Jan 7 2011 5:21pm

Graphic Stories for your Hugo 2011 Nomination Consideration

Hugo 2011 Graphic Story nominee considerationsLast year, after reviewing the shortlist nominees for the Hugo for Graphic Story, we decided we should do a guide this year for voters. I love comics, and I think it’s a great category. It’s a valuable award and what it stands for, recognizing excellence for speculative fiction told through the medium of graphic stories—more and more every year—is fantastic. It has had a few issues, though, so it seemed like a good idea to address and offer solutions for some of them.

As I noted the last time around, there seems to be a trend for Hugo nominators to stay comfortably inside their reading boxes—comics by folks already famous in other corners of SFF, like Neil Gaiman or Paul Cornell, or easily accessible webcomics that deal with comfortable tropes. (Which is not to say that Girl Genius wasn’t a deserving winner; just that it’s been two years in a row, now.) Compare the Eisner Awards with the Hugo for Graphic Story and there are startling discrepancies.

It’s pretty easy to fix that problem, if voters haven’t read widely in comics but want to: provide a list of eligible comics and some recommendations.

The other problems stemmed from confusion about some of the rules relating to serialized work, how to nominate comics, which way to nominate which comics, et cetera. For example: if one nominates Freakangels, a webcomic, as a whole, but two other voters nominate the volume published in 2010 (#4), that splits the votes and makes everything wonky. Or, if the trade collection of a series isn’t out yet but all the issues were released in 2010, it won’t be eligible in 2012. It’s eligible now, despite the fact that the trade isn’t out.

To address those problems, this list also delineates how to nominate each comic if you want to nominate it, to avoid voter-error knockouts.

One note: while, in technicality, a series that ends in 2010 is eligible as a whole (ie—Scott Pilgrim), for the sake of the award it’s probably best not to nominate them as such. We wouldn’t nominate “A Song of Ice and Fire” for Best Novel because it’s a series; in much the same way, nominating a graphic-novel series that ran through several storylines over 2 or 5 or 10 years is a bit disingenuous. (Not to mention, it splits votes, as mentioned above with the Freakangels possibility. If all fans of a series vote for the correct trade volume instead of half voting that way and half for the series, it has a better chance of getting on the shortlist.)

All errors are my fault, and please point them out if you spot any. Also feel free to add what I’ve missed in the comments; there were a lot of comics, and even with awesome contributors assisting, I’m sure we’ve missed some things.

MY PERSONAL TOP FIVE (in no way authoritative)

1. The Unwritten: The Inside Man (Volume 2) – Mike Carey & Peter Gross (Vertigo)

2. The Unwritten: Dead Man’s Knock (Volume 3) – Mike Carey & Peter Gross (Vertigo)

I give two spots to The Unwritten because, honestly, it’s just that good. I’ve reviewed The Inside Man here on The third volume is technically only available in single-issues at the moment, but as all the issues were published in 2010, it won’t be eligible next year. As it’s still in its early run, it’s also easy to pick up for the curious reader. If you like metafiction, stories about stories within stories, and examinations of speculative/fantasy lit from strange narrative angles—you’ll like The Unwritten.

Though, if you only want to nominate one trade, I would recommend all folks go for volume 2, the one that’s actually available as a collected book—that way, your votes won’t be split between some people nominating #3, some #2, etc. (So, for the sake of the votes, it’d be best to go for either both (two separate nominations, mind) or only “The Inside Man.”)

3. Freakangels (Book 4) – Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield

As for webcomics, Freakangels is one of the slickest, prettiest and most engaging out there. It benefits from Warren Ellis’s hand at story-telling and Duffield’s active, vibrant art. Not to mention: it’s free. It’s all online for easy reading. The eligible work is “Book 4,” also available in print as a trade paperback or hardcover, as are the rest of the volumes. If the reader falls in love with Freakangels, though, make sure the nomination is for volume 4.

4. Fables: Witches (Volume 14) – Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham

While there are two eligible volumes of Fables this year, “Witches” was the better of the two. It dives straight into the conflict that was momentarily put on hold in the 13th volume. The Fables storyline grows twistier and darker, ever more engaging. There is a high entry bar for a reader who isn’t familiar with the series, though; catching up on thirteen prior collections might take some time.

5. Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Volume 5) – Fumi Yoshinaga

The first two volumes of Ooku won the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and I’ve been impressed with it as I’ve continued to read the series. (There’s an analysis of the first volume here.) Not only is it an awesome comic by a woman, but it deals with alternate-history, patriarchy, feminism and sexuality. Even those who are normally iffy about reading manga should try out Ooku.

Eligible This Year Only (No Trades Yet)

If you enjoyed any of these in single-issue, but thought you would wait until next year to nominate the trade, don’t! They’re eligible this time only, as the last issue was published in 2010.

  • The Unwritten (Volume 3) – Mike Carey & Peter Gross (Vertigo)
  • Supergod – Warren Ellis & Garrie Gastonny (Avatar Press)
  • Red Mass for Mars – Jonathan Hickman & Ryan Bodenheim (Image)
  • I, Zombie – Chris Roberson & Mike Allred (Vertigo)
  • Rapture – Michael Oeming & Taki Soma (Dark Horse)

Graphic Novels & Trade Collections

The Unwritten: The Inside Man (Volume 2) – Mike Carey & Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (Volume 6) – Brian Lee O’Malley (Oni)

Fables: The Great Fables Crossover (Volume 13) – Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham

Fables: Witches (Volume 14) – Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham

Ex Machina: Term Limits (Volume 10) – Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris (Wildstorm)

Grandville Mon Amour – Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)

God Complex – Daniel Berman, Michael Oeming & John Broglie (Image)

Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Ant – David Mack & Pascal Alixe (Marvel)

The Boys: The Self-Preservation Society (Volume 6) – Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson (Dynamite Entertainment)

The Boys: The Innocents (Volume 7) – Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson (Dynamite Entertainment)

X’ed Out – Charles Burns

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust (Volume 1) – Chris Roberson & Robert Adler (Boom! Studious)

The Walking Dead (Volume 12 & 13) – Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard & Tony Moore (Image)

Kill Shakespeare (Volume 1) – Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col & Andy Belanger (Idea & Design Works LLC)

Shadoweyes – Ross Campbell (SLG)

Louis: Night Salad – Sandra Marrs & John Chalmers (Metaphrog)

Zombo: Can I Eat You, Please? – Al Ewing & Henry Flint (Rebellion)

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden: Sacrifice – Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson & Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)

Green Lantern: Brightest Day – Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi (DC)

Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love – Chris Roberson & Shawn McManus (Vertigo)

Turf – Jonathan Ross & Tommy Lee Edwards (Image)

Batwoman: Elegy – Greg Rucka & JH Williams III (DC)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight: Retreat (Volume 6) – Jane Espenson, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, Jo Chen (Dark Horse)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: Twilight (Volume 7) – Brad Meltzer, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Karl Moline, Andy Owens, Michelle Madsen (Dark Horse)

Duncan the Wonder Dog – Adam Hines (AdHouse Books)

At the Mountains of Madness – Ian Culbard & HP Lovecraft (Self-Made Hero)

Sleepyheads – Randall C (Blank Slate, originally published as Slaapkoppen, translated from Dutch)

DMZ: Hearts and Minds (Volume 8) – Brian Wood, Ryan Kelly & Riccardo Burchielli (Vertigo)

Foiled by Jane Yolen & Mike Cavallaro

American Vampire (Volume 1) – Scott Snyder, Stephen King & Rafael Albuquerque

Locke & Key (Volume 3) – Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)

Irredeemable (Volume 3, 4, & 5) – Mark Waid & Peter Krause

Air (Volume 3) – G. Willow Wilson & M. K. Perker (Vertigo)

Chew (Volume 2 & 3) – John Layman & Rob Guillory

Echo: Collider (Volume 4) – Terry Moore

A God Somewhere – John Arcudi & Peter Snejbjerg (Wildstorm)

Sweet Tooth (Volume 1 & 2) – Jeff Lemire (Vertigo)

The Chimpanzee Complex (Volume 2 & 3) – Richard Marazano

Gravel: The Last King of England (Volume 3) – Warren Ellis & Mike Wolfer (Avatar)


Johnny Wander – Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya

Red Light Properties – Dan Goldman (

Freakangels (Volume 4) – Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield


Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Volume 3, 4 & 5) (Viz Media)

Kingyo Used Books – Seimu Yoshizaki (Viz Media)

Karakuri Odette – Julietta Suzuki (Tokyopop)

Pluto – Naoki Urasawa (Viz Media)

20th Century Boys – Naoki Urasawa (Viz Media)

Biomega (Viz Media)

YA Comics

Prime Baby – Gene Luen Yang (First Second)

Solomon’s Thieves – LeUyen Pham, Alex Puvilland & Jordan Mechner (First Second)

Brain Camp – Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan & Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)

The Unsinkable Walker Bean – Aaron Renier (First Second)

Dawn Land – Joe Bruchac and Will Davis (First Second)

Lola: A Ghost Story – J Torres and Elbert Orr (Oni)

Mercury – Hope Larson (Atheneum)

Set to Sea – Drew Weing (Fantagraphics)

Ineligible (Last issue published in 2009)

Planetary: Spacetime Archeology (Volume 4) – Warren Ellis &

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites – Jill Thompson & Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse)

No Hero – Warren Ellis & Juan Jose Ryp (Avatar)


There! That’s quite the list. It was put together with the help of Cheryl Morgan (Salon Futura & Clarkesworld), Joe Gordon (Forbidden Planet International), David Monteith (Geek Syndicate), and Maura McHugh—as well as the hivemind powers of Twitter and Livejournal. Feel free to add your own suggestions!

Brit Mandelo is a multi-fandom geek with a special love for comics and queer literature. She can be found on Twitter and Livejournal.

1. 0do
Great work! Lost of interesting titles. I've read quite a few of them, but I still have a lot to read...

I just want to point out that Echo: Black Hole (Volume 5) by Terry Moore is also eligible this year. IMHO, it was (even) better than Volume 4, so I will most likely been nominating Vol 5 instead of Vol 4.

If I had to say it today, my other nominations would be:

Supergod – Warren Ellis & Garrie Gastonny (Avatar Press)
Locke & Key (Volume 3) – Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Irredeemable (Volume 5) – Mark Waid & Peter Krause
Chew (Volume 3) – John Layman & Rob Guillory
Cheryl Morgan
2. CherylMorgan
One minor correction (entirely my error, not Brit's). Joe Gordon tells me that Sleepyheads was orignally written in Flemish.
3. Hatgirl
What a marvelous list. The ones I haven't read are going on my To Read Before March pile.

I would add Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale, but my coat is a deep shade of brown.
René Walling
4. cybernetic_nomad
Re: Sleepyhead

For those not in the know, Sleepyhead's previous publication in Flemish does not affect its eligibility.

In fact anything published in a language other than English is eligible on first publication and a second time upon first publication in English. So if you want to you can nominate an untranslated manga, manwha or bande dessinée.
Wesley Osam
5. Wesley
This list is tremendously dispiriting.

Weathercraft by Jim Woodring and Temperance by Cathy Malkasian are superior to practically everything listed here. So are the webcomics Dresden Codak by Aaron Diaz, Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee, and Bad Machinery by John Allison.

Kevin Huizenga's The Wild Kingdom is more fiction about science than science fiction, but it also includes magic realist/surrealist passages and a When Worlds Collide-style planetary apocalypse.

The anthology Mome usually publishes a few good SF/fantasy tales every year, but I can't point to specifics because I'm a year behind on reading it. I'm also behind on Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso, Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason, and Billy Hazlenuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire--yes, I am embarrassingly behind on my comics-buying--but based on prior experience with the authors they're almost certainly as good as anything else I've listed.

This list is off the top of my head and I've probably missed or forgotten all kinds of things. (I must admit my list is very Fantagraphics-heavy, but then again the majority of worthwhile print comics these days are published by either Fantagraphics or Drawn and Quarterly, and of the two the former publishes more SF/fantasy material.) There's much more to the comics medium than the stock carried by your local Comic Book Guy.
Joseph Blaidd
6. SteelBlaidd
In the Web Comics section I strongly recomend Megatokyo, Vol6.
Fred Gallagher is one of the Masters of the subtle expresion, multifacited characters and his sideways take on the conventions of the Genre(pick one) are a true delight. Comics tendd to spwn WOT Reread level of analysys.
ChaptersIncluded in Vol 6 start Here
7. Harry Payne
I recommend Grandville mon amour by Bryan Talbot.
rob mcCathy
8. roblewmac
I am honest to God not looking for Hugo but I am Equally honest to god looking for readers. Check out my webcomic Hell on Wheels
Michael Burstein
9. mabfan
I'd like to recommend Hereville by Barry Deutsch. Great story about an Orthodox Jewish 11-year-old girl who wants to be a dragonslayer and she challenges a troll for a sword. Deutsch has a website about the book up at .
10. 'nother Mike
How about Howard Tayler's Massively Parallel? Story starts right over here
Kevin Hogan
11. dromedan
I am still somewhat confused on the eligibility requirements for comics first published on the web, then in trades.

Example 1 - A comic puts out a trade in 2010, but all of its contents were serialized in 2009. Trade not eligible, but series as a whole is? If it contains bonus content that was not published until the trade, does that make it eligible again?

Exmple 2 - A comics puts out a trade in 2010, and some of the contents were serialized in 2010, some in 2009. Trade now eligible. Yes?

Do I have that correct?

I am trying to determine specifically w/r/t "Templar, Arizona" book 4, and "Skin Horse" volume 2.
René Walling
12. cybernetic_nomad

What matters is the first time a work was available, not what format is was in.

It helps to think only of the content (the story and art) and not the container (the webpages, floppies, trades) when trying to figure out if something is eligible. After all, it's the writing and the art that will get the Hugo. Also, the last release of a series is what counts when determining eligibility (after all, you can't properly judge a story until you finished reading it)

Example 1: Since the original release was in 2009, then no the trade would not be eligible, and the series was eligible in 2010, but won't be for 2011. If the trade contains additional content, then it has to be significant for people to consider it a new work (two good examples of additional content are Vonda McIntyre's "Of Mist and Grass and Sand", a Hugo nominated short story expanded into a novel (Dreamsnake) which then won a Hugo and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game"/Ender's Game where both the original novelette and the novel that came from it won a Hugo on different years). If a trade has enough new content to be considered significantly different, and enough people nominate it, then the administrators will likely bow to the will of the voters. An example of not enough additional content is "Jack Jack Attack", the short film Pixar put on The Incredibles DVD. It didn't make The Incredibles eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form again (At least none of the nominators thought so, though the "Jack-Jack Attack" on its own was eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form and made the ballot)

Example 2: Short answer: yes. Long answer: Since the last release of a series is what determines eligibility, then yes the series would be eligible for a 2011 Hugo -- the fact that the trade came out in 2010 doesn't affect this in any way at all (if it hadn't come out, the series would still be eligible).

Since both Templar and Skin Horse are webcomics, I would assume that the print editions came after the online release so the dates of the online release is what will determine eligiblity (the date the last page in the story arc/series was put online to be exact).

Hope this helps
Brit Mandelo
13. BritMandelo

Yup, you've pretty much got it.

The package doesn't matter; it's when the last issue/comic in the case of webcomics was published. Even if that was January 2010, it still counts as 2010.
Kevin Hogan
14. dromedan

Thanks, that is *exactly* what I was looking for.

Man, there's a lot of good stuff out there! And being solid on that guideline will help me nominate things that are actually eligible.
Cathy Mullican
15. nolly
Daytripper, by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon gets one of my slots. It's hard to classify; some might call it magic realism rather than fantasy, and you won't see it if you only read one issue. But taken as a whole, there's something going on there.

As for webcomics, I enjoy Bad Machinery, but a) it's mostly not SF/F, though there was the one arc with the magic pencil and b) it is SO not better than The Unwritten or Sweet Tooth.

Ursula Vernon's Digger, though...that one's up there.
16. 0do
I'm curious about Daytripper. They have a copy at my local library, so I will borrow it and give it a try.

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