoons, and Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press was third.

by Matt Davies / Newsday 2016

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