Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Hugo For Best Graphic Story (Part 2) – The ballot in 2017

This is part two of a two-part blog post. The first part, discussing the history of the category, is found here. 

Given the problematic history of this category, the shortlist this year for Best Graphic Story is mostly of a surprisingly consistent professional calibre. Some are only marginally worth being on a Hugo ballot, but none of them are completely risible as nominees.

The only real outlier — Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther — is an understandable nomination given the highly anticipated series had such potential, started off promisingly, and received a fair amount of media attention. One can understand why it received a nomination, despite its deep flaws.

Second servings not as good

Previous winners from high-profile publishers, Ms. Marvel and Saga, are back with new volumes.
Too many crossovers
spoil a great series.
(Image via

Saga has started to get into a bit of a rut, with the same notes being replayed. The first volume of the series is one of the most worthy winners of the Hugo for Best Graphic Story … but volume six does not offer the same sense of wonder as its predecessor.

Ms. Marvel’s fifth volume definitely offers more narrative progress, but it’s also closely tied into and influenced by a massive multi-comic-book crossover that makes it more impenetrable to new readers.

It’s hard to count either of them out, because this category has often returned to the well for nominees and winners. However, these two books should definitely not win.

Under the radar but delightful

Paper Girls — which is written by Saga creator Bryan K. Vaughn — is a real treat to see on the ballot. It’s a kick-ass, inventive little book that follows a group of young girls who deal with the consequences of an alien invasion. It will be difficult to keep this story going as an ongoing series, but for now it’s just a delight.

Image via
The least well-known of the nominees, Monstress by Majorie Liu and Sana Takeda, is also one of the most worthy. The creative team uses the medium with skill and nuance to create a well-realized and inventive fantasy world. The feminist subtext helps make this a definite contender.

The Vision: Little Worse Than A Man is more of a science fiction comic than anything that Marvel has published in a decade, despite featuring a lead character who is a regular of the mainstream Avengers. The garish ‘50s-style colour palette, and the goofy backstory of the character, are completely subverted as Tom King has crafted something moody and thoughtful that is more informed by Asimov’s robot stories than by 50 years of Marvel continuity.

This is a solid Hugo ballot with three completely reasonable choices.  We are likely to cast our ballots for Monstress and for Paper Girls. For once in this category, “No Award" is unlikely to be on our ballot.

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