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Sunday, June 01, 2003

An inordinately long post: questions are answered and you learn too much about Book Expo.

Neil

You can't believe how happy I am to have stumbled upon your blog. For the last four years now I've been running a site about travelling on the London Underground http://www.goingunderground.net but with no trainspotters in sight. The site seems to have struck a chord with the public and gets around 300 visitors a day and has had over 200,000 visitors in total. Recently it became one of FHM's top 100 sites mainly due to a page which has recorded "humorous" driver announcements sent in by visitors to my site over the years. http://www.goingunderground.net/#heroes

Anyhow, with bits on animals on the tube, buskers, celeb spotting, I obviously had to feature the tube as an icon itself and have had a feature on Neverwhere from the very early days. http://www.goingunderground.net/tubecelebs.html#neverwhere

It's in need of updating but I will be prompted to do this now as I've just secured a book contract based on my site - http://www.mindthegapbook.com due for publication in Autumn 2004. I'm still writing it, but it would be great to get some comments from you Neil or maybe do a little potted interview for the book.

Please let me know what you think.

I've taken the liberty of linking to your journal from my own blog http://www.london-underground.blogspot.com
Thanks for taking the time to read this and it would be great to hear from you about the above.

All the very best,

"Annie Mole" (my pen name)


Congratulations on the book contract! I'll be in touch about the comments or interview, but I put the e-mail up here on the journal as I've been meaning to link to Going Underground for ages, and you plug the site better than I could. Lovely site filled with odd, London underground things. The weblog is an excellent place to begin -- lots to read. Learn about commuter pigeons, for a start.

...

Hi, Neil,

I realize that you've probably heard this question about a million times before, but I think I'll make it a million and one, thus ensuring its status as an FAQ.

Do you have any idea when a DVD version of Neverwhere will be available for purchase in the US? I used to be able to get my fix from the nice people at college who had taped copies off of PBS, but I had to graduate, so I have been without the original Neverwhere for about a year and a half now, and I miss it dearly. Additionally, my boyfriend is a film/TV buff who loved Good Omens. When I told him that you did a miniseries, he decided that he simply had to see it.

Please help.

Sincerely,
Susan Levitt, formerly of Beloit College


Later this year. I record the commentary for it this week, which should be interesting, as I've not looked at it in a very long time. Probably September/October, as so much is coming out then.

Hi

Can I ask you if you are still doing stuff with the guys at The Dream Project (http://www.thedreamproject.org)?

Initially I thought that was your site, or an initiative you started, as I followed a link from (gasp) an ad banner on Blogger, but at the site it says the project was started by a lady named Olga. So if it's not too much of a hassle, please let me know which is which.

Charlene


It's definitely Olga's site, not mine -- although, with my permission, she's animated a dream of mine which I had put up on this journal.
...

E-mails have started coming in from Gary and Kim at Fantagraphics letting me know that I need to make some phone calls to thank people for buying Fantagraphics merchandise... Which reminds me: some answers arrived to two of my questions...


Hello, Mr. Gaiman. My name's dirk Deppey, and among my other duties, I'm catalog editor for Fantagraphics Books. I'm not here to ask a question, but rather to answer a couple of yours, which you asked in the course of writing about our recent troubles:

1) Stocking the Fantagraphics shopping cart with text and pictures is my responsibility; it's the way it is because it's just one of my _many_ responsibilities, I'm afraid. My official task -- the one for which they pay me -- is to make the various Fantagraphics/EROS catalogs and mailers, which takes up most of my time. In addition, I also run The Comics Journal's website, write its weblog and curate the Audio Archives (more on that below), in addition to the aforementioned shopping-cart duties. What can I say? We're a small company, and therefore understaffed.

There's literally thousands of items in our catalog, and consequently I simply don't have time to scan every cover; the shopping cart is progressively updated after every catalog, and new text and images are posted as I generate them for print. I'm hopeful that it'll get there eventually, though of course there's still a ways to go. Anyway, that's why the cart looks the way it does; in my defense, I'll only say that when I got here three years ago, it looked like an endless, blank accountant's ledger -- a big column of names, prices, order buttons and nothing else.

2) The Comics Journal Interview CD is a sampling from the original tapes of four classic Journal interviews: Gary's conversations with Charles Schulz and Jack Kirby, a 1969 interview Gil Kane conducted with Pogo creator Walt Kelly at a National Cartoonists Society meeting, and a convention panel with Kane and R. Crumb. In the magazine's 27-year history, Gary and Kim have never intentionally thrown a tape away -- there were some seventeen boxes of tapes in the Fantagraphics basement when I stumbled across the collection just over a year ago. So far as I know, it's the single largest oral history of the American comics medium in existence. In my spare time, I'm trying to digitize it all to compact-disc format before it all melts to magnetic mush. It's slow going (for the same reasons as the Fanta.com shopping cart), but I've currently got about 170 hours digitized and counting.

As a side-project to this side-project, I've been running excerpts from the tapes on the Journal website in downloadable MP3 format. Go here to see for yourself:

http://www.tcj.com/listen/listen.html

I usually post about an hour's worth of excerpts per month, then take each selection down to make way for the next one. At the moment, it's Gary's 1998 interview with Frank Miller, with whom we're working to produce a coffee-table book of interviews and critical essays (interview excerpts are posted only with the permission of the interviewer and interviewee, so yeah, Gary's with it, and TCJ managing editor Milo George assures me that Frank is, too).

All of this is probably much more than you wanted to know, but... well, you did ask. Anyway, thank you very much for plugging our recent fundraising efforts in your weblog. It's much appreciated.

- Dirk Deppey,
Fantagraphics Books


Thanks Dirk. For some reason, I felt very reassured knowing they still had all the tapes of the interviews they've done. I really wish I'd kept all the tapes of all the interviews I did as a journalist. I was happy to find a number of tapes of Alan Moore interviews, which I gave to George Khoury for his book on Alan, but there were so many great interviews which were taped over after the interview was published (or, in the case of the Kenneth Williams interview, rejected by an editor who suddenly decided, after I'd done the interview, that Kenneth was just "too gay". Sigh.)

...

And one last note about the mysterious line break problem. (Yes, I know I failed to fix it the night before last, because I quoted the offending line in full while fixing the original version. No, this wasn't a clever form of sarcasm on my part, as several of you assumed, but the kind of braindead thing you do very late at night after a full day of meetings and bookfair when you try and post something. Apologies.)

Dear Mr Gaiman,

To answer this problem:

> Don't know about the FAQ's margins, but the Journal proper was
demarginated
> by the line about
>
"so-bad-it's-well-not-good-but-everyone-will-at-least-remember-this-show-as-
> opposed-to-most-other-Eurovision-entries"

Mozilla, Netscape and other Mozilla-based browsers don't break hyphenated
"phrases". Internet Explorer doesn't have this problem, and I suspect Opera
is fine too (I don't have it installed ATM), hence some people getting it
but not others. Solution: remove hyphens, or wait for the offending journal
entry to disappear in the archives.

Regarding the Balmung-Mablung connection, I believe it's merely coincidence.
Balmung predates Tolkien, and "Mablung" is Sindarin for "heavy hand", and as
such unlikely to be an intentional anagrammatic reference. If it is, then
it's a pretty convoluted one.

Best,
Lu�s



...

Let's see. Yesterday began early with breakfast with my agent Merrilee and my Harper Children's editor Elise, followed by a CBLDF Board meeting. Lots of fun plans for this year. [Incidentally, for those who did not know, there's a CBLDF online store at http://www.cbldf.com/ and there's lots of cool strange exclusive things there you can get in exchange for a donation.

Also, remember to get a membership, especially if you're planning to be at San Diego comicon this year. The CBLDF member events are legendary (the last one I was at was in 1999, and half way through the party I took anyone who was interested -- about 40 people at most -- into a room and read them all that was written at that point of Coraline, and the whole of The Wolves in the Walls).

Memberships range from rock bottom $25 annual memberships, up in stages to the $1000 "angel" level. Penn and Teller are both angels...]

Then to the Convention Centre and Book Expo. Saw my adult books editor Jennifer Brehl, with the awesomely wonderful Ray Bradbury, who was cheerfully signing his name for a long line of happy people. Did a one hour signing for many hundreds of people, and was only able to sign one thing per person, but pretty much everyone got something signed. Then spoke to Vertigo supremo Karen Berger and we caught up, and on to the DC Comics Booth to be interviewed for Canadian Book TV.

[At the DC booth, I noticed that according to the Diamond Comics Previews Book, SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS, which is on the cover, is a 96 page hardcover. Which was odd, as it's a 160 page hardcover. No-one seemed sure whether DC or Diamond was to blame for the cover info.

Then again, despite having a big plug for THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS, the Diamond Previews mentioned seemed oblivious to the fact it was a 64 page full colour Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean graphic novel, and just listed it as the next Neil Gaiman children's book, illustrated by Dave McKean.

(They have a nice link to 1602, as one of their gems of the month.)

If you know any comics retailers, please let them know that Wolves in the Walls is a graphic novel...]

From the Interview to room 403A where I did a slide show reading of Wolves in the Walls, showed some sneak preview art of Endless Nights, answered questions, and even, when asked, sang one verse of the Rat Song from Coraline.

And into the car, with editor and agent in tow, to the Harper Collins party on the 20th Century Fox lot. Saw lots of old friends, including Daniel Handler and his wife Lisa. (They are expecting a baby, due the day before my birthday, and proudly presented me with a hilarious pamphlet called "IS YOUR BABY DUMB?", which they had made as an antidote to the kinds of fliers they give you in doctors' offices. It includes Five Ways To Tell If Your Baby Is Dumb, and a Simple Test For Determining If Your Baby Is Dumb.) Also met a number of people I've always wanted to meet and chat with, just not in a loud-party-in-a-hot-room sort of context, including Neal Stephenson, Gregory Maguire, and the extremely tall Michael Crichton, and had the kind of small conversations you have in a hot room filled with hundreds of people when a jazz band is playing just loudly enough to make conversation more or less impossible.

Francoise Mouly gave me my own personal copy of the next Little Lit book, which made me really happy. I wrote a story for Gahan Wilson to draw in there. It's called "It Was a Dark And Silly Night." (Here's the cover.)

Then a hasty bite to eat, and on to the airport. Got a 12:45am flight home, landed in Minneapolis at a little after 6:10 am, and went home. All without incident, except the airport security people took all of my stuff apart, looking for a mysterious and dangerous thing which turned out to be the Audie Award. "It's crystal," said the security guy, when he found it. "The real stuff. That shows up black on the X-Rays. If it was glass it wouldn't show up."

And then I slept for a few hours, and woke up and went to Holly's Graduation Ceremony, which was more or less what you'd expect, only with a lot more quotations from Dr Seuss.

And then home, with hundreds of unanswered e-mails. I gave Maddy the copy of Tony DeTerlizzi's wonderfully creepy retelling of the Spider and the Fly, a gift from Tony and his wife Angela. And I wrote this.
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