Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The only post until I get to Washington, probably

Let's see....

I'm currently the sole inhabitant of a beautiful colonial farmhouse, the sort of place where one ought to go for long walks and bicycle rides, or sit drinking wine in the back garden with lots of women wearing diaphanous white things, all of us just slightly out of focus as in 1970s calendar photographs, or one could just descend on the place with a small family and go off as a mob to pick apples and be a tourist, and where I've done none of these things. Instead I've set up my computer on the kitchen table and am working very hard trying to finish the Mirrormask Movie Script Book. So far I've written the Introduction, and am banging my head against the various drafts of the movie, trying to figure out what to include of the lost bits, and what to let go. And when I get too bored or irritated with trying to make a program (Final Draft) do something it really wasn't ever meant to do, I go over and work on the third and, I hope, last draft of the BBC Radio 3"MISTER PUNCH" radio play.

I've also written all the text for a "Really Useful Book" which Dark Horse will be releasing, just like the one that adopts Helena in Mirrormask. (It's a little red book filled with helpful and appropriate advice.)

And getting onto the internet in this town is really hard. This is a good thing. (I assured the nice man I'm renting the house from today that a high-speed internet line would not have been an attraction for me.)

Dear Neil,You should add a search function to your journal. It's really big, you know. Doing something as nice as that would have its perks: your FAQ questions would probably be reduced from a lot of redundancy, and you'd be able to find stuff easier yourself, if you ever felt the onset of age trampling your doorstep. Plus, we wouldn't have to worry about asking a question if you've already answered it somewhere else.-Benjamin

There really is a search function. It's been there for several years. It's the magnifying glass with the word search over on the left of the screen, or it's What we really need is a redesign to make things like the Search function (and lots of the other strange things on the site) more easy to find. That's unlikely to happen within the next six months, though.

Dear Neil,

Since you've done such a great job in introducing the world to Susanna Clarke, I wondered if you would be kind enough to tell people within reach of the north-east of England that she will be appearing at the Durham Literature Festival next Sunday, 10th October at 2.00pm. (There are full details on the LitFest website at

The event is being presented as a session for wannabe writers, and I'd hate for people who like good fantasy writing to miss it because it isn't being promoted specifically to them - I've checked with the Festival organiser, and they don't have a problem with us telling everyone about it.

And - added attraction - if you buy a book at the Festival, you get a bookplate specially designed for us by Bryan Talbot, to stick in it!

Thanks - Jean

You're welcome.

Dear Neil,I am a college sophomore who is comtemplating writing comics for a living. Without being too personal or offensive, do you know how many comics/ how often, would one have to write comics for that to be their sole source of income? Do comic writers get paid on commission as it were? Is there some minimal paycheck a writer gets paid should their book be released? Thank you for your time.Michael Serpe

I'm not sure it works quite like that. I mean, I remember one comics writer, some years ago, explaining to me that, in order to make writing comics an economically valid proposition, she wrote each of her comic scripts in 24 hours. At the time it was taking me about 3-4 weeks a month to write each Sandman script, and she told me how very foolish this was, when I could have knocked them out and been making real money. But all the Sandman comics have stayed in print forever, in trade paperbacks that go into printing after printing, all over the world, and I get royalties on them, while her comics are somewhere in the back issue bins, and long forgotten.

So, in my case, the answer was "one".

Normally a comics writer is paid for a script, then paid a royalty (or, if it's Marvel, an "incentive") on top of that based on sales.

But if you want to make money, you're probably better off doing something else. There are lots of ways to make more money that are easier. Write comics because you'd rather be writing comics than doing anything else. That way, if you don't make much money, you'll at least have made some cool comics. (That was the same advice I gave about writing many years ago at a school careers evening.) (The link's to a PDF file of a zine put out by Noreascon. Obviously I failed to discourage Graham Sleight, as I successfully discouraged many young men and their parents that evening "No, there is No Job Security as a freelance writer. None at all. Go and talk to the Hotel Management people.".)

Good luck, either way.


I should also remind people that

1) The Washington DC Book Festival is this wekeend. I'll be signing at 10:00am, and giving a talk and a reading and answering questions at 1:00pm, in the Science Fiction and Fantasy tent. You don't need tickets or anything to come, and there are dozens of great authors who'll be talking, signing and so on through the day.

2) I'll be signing in Pittsburgh on Monday for New Dimension Comics at 6:00pm -- go to Where's Neil -- -- for details.

3) Fiddler's Green is approaching fast. Lots of cool people have decided to come along -- I was thrilled to hear that artist Lisa Snellings will be there, with Cool Stuff. (And she wants me to tell people that her latest rat is Edgar Allan Poe -- for details.) My current plans for it mostly involve sitting somewhere nice and accessible when I'm not actually on a panel or similar, and just answering people's questions, nodding aimiably, scribbling on things, and so on. So whether you're one of the 35,000 people whose questions to the FAQ line have not yet been answered, or one of the 3,000 or so who have, this is going to be an excellent opportunity to ask me whether the Endless were also Beginningless, who's going to be playing Death in the New Line movie, or whether you can try on my leather jacket. And it's all for the CBLDF.

The website is and you need to reserve a room now through the con to get the convention room rates and suchlike.

And I'm looking forward to making a cool announcementabout something Charles Vess and I are doing that will benefit RAINN there. (Which reminds me -- the 2005 RAINN Tori Calendar is now out -- see for details).

4) Nearly forgot to tell you that 1602 is now out in hardback from Marvel. As the New York Times explained yesterday:

Marvel 1602 By Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert 248 pages. Marvel. $24.99

The heroes of the Marvel Universe � icons like Captain America, Doctor Strange and Daredevil � are reimagined in 17th-century roles in this hardcover collection. The swashbuckling setting suits the heroes � the intelligence agent Nick Fury serves as the Queen of England's most trusted spy and the outcast X-Men are thought to be a demon-possessed "witchbreed." Character designs and the detailed script to the first chapter are also included.

(I really liked the idea of the NYT article -- four books that were all over the place in terms of comics as genre, although I would have liked it better if I'd been able to tell whether the G. Jones book at the end was a comic or prose. My guess is prose, as I don't remember him ever drawing anything.)


And I spoke to Dave McKean today, and it looks like there will be a Real Mirrormask Trailer up very soon indeed.