Wednesday, September 10, 2003

"And of course, Batgirl really was a librarian...."

Let's see...

A couple of Publishers Weekly reviews have arrived...

Sept 8th, 2003
Publishers Weekly
pwforecasts, p. 57 (starred review)

THE SANDMAN: Endless Nights
Vertigo/DC Comics, $24.95 (160p) ISBN 1-4012-0089-3

Now that he's a bestselling fantasy novelist, Gaiman returns to the comics series that made his reputation with this new volume of seven gorgeously illustrated stories. Gaiman specializes in inventing fantastic allegories for the quotidian, in a voice that casually shifts between uneasy realism and Borgesian grandeur. In Sandman cosmology, "The Endless" are seven immortal siblings who personify abstract concepts: Dream, Death, Destiny and so on. This work devotes a story to each of them, drawn in distinctly different styles by an all-star lineup of American, British and European cartoonists and fine artists. Gaiman is famous for writing to his artists' strengths, and he does so here. P. Craig Russell draws the surreal fantasia "Death and Venice" with the opulent brio of his opera adaptations. "What I've Tasted of Desire" is a darkly sexual fable, painted by Milo Manara in the style of his more X-rated work. A couple of the stories find Gaiman working in a more experimental mode than usual, notably "Fifteen Portraits of Despair," a set of anecdotes and prose poems accompanied by Barron Storey's tormented, abstract drawings and paintings. Longtime comics fans will notice plenty of inside jokes in "The Heart of a Star," but most of this book is a red carpet -- or perhaps a Persian rug -- rolled out for Gaiman's prose readers to see his visions turned into lush, dramatic images. (Oct.)

Here's another PW review that you may be interested in.


August 18, 2003
Publishers Weekly
pwforecasts, p. 62

EDITED BY: JEFF VANDERMEER AND MARK ROBERTS. Night Shade (, $24. (286p) ISBN 1-892389-53-3

The talented and prolific VanderMeer (Veniss Underground) and co-editor Roberts have here created perhaps the oddest theme anthology in the history of fantasy literature. The heavily illustrated volume does exactly what its title implies, collecting short, fictional medical descriptions of such diseases as Ballistic Organ Syndrome, Delusions of Universal Grandeur and Razomail Bone Rot. Each disease receives a carefully laid out history, list of symptoms and cure (althouugh many seem to be invariably fatal). The Thackery T. Lambshead of the title, a sort of medical Indiana Jones, supposedly published the first edition of the guide more than 80 years ago, and the book also includes a series of short "essays" outlining his many outrageous adventures. The volume's own rather outrageous list of contributors, nearly 70 strong, includes such esteemed physicians as Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, China Mieville, Michael Bishop, Kage Baker, Cory Doctrow and Brian Stableford. Though occasionally uneven, this is on the whole an amazing book. Not for the faint of heart, the easily shocked or those who see fantasy fiction primarily in terms of warring elves and interminable quests, VanderMeer's anthology plays delicious postmodernist games that are sure to delight the discerning (and slightly warped) reader. (Oct.)

Forecast: With Borders ordering an initial 3,000 copies and many of the contributors in place to do readings in major cities, this unusual small-press item promises to attract a fair share of mainstream readers, not least curious doctors.

Thanks, Sheila.


Okay, a question. How do you research semi-everyday things that are hard to find information about? For example, if i were looking for the procedure 911 (i think this is 999 for the british, but i'm not sure) operators go through when answering the phone how would i go about doing this?

My first impulse is to just call and ask, but i think that's a felony.


Your local police department will almost deifintely have a nice person whose job is community relations. They'll happily answer questions, show you around and answer questions. They may even introduce you to the 911 operator.

Mostly, people are only too happy to answer questions about things they know. They want you to get the details right, because they've seen the details got wrong too much.


Speaking as a librarian who is surrounded by librarians at work who are offended by this new librarian action figure, I can only say that perhaps it's time librarians across the board discovered the value of a good custom repaint on an action figure....
Hoping to make mine look rather delirious and get a Shakespeare one to go with so the two of them can have interesting conversations,

I wonder if they ever had this trouble when they did the Diskworld Librarian statues. ("We are not all orang-utans.") It certainly makes me wish that DC would do a Lucien the Librarian Action figure for librarians everywhere.

Of course, if the whole point of the offended librarians is that librarians can, and, wisely, do, look like anyone, then any action figure would do. ("Isn't that a Gandalf toy?" "Nope it's a librarian. One with a hat and a beard." "And he's next to a... Bettie Page toy?" "Nope. Just a cute, half-naked librarian with a big smile and a Bettie Page haircut.")


and a couple of final helpful ones:

I don't think I've seen you mention this, but the new issue of Pages Magazine has an interview with Gaiman in it (and also an interview with Neal Stephenson about Quicksilver). You can find the interview online at:

and, for those of you who want to write comics...

Dear Neil,

Hi, hope you're happy, healthy and enjoying things!

Um, bit of a belated reply to the question submitted by S.Pham, but here's a great webpage for aspiring comics writers:
It's packed full of links to examples of comics scripts, reference material, editors and publishers to think about contacting, how to submit it etc. etc. Pretty comprehensive.

Anyhow, I just thought people might find it as helpful as I did!

Thanks for all the writing,

Yours, Matt