Graphic Novel Hugo: Don't Celebrate Prematurely
I posted at length my reactions to the announcement as part of this discussion on the Anime News Network's forum.
Here's a comment I just posted to one blog entry on this subject:
It's important to bear in mind the rest of the announcement and its implications.
1. The Best Graphic Story Hugo Award being presented next year by Anticipation, the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, is using their authority to add a special one-time-only category.
2. The proposal to add Best Graphic Story as a permanent Hugo Award category received first passage at this year's Worldcon in Denver, but will not be made permanent unless ratified by next year's Worldcon in Montreal. It seems very likely that vote next year will be heavily influenced by what gets nominated next year and, just as importantly, how many people cast nominating ballots. (For more information on how the Hugo Awards process works, see the official Hugo Awards Web Site.
3. Every member of this past Worldcon in Denver, and every person who joins next year's Worldcon in Montreal by January 31, 2009, will be eligible to nominate in the 2009 Hugo Awards. Thousands of people are thus eligible to nominate, but typically only a few hundred actually bother to cast their ballots. Therefore, anyone wanting to make an impact on the election should buy at least a supporting membership (doesn't attend, gets publications, may vote) in next year's Worldcon.
4. Every attending member of next year's Worldcon in Montreal is eligible to come to the WSFS Business Meeting to vote on the ratification of Best Graphic Story as a permanent category. You don't lobby a Board of Directors. You don't elect representatives to a Chamber of Delegates. It's a Town Meeting of Fandom, so anyone who feels that this category is a good (or bad) idea has to show up in person and vote.
I know I'm belaboring this -- you may well already know all of it already -- but my experience over the last twenty-plus years is that many people expect Someone Else to do the work for them, when in fact in the case of the Hugo Awards everyone has to represent themselves. There's no secret and mysterious "them" to make the decisions -- there's only "us."
And the reason I'm going to keep hammering on this point is that I'm really concerned that many of the people celebrating this are not themselves going to ever join Worldcon, nominate, or vote, and then these same people will then end up being disappointed and will complain bitterly when "they" (those mysterious people who run the Hugos) fail to ratify the proposal or drop it for lack of interest. Alternatively, I think the people who think this category is a bad idea -- and there are some -- will get the idea that the whole thing is a done deal and there's nothing they can do about it. Speaking as Chairman of the Business Meeting next year, I'm troubled when people say, "Nothing I can do; the SMOFS control everything."
WSFS's Town Meeting government isn't always easy, but it isn't exactly secret, either. As I'm fond of saying, the only "secret" of the Secret Masters of Fandom is that they're not secret.