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More Hugo Ruminations

Time to look at another Hugo category.

Today, Best Graphic Story. (Or 'best comic book,' if you want to be less pretentious).

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am an old time comic fanboy. I was there for the birth of comics fandom in the 60s. I was the first fan to sign up for the first comicon. My first published words were letters to Stan and Jack in the pages of THE FANTASTIC FOUR and THE AVENGERS. My first published fictions were prose superhero stories in fanzines like HERO and YMIR and STAR-STUDDED COMICS. I was a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I once won an Alley Award (though I never got it). Decades later, I was a guest of honor at San Diego Comicon and won an Inkpot.

That was a long time ago, however. I fear I no longer follow mainstream comics much. I still love the stories and heroes I grew up, Silver Age Marvel and DC (hell, even Charlton, the Question and Blue Beetle were great), but there have been way too many retcons and reboots and restarts for my taste. I don't know who these characters are any longer, and what's worse, I don't much care.

I really don't think we needed to add a Graphic Story category to the Hugo Awards. Comics have their own awards, the Eisners, they don't need the Hugo too. Besides, most SF fans do not follow comics closely enough to make informed judgements in this area.

That being said, however, I have to concede that the fans did pretty damned well nominating in this category last year. SAGA was the only one of the finalists that I had actually heard of before Sasquan announced last year's ballot... but I dutifully read all the others before I voted, and for the most part, I was impressed (okay, not by the Puppy nominee, which was several notches below the other four)... especially by MS. MARVEL, a whole new take on the character (actually a whole new character with an old name), a charming new addition to the Marvel universe, and the eventual winner.

So... I still don't love Graphic Novel as a Hugo category, but it exists, and those who follow the field more closely than me should nominate Good Stuff here again, and maybe I'll have more comic books to discover and delight in when the final ballot comes out.

Meanwhile, I do have one truly outstanding graphic novel to suggest... I am not totally disconnected from the world of comics, y'see... and that's a book called THE SCULPTOR, by Scott McCloud.

McCloud, of course, is the author of UNDERSTANDING COMICS, the seminal work about graphic stories and how they work, a book I recommend unreservedly to all aspiring comic book artists and writers. With THE SCULPTOR, McCloud proves he's as talented a practitioner as he is a theoretician. It's a story about a guy with superpowers, yes... but a very real one. No one puts on spandex to fight crime here. This is a story of character, a tale that evokes not Stan Lee or Jack Kirby or even Steve Ditko (much as I love them), but rather Will Eisner. And higher praise than that I do not have.

I haven't read enough graphic novels to know for certain that THE SCULPTOR was the best of 2015. But it is so damned good, so original and so human, that I cannot imagine that it is not one of the best five. THE SCULPTOR deserves a Hugo nomination, and I know it will be on my ballot.


Dec. 22nd, 2015 01:19 am (UTC)
Talking of hugo winners, have you seen the amazon produced The Man in the High Castle? I really enjoyed it and was wondering if you had read the book and if so would reccommend reading it? I read LOTR after seeing the films and ASOIAF after seeing the first two seasons of GoT,and whilst enjoying the screen adaptations still and going on to watch The Hobbit films and further seasons of GoT i always feel somewhat dissapointed at missing parts from the books i really enjoyed. Am i likely to feel the same once ive read The Man in the High Castle?
Dec. 22nd, 2015 01:44 am (UTC)
Re: Hugos
I do recommend the novel. It is one of Philip K. Dick's masterpieces, I think, and an important part of the SF canon.

The Amazon series had a great look, and I really really wanted to love it. I didn't. There's not nearly enough Dick in it, and there's way too much huggermugger stuff that was never in the novel.

I would have loved a faithful adaptation of the book.
Joshua Olson
Dec. 22nd, 2015 02:35 am (UTC)
Re: Hugos
So maybe I'm twelve inside - this made me laugh: "There's not nearly enough Dick in it"
Mark Lysaght
Dec. 22nd, 2015 10:40 am (UTC)
Re: Hugos
I had that thought too
Hur hur hur
Dec. 22nd, 2015 09:43 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Hugos
Not enough Dick in it? Have i stumbled on a world exclusive?
Seriously though what on planetos does huggermugger mean?
i get the feeling from your answer once ive read the book the tv show wont seem as good 😭
of course that said i wish GoT had stuck more to the books storylines in later seasons!
Dec. 22nd, 2015 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Hugos
Since Philip K. Dick wrote the original book, there has been a glut of 'What if the Nazis won World War II?' alternate histories, such that the subject has pretty much become the cliche of cliches. It's a hard subject to make fresh.

Are you familiar with the story of how THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE inspired Dick to later write DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?
Dec. 22nd, 2015 08:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Hugos
Dec. 22nd, 2015 09:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Hugos
The story, in brief, as I've heard it: in researching for THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, Dick (who could read German) ended up reading the journal of an SS man stationed near the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. In this journal, the SS man in questioned complained that he couldn't get to sleep at night because of the crying of starving children.

Apparently this passage really got to Dick, hit him in such a way that he had to stop reading for awhile. He concluded that anyone who could write such a thing, who could complain about starving children keeping him awake at night, was not truly human. Sure, the person in question may have two arms, two legs, eyes, ears and all the rest...but something essential that makes a true human being is missing, leaving a kind of bipedal creature that is only a shallow mockery of humanity.

And thus the androids of ELECTRIC SHEEP were born.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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