2020 Hugo Awards laud comics, and once again generate controversy

2020 Hugo Awards Trophy designed by John Flower. Quite a brilliant design! SOURCE

Worldcon, the World Science Fiction convention, held its 78th meeting in Wellington, New Zealand online last weekend. The highlight of each convention is the presentation of the Hugo Awards, awarded (almost) every year since 1953. Anyone who purchases an Attending or Supporting membership is allowed to nominate and vote!

Since sci-fi geeks enjoy a variety of formats, there are awards for comics, zines, TV series and movies, and even podcasts! This year, 2,221 ballots were cast, 998 of which voted in the Best Graphic Story category which covers “[a] science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form, such as a comic book, graphic novel, or webcomic.

This year, Laguardia upset Monstress, which had won the award for the past three years. This year, while it was never challenged, the final tabulation saw it win by just eleven votes, winning by 410-399. (The Hugo Awards use instant runoff voting, where voters rank the nominees by preference. The rules are here.) Laguardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, and illustrated by Tana Ford, had just won the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album—Reprint a week before at Comic-Con International. It is the first Hugo Award for Ford, while Okorafor had previously won the Hugo Award for Best Novella for Binti in 2016.

The Wicked + the Divine, Volume 9: “Okay” had the second greatest amount of nominations, had a strong third place on the first ballot, but fell to a final fifth place in balloting. In case you haven’t noticed, Image had four of the six nominees this year, a trend since 2017, when Monstress won their first of three consecutive Hugo Awards. Other Image series nominated for the Hugo include: Paper Girls, Saga, Bitch Planet, Die, The Wicked + The Devine, Rat Queens, and Sex Criminals.

The final order of nominees is:

Best Graphic Story or Comic

  1. WINNER: LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)
  2. Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image)
  3. Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Oni Press; Lion Forge)
  4. Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image)
  5. The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)
  6. Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

[For a summary of voting, as well as a look at the top 16 titles nominated, scroll to the bottom of this post!] 

Designed by: James Brown. SOURCE

But wait! LaGuardia wasn’t the only comic to win a Hugo Award this year! Worldcons can award retro Hugos for years which did not originally have a Hugo Award ceremony, at 50-, 75- and 100-year intervals. This year, Hugo Awards were presented for works that would have been eligible in 1945, for categories active in 2020 if there were enough votes cast for nominees. That means there was a retro Hugo Award for comics! Who won?

Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk”, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Detective Comics, Inc.) won for Best Graphic Story or Comic! [Note that Mxy’s name has since been changed. Originally published in Superman #30, it has been reprinted at least eight times in English, the most recent being in the Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus, Volume 4, 2017. It is not yet available on Comixology.]

The final tally:

  1. WINNER: Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk”, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Detective Comics, Inc.)
  2. Donald Duck: “The Mad Chemist”, by Carl Barks (Dell Comics)
  3. The Spirit: “For the Love of Clara Defoe”, by Manly Wade Wellman, Lou Fine and Don Komisarow (Register and Tribune Syndicate)
  4. Buck Rogers: “Hollow Planetoid”, by Dick Calkins (National Newspaper Service)
  5. Flash Gordon: “Battle for Tropica”, by Don Moore and Alex Raymond (King Features Syndicate)
  6. Flash Gordon: “Triumph in Tropica”, by Don Moore and Alex Raymond (King Features Syndicate)

Comics fandom intersects with other fandoms, so we also note the media awards.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • WINNER: Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios/Narrativia/The Blank Corporation)
  • Captain Marvel, screenplay by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios/Animal Logic (Australia))
  • Russian Doll (Season One), created by Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler, directed by Leslye Headland, Jamie Babbit and Natasha Lyonne (3 Arts Entertainment/Jax Media/Netflix/Paper Kite Productions/Universal Television)
  • Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Monkeypaw Productions/Universal Pictures)
  • Avengers: Endgame, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Studios)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, screenplay by Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams, directed by J.J. Abrams (Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • WINNER: The Good Place: “The Answer”, written by Daniel Schofield, directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal Television)
  • (tie) Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”, written by Jeff Jensen and Damon Lindelof, directed by Nicole Kassell (HBO)
  • (tie) The Mandalorian: “Redemption”, written by Jon Favreau, directed by Taika Waititi (Disney+)
  • The Expanse: “Cibola Burn”, written by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck and Naren Shankar, directed by Breck Eisner (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Doctor Who: “Resolution”, written by Chris Chibnall, directed by Wayne Yip (BBC)
  • Watchmen: “This Extraordinary Being”, written by Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson, directed by Stephen Williams (HBO)

Note: Watchmen and The Mandalorian tied for second place.
Also, Watchmen was nominated for Long Form (placing fifth) but “Watchmen gained enough votes to qualify in this category, but two individual episodes also qualified for the Short Form category, with more votes collectively. The Administrators therefore removed Watchmen from this category.” Personally, having binge-watched the series in June, I would have reversed that decision. Or, actually, let both stand. Or, create an extra-long format category for series and seasons.

Back in 1945, there were insufficient nominations for the Long Form award, while Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form had the first tie for winner, with The Canterville Ghost, screenplay by Edwin Harvey Blum from a story by Oscar Wilde, directed by Jules Dassin (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)) sharing the award with The Curse of the Cat People, written by DeWitt Bodeen, directed by Gunther V. Fritsch and Robert Wise (RKO Radio Pictures)

The Hugo Awards (once again) generated controversy this year, with host George R.R. Martin mispronouncing names, and a video feed that required editing as Martin and Robert Silverberg reminisced. The awards presentation also ran so long that nominees had to reschedule panels originally scheduled for after the awards (You can watch it here, if you have three-and-a-half hours to spare).

Natalie Luhrs has posted a critique of the event, and included a fan edit that clocks in at one hour and forty-two minutes (half the length of the actual awards ceremony!). Cora Buhlert posted about her experience as a finalist waiting for her category to be announced, and difficulties others experienced due to the awards taking place during Shabbat. She then followed up that post with an even more in-depth analysis with lots of links!

Best Graphic Story is presented at 1:05:45 (No, I don’t know why George R.R. Martin wore that hat.) Right before this award is Neil Gaiman’s touching acceptance speech for Good Omens.


As promised, here is the breakdown for voting for Best Graphic Story, first for 2020, and then 1945.

If you want to delve deeper into the statistics, the PDF for 2020 is available here, and 1945 is here.

2020

Final ballot: 998 ballots total
970 not including No Award; 970 > 555 (25% of 2221)

Winner Runoff
LaGuardia 220 220 249 280 345 410 663
Monstress 198 198 217 264 301 399
Wicked + Divine 132 132 166 194 222
Mooncakes 151 151 163 178
Paper Girls 139 139 152
Die 130 130
No Award 28 52
2nd place
Monstress 257 257 288 355 457
Mooncakes 205 205 229 260 332
Wicked + Divine 150 150 193 240
Paper Girls 162 162 183
Die 146 146
No Award 30
3rd place
Mooncakes 271 271 321 409
Wicked + Divine 188 188 251 343
Paper Girls 212 212 248
Die 184 184
No Award 31
4th place
Paper Girls 293 293 377
Die 243 243 339
Wicked + Divine 230 230
No Award 37
5th place
Wicked + Divine 341 341
Die 334 334
No Award 41
6th place
Die 583
No Award 47

Note that of the 998 ballots cast, 28 voted for No Award. As there were 2,221 final ballots cast, that means that 1,223 did not cast any votes for Best Graphic Story.

389 ballots for 285 nominees were submitted (out of 1,584 total ballots). Note for future creators and publishers: Monstress topped the list with 59 nominations. Mooncakes, #6 on the list, had 28 voters nominate. A supporting membership (not attending, but you can participate in the Hugo Awards) for the next World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, DC, is $50. For an outlay of $1400, it’s not difficult to place a title on the final ballot. Then you send a free copy of the title as part of the packet of materials sent to all Hugo voters. (Those Hugo voters? Some of the most well-read fans and professionals in fandom!) It should be noted that any attempt to game the system results in immediate backlash. Science fiction fans are very protective of the Hugo Awards reputation, as seen in the response to the 2015 “Puppies” campaigns, which resulted in a deeply debated discussion over solutions, and which resulted in the current system which was activated in 2017.

Here’s the list of the top 16 titles nominated:

  • Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen M Liu & S Takeda
  • The Wicked + the Divine, Volume 9: “Okay” K Gillen & J McKelvie
  • Paper Girls, Volume 6 BK Vaughan & C Chiang
  • Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker K Gillen & S Hans
  • LaGuardia N Okorafor & T Ford
  • Mooncakes W Xu & S Walker
  • Invisible Kingdom, Volume 1
  • Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider S McGuire & R Kampe
  • Snow, Glass, Apples N Gaiman & C Doran
  • The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited McElroy bros et al
  • The Amazing Nightcrawler S McGuire & S Davis & J Fregeri
  • House of X / Powers of X J Hickman & P Larraz
  • Questionable Content J Jacques
  • Starport R Golden & GRR Martin
  • Miles Morales: Spider-man, Volume 1: Straight Out of Brooklyn S Ahmed & J Garron
  • Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: Destined

1945

Final ballot: 309 ballots total
290 not including No Award; 290 > 131 (25% of 521)

Winner Runoff
Superman #30: The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk! 121 122 122 127 141 235
Donald Duck: The Mad Chemist 77 78 78 80 87
The Spirit: For the Love of Clara Defoe 39 39 39 42 51
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica 17 29 29 36
Buck Rogers: Hollow Planetoid 20 20 20
No Award 19 19 23
Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica 16
2nd place
Donald Duck: The Mad Chemist 108 109 109 113 132
The Spirit: For the Love of Clara Defoe 55 55 55 59 83
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica 27 42 42 57
Buck Rogers: Hollow Planetoid 33 35 35
No Award 21 21
Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica 21
3rd place
The Spirit: For the Love of Clara Defoe 96 96 97 109
Buck Rogers: Hollow Planetoid 54 54 60 86
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica 31 31 48
Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica 29 29
No Award 27
4th place
Buck Rogers: Hollow Planetoid 91 91
Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica 46 46
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica 43 43
No Award 28
5th place
Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica 103
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica 55
No Award 28
6th place
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica 144
No Award 28

All the nominees!

  • Donald Duck: The Mad Chemist
  • Superman #30: The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk!
  • Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica
  • The Spirit: For the Love of Clara Defoe
  • Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica
  • Buck Rogers: Hollow Planetoid
  • Plastic Man: The Gay Nineties Nightmare
  • Detective Comics #94 Batman
  • Buck Rogers: Planet of the Rising Sun
  • Captain Marvel Adventures: Silvana’s Twin
  • Captain Marvel Adventures: Monster Society of Evil
  • Lady Satan: The Allied Assassination Plot
  • Ibis The Invincible: Loki The Terrible
  • Buck Rogers: Monkeymen of Planet X
  • Buck Rogers: Plastic Percy
  • Red Rackham’s Treasure
  • Mandrake: The Earthshaker
  • Brick Bradford: Beyond the Crystal Door
  • Mandrake: The Mirror People
  • Mandrake: The Garden of Wuzzu
  • The Phantom: High-Sea Hijacker
  • Mandrake the Magician: The Dome

Here’s the PR listing all the winners from 2020!

BEST NOVEL

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)

BEST NOVELLA

This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press; Jo Fletcher Books)

BEST NOVELETTE

Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin (Forward Collection (Amazon))

BEST SHORT STORY

“As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)

BEST SERIES

The Expanse, by James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

BEST RELATED WORK

“2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, by Jeannette Ng

BEST GRAPHIC STORY OR COMIC

LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios/Narrativia/The Blank Corporation)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
The Good Place: “The Answer”, written by Daniel Schofield, directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal Television)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
Ellen Datlow

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Navah Wolfe

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
John Picacio

BEST SEMIPROZINE
Uncanny Magazine, editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, nonfiction/managing editor Michi Trota, managing editor Chimedum Ohaegbu, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky

BEST FANZINE
The Book Smugglers, editors Ana Grilo and Thea James

BEST FANCAST
Our Opinions Are Correct, presented by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders

BEST FAN WRITER
Bogi Takács

BEST FAN ARTIST
Elise Matthesen

LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK (NOT A HUGO)
Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)

ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER, sponsored by Dell Magazines (NOT A HUGO)
R.F. Kuang (2nd year of eligibility)

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, announced the winners of the 2020 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Wrier at a ceremony conducted online on Saturday 1 Aug 2020 (New Zealand Standard Time). We will publish detailed results, finalist placements, and nominations breakdowns on the 2020 Hugo Award page when they are made available.

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“Strange visitors from another world” seems to be the theme this year.
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