Know anything about Gaiman and/or World Fantasy Awards?

I am trying to find a credible source for a piece of hearsay that I’ve seen repeated several times. It goes like this: Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess shared the 1991 World Fantasy award for best short story, for Sandman #19, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” After the award was given, the World Fantasy Association changed the rules for candidacy, decreeing that a nominee for the short story award must be written entirely in prose. Thus, Gaiman’s book remains the only comic ever to have won a World Fantasy Award and will likely stay that way until comics regain the honour they deserve.

The WFA does not appear to have a website, and I can’t find any archived press releases or anything else describing the whys and wherefores of their changing their rules – or even if they did at all. If anyone knows anything about this, please help me out! It’s for my senior thesis so the ten thousand Neil Gaiman fansites I’ve found aren’t going to help me at all. THANK YOU!

Well, I’ve got you part of the way there: here’s the hompage of the World Fantasy Convention, the folks who hand out the World Fantasy Award. (Remember: in SF, the awards come from the conventions: You’ll find the Hugos by looking for “Worldcon” for instance)

While the page does show that Gainman and Vess did win the best short fiction award for Sandman #19, there’s a stunning lack of information on what’s eligible. On the other hand, there’s a ton of contacts on that page, maybe someone actually connected with the awards can give you further assistance.

One thing I’ve found which tends to undermine the “no more funny-books, this is ART” story (which I’ve heard too) is the eligiblility requirements for the 2002 awards which says, in part:

Nothin’ in there that says “No damned comic-books!”, so I’m starting to view that story with a grain of salt.


The World Fantasy Awards have been an odd hybrid. Books and stories are nominated by members of the convention, but the award is given by a panel of experts.

That was probably why John M. Ford’s Winter Solstice, Camelot Station won for short fiction in 1989. It’s a great poem, and an inspired choice, but it’s hard to believe most of the people nominating had even read it.

As the requirements indicate, comics are not banned.

Gaiman seems to be pretty good about answering questions submitted at (check both the FAQ and his journal), so you might check with him.

Harlan Ellison (not always the most reliable source in my mind) claims this story is true in his introduction to Gaiman’s graphic novel A Season of Mists.

Fenris, I had found that site, actually, but didn’t see the eligibility requirements on the awards page. Thanks for pointing that out.

king of spain, I actually submitted this question to his FAQ line two months ago. Still waiting on an answer, but as my thesis is due in two weeks I don’t have high hopes for it.

I’m just going to have to chalk the story up as apocryphal. Thanks for the responses, guys.

I remember reading the same thing in the foreword for one of the paperback versions of Sandman.

shrug Sounds like a credible source to me.

Like The Peyote Coyote sez, the intro to Season of Mists (which is a collection of several miscellaneous single issue stories from Sandman, including “A Midsummer Night’s dream”, does indeed make this claim. Unfortunately, I don’t have it in front of me, but it should be easy to check the specific wording; my impression, however, was exactly like RaCha’ar’s, that they changed the eligibility requirements to prevent it from ever happening again.

Pretty stupid, IMO, if it’s true, but then I don’t run the con.

I’ve checked Season of Mists and found the story there. Ellison’s recounting is heavily sarcastic and very biased, to say the least. I was hoping for a press release or at least a more objective source for the story. I may include it with a disclaimer as to its source, one way or another.

Minor nitpick…

Uhm, Season of Mists is indeed the collection in which Harlan Ellison writes the introduction and mentions the World Fantasy Award hooplah, but “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is actually in Dream Country, the previous volume in the Sandman library. Season of Mists contains the storyline in which Lucifer abandons Hell, while Dream Country is a collection of one-offs, similar to Fables and Reflections.

Anyway, I’m not sure you should believe Ellison about this. He’s a writer. Hells, I’m not sure you should believe Gaiman. For one thing, the header quotation to Dream Country is Gaiman’s reclusive author, Erasmus Fry, reminding us all that “Writers are liars.” Gaiman himself invented a story about the creation of Sandman: The Dream Hunters. He claimed that he had run across an old Japanese legend (called “The Fox, the Monk, and the Mikado of All Night’s Dreaming,” if memory serves) while doing research for his translation of Princess Mononoke. At the time (and even in the book), he claimed that the legend fit so closely with the Sandman mythos that he mostly transcribed what he had read. Unfortunately, he later admitted to having invented not only the story of The Dream Hunters, but the story of the story of it.

Um, okay, I need to go do something not Sandman nerd-y. When’s the next NASCAR race?:o

Bah :wink: .

Hey, I said I didn’t have it in front of me …