The shortlist for the annual Hugo Awards, pretty much the biggest deal in the world of science fiction and fantasy, has been announced. When a graphic category was first added to the Hugos it wasn’t always the best selection of comics that those eligible to nominate and vote were selecting, and there was a lot of discussions about why this was (were those able to nominate and vote simply often not that familiar with many comics, for instance, and so unable to make much of a selection, unlike in the prose areas?).
This situation has been improving and looking over this year’s shortlist nominees, the Best Graphic Story Category has a pretty decent mix of comics with an SF&F theme this year, from Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä‘s 1970s-set horror-fantasy Abbott (which I loved) to one of our more remarkable young rising stars, Tillie Walden, with On a Sunbeam.
The Best Graphic Story nominees in full are:
Abbott, written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivelä, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)
While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city’s elite.
In the uncertain social and political climate of 1972 Detroit, hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy.
Hugo Award-nominated novelist Saladin Ahmed (Star Wars: Canto Bight, Black Bolt) and artist Sami Kivelä (Beautiful Canvas) present one woman’s search for the truth that destroyed her family amidst an exploration of the systemic societal constructs that haunt our country to this day.
Black Panther: Long Live the King, written by Nnedi Okorafor and Aaron Covington, art by André Lima Araújo, Mario Del Pennino and Tana Ford (Marvel)
Heavy is the head that wears the crown! As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T’Challa has had to save the world time and again – but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda.
As the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T’Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake! From acclaimed novelist Nnedi Okorafor (Binti, Who Fears Death) and illustrator and Re Lima Araujo (Spidey, The Wicked + The Divine) comes an adventure set in the world of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ landmark Black Panther run and told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
Maika has spent most of her life learning how to fight, but how will she fare when the only way to save her life…is to make friends?
Collects issues 13-18 of the Hugo Award and British Fantasy Award series.
One of the youngest ever Eisner Award winners, incredible talent Tillie Walden presents a stunning queer space opera – her greatest work to date.
On a Sunbeam is the story of Mia, interwoven between her time as a rebellious schoolgirl at a boarding school in space and her time as crew member aboard the spacecraft Aktis, where she travels the deepest reaches of space to rebuild and restore beautiful broken-down structures. As the past and present weave together, we discover more about Mia and her roots and how they connect with her present on Aktis. In Walden’s words, “The road ahead is not a comfortable, simple one.”
Walden’s inimitable style and presentation are more fully-formed and gorgeous than ever before as she works with her signature themes of sexuality and gender, the individual in landscape, first love and awesome cats.
Part love story, part epic space adventure, originally published as a webcomic, On a Sunbeam was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2017 and won Best Webcomic with Walden winning Best Artist at the 2017 Broken Frontier Awards.
Paper Girls Volume 4, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image Comics)
The mind-bending, time-warping adventure from Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang continues, as intrepid newspaper deliverer Tiffany is launched from the prehistoric past into the year 2000! In this harrowing version of our past, Y2K was even more of a cataclysm than experts feared, and the only person who can save the future is a 12-year-old girl from 1988.
Collects Paper Girls issues 16 through 20.
Saga Volume 9, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The multiple Eisner Award-winning series returns with a spacefaring adventure about fake news and genuine terror. Get ready for the most shocking, most impactful SAGA storyline yet. Collects SAGA #49-54.
Other comics-related works featuring on the nominations list include Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), while away from comics but still close to our twin hearts here at DTT, Doctor Who got two nods in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), for “Demons of the Punjab,” written by Vinay Patel, directed by Jamie Childs (BBC) and Doctor Who: “Rosa,” written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall, directed by Mark Tonderai (BBC).
There are numerous other categories with some terrific SF&F writers nominated, and I would direct you to the full list of nominees for a look as you will pick up some good reading suggestions there.
On a personal note though I will highlight one other nominee, this time from the Best Fanzine category, as some good chums who have done a lot to highlight top comics creators, James Bacon, Pádraig Ó Méalóid et al are once more nominated for their Journey Planet zine.
The Hugos winners will be announced at the annual WorldCon, which this year runs in Dublin from August 15th to 19th 2019.
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Joe has been a bookseller since the early 1990s, with a special love for comics, graphic novels and science fiction. He has written for The Alien Online, created & edited the Forbidden Planet Blog and chaired numerous events for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He’s more or less house-trained.