Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Professional Artist

Once again, artwork is so subjective I hardly know how to tackle this from a reviewer point of view. Like the Fan Artist category, I'm going to try to explain why I like or don't like each artist's work, knowing that what I might see as a flaw, someone else will find attractive. I'm also going to work strictly from what's in the packet, although I'm linking to the artists' public websites.

  • Galen Dara - I don't know why, but I adore the "sketchiness" of Dara's work, particularly the way the backgrounds do not interfere with the subjects because they are not fully realized. The cover to Lightspeed #74 in particular speaks to me. My problem is that I'm not entirely sure what it's saying. I love it, but none of the pieces really pulls my heartstrings. Very good works, but missing something.

  • Julie Dillon - I have been a fan of Dillon's work since I first saw it. That said, none of this year's pieces were as great as my favorites of her work. Probably the best in the packet, for me, was the cover to Hidden Youth, as it tells a story without words. I also like the use of color in the Clarkesworld covers - everything by Dillon is so intense.

  • Chris McGrath - A much more gritty and realistic artist than the previous two. I like the costumes and designs of these pieces. However, looking at them all together gives me the impression that all the characters are posed, not in action. In addition, most of them have the same expression on their faces - although the faces themselves look different enough from one another to mitigate that issue. I like the work, but not as much as the previous two artists.

  • Victo Ngai - Not my cuppa. The art is not at all bad, it's just in a style that I don't particularly enjoy. The cover for The Dreamquest of Vellitt Boe and the illustration for The Evolution of Sports were really the only two that I liked of all the images provided in the packet.

  • John Picacio - Picacio did something for the packet that I really wish all the finalists had done. In addition to providing a nice large version of the works, he also provided the works in finished context - with any typography and titles that were included. This gave me a sense of both the artwork as it was made and the artwork as it was used. That said, it's solid work. One piece, "La Botella", is nicely head twisting. I also liked the illustration for "The Thing About Growing Up In Jokertown". It's good stuff.

  • Sana Takeda - Our final finalist did the art on Monstress, one of the finalists for Best Graphic Story. Most of the work in the packet is from Monstress. Two pages of comic book art are from Marvel's Civil War II: Choosing Sides #6. While the art is certainly pretty, it's not really my favorite of the choices I've been given.
This is a tough one. I like more of the art than I don't like, and even the stuff I don't like is worthy of the Hugo. I think I may put Dara or Dillon first, followed by Picacio and McGrath. Takeda and Ngai will be the last two, but I'm not certain of the exact order and I think it will probably change repeatedly before the deadline.