Hugo Category Highlight: Best Professional Artist
Before I say anything else, I’d like to thank Ben Yalow for his long comment in last week’s thread explaining the history behind the Professional/Fan (and Semipro) distinctions. I’m still not totally clear on them, but that could be because I’m arguing with a cold and it’s winning.
So, just to help clarify, here’s Ben’s comment in its entirety:
Let me try to clarify the Fanzine/Semiprozine/professional rules. I’m not this year’s Hugo Administrator, but I’ve been part of the Hugo Administration team, and am pretty familiar with the current rules, and how they got that way.
Initially, the professional/non-professional distinction was made on the basis of print run — if you had a print run of more than 10,000, you were professional. But, in an environment where a lot of material is distributed electronically, that no longer made sense. So the rule was changed to say that a professional publication was one that made someone a substantial amount of money. Specifically, if it provided someone with more than a quarter of their income, either personally or through a corporation, it was professional (and otherwise, non-professional).
So the first test that a publication must pass to be in the Fanzine or Semiprozine category is whether it’s professional or not. Only non-professional publications are eligible in those categories. Note that there used to be a Professional Magazine category, but that was replaced in the 70s with Professional Editor so as to make book editors eligible (since the field went from having dozens of professional magazines in the 50s the a half dozen in the 70s; that category was later split into Editor-Short and Editor-Long).
And the difference between Fanzine and Semiprozine is based on whether it’s totally free of money, or whether there’s money involved. If you can read it for free, and nobody gets paid for contributing (except free copies if it’s printed), then it’s a Fanzine, otherwise it’s a Semiprozine.
This includes blogs and other electronic publications, as well as traditional fanzines (and most traditional fanzines are now available electronically, as well as on paper; the largest archive, which has a huge number of current traditional fanzines, is at efanzines.com). If it’s free, and doesn’t pay anyone for contributions, it’s a Fanzine; if it’s behind a paywall, it’s a Semiprozine.
A non-professional A/V work is eligible in Fancast.
Fanwriter and Fanartist are basically writers and artists whose work appears in non-professional places.
Note that, for works of fiction, there is no requirement for the work to have been professionally published. It simply needs to have been published for the first time in the correct year, and which of the four categories it appears in is determined by the word count.
I hope this helps clarify the rules. It’s not an official ruling on any particular work (only the Hugo Administrator gets to make those, and the Administrator doesn’t make rulings unless a work gets enough nominations to force an eligibility determination), but following that explanation is likely to give results that the Administrator for any given year is likely to agree with.
Now you’ve digested that, this week’s category highlight is Best Professional Artist.
Best Professional Artist: Another person category, this time for artists and illustrators. The work on which the nominees are judged must class as “professional” (see above for a discussion of how “professional” is defined).
My take on this one is that the cover art for anything published by the big players in 2015 (or 1940 if you’re talking about the Retro Hugo Awards) counts to nominate the artist. So would cover art for the major pro magazines (a sadly diminished market). For your own sanity, do not search Amazon books for “science fiction 2015”. Trust me. There are results in there that will have you wondering what in the ever-loving King Farouk the author was on.
Of course, concept and box art for computer games that came out in 2015 also counts and this would be where I’m most likely to find my personal choices. I totally need to track down the names of the artists working on Cyan’s Obduction, because this. I suspect cover art from 1940 is likely to be a little harder to find, unless you’re one of those lucky SOB’s who’s got a stash of old science fiction and fantasy to enjoy.
As always, drop your suggestions in at the Sad Puppies 4 category page and if you’re recommending something for the Retro Hugo Awards, include this in your recommendation.