Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Hugo Awards / Best Professional Artist Winners

Here's a visual history of the winners of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. The Hugo Awards started in 1953. However, the Best Professional Artist category wasn't created until 1955. Since then, seventeen pro artists have been recognized with the award in that category (eighteen if you count Leo and Diane Dillon as individuals -- debatable because they considered themselves inseparable -- even though each was/is a powerhouse individual artist). It's a helluva list.

Two Sundays ago, I became a part of it. After assembling this set of images, the first thought I have is "get back to work....go get better." And the next -- "this still feels like a dream."

Frank Kelly Freas: Much of his work had a whimsy that resonated with legions of fans. However, that's largely absent in this one. This is his artwork for Robert Heinlein's THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH and it's always been my favorite Freas. He won the Hugo in the Pro Artist category ten times (1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976).

Ed Emshwiller: This is the cover art for F&SF, June 1960. Emsh was a master of the strange, and this one speaks to its time, but yet still holds up today for sheer strangeness. I had the honor of inducting him into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007. He won the Hugo in this category four times (1960, 1961, 1962, and 1964), as well as a fifth Hugo as "Best Cover Artist" (tied with Hannes Bok) back in 1953 before the Pro Artist category was created.

Roy Krenkel: He painted several classic Tarzan covers that are much beloved by many sf/f fans, but for my money, it's his pen-and-ink work that pops in my mind. I've never met an artist that didn't love what he could do with that medium. He won the Hugo Award in 1963.

John Schoenherr: This painting evokes the same feeling I get when I see photos of F5 tornadoes. There's an iconic majesty and terror in this image and I think it's still one of the definitive DUNE artworks. Schoenherr won the Hugo Award in 1965.

Frank Frazetta: The only thing that shocks me about Frazetta and the Hugo Award is that he didn't win more than one. He's one of those seminal master artists that influences almost all genre artists, whether they realize it or not. He won his Hugo Award in 1966.

Jack Gaughan: There's always something quintessentially funky and exotic about his work that I greatly admire. I look at a picture like this, and it's both dated and timeless all at once. That's a tough trick. Gaughan won the Hugo Award three times -- 1967, 1968, and 1969.

Leo and Diane Dillon: I love this one -- the wraparound cover art for Harlan Ellison's DEATHBIRD STORIES. The Dillons are the only art team to be recognized with a pro artist Hugo thus far. I like this quote from Diane: "We could look at ourselves as one artist rather than two individuals, and that third artist was doing something neither one of us would do. We let it flow the way it flows when an artist is working by themselves and a color goes down that they didn’t quite expect and that affects the next colors they use, and it seems to have a life of its own.” They won the Hugo in this category in 1971.

Rick Sternbach: He did production work for the first STAR TREK motion picture back in the '70s, and that's where I'm most familiar with his work. However, he also did a range of sf book art. "Moonbow" (above) is my favorite. He won two Hugo Awards, in 1977 and 1978.

Vincent Di Fate: There's something unmistakable about the way Di Fate lays down his hard edges against softer textures. I love his ships and spacescapes. This one is from later in his career (2002?), but he won the Hugo Award back in 1979.

Michael Whelan: He's one of the ultimate artist's artists. And this is one of my favorites of his -- the cover art for Joan D. Vinge's THE SNOW QUEEN. A couple of years ago, he brought this original to Boskone. I stared at the lace on that arm for a solid five minutes -- without blinking. LOL When I think of the ambassadors of the sf/f field, Michael will always be one of the greatest -- as an artist and as a person -- and that includes all authors and creators, bar none. He's won the most pro artist Hugos -- thirteen -- 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 2000, and 2002.

Jim Burns: I fell in love with this image the moment I first saw it a couple of decades ago -- Burns' classic cover for Ray Bradbury's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN. If I had to make a list of top-20 favorite sf artworks of all-time, this would be in there. Jim has won three Hugos in this category -- 1987, 1995, and 2005.

Don Maitz: Whenever rum drinkers chug a bottle of Captain Morgan, they get up-close and personal with Don's art. However, works like "Death of the Last Dragon" are where he shines brightest, in my opinion. This is one of my favorites of his. He's won two Hugo Awards in this category -- 1990 and 1993.

Bob Eggleton: And here's a dragon of a completely different mode. Yes, Bob's known for these as well as his Lumley covers, his Godzillas, his Cthulhu art, and his love of pulp, amongst other things. But when I look at an Eggleton, I see the craft of brushstrokes and accretions that are dripping with emotion, and with the pure love of someone who's never stopped being a fan. And that's why he's a master pro. Bob has eight Hugos in this category -- 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2004.

Donato Giancola: Along with Whelan, I consider Donato one of the great artist's artists, and one of the best of all pro artists I've ever met. I love how he handles himself as an artist and as a pro, and this cover artwork for Kathleen Bryan's THE GOLDEN ROSE is one of my favorites of his. I was flabbergasted when Donato lost seven consecutive years for the Hugo from 1999 to 2005, until he finally won his first Hugo, on his eighth nomination in 2006. (And yes, now I know a bit of how he felt -- that math does sound eerily familiar, come to think of it. ;)) He now has three in this category -- along with the 2007 and 2009 rockets.

Stephan Martiniere: As far as I'm concerned, he's the master of the futuristic cityscape. This is his cover art for Ian McDonald's RIVER OF GODS. There are many artists that do this type of imagery so well, but I can't think of any more transcendent than Stephan. Even as some traditionalists and collectors decry the evolution and impact of digital art, Stephan has done what the great artists do in all media throughout history -- he has pushed the vocabulary of art forward, and that achievement goes beyond arguments over pencils, paints or pixels. He won the Hugo Award in 2008.

Shaun Tan: What I love about Shaun Tan is that he made himself. His visions and narratives are uniquely his own. He didn't come out of a vacuum, but when I look at the evolution of his work from THE VIEWER through THE RABBITS (above) through THE ARRIVAL to the present, he re-shaped the world on his own terms and brought it to him, rather than vice versa. He has two Hugo Awards -- 2010 and 2011.

John Picacio: And it's 2012. And here I am. Hello, world. And it's time to get back to work, to make new art, and to make better art. Don't look now -- I think my best is still yet to come.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Wow. I'm a Hugo Award Winner.

Still haven't quite wrapped my brain around that one. Dreamed about it for many, many years, but now that it's reality, it still hasn't sunk in, even several days after a magical night.

A lot to say -- what follows are highlights from an amazing weekend. If you want to just read the Hugo reaction, skip to Chapter Four (yeah, I know..... this post requires chapters..... seriously.....)


     Chapter One: Dragon*Con Programming

Friday, August 31st: I started the weekend in Atlanta, GA where I was a pro participant at Dragon*Con. Many thanks to Regina Kirby and Derek Tatum for placing me on two terrific Friday program items -- "The Art of the 2012 A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Calendar" and "The Art of Darkness". Both events had big audiences who enjoyed what they saw. I worked hard on slideshows for both, and particularly the latter, where I was the moderator, joined by panelists Bernie Wrightson, Coop, Dave Cook, Billy Tackett, and Steven Archer.

I could've easily talked to Bernie by himself for an hour because I've loved his SWAMP THING and FRANKENSTEIN work for over two decades. For his bit, we focused on his legendary FRANKENSTEIN work and talked pens, paper, brushes, process, memories and inspirations. Once he caught fire in the discussion, he was so good, and the audience loved him. He was every bit of awesome that you would expect Bernie Wrightson to be.

Loved hearing the stories and insights that came out of Coop's mouth. He's as brilliant as he is subversive, and I doubt it's the last time he and I cross paths. Dave, Billy, and Steven were terrific as well, and together we pulled off a panel that many folks said was one of the very best of recent Dragon*Cons, despite technical snafus that we overcame. I was proud of that panel.

     Chapter Two: WOW! I won a Chesley Award!

Had great times with Lou Anders, Sam Sykes, Clay and Susan Griffith, Jon and Jenny Sprunk, Lisa Michalski, Meghan Quinn, and the whole Pyr crew. Their booth was swarmed with readers and it's amazing to see how Lou's presence at these cons converts fans into Pyr faithful, just as much as the presence of the authors. We all went to Max Lager's for dinner, where Lou and I were glued to Twitter, calling out the Chesley Award winners as they were announced in Chicago. 

And lo and behold, in the Best Product Illustration category -- I won -- and the winning work was my art for the 2012 George R. R. Martin / A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Calendar. Fellow nominees were Stuart Craig, Lee Moyer, William Stout, Michael Whelan, and Mark Zug. Honoured to be in their company, and very grateful that X-Ray of the Brotherhood Without Banners read my acceptance speech. Big thanks to George, art director Dave Stevenson, and editor Anne Groell for being my teammates through the making of the calendar, and my wife Traci for surviving one of the most intense art periods of my career so far. And thank you so much, ASFA.

Back at Dragon*Con, I was ecstatic to win this Chesley Award, as these are the awards given by one's art peers in the industry. Headed back to the Marriott Marquis with Lou and the Pyr crew to celebrate and watch the night-time madness of D*Con, which really is like no other con scene anywhere. It's electric, I love it, and I'll be back next year.

     Chapter Three: Two Cons In One Day

Saturday, September 1st: So if I'm doing Dragon*Con next year, then surely that means I'm skipping out on 2013's World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio, right? After all -- only a madman would try to do both on the same weekend, especially when the latter is in his hometown. Well -- that's exactly the act of lunacy I'll be committing next year -- because I managed to survive the feat this year. After a fun morning visiting with Jennifer Heddle and Larry Elmore, and scanning the Exhibitor Halls, I jumped on a plane and headed to Chicago for Worldcon. 

The con was housed in one massive Hyatt hotel with two towers. The facility was top-notch. The location on Chicago's downtown waterfront was one of my all-time favourites for any Worldcon. The main lobby and restaurant area felt like sf/f owned the place when you walked in, and it had the high-energy buzz you expect from a great Worldcon.

Dave McCarty, Helen Montgomery and their organizing crew pulled off a terrific Worldcon. Much well-deserved cheers and applause for these folks, as they worked their collective asses off to do a great con. I didn't do any programming here, so I didn't have a chance to experience how that went, but as a social experience, I thought this was one of the best Worldcons of recent years.

Arrived in the late afternoon, and immediately headed to dinner with Mary Robinette Kowal, Nancy Kress, Jack Skillingstead, Gardner Dozois, Susan Casper, and Jonathan Oliver. Good times. 

Visited the LoneStarCon 3 Party and they seem to be primed for an amazing Worldcon in San Antonio. They're a veteran con-running crew, and when they bring their collective A-game, they're amongst the best in fandom.

Headed to the Brotherhood Without Banners Party from there -- and that joint was jumping! The Bros always throw a terrific party and I have a lot of friends there. X-Ray gave me my Chesley. She and Mr. X had Balvenie Caribbean waiting for me. Good times, great people (shoutouts to Boiled Leather, Red Woman, Mutha Hydra, Lady Chattaya, Lodey, Raya, Lacey, Leigh, Tara, Will, and more), and a lot of laughs. And still no sightings of RaceBannon but Steve Spaulding was in the house. (BWB inside joke that I inadvertently created.....if you're non-BWB, nothing to see here. :))

     Chapter Four: Rocket Sunday

(pictured above: Mary Robinette Kowal and her husband Rob at the Pre-Hugo Reception)

Had breakfast with George, Parris, Raya and her boyfriend. Good way to start the day. Lunched with LOCUS' Liza Trombi. With the Hugo Award Semi-Prozine rule changes being instituted, 2012 will be the last year that LOCUS is eligible for a Hugo in the category. The magazine won a massive haul of Hugos under the leadership of Charles Brown, but since Liza assumed the leadership of the mag, they hadn't landed a Hugo yet. I was rooting for her to pull it off because this was her last chance.

Many conversations and meetings later -- it was time for the pre-Hugo Awards reception. I've been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist seven consecutive times. I've been through these events six previous times. They're a joy because there are so many friends dressed to their best, but they're also nerve-wracking because everyone is on edge for the results to be announced. This one was no different.

When it was time to head to the awards, I was seated next to Irene Gallo and Greg Manchess, with Patty Wells and Colin Harris on my other side. Irene was accepting for Stephan Martiniere and I was convinced that either he or Dan Dos Santos was gonna win the award. The more Irene kept scribbling on notepaper as each category was announced, I was sure that Stephan had won his second Hugo. 

John Scalzi was the MC, and he did what Scalzi does -- he's eloquent, funny, gracious, and in command of the moment. It's what all Toastmasters hope to be, and Scalzi does it effortlessly. He's been with me at many a Losers' Party. We've shared several post-Hugo commiserations over the years.

After losing seven straight years, there were two noticable differences this time around though. 1) I've received loud cheers at past Hugo announcements, but there was a massive roar from the audience for my name this time when the nominees' names were read. 2) And then there was Scalzi and when that little smirk creeped across his face and he did that giant pause, something in my stomach went, "Oh f**k." 

And I barely even heard my name because the room exploded with screams and cheers, and I was utterly stunned and glued to my chair. Stared at the floor for about a second, before heading for the stage. Chris Garcia bearhugged me in the aisle. Steven Silver was there too. And at the end of the aisle, before I hit the stairs, stood Liza, who had won her 'first' Hugo -- the one that means the most to her because she earned this one without Charles, and totally under her leadership, along with Kirsten Gong-Wong, Francesca Myman and the rest of LOCUS' crew. I'll never forget the look on her face, and for she and I to have earned our Hugos on the same night is a very special thing. 

As far as my speech -- I didn't have one. What came out of my mouth is what was on my mind at that moment. That's the only way I know how to do these things. It was important that at least two artists who were never recognized with Hugos were celebrated this night and those were Richard Powers and John Berkey -- two giants who opened doors to new frontiers where many of us pros now thrive, and hopefully expand upon.

I'm extremely grateful to all who voted for me all of these years, and who voted for me this year. I'm grateful to have won this on a night when my friends Liza, Paul Cornell, John DeNardo, Charlie Jane Anders, Kij Johnson, Sheila Williams, George R. R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman also won. 

George is special to me because he gave me the opportunity to do that 2012 ASoIaF Calendar, and spending that time in Westeros is a time that I will never forget. I'm really glad that GAME OF THRONES won a Hugo. I wish A DANCE WITH DRAGONS would have fared better in the final Best Novel tally. I believe George will own a Best Novel Hugo someday.

Standing next to Neil at the post-Hugo photos, I reminded him that I won my first pro award -- the International Horror Guild Award (Best Artist) -- ten years ago in this same city. The person who handed me that award? Him. 

Congrats to all winners and nominees Sunday night -- and especially Dan Dos Santos, Michael Komarck, Bob Eggleton, and Stephan Martiniere -- so honoured to be amongst you. It's an honour just to be nominated for a Hugo -- yes, no doubt about it. And being nominated seven straight years is a massive achievement -- I know this. But wow, I'm so grateful to win this Hugo on my eighth nomination. More grateful than I have words to express. It really is a dream come true. Thanks to all friends and family, who were there along the way, including my mother, father, and sister who always believed -- and Traci who was there for so many of those losing years and now will be treated to many celebratory dinners over this next month because she deserves to savour this as much as anyone.
What can I say? I'm a Hugo Award winner -- only the 17th artist to ever win in the Best Professional Artist category (18th if you count Leo and Diane Dillon as individuals, but since they were such a team, they're really one artist).


Time to get back to work. Time to make better art. Thanks, everyone!

(Thanks to Brenda Cooper for the above photo.)