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Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Playing in the background, at least when I started typing this, Richard Goldman�s Girls N� Cows, a present from Terry Pratchett a few years back, which comes as a relief (well, a break) from The Gourds hillbilly version of �Gin �n Juice� which I kept playing because it made me smile.

Doing a �narrative version� of the outline for the Ramayana currently � it�s basically the movie script without the dialogue.

A few FAQ questions about what I was doing on the film AVALON and what I thought of it. I was brought in to, essentially, write some voice-over dialogue and narrative for it, to buttress the story. Which I did � two or three entirely different drafts, with different characters doing their own monologues and dialogue, obliquely clarifying, amplifying and setting up some of the themes in the film. Not sure how much, if any, plans there are at this point to use what I did. (The original plan was that my voice-overs, like all the dialogue, would have been in Polish. The last thing I heard was that they have decided to go a different way on it, and they may be dubbing the film into English, which I think would be a pity.) What do I think of Avalon? I think it�s a very beautiful film with some profound moments, some bits that work better if you�ve seen it a few hundred times, and some bits that don�t. I hope that it gets released and people get to see it and that it does well � there�s some great vision in there.

Lots of e-mails like this one: I don't know if you know about it yet, but Sluggy Freelance is in many minds the best online comic available today. Great characters, great stories, and thirty seconds of joy everyday makes this site worth mentioning. I say it now because they mention you and your death character in the lastest story. I suggest you check it out. Cheers. ~Sam Ruffner although most of the other ones list the URL � and Chris Hull helpfully says that �If you try after January 23, I believe the url will be http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=020123.�

(Nobody mentions that the current story is named after a song by Tori Amos, but it is.)

Meanwhile

Neil --
I'm doing my college senior thesis on comic books and censorship in America I have made use of the CBLDF web site and have information on the Senate hearings/Fredric Wertham business as well. I'm aware of the Swamp Thing/Veitch and Hellblazer/Ellis incidents at DC, but haven't found any concrete sources to use in discussing these or other, less 'official,' forms of censorship in the medium. I was wondering if you, as a creator and 'insider' in the industry, might have any insight to share with someone seeking to educate herself and others about the censorship of comic books. Thanks for your time, Anita


If I were you I�d put up a post on the Comicon.com site (where Rick Veitch can be found), and on Warren Ellis�s board (ditto for Warren), and at the Comics Journal site (where there are people with long memories). Both of the examples you point to were covered extensively in the comics press, while the Rick Veitch Swamp Thing fiasco also made the front page of the Wall Street Journal, if I remember correctly. (Apart from declining to write Swamp Thing after Rick left, I didn�t have much part in it.)

Having said that, I�m not convinced that something like that is necessarily censorship, anymore than it was censorship when The Joker was forbidden to dress like Madonna in Arkham Asylum. DC owns the characters and publishes the comics: rightly or wrongly, it�s their call what goes in them. Kyle Baker�s Superman�s Babysitter strip was pulped, Moebius�s �Batman meets Depressedman� strip rejected. I�d certainly not have made either call if I was Paul Levitz, but then, I�m not him.

I also don�t think it�s censorship when a bookstore owner or comicbook store owner elects not to stock something because they don�t like it or don�t want to sell it. It's their right to sell what they want.

(On the other hand I do think it�s censorship when a police captain goes into a comics store and tells them not to sell such and such a comic any longer, or when a local group campaigns to get a book or author banned from libraries, school or otherwise. Or when a publisher is informed he�ll be going to prison for having printed a story, or an artist does go to prison for drawing a story -- or is forbidden by a court to write or draw any more [the last two things happened to Mike Diana; the first two I mention to works of mine, and I'm a relatively uncontroversial author]...)

...

Spending a lot of time right now looking after a small girl with a high temperature. And occasionally reading her Diana Wynne Jones�s WITCH WEEK.

And this morning I read my contributors copy of the DC Comics 9-11 Comic this morning. Proud to be part of it, and that Chris Bachalo, and the colourists, and Todd Klein did such a great job. I think the Mike Moorcock/Walt Simonson story was my favourite, but it had a lot of very stiff competition. Looking forward to buying a copy of the Dark Horse & co volume.

...

E-mail today brought some wonderful astonishingly Dave McKeany illustrations being done by the company that's creating the animated TV series based on the characters from THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH. I've already seen some excellent, funny sample scripts.

(I called the kid who has all the wonderful ideas, our unnamed narrator in Goldfish, Kirby, a reference that'll be lost on the non-comics-reading people, but it pleased me.)

And the Good Omens movie news sounds good as well. They're gathering together the last of the money and hope to be shooting by summer. I shall keep my fingers crossed. ("It'll never happen" points out a phantom Terry Pratchett, very sensibly, in my ear.)
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