Matt Fraction has become the first comics writer to win a prestigious PEN Center literary award for his “Outstanding Body of Work.” The awards are presented annually to writers living west of the Mississippi. A panel of judges choose finalists in ten categories: fiction, creative nonfiction, research nonfiction, poetry, children’s literature, translation, journalism, drama, teleplay, and screenplay.
Although there is no graphic literature category, this year, Fraction’s work was singled out for a special award. Past winners include folks like Woody Allen (who lives in Manhattan, so go figure,) Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, Dan Savage, Alice Walker, and Matt Groening.
While several books by writer/artists, such as AMERICAN BORN CHINESE, STITCHES, MAUS, and BENNY AND PENNY have been nominated or won literary awards before, it’s much less common for work from the collaborative side of comics to get recognition. And given the PEN Center’s recognition of screenplays, perhaps a permanent category is in the making one of these days?