Frank Wu has preemptively announced that he will decline if nominated for Best Fan Artist in 2008.
“This essay is incredibly hard to write. I don’t want to be misunderstood, to come across as churlish, arrogant, calculating or ungrateful…. Having won three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist, in three of the last four years, I have decided that – should I be nominated – I will decline the nomination [in 2008],” wrote Frank in an editorial published in Abyss and Apex issue 24, dated the fourth quarter or 2007.
I learned about Frank’s decision when his editorial popped up in response to a Google search about another fan artist. Such news must have been reported and discussed long since (though not anywhere Google could show me). Such a remarkable example of selflessness is worth retelling, in any case.
Frank thoughtfully explains that his decision has been made for the sake of the vitality of the Best Fan Artist Hugo category. He wants to “break the logjam” for other fan artists like Alan F. Beck, Taral Wayne, Dan Steffan, Marc Schirmeister, Alexis Gilliland, and Stu Shiffman. (Though Frank surely must know Gilliland and Shiffman have won before.)
To help show that withdrawing is not an ungrateful response to his popularity, Frank lists many other people who withdrew from past Hugo races. He might have added the two most important examples from the Best Fan Artist category itself. There’s not another category where serial winners have been so conscientious about sharing the limelight.
Phil Foglio won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1977 and 1978. During his last acceptance speech, Foglio withdrew from future fanartist Hugo consideration saying, “I know how hard it is to get on the list, and once you do it’s even harder to get off.” Victoria Poyser won the category in 1981 and 1982, then announced she would not accept future nominations. Foglio and Poyser both went on to professional success.
Frank does tell how Teddy Harvia and Brad Foster declined their nominations in 1997. He speculates, “Apparently they were trying to clear the path for fellow nominee Bill Rotsler, who would pick up his Hugo and then pass away a month later.” Well, no. Just the previous year (1996) Rotsler had won the Best Fan Artist Hugo, a Retro Hugo, and a Special Committee Award. He’d already cleared his own path. The reason Harvia and Foster gave in 1997 is that they had a self-perceived conflict of interest created by their close involvement with the San Antonio Worldcon. Foster had drawn the covers for all the Progress Reports, and Harvia contributed other art. They made a highly-principled decision. A past progress report artist had been criticized for having an unfair advantage over competitors for the Hugo — that’s fandom for you, where someone demands that our top talents forego Hugo nominations as a condition of being allowed to provide art for free!