We’re at the point in the year where it feels like it’s been winter for a decade and spring is not quite around the corner.  It’s also the time of year when many of the awards for the top work of the previous year are handed out, from Emmys and Oscars to one of comics’ most prestigious international honors.  Here’s a quick look at some award-based stories making the news.

At Angouleme, Clowes misses out on Grand Prix but doesn’t leave empty handed. The 51st Festival de la bande desinee held in Angouleme, France just wrapped up, and, as I note jealously scrolling through my Facebook feed, looked to be just as fabulous as in years’ past.  This year’s Grand Prix went to British cartoonist and graphic novelist Posy Simmonds (see "Angouleme Grand Prix Awarded"), making her the first Brit to carry home the hardware.

On one hand, I’m sure this is a worthy winner: she must be for the French to recognize a Brit for the first time ever.  Personally, I am unfamiliar with her work, and count it as a good thing that after nearly half a century of reading comics, there are still world-class talents I have yet to discover.  Congrats to Ms. Simmonds.

On the other, well, Daniel Clowes was sitting right there, and if anyone has a body of work that deserves a career-capping honor, it’s this giant of the American graphic novel, especially in the year he delivered what most people consider his magnum opus.  But Clowes did not go home unrecognized.  Monica (Fantagraphics Books, 2023) took home the Fauve d’or over an absolutely stacked long-list of great, great work.

What on earth were the Hugos thinking?  Another awards-oriented controversy that cropped up this week was over the Hugo Awards, one of the big prizes for top science fiction work, customarily awarded at Worldcon.  These awards are no stranger to controversy, having been hijacked in a misbegotten, politically-motivated ballot-stuffing scheme a few years ago (see "The New Politics of Fandom"), and becoming a lightning rod for scrutiny from the very, very fussy science fiction fandom community.

The 2023 Hugo winners were announced in October and eyebrows went up at the omission of a few key works, including Babel by R.F. Kuang, work by author Xiran Jay Zhao, and an acclaimed episode of the Netflix series adapting Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.  All the folks involved have been critical of the policies of the Chinese government, and, wouldn’t you know it, the 2023 Worldcon was held in Chengdu, China!

China has lately produced some great science fiction, and I’m sure there are lots and lots of fans there, because there is lots and lots of everything in China.  But, stop me if you’ve heard this already, the Chinese government is not particularly fond of criticism, especially when it comes from expatriates like Kuang and Zhao.

The organizers adamantly denied caving to any influence in mysteriously striking the works as "ineligible" during the voting process, but when the actual tabulations were released last week, the lack of transparency earned the ire of Gaiman, who has a bit of a following on social media, and international news coverage.

You would think that readers of science fiction are familiar enough with dystopias to recognize that holding its major event in a totalitarian country, even a really big and rich one, is likely to draw scrutiny to any irregularities in the bestowing of honors to outspoken and imaginative critics of the regime, even if they are just innocent oversights and coincidence as the organizers insist.  Next year’s host, Glasgow, Scotland, recently issued a statement pledging that "At the time of announcing the final Hugo ballot, we will also publish the reasons for any disqualifications of potential finalists, and any withdrawals of potential finalists from the ballot."  Worldcon Glasgow also pledged that the full voting results will accompany the announcement of the awards on August 21, 2024.

Comics media adaptations get scant award buzz.  No, I’m not fixated on industry awards,  WHY DO YOU ASK?  But... for our next stop on this tour of the landscape, I can’t help noticing that comic-based media nominations were pretty thin on the ground this year in both the Academy Award and Emmy nominations.

It’s not that comic movies were ever big award-magnets outside of the technical categories, but in recent times, we’ve seen Marvel productions like Black Panther earn a best picture nomination; in 2022, What If? got Emmy nods for best Animated Series and best voice acting (Jeffrey Wright, who fans can get behind this year for his best actor nod in American Fiction), and it was kind of a scandal that DC’s Wonder Woman got shut out of Oscar nominations the year it came out.

This year, all is quiet on every front, with two notable exceptions.  Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse unsurprisingly got a nomination in the best animated feature category, and it would be shocking if it didn’t win.  But so did another comic-based film, Nimona, which Netflix adapted from N.D. Stevenson’s eye-opening graphic novel (Harper-Collins, 2015).  This one didn’t get a lot of press, and even some of the book’s fans did not love some of the choices the producers made in adapting it, but it is notable that a work adapted from a beloved indie title is getting a nod from the Academy in a year when superheroes are clearly in eclipse.

Congrats to this year’s Eisner Award judges.  Finally, San Diego Comic-Con announced the judges for this year’s Will Eisner Industry Awards.  This year’s crew includes comics studies professor and comic-maker Ryan Clayor from Michigan State University; author, educator and former comics editor Christopher Crouch; retailer, scholar and exhibit curator Andréa Gilroy; longtime editor and comics journalist Joseph Illidge; retailer and comics professional Mathias Lewis; and librarian, author and manga expert Jillian Rudes.

This illustrious assemblage will choose the nominees in the different categories for industry professionals to vote on.  They are even empowered to make changes to the category structure if they see fit!

A separate group of judges, announced previously, will decide the slate of inductees to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.  Congratulations to everyone involved.  Now get busy, you have a lot of reading to do!

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.

Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) is the author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture and an Eisner Award nominee.