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.)