In general we are extremely pleased with the coverage that science fiction awards are getting thanks to the success of Neil Gaiman’s film, Coraline. However, there is one aspect of the coverage that is a little annoying. Someone around the blogosphere has floated the idea (and it is rapidly being copied) that Sandman was the first comic to win a “literary award”. Well, it won a World Fantasy Award in 1991. Watchmen won a Hugo Award in 1988. And that fact is hardly unknown, because the fact that Watchmen is the only comic ever to have won a Hugo has been a standard part of coverage of the forthcoming movie.
What are we to make of this? Well, you could argue that a Hugo for “related work” is perhaps not a “literary award”, in particular because the Hugos have generally taken pains to reward the artist as well as the writer where comics are concerned. However, it seems unlikely that movie reviewers are aware of such subtleties. Simple incompetence is also a plausible explanation, especially given that some idiot movie reviewers credited Coraline to Tim Burton (probably because the actual director, Henry Selick, also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas). However, we have this sinking feeling that some people have it in their heads that the World Fantasy is a “literary” award, because it has a proper jury, and the Hugo is not, because it is voted on by fans.