Having been liberated earlier than I expected from my responsibilities for this year's Hugos, I can start blogging my views on the finalists for those who are interested. I think the Best Graphic Story or Comic category has really improved over the years that it has been run; as my regular reader knows, I am worried about category inflation for the Hugos, but this one certainly brings more than it takes.
6) Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything, by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward
Second frame of Part 03:
One of the problems of this Hugo category is that when later volumes in a series are nominated by people who have grown to love the series as a whole, those of us who have not read the preceding volumes are rather at a loss to understand what is going on. This is gorgeously drawn, intense space opera, but I have not read the first volume so was missing the background, and on top of that not much seemed to actually happen despite a lot of running about. You can get it here.
5) DIE, Volume 2: Split the Party, by Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans and Clayton Cowles
Second frame of Part 8:
And here's another second volume on the final ballot, with the important difference that the first volume was on last year's ballot, so I had at least read it. It's about a group of role-playing friends who are swept into a fantasy world and must try and reunite to get back. Again, quite a lot of middle-book running around, and I do not really care for any of the characters. You can get it here.
4) Monstress, vol. 5: Warchild, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Second frame of Chapter 27:
Not a second volume, but a fifth, where all four previous volumes were Hugo finalists and indeed three of them won, two of them in years when I was the Hugo Administrator. The art is gorgeous and the world-building fascinating; however I have slightly lost track of the plot and, as with previous volumes, the violence is a bit too squicky for my taste.
Though there was one moment that gave me a big laugh.
You can get it here.
3) Ghost-Spider vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over, by Seanan McGuire, Takeshi Miyazawa and Rosie Kämpe
Second frame of third part:
I have not always got on with McGuire's work before, but I did enjoy this, a Buffy-esque story of teen superhero Spider-Gwen trying to keep a handle on both her crime-fighting life and her college education - in a parallel Earth, of course - which being hunted by a Baddie. Laugh-out-loud funny in places. You can get it here.
2) Once & Future vol. 1: The King Is Undead, by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain, and Ed Dukeshire
Second frame of Chapter 3:
Another one that I really liked - an audacious reinvention of the Matter of Britain, where King Arthur returns as an undead horror in league with present-day fascists, and our hero, together with his tough-as-nails granny, must thwart them. Moves at a cracking pace with some good set-pieces in south-west England. You can get it here.
1) Parable of the Sower, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Second frame of 2026 section:
I was sure I had read the original version of Parable of the Sower, but I can't actually find a record anywhere of having done so, and don't seem to have it on my shelves. So I was coming to the story as a whole fresh, a grim tale of a young woman's experience of the catastrophic breakdown of society in near-future California (much nearer now than it was when the book first came out) and her building for a better world. I think Duffy and Jennings have done a tremendous job of bringing Butler's prose respectfully to graphic life, not going overboard on the horror but not underselling it either, and making each character distinct on the page. So it gets my top vote this year. You can get it here.