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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Happy Leap Day

Holly flew home for yesterday, so we could go and see Maddy in a local production of "The King and I" together (Maddy played one of the Royal Children).

I'd never seen "The King and I" before. The seats of the theatre we were in are incredibly small and would only be comfortable if you belonged to some peculiar alien race with an unusual number of tiny, asymmetrical buttocks. The acting was of... variable quality. After a while I began to rewrite "The King and I" in my head. In my version, Anna is murdered by pirates early on. The King takes over the education of the royal kids, training them up as an elite pirate revenge squad, and also teaching them carpentry. During the intermission the King and the royal children swarm over the theatre, doing all the high level carpentry stuff needed to make the seats comfortable. In the second half they could fight the pirates, or we could just go home early.

All told, though, it wasn't really that bad. I'd never seen "The King and I" before, in any form, but found it astonishingly familiar, probably because it's such an intensely Mary Sue sort of plot, with strange echoes of any number of 60s and 70s SF novels.

I've spent a few days trying to sort out the fact that any number of e-mails that I sent over the last week or so didn't reach their destination. Re-sending lots of e-mails; on the one hand you don't want to resend everything you've sent everyone for weeks, but on the other there's no way of knowing what didn't arrive short of sending e-mails out again with a note saying "did you get this?" Sigh.

Dropped Holly off at the airport this morning, and stopped in at DreamHaven, where I signed a lot of stuff waiting to be scribbled on, along with a waiting box of the new printing of Angels and Visitations. And picked up some interesting looking books -- including a Dunsany Jorkens reissue -- and magazines -- including Comic Art, which I'd somehow missed entirely.

(I just noticed that the Dunsany family has an excellent website, devoted to Lord Dunsany, the castle and estate, and the family.)

I just picked up copies of the Last Temptation and Black Orchid for the first time. I enjoyed them both, but looking at Orchid, and then thinking back on projects like Punch, and Signal to Noise, I wondered why Dave McKean never ended up as one of the illustrators on one of the Sandman story arcs. Was he simply too busy with his own stuff, or did the two of you feel that this type of long-term commitment may not work out on such a schedule?

Or did it just never come up? I realize that Dave was wonderful enough to do the full run of covers, and so his presence was always felt... but I just wondered at his absense as an artist between the pages.

Care to comment?
--Derek


I always felt like I was taking up so much of Dave's time every month getting him to do the covers, and design each of the books, not to mention do SIGNAL TO NOISE and MR PUNCH during that time, not to mention his drawing the DEATH TALKS ABOUT LIFE insert and HELLBLAZER 27, that I never dared to ask him to draw one of the regular Sandman comics.

Having said that, we always planned to do a Sandman graphic novel together; we figured out the format, and the colour scheme and the look, and the three stories and everything. We only wanted to do it if we had time to do it properly, and we never had the time. Maybe one day we'll still do it. You never know.

I'm writing an essay on Prometheus in modern fiction, which is the sort of thing that never appears any index of classical literature or art. I've already encountered Richard Garnett's story ("Twilight of the Gods"), as well as Harlan Ellison's ("On the Slab" and "The Place with No Name"). Have you come across any other novels or stories in which Prometheus appears?

Dan


Let's see -- well, Diana Wynne Jones's Homeward Bounders springs to mind. My favourite Prometheus fiction is Zelazny's very short story "Love is an Imaginary Number".


** NOTE TIME SENSITIVE INFORMATION **

In re Thea Gilmore's appearance in Austin, Texas: contact and ticket info for The Cactus Cafe (which, incidentally, may be the best *listening* club in the whole town) is available at http://www.utexas.edu/student/txunion/ae/cactus/ . It will probably be bloody difficult to get in as Neddie Public, though, because she's appearing in conjunction with the South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW, for short), and SXSW wristband holders get preference for all SXSW events.

Sam Waring
living in Austintatious, Tejas


Thanks Sam.

Which reminds me, I received my copy of Thea's new only-for-fans-and-the-internet "Loftmusic" yesterday. Some excellent covers, my favourite of which was probably a really gentle version of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen In Love?"

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to thank you for featuring the Legends II Scavenger Hunt on your site last week. I was just informed that I was a runner-up and will be recieving a copy of the book. While it isn't one of the signed copies, I am thrilled! You see, I've never won anything before and yesterday was my birthday, so it feels like an extra special birthday surprise a day late. Thank you again!

Sincerely,
Tina Randleman


You're very welcome. And a belated happy birthday.

Dear Neil,
I found the court's opinion on the McFarlane appeal very interesting. Who knew that a legal opinion was allowed to go off on tangents (like explaining the origin of Spawn?) I had a conception of them as being nothing but arcane references to precedent, probably in Latin.
But remember when you said that Harlan Ellison was the only one smart enough to claim his copyright in the McSweeney's treasury? I found it a relief to discover that of course it was unnecessary, and you guys were not dumb not to put a notice in, because the copyright notice referred to the compilation, and did not claim copyright of the stories therein. Duh, Harlan!
Anyway congratulations and good luck with putting out Miracleman and everything.
Love,
John


Nope, Harlan was the smart one. No-one was saying that McSweeneys was trying to steal the copyright of any of the authors. But having the copyright notice (and registration) puts Harlan in a much more straightforward position should anyone else try to steal his story.

Or to put it more accurately (from the library of congress copyright basics circular):

Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant's interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.

and from their FAQs...

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section ?Copyright Registration? and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.


Dear Mr. Gaiman,

With all the things you write in your blog, do you ever think that anything you write can be used against you in the future?

Raymond F.


You know, that's not something I ever give much thought to. There are things I don't say here because it's not my place, or because I don't it out before I'm ready (for example, you'll not learn which producer-director combination is going to get American Gods until they're ready to make the announcement, or which actor has just attached himself to the Death:The High Cost of Living film, which is as it should be) and there are things that I say here from time to time that are just plain wrong -- and people don't seem shy about writing to let me know, and sometimes I even remember to put up a correction and apologise....

Which reminds me: Lots of e-mails over the last few weeks about my post on closed captioning, many of them under the impression that, seeing that the government had to cut funds for closed captioning, well, something had to go and it might as well be Scooby Doo, and anyway, the private sector will soon (or ought to) pick up the slack, so what's the problem?

If you're interested (or you simply felt I'd got the wrong end of the stick) go and check out http://www.nad.org/openhouse/action/eow/vol3no1.html points 1-4.

Friday, February 27, 2004

oddments from the mailbag, and how YOU can WIN a FREE POSTCARD!!!

Right. The mail is stacking up...

Dear Neil,
I'm a student and am presenting a paper on American Gods at a conference at the end of March (The International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts) anyway, just wanted to let you know and more importantly ask for your blessing/spiritual guidence. Anyway, thanks for enriching the world with your writing.
Regards,
Jude Wright



I'm not sure I'm much in the spiritual guidance department, but you certainly have my best wishes -- I love the ICFA conferences -- I wish I could be there this year (I'll be in London, that week, working on the initial theatrical discussions of a musical WOLVES IN THE WALLS with several people, one of whom is the mysterious Julian Crouch, so will not be in Fort Lauderdale). Great places for writers, academics and readers to interact. http://www.iafa.org/ for anyone who might be thinking of going.


Dear Neil,

Please come to Australia.

Thanks
Palila

p.s. I intend to send this request periodically until you announce plans to come to Australia. Just letting you know.


Thanks for the info. One day... Australia and the East.

Hiya,

I have the audiobook of yourself reading Coraline on CD and would like to the version with Dawn French narrating. Problem is, I can't seem to find a CD edition anywhere (tried searching on and off this site) and am beginning to suspect that there isn't such a thing. If there isn't, do you know if there are any plans to release it on CD?

Thanks!


No plans that I know of, I'm afraid: you could write to Bloomsbury (it might have more effect than the author suggesting it). The Dawn French version is really brilliant, but only available on cassette.

Hello,

In the late 80's I purchased a Harlan Ellison Story, 'Broken Glass' from Avenue Victor Hugo in Boston. The story was printed as a broadside - a single sheet of paper about 2ft x 3ft - with high-quality paper and elegant typography. Essentially, it was a written piece produced as a visual art piece, meant to be framed and hung on the wall (which is what I did with the Ellison piece, although those who spent the time to read the story through often gave me an odd glance or two thereafter). There's something about blocks of text, with odd patterns and traceries running through it, that is visually arresting. (I wonder if one could write a story in which the visual appearance of the word/sentence/paragraph structure is an integral part of the story's message?)

Any chance that some of your short stories could receive the same treatment? There are some in 'Angels and Visitations' I'd love to hang on the wall for all to read. You could run a poll, and print up the winner(s)....

Regards, David


Okay. This one's weird, for I was thinking about the Harlan Ellison "Broken Glass" story-print-signed-poster a couple of days ago (my copy is also framed, and hangs on a wall in the house) and I started wondering whether I had any stories that were the right length to be posters... "Other People" perhaps...

So, yes, maybe.

Hello Neil.

In regards to the proceeds of "1602" going towards your legal costs of the (apparent non-issue... uh, no pun intended) of "Miracle Man"... is it exclusively from the sales of 1602 as a serial or inconjuncture with the hardcover/trade paperback collections of it?

I had purchased the first issue (and quite enjoyed it), but I am currently waiting for it to be released in a collection. If the sales trade paperbacks and hardcover editons of "1602" is included in the umbrella of the direction of the proceeds... how would that work with the later editions, second prints... etc? Just curious...

Thank you for all of the wonderful work... and thank you for just being you.

Be well. Be kind.

Take care,

George


Well, Marvels and Miracles gets all the profits from 1602 in comic form. Once it comes out in collected form, Marvel will start making money on it and M&M will just start getting a normal royalty.

Don't feel bad about getting the hardback or waiting for the trade -- I figure these things work out in the long term, and I certainly don't begrudge any money to Marvel (no more than they begrudged any to me). 1602 has sold astonishingly well over the last 7 months (the last one will come out late in March) -- in sheer dollar value, it's probably the best-selling miniseries of the time it's been out, and it leaves Marvels and Miracles with a very healthy fighting fund indeed. And I got to try to figure out how to write superheroes, which was nothing if not educational, and often enormous fun.

Neil,

I'm not exactly sure what you were giving us the old link for yesterday - I thought it was going to take me to an old journal of yours that had something to do with being a "horror host," and well, I never found that, but I did find all sorts of neato stuff I hadn't read (I don't manage to read everything you write here) that was rather interesting.

I found myself looking at Tori's chef's page, or rather, I found myself trying to look at it. Your link takes one to www.duncsdiner.com. That doesn't get there now. I had to put in the "an" to make it duncansdiner. While I was there, I noticed that all the links are broken - because they go to duncs without the an. You can put the an in if you want, but it doesn't work for generating the little script (probably) to register you for the free prize. Someone really ought to tell him, and I didn't find a way to get the info across on the site (although I did find a very nice cold asparagus soup recipe that I will use when it finally gets warm), so I am telling you and maybe next time you see him or Tori you can mention it.

--Kelley



I sent him a message, and (possibly coincidentally) the http://www.duncsdiner.com/ link seems to be working very well. I think it's an excellent site, although I wish he had more outside the "sign up to see more" fence, even though you get a free five days. But what he's doing, in terms of ways of teaching cooking, is really interesting. (I have eaten Duncan's food. It is incredibly good.) Several excellent Duncan recipes over at http://www.foodporn.com/celebrities/duncan/

...

The amazingly talented and brilliant Thea Gilmore's US gigs in March are now all confirmed. From her website they are:

2004 gigs..
Tuesday, March 16 2004 The Mucky Duck
Houston TX USA
email: theduck@mcgonigels.com 713 528 5999

Thursday, March 18 2004 South By South West Festival Austin TX, The Cactus Club 10:00pm Contact No. TBC

Saturday, March 20 2004 Lobero Theatre
Santa Barbara CA ,
33 East Canyon Perdido 805-962-7941

Sunday March 21st 2004 Gunther Murphys, Chicago 773 472 5139

Monday March 22nd 2004 One Trick Pony, Grand Rapids, MI 616 459 4788

Thursday March 25th 2004 Club Cafe, Pittsburgh 412 683 5363

Friday, March 26th 2004 Skippers ? Tampa FL USA 813 238 8001

Saturday March 27th 2004 Eddies Attic, Decatur, Nr Atlanta 404 377 4976

Wednesday March 31st 2004 Joe's Pub, New York 212 625 3750

I am, of course, faintly perplexed that she will finally be in the US while I will be in the UK, and will not be able to see her. (And I've been looking forward to seeing her play live for a long, long time.)

I've spoken to Thea and suggested that if any of you go to any of the US gigs and mention that you've learned about the gig from reading about it here on this journal, you'll get cool a free something-or-other from the merchandising table. Probably a postcard of Thea looking grumpy. Possibly even two postcards. Or something else. Details to be announced in about a month, because you'll all probably have forgotten about it by then. Go and see her; she's brilliant.

...

A really interesting interview with DC Comics' Paul Levitz -- part one here and part two here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Last Legal Post for a long time.

Dear Neil,
Okay, I get it that McFarlane lost the court case and the appeal regarding the ownership of Angela, Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn. So THAT court case settled the issue regarding THOSE characters. But that still doesn't clear up the rights to Miracleman unless McFarlane still agrees to swap his interests in Miracleman/Marvelman for the characters after all.
Does it?
Although this was part of the agreement in 1997, swapping the characters seems to be something I doubt McFarlane will now do.
Will he?
Yes, I understand that you are raising funds for Marvels and Miracles with 1602, but will another court case be required to clear up the rights for Miracleman now?
Regards,
Luke Hodgson


All good questions.

I used to think that McFarlane actually had some rights in Miracleman. He told me he had, after all -- he'd bought what was left of Eclipse from a bankruptcy court -- and that he very much wanted to swap those rights for my rights in Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn. He never sent me any of the papers, though, after I agreed to the 97 character swap, although he sent me the film for several issues of Miracleman. Then, a month after sending me the film, and having told me that he had transferred his rights in Miracleman to me, he sneakily filed an application for the trademark on Miracleman. Then a year or so later, he abandoned that trademark application. (This was something I didn't know, but that came out in the run-up to the court case.)

During the legal case, the one thing that no-one was confused about was that I, and Mark Buckingham, and Alan Moore, owned the copyright to our work in Miracleman. That was straightforward and obvious. We owned our copyright on our material; the bankruptcy of Eclipse didn't affect our rights.

Actually that's not quite true. Todd said in some interview online before that he owned all rights to Miracleman and if anyone said different, he'd see them in court. Well, he saw me in court...

(Here's a google cache of the interview with Todd from that time.)

As part of the court case, we finally got to see the Miracleman paperwork. It turned out the entire paperwork that Todd hadn't sent me consisted of an expired Eclipse Trademark registration for the MM logo. From another source I also got to see the original contract, under which Eclipse had obtained their license to a part share in the Miracleman character, and it was explicit in saying that in case of Eclipse folding, or even substantially changing directors, that Eclipse's share in the rights to Miracleman would revert.

So one thing that the court case did establish was that Todd obviously didn't, as he had been claiming, own all of Miracleman. As far as I can tell, or any of the lawyers working with us on the case could tell, Todd probably doesn't actually own any share of Miracleman. He certainly has no copyright in any of the existing work.

Currently (as of late 2001) Todd has another trademark application in on Miracleman, on the grounds that it was an abandoned trademark, which we've opposed.

There may well need to be a final court case to tie up some of the last loose ends on Miracleman, which may wind up going to some very fun places indeed. At least with 1602, there's the money there to fight it. And there are a lot of places that want to republish the work that's been done on Miracleman, and the new work that Mark and I hope to do.

As regards the Angela, Cogliostro, and Medieval Spawn characters, Todd and I are simply co-copyright holders, just as we've been since I created the characters with him in 1993. He needs to financially account for everything he's done with them so far and in the future, just as I'll have to account to him when I license out, say, an Angela trade paperback, or license out the rights to do Medieval Spawn comics and merchandise (several of you have written to me suggesting uses and licensing organisations, for which I thank you all).

My own hopes for all this are that we've helped clarify copyright law in favour of creators (Scrivener's Error calls it a "victory for authors' rights") and helped to protect authors and artists and creators from unscrupulous publishers up the line (something that the Todd McFarlane of the early 90s, who proclaimed that Image was all about creators' rights and respect might have approved of); that we can move on and bring the existing Miracleman back legitimately into print, and that I can finish Miracleman: The Silver Age and write the concluding book, The Dark Age; and that the CBLDF (and possibly some other comics-based charities) can make some money out of all this foolishness.

...

I'm guessing that I'm one of about 873 people to tell you this, but - on the off chance that the other 872 are having a bad day:

The Lone Ranger was the uncle of Dan Reid - Britt "The Green Hornet" Reid's father - which makes him Hornet's great uncle.

Cheers,
Mark James


Mea culpa. A quick google has shown that the family tree and chronology for the Reids can be seen at http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Reid.htm

And in a small piece of goofy news, longtime readers of this blog may remember that last year I was invited to be a horror host. It never happened, because of scheduling. It looks like it will happen this year. Coffin and all. More details as they turn up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

In which an endless legal case is put to rest...

You know, if I were Todd McFarlane, I would simply have apologised a long time ago. Instead, Todd threw a lot of money at lawyers, and lost the legal case in every way he could lose it, and then threw a lot more money at lawyers to appeal and just lost it again, for good.

You can read the Seventh Circuit Appeal Court's decision in Gaiman vs. McFarlane at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/op3.fwx?submit1=showop&caseno=03-1331.PDF. It's a well-written and faintly amused judgement, which even includes the Lone Ranger's secret identity, for those who want to know (although it puzzlingly omits to mention that the Lone Ranger was the Green Hornet's uncle).

From having listened to Judge Posner eviscerate the hapless Mike Kahn (Todd's Lawyer)(here's the MP3 of the oral arguments) I can't say it was any kind of a surprise, but it was a huge relief, and the end, or pretty nearly, of a long chapter of dealing with an incredibly shifty and dishonest publisher, of the kind I was warned about when I got into comics, but somehow never really expected to encounter in real life.

It's also, I think, an important judgement for protecting creators from rapacious or crooked publishers, in that it clarifies what a copyright notice is there for, and what a copyright form is there for. A publisher can't (as Todd did) file a form with the copyright office three years after something has been published, claiming to have written something that was written by someone else (er, me in this case) and thus start the statute of limitations running for copyright purposes -- if the real author doesn't find out about this within three years, he or she has lost his copyright. As the judgment points out, "Authors don't consult the records of the Copyright Office to see whether someone has asserted copyright in their works". Nor can a publisher sneakily set the statute of limitations running by printing a different copyright notice on a later edition of a work, again, as Todd did.

Anyway... it's still full steam ahead now for the Miracleman plans, and now I need to figure out what I want to do with Angela, Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn.

And yes, any money successfully extracted from McFarlane on this nonsense and left over from legal bills goes straight to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (something I decided and announced from the first).

(Many, many thanks go to Jeff Simmonds and Alan Arntsen, at Foley and Lardner, and to superlawyer Ken Levin, for all their hard work.)

...

Dear Neil,

Just wanted to let you know how useful your work is. At uni yesterday, during a lecture on medical imaging of the gastrointestinal system, on a list of stomach pathologies was "bezoar". The lecturer said he'd be very surprised if anyone knew what it was and what caused it, and of course, having read "Calliope", I knew. I was told I must have been doing my further reading, and it could be argued that I have been, just not the further reading specified by the department.

Thanks!

Heather.


Happy to have helped. It's one of the many things that literature is good for...

you got me hooked on this poorly translated online newspaper and for good reason. read this and learn how to motorize your dead animals:

http://pub.tv2.no/dyn-nettavisen/arkiv/?archiveSection=1706&archiveItem=275184

how is fred the very unlucky black cat?

Regards,

Rick


Good lord.

Fred's well, right now. Much too well to be living in the attic, but he's still up there due to his irritating habit of attacking all other local cats with gusto. And teeth and claws. (Sigh. Twitcat.) He's also started doing tricks, but mostly only if there's no-one else watching, in an attempt to make me look really gullible. ("Do you want to see him do a trick. Okay, Fred. Fred? look, he did it just fine when there was only me here... FRED! DO THE TRICK! Er. Sorry...")

Re: Those crazy and noble folks who want to put together a Sandman Convention, if one wanted to volenteer their time or whatnot, who should they contact?
Thanks!
Shalene Shimer


I think they'll be announcing all that information very soon. And I'll put it up here, and link to their website, the moment I get it.

In the meantime, you could do worse than keep half on eye out at http://www.snafu.org/michelle/. (Which is not just a cheap excuse to congratulate Michelle and Kurt on their upcoming nuptials.)

Hello there,

I'm just writing to you due to a few days ago i bought the spanish edition of your neverwhere book. I just have started to read it and i think it is pretty good. I have also seen through this web that there is a release of the neverwhere serie's and book on dvd. I would like to know if that new edition that has been release of the neverwhere dvd it includes Spanish language or captions and if it is possible buy it for the europe Zone (2) to play it on a Spanish DVD zone area.
I would be pleased and thankful if you could answer me this information.

Thanks alot and thanks for your attention.

Best wishes,
Alex!


It will play Region 2, but is not in Spanish, I'm afraid.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
What do you do when you don't know What Happens Next? Besides Make Something Up, I mean. Do you talk it through with someone? Do something else until it comes to you? Email authors whom you admire? Think really, really hard? Please send help.
Cheers!
Caitlyn


Mostly, I don't try to force it. Sometimes I'll sleep on it, just going over the scene in my head, or the problem in my head, and it'll often be there in the morning.

If it's not urgent (ie, if no-one's waiting for it) I'll sometimes just forget about it. Put it out of my head, and let the boys in the basement (in Stephen King's memorable phrase) do the work. It's amazing how many times I've gone back to something insoluble that I'd abandoned because I didn't know what happened next to find that in the time between it had sorted itself out in my head, and reading it as if for the first time, the way to do it was obvious.

(Several years ago I started a story called SUNBIRD, and stopped when it wasn't working. I ran across it yesterday, read it, thought it was funny, and wrote a very happy bunch of additional pages, now knowing more or less the shape of the rest of the story. It's an R. A. Lafferty story, only not as good as any of Ray Lafferty's actual stories. But inordinately fun to write.

It contains bits like this:

And there was Zebediah T. Crawcrustle, who was the only one of the Epicureans who was flat-out broke: he shambled in unshaven from the street when they had their meetings with half a bottle of rotgut in a brown paper bag, hatless and coatless, and, too often, partly shirtless, but he ate with more of an appetite than any of them.

Augustus TwoFeathers McCoy was talking--

"We have eaten everything that can be eaten," said Augustus TwoFeathers McCoy, and there was regret and glancing sorrow in his voice. "We have eaten vulture, mole, and fruitbat."
)

Sometimes you can solve plot problems by going at it head to head, but mostly in my experience you can't. Take a walk. Have a shower. Cook a meal. Let it stew (the plot, not the meal), quietly, in the background.

Forgive me if this has been covered before, but at the end of Amercian Gods you attribute the quote "Call no man happy until he is dead" to Herodotus, actually it was the Greek Sage, Solon who said this. Not sure if this was meant to be that way.

Actually, it's right at the beginning of American Gods. And Solon was certainly the one who said this, to Croesus. As far as I know, the only record we have for this conversation is the Histories by Herodotus. (You can read it on the web.) Shadow's talking about the book he read it in, not who said it in that book.

Dear Mr. Gaiman

I saw a newsitem in an Icelandic newspaper that you'd be giving a talk in Reykjavik in April, is this true?

*fingers crossed*

-Kiri


I don't think I'm coming in for April, no (or at least, I've not heard about any dates), but I spoke to the Icelandic Publisher of Coraline at Frankfurt, and I hope very much to be nipping in to Reykjavik some time this summer, yes.

.........

For many years, whenever people have asked me who my favourite fantasy writers are, after I've mentioned Susanna Clarke, they look blank. "One day," I'd tell them, "She'll finish her novel...."

And look, she did, she did! http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1153541,00.html

There are some amazing short stories by Susanna out there, and most of them have made it into the various Years Best Fantasy anthologies. And one of them is in the Sandman:Book of Dreams collection.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Zooming through the Rain and Fog, there goes Martin Semmelrogge...

First of all, thank you. You have inspired me to start submitting my work. I write and draw all the time. I may as well start showing it around.

Second, isn't it a wonderful world when Mr. Will Eisner's new work can be treated as an important artistic event rather than "Pow! Biff! Look at the way comics are growing up"? I'm referring to the New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/23/books/23EISN.html?th

Finally, I have not had a chance to make my Endless Dinner yet. I promise that when I do, I'll send you the pics.

Owen


I'm looking forward to it.

Hurrah for Will. I've used the New York Times Bloglink generator at http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink to generate a link to the Will Eisner article that should last for a while, instead of expiring in two weeks as they always used to.


Dear Neil,

Just in case there's been any frequently asked questions about this, Nottingham Uni. Gilbert and Sullivan society is putting on The Gondoliers this week at the DH Lawrence theatre Nottingham, Wed-Sat. So if anyone asks now, you can tell them. Thanks.

Matt.


And I was just about to explain that, no, there hadn't been any questions, when, much to my astonishment I read


Dear Neil,

Hey Neil, I don't suppose you know when Nottingham Uni. Gilbert and Sullivan society are putting on The Gondoliers do you?

Someone not called Matt


--isn't that a fortunate coincidence? Odds of millions to one, there...

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
since you've been accompanied by Martin Semmelrogge during your recent visit in Germany you might be interested that Mr Semmelrogge was sentenced to 10 month in prison today for repeatedly driving drunk and without a driver license.
It was his 28th appearance in front of a court and this time the judge had no chance but to imprison him.


Best regards,
Wolfgang Walk


That sounds like Martin. He kept offering to drive me across Germany, faster than the plane or train, and never seemed to consider his lack of a driving license any kind of obstacle to driving very very fast. (If anyone missed the Martin Semmelrogge days, or the Martin Semmelrogge poems, they're at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003_10_12_archive.asp#106617904331890071).


I'd like to use one of your stories to read to my high school english class which will be starting a unit on heroes and misfits. Is that something i need to write elsewhere and get formal permission for?

thank you!
Steve Henderson



Not at all. Have fun with it.

Dear Neil,

Would it be permissable for me to do a dramatic adaptation of one of your stories for the stage for a summer production for charity? If so, how much would I owe you in royalties...etc etc? I'm a theatre student and am planning on directing a play for a charity event this summer. Is this at all possible? Thank you.

-Adam-


You put in the request to my literary agent, Merrilee Heifetz, at Writers House, giving as much information as possible.
The address is in the FAQs, and the link to the FAQs is http://www.neilgaiman.com/faq/faq.asp.

It's not always as straightforward as you would think. For example, even for the noblest of causes, I can only grant rights that I have. If the theatrical rights to a story are already tied up (with, for example, the film rights) then there's nothing that I can do.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

OWL MOON II

Sorry about the vanishment. It was the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors retreat, a several-days-long affair, the first in many years. It was fascinating, and hard work.

Charles Brownstein, the Executive Director of the CBLDF is interviewed at http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/bakersdozen/back20031231.shtml and they've also posted a three year old interview with me about the CBLDF and the Guardian Angel Tours, why I did them and why I stopped.

I may well roll up my sleeves in 2005 and do a handful of Guardian Angel readings in American Theatres. Not that I have any more time than I did three years ago, but no-one ever really moved into the void that I left. (NB: if you're reading this, and think you could do something that could make money for th CBLDF, you are strongly encouraged to do so.)

In the meantime, a group of dangerously crazed noble and brave volunteers have put into motion plans for a limited membership Sandman convention, to be called FIDDLER'S GREEN, to happen in Minneapolis, probably toward the end of November 2004, with all profits to the CBLDF.

As soon as there's a website, a list of guests, and a place people can sign up, I'll announce it all here. Promise.

Incidentally, one of the things the CBLDF will be sponsoring this year is a Banned Comics Week, to go along with the ALA's Banned Books Week. I suspect it will be quite eye-opening for people to find out what kind of comics have been challenged and banned, and what kind of comics the CBLDF has defended over the years.


At what addess does my grandson post a leter to you? He must writeyou as a school project concerning Coraline.


Mail can be sent to me care of DreamHaven Books, and I'll pick it up when I stop by there to sign stuff. Sometimes that can take quite a while. I'm also really really behind on replying to mail. I'm thinking of having a standard sort of postcard printed for the letters that are coming in from kids about Coraline -- I hate to think of them being disappointed by not getting replies, but there are so many of them coming in.

(For the record, while I love getting letters from kids, I think the practice of obliging students to write to authors as part of school projects counts either as cruelty to children or cruelty to authors.)

Neil,

I'm not sure if you've run across this yet, but I thought you might like it:

http://www.animalsontheunderground.com/ -- This entertaining site has treated the London Underground like a star map, and has found constellations. The bird is quite excellent.

Sincerely,

August C. Bourr?
http://www.vestige.org


That's very cool.

Hi Neil,

Don't know if you've heard this, but apparently Disney bought the Muppets:

http://www.jimhillmedia.com/legacy/index.htm?../articles/02182004.2.htm~contentFrame
It's a strange deal, in that Disney didn't buy the whole Jim Henson Company, but just the Classic Muppets, the Muppet Babies, and the characters from Bear in the Big Blue House. This does mean that Kermit and friends are officially Disney now, and seeing as those are the characters most associated with the Hensons, I'm pretty down about the whole thing.

Knowing your connection with the Jim Henson Company (re: Mirrormask), what's your take on the situation?


Nicole Lee
neekole.com


Well, I do remember that at the time of Jim Henson's death he was famously preparing to sell the Jim Henson company to Disney. (And the Disney-MGM Muppet rides would have been amazing: http://www.jimhillmedia.com/articles/02192004.1.htm)

Selfishly, if it means that the Complete 1970s Muppet Shows finally comes out on DVD, I'll be happy.

It probably won't affect Mirrormask one way or another -- other than ensuring that Jim Henson Films can afford to stay in business. Beyond that, I wish I felt better about Disney these days. They rather seem to have lost the plot.

I have just qualified as a teacher and am desperate to teach "The Price" to one of my classes. Are there any resources available (audio recordings etc.) to add weight to my argument to my head of dept. that we buy a job lot of "Smoke and Mirrors"? Or - the real question - can I please have permission to photocopy my edition?
Maureen Park.


Well, while there doesn't seem to be an audio version of "The Price", there's a reading of it on the Live at the Aladdin video (which we really ought to expand and do as a DVD), which is for sale at the CBLDF commercial site -- http://cbldf.safeshopper.com/13/cat13.htm?659. Let me know if it convinces your department head.

Which reminds me:

Dear Neil,

"Neverwhere" is on DVD? I've been looking for it for months, and I've never been close to finding it (most retail clerks look at me as though I've suddenly started speaking Swahili when I ask about it.) If you could tell me where it can be bought, I'd be grateful to you and consider you my idol for one month and all that stuff.

Thank you for your time.

-Micaela McIntosh


It's out from A&E on DVD. You can get it fairly cheaply if you shop around (for example http://www.deepdiscountdvd.com/dvd.cfm?itemID=ANE070853), or rent it, of course. It's Region Zero, although it's listed as Region 1, which means you should be able to play it on any DVD player.

...

It's interesting -- and irritating -- to notice how much damage the British Government has manage to do to the British Film Industry by removing the tax breaks, with no warning. The immediate effects are pretty bad:

The highest profile casualty so far is the film Tulip Fever, an adaptation of Deborah Moggach's book starring Jude Law and Keira Knightley. On Friday a set recreating seventeenth-century Amsterdam, which had taken months to build at Pinewood Studios, had to be torn down and 80 staff laid off after the film lost 30 per cent of its funding.

and

There are believed to be 40 British films being planned or in production which will be hit by the clampdown on tax partnerships. The loopholes were closed because the Inland Revenue believed they were being used as avoidance schemes by wealthy individuals advised by the growing army of accountants who help celebrities minimise their tax bills.

(I'm not convinced the second half of that last sentence means anything, by the way. The bit about the growing army of accountants and the celebrities.)

The knock-on effects of the decision may be even worse. Here's the story: http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,12589,1153592,00.html
...

Last night I went out owling, with a number of people, led by Sharon Stiteler, official bird lady of Neilgaiman.com, just like in Jane Yolen's lovely children's book OWL MOON.

This is what happens when you go owling. You tromp through the deep snow in the darkness, until you're on the edge of the woods. Then you play a CD of owls hooting and wait for a few moments, silently marvelling at the beautiful starry night and the almost magical stillness, at which point drunk people on snowmobiles roar past incredibly noisily.

You wait in silence, holding your breath, until the sound of snowmobiles and the hoarse singing and yells of the snowmobilers has finally died away, and then, in the pregnant, perfect stillness, you play the CD of owls hooting again, and, after a few moments, as if by magic, from nowhere you hear the sound of another bunch of drunk people on snowmobiles coming toward you.

I don't think anyone's done a proper scientific study on the way that recorded owl-calls can summon snowmobilers, but I think it's pretty much magical.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

It's Only Time....

For some reason the LiveJournal feed is down. Let's hope it's a short glitch and not the kind of thing that'll suddenly wind up in a couple of days spamming 4,000 LiveJournal "friends pages" with several weeks of posts...

"the next batch of Shadow in London stories..."

maybe I'm just out of the loop, but I didn't know about the first batch of Shadow in London stories...where can I get those?

~jady


Sorry. Late-night authorial imprecision. I meant that "The Monarch of the Glen", which I finished, and is a story about Shadow in Scotland, rather implies at least one Shadow in London story after it, and sooner or later I'll write it/them. Not that I already had. Sorry.

Incidentally, the Legends II online Scavenger hunt, to win a signed copy, has only a couple of days left to run, so if you need to try your luck, you should do it fast.... You start by going to http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/DRIN/legendsindex.html .

Speaking of captions. Do you know if Neverwhere is going to be reissued with captions/subtitles? I was rather put out when I bought the dvd without them. I know someone inquired about it before the series was actually put on dvd, but it looks that A&E didn't add them to the features. I rather liked your CC entry though. I can't believe some of the shows they have as not being captioned. Law & Order, JAG, all the sports programs. Good thing PBS's Disabilities Today Series was approved. Wouldn't want to get mixed messages or anything. Pft.

Anyway, Thanks!
Jenn


I don't think so: I asked the A&E people about it, and they said that since the BBC hadn't given them any captions, they couldn't afford to do them themselves. The sad thing is that I'm fairly sure that the original Neverwhere TV series would actually have had ceefax-type subtitles (which is a different system), but there's no-one at the BBC now who seems to know anything about it.

On the other hand, it just occurred to me that I should find out if there's time and a way to get the DVD of "A Short Film About John Bolton" captioned before its summer release.


Dear Neil,

Is it my imagination or is the Ballad of the Fantastik in anyway inspired by Dauntless' song from Ruddigore?

Matt


"And I'll wager in their joy they kissed each other's cheeks, which is what them forriners do...", that one? I don't think so -- I was trying to find the rhythms of something that felt a lot more folk-song. It's a very traditional sort of form.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

Are there any plans for a collection of your short stories published after "Smoke & Mirrors". It would be most appreciated if said collection included "Monarch of the Glen". It is difficult to buy anthologies only for your works because I am quickly running out of space in my library. As an avid reader yourself, you may appreciate this dilemma.

Keep up the fantastic work.

Best regards,

Mark Vassilakis


The book after next will be a new short story collection. I started trying to assemble what there is of it so far, and realised that it'll be a bibliographer's nightmare, because it'll have a bunch of stories that have never been collectred, then it'll have other stories that have only been collected previously in the UK edition of "Smoke and Mirrors". Having said that, it's at least 18 months away...

We're looking at doing a mass-market edition of "Smoke and Mirrors" for the US, as it's only previously been out in trade paperback and hardback. It may also contain "Goliath", which has been online since before the first Matrix movie came out (and which you can read at http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/cmp/neil_g.html).

...

Stephen King's talk at the National Book Awards speech is up at http://www.nationalbook.org/nbaacceptspeech_sking.html and there's a new King story, "Rest Stop" up at The Times Online. The Times (the UK one) tends to stick most things behind subscriber-only walls, so you'll want to read the two halves of the story while they're still accessible. Here's the first half, here's the second.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I Wish I Had An Evil Twin, and fourteen other songs

Am away from home for a few days for meetings. Because I had to leave rather earlier than I thought I did, I forgot things. (I'm not at my best early in the morning. And by the same token, erupting volcanoes can be a trifle noisy and Mae West was not famously flat-chested.) Very nearly found myself without a computer, which would not have been a good thing, since one of the things that I forgot was my AC adapter, and I cheerfully ran down the batteries on the plane. Luckily, I have an ace assistant in Lorraine, and half an hour after I realised I was powercordless a man knocked on the door and handed me a power cord adapter, and I gave him some money, and the world was magically good again.

I also wrote more Anansi Boys on the plane.

Hey Neil!

How's your current book coming?

-Brian



I don't know. I think it may be going okay. It's a different kind of book to anything I've written before, and I have no idea if it's going to work. But I'm enormously enjoying it right now. I learned all about Rosie's mother's wax fruit today (and, for that matter, all about Rosie's mother) and I think I've figured out both what Fat Charlie does for a living, and what Fat Charlie ought to be doing for a living, and why he doesn't do it. And these are good things to know.

And seeing a lot of people have asked, Anansi Boys really isn't an American Gods sequel. The Shadow novella, "The Monarch of the Glen", in Legends II, is definitely a sequel. The next batch of Shadow in London stories will be sequels. The book where Shadow goes back to America will be a sequel. Anansi Boys really is a book which shares a character from American Gods, who really was on loan from Anansi Boys anyway. I think it's a comic novel, which may get scary toward the end. But right now I'm in the first half so it's still a comic novel.

I'm hoping to add a voice to make this a frequently enough asked question to get answered. In the journal you mention that the event at the Fitzgerald was a two hour show. I unfortunately could not make it to St. Paul to witness it myself. Today's (Monday) midmorning show d/l contained 53 minutes of a fabulous conversation with a delightfully creepy song followed by two young questioners and your answers. Where is the rest?

I'm afraid it's edited -- there was a whole hour of Q&A, and they picked their two favourite questions. So unless someone was helpfully bootlegging it, I don't know how you could hear the whole thing.

Mr. Gaiman--
A e-friend from Minneapolis told me that at an event in St. Paul on Sunday, 2/15, a little girl asked if you "had nightmares." My buddy did not relate your answer. What did, or would, you reply? I can't envision you responding with only a mundane "Yes." I am intrigued. Note: I love YA, thought CORALINE incredible, and gave my copy to me niece to read. (I am just exploring the blogs; my e-buddy raves about this site. I, of course, love your work!!!)


Luckily, one of the two questions they picked, was the little girl who asked if I had nightmares. You can listen to the interview and find out what I told her (actually something I think I once said on this journal, answering the same question) -- go to http://www.mpr.org/www/books/titles/gaiman_coraline/index.shtml and the link is in the box on the left of the page.

I am curious about your reply...

Step 1: Open your MP3 player.
Step 2: Put all of your music on random.
Step 3: Write down the first fifteen songs it plays, no matter how embarrassing.

thank you


I did this on the plane, and it was a very cool and odd list, which I wrote down as they came up -- and then I changed batteries without properly shutting things down, and lost the whole list. So I shall do it again...

mr zebra -tori amos
I'm Crazy bout my baby - Fats Waller
No Time to be 21 -- Adverts
Glass, Concrete and Stone -- david byrne
Danger Zone -- Elvis Costello
Sword of Damocles - Lou Reed
People Say - Dixie Cups
Club 18-30 - Len Bright Combo (Wreckless Eric really)
I Wish I Had an Evil Twin - Magnetic Fields
Have You Heard - Thea Gilmore
ant - They Might Be Giants
510304, episode 761 "Jack Goes to the Dentist" - Jack Benny Show
Bride of Rain Dog - Tom Waits
Is She Weird - Pixies
Getting Married Today -- Company (Sondheim)

...which is rather a normal sort of a bunch of songs (and one radio show) really. The first list had Vincent Price reading Edgar Allan Poe, and Conlan Nancarrow on it, Kathy Acker with the Mekons, and Tom Russell's "Touch of Evil" and was dangerously eclectic. That one looks more just like the kind of stuff I like. (Incidentally, it's a 40G iPod, with, it says 6858 songs on it, although a lot of those songs are spoken word things.)

There. G'night...

Monday, February 16, 2004

Protecting the hard of hearing from witchcraft and cartoons...

You know, if someone told me that a five-member panel had decided that deaf and hard-of-hearing people needed to be shielded from witchcraft on TV (like, well Bewitched, or I Dream of Jeannie. Or Scooby-Doo), not to mention such risque and dangerous shows as Justice League and Malcolm in the Middle...

And if someone told me that the five people on the panel (whose identities and guidelines have to be kept secret) didn't know they were actually on a panel, never met each other, nor knew that their views on TV would decide what was and was not suitable for the deaf to be able to watch...

And if the result of this mysterious panel's deliberations was that the US Department of Education was to declare over 200 TV programs (almost no cartoons, except for things like Prince of Egypt. No more sports. Precious little drama...) were now inappropriate for closed-caption funding...

28 million Americans are now being protected from Sabrina...

Well, that would be news, wouldn't it?

When Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF mentioned it to me, I was astonished I hadn't run across it anywhere before. I searched Google News: here's the only article I've been able to find about it, in a Palm Beach Paper.


"They've suddenly narrowed down the definition of those three kinds of programming without public input," says Kelby Brick, director of the NAD's law and advocacy center. "Basically, the department wants to limit captioning to puritan shows. The department wants to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are not exposed to any non-puritan programming. Never mind that the rest of the country is allowed to be exposed."



And, in case you think there's exaggeration going on, here's the list -- from the National Association of the Deaf website -- of what shows were approved to be closed-captioned, and which ones disapproved.: http://www.nad.org/openhouse/action/alerts/captioningcensorship/list.html

(And here's a fascinating NAD press release, complaining that the new rules are damaging both family values and parental accountability.)

Still, it doesn't seem to be news. I think it should be. If more people knew about it, it might be.

So I'm mentioning it here. Spread the word.

Hasty Post

Just realised that I didn't put up the correct info on the Fitzgerald Theatre TALKING VOLUMES event... it's going out, in edited form, on Minnesota Public Radio -- live and over the web -- as I type this (Monday morning) and then, later this afternoon, will be up on their website forever. http://www.mpr.org/www/books/talkingvolumes/ and http://www.mpr.org/books/titles/gaiman_coraline/

The Fitzgerald Theatre was gorgeous, the acoustics were amazing, the people were lovely, Folk Underground were great, Katherine Lanpher is an utter delight and the signing (after the two hour show) ended eventually. Lot and lots of kids who liked Coraline as well, and I'd type longer if if it wasn't actually going out live on Midmorning right now.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

"War is bad, peace is good, Never use plastic when you can use wood..."

Let's see...

Vince Locke inked a lot of Sandman -- most famously the "Brief Lives" storyline -- and painted a Sandman poster and a very lovely Death (for the Death Gallery). He just dropped me a line to let me know that he's selling his last Sandman pages, and the Death painting, on ebay, and asked if I'd mention it here. Easy. His list of pages and the painting can be seen here.


The latest one of the 1602 Mysteries and Conundrums is out at the comic world news site. If you haven't read 1602 #7, there are lots of spoilers there; lots of fun guesses for things, too, some of which are good, some of which are wrong, and some of which are irrelevant, which is a relief -- after Jason's accurate surmises in #6, I was worried that the entire construction was completely transparent.


I keep meaning to post the link to an interview between Norman Spinrad and Woody Allen here, mostly because it makes me smile. A couple of years ago, I had dinner with many writers and editors in Paris, Norman Spinrad among them, and watched with a sort of fascinated horror as a waiter splashed a little soup onto Norman's trousers, and Norman, using only the spoken word as his weapon, somehow bludgeoned the poor man into forking over the cash to get Norman's trousers dry-cleaned. This interview seems sort of like that, as Norman talks and explains and talks and expounds, and after a while Woody Allan gives up and interviews Norman Spinrad. http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/normanspinrad/woody.htm.

Also meant to stick this up during Valentine's Day: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/13/opinion/13SEIG.html?pagewanted=print&position=. It's all about bras.

...

Since I mentioned not having any images of the Swedish or Hungarian covers of American Gods, the following two links have been sent to me: http://www.internetbokhandeln.se/_113QDJF252/XEB/bok9137122274.html is the Swedish Cover, and, a bit smaller, the Hungarian is at http://www.endless.hu/amgods.gif.
Thanks...


...

I've started to try and revive the FAQ blog, at http://www.neilgaiman.com/faq/blog.asp and will try and get an RSS feed set up for it. (although given the new Blogger rules, it may have to be an ATOM feed instead.)

And please, if your question, post, request, whatever doesn't get answered, mentioned, or whatever, remember that

a) a little under a thousand questions or requests come in every week. On a good day I'll answer five or six, based almost entirely on whim. The odds are way against you.

b) quite a few of the ones I don't answer have already been answered somewhere on this site. Yes, I know that there's a lot of journal to read, and that it may not occur to everyone to search the site, or even to read the FAQs, but the odds are pretty good that, if it's, for example, a question about rights, it's probably been answered: otherwise I'd be repeating weekly that the Sandman rights aren't in any way under my control, and that you'll need to talk to DC Comics to try and get the rights to make your short film (for example), or giving my agent's address, or Dreamhaven's, or whatever...

c) it all gets read. At least for now.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day. Except in India, of course...

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you get to kiss someone nice. Or not, of course, depending.

Wondering how Valentines Day is celebrated in other countries, I turned to the Times of India, where I learn that they celebrate by calling in private detectives -- "It was not just religious hardliners keeping a watch on couples celebrating Valentine's Day across India on Saturday. A number of Indians were frantically calling private detectives to check on their beloveds."

This has probably been made necessary by an influx of blonde Australians. "At least three men have got e-mails from 'blondes' offering sexual favours , in lieu of money. Their reason? Indian men are the perfect Kamasutra male." An article that gets less delightfully odd when you realise that "in lieu of" is not being used in the standard sense of "instead of" (I somehow assumed from the first paragraphs that normally blonde Australians go to India and just offer men money, but these ladies were offering sex instead) and is being used in the Times of India sense of "in exchange for".

So....

In case you didn't know, and guessing you'd like to plug it, Dave McKean got profiled at Apple's page:

http://www.apple.com/pro/design/mckean/

Obviously he does mention you a handful of times.

They also manage to misspell Spanish on the first line.

It also seems you're surrounded by mac users. Resistance is futile. You shall be assimilated.


Which is fair enough. I actually own two iMacs -- one of the old, TV screen ones, and a new, desklamp one. They're mostly Lorraine's and Maddy's, but I'll happily use them too. Then there's the iPod, of course, which I love. iTunes runs the house music, on all the computers, unless I need to sort out ID3 tagging glitches, in which case Windows Media (and even, on occasion Musicmatch) will get pulled out and dusted off.

I tend to keep my own computers on a PC standard for the same reason I still use WordPerfect as a word processing program: I have thousands of files in Word Perfect 4.0 and 4.2 and suchlike ancient formats, and I never know when I'll need to dig out something I wrote in 1987 and be able to read it and possibly even work with it.

I'm not terribly religious, in the computer operating system sense of the word. Many people (including my son, a full-fledged Apple person) seemed to be waiting for me to see the light and become a full-fledged Mac convert, and were shocked that once there were Macs in the house I didn't have a Road to Damascus moment. I like them for some things, prefer PCs for other things, and, except for writing screenplays, prefer fountain pens to both of them (and for screenplays I like Final Draft, and I don't mind which platform it's on).

When I tell Mac people this, they smile their secret smile. They know that after we die, we go to a special place, and that those who used Macs will be raised on high, where they can sip their cappucinos and look down and see the virus-infected writhings and screamings of those who used PCs, as the damned Windows users are forever bombarded with boiling projectile vomit from the thousand-foot high screaming thing that used to be Bill Gates.

But I'm sure even the damned people down in the mud will be laughing up whatever's left of their sleeves at those of us who secretly like fountain pens best.

Dear mr. Gaiman,

I`ve noticed that some of your book covers look kinda tacky and uncalling (sorry!/didn`t mean the kids` books BTW). I know all about the "don`t judge a book by its covers" but don`t you have anything to say on these things? And why do covers varie between countries? It really doesn`t make sence to me.

Nina


Because different covers work for different countries. People are used to seeing books that look like some kind of thing on the shelves, and publishers try and provide that.

English publishers like book jackets that look one way, American publishers like them another way. Americans grumble about British book jackets, English people talk about how unimpressive American Book Jackets are. Russian book covers don't like like anyone else's book covers, nor do Japanese or Polish or Croat. The Finns tend to be unimpressed by Norwegian book covers, while the Swedes look down on the Danes. Meanwhile, the French struggle with one of the problems of French Publishing, which means that a book of worth and quality should have no image at all on the cover, merely the author's name and the book title; a picture means that the book is a potboiler, and not fully respectable.

There used to have a page here at neilgaiman.com that was just book covers from around the world, then we decided to tidy them up a bit, so now you need to click on the book itself to check out some covers. (And we've not updated or added any covers for several years.) The foreign covers are at the bottom of the relevant pages:

http://www.neilgaiman.com/books/stardust_mm.asp

http://www.neilgaiman.com/books/smokemirrors_pb.asp

http://www.neilgaiman.com/books/neverwhere_pb.asp (Which are similar, as many of them use the original Dave McKean cover art, but even then they have interesting local differences).

It's worth bearing in mind that when publishers around the world use the same image, the typography can make completely different books. Most AMERICAN GODS covers use the original US image, of the road and the lightning. But even in the US there's an enormous difference between the hardback (reasonably subtle, looks a bit ominous) and the paperback (big gold lettering, looks best-selling and thrilling but slightly cheap). And neither of them look like the Italian cover. (or the Hungarian, or the Swedish, but I can't find online pictures of those.)

The US mass-market paperback was designed by Harpers to look sort of like a thriller: it's for people to pick up in supermarkets or airports. Subtlety was not part of the plan. The US larger format trade paperback cover is designed more to appeal to people who might never pick up American Gods in its mass market format, and who wouldn't be scared by the idea that this might be literature, whatever that is.

Hi Neil,

Here's something about a glitch revealing authors reviewing their own work on amazon.com: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/14/technology/14AMAZ.html

John


That's hilarious. I always tend to assume that Amazon reviews #1 and 2, saying it is the Best Book In The World, are by the author and his or her best friend, and that reviews #3 and 4, saying it's the worst book in the world, are by the author's worst enemy, and by his best friend now a bit more secretly, and after that the readers come out.

Having said that, I think it's an enormous pity that Amazon took down the "I am the author and I want to comment on my book" button. Yes, every now and again you'd find some twit pretending to be Shakespeare or the author of the Bible, or me ("I am gladd you all liked Good Omens it was very funn to write with Terry Pratchett he is so funy I will write another book soon so bibi now Neil Gaeman") but it was, overall, useful. Unfortunately one author got very loudly upset at being impersonated, and the whole thing vanished.

Of course, I also miss all the actual content they used to have on Amazon -- essays by authors, interviews and the like. In theory I suppose it's all still there. There's just no way to find them from within Amazon itself...

For example, a hasty google just turned up this Stardust interview with me by Therese Littleton. In that interview, the Sandman link that now takes you to Game of You once took you to this Amazon Sandman page. Which still exists, but again, I had to Google to find it, because you can't get to it from within Amazon (and it's not as if it has much content on it that you don't get from this page, which is easy to get to, but it was obviously put together by a person).

And finally...

Neil-
The originator of the lawsuit v. Janet Jackson was a local Knoxville
woman who has since dropped the suit:
http://www.wate.com/Global/story.asp?S=1638173
*hugs*
JaNell


Thanks JaNell...

(Reads article). A Knoxville banker says she's made her point and has withdrawn her federal lawsuit over the Super Bowl halftime show. I assume, athough the newspaper doesn't specify, that her point is that she has too much time on her hands, and is an idiot, and she has certainly made it very effectively.

Friday, February 13, 2004

is that it?

Like, I suspect, most people in the world, my reaction to the display of Janet Jackson's nipple fuss was a) to look at one of the many pictures of said nipple and b) to find myself faintly disappointed that the fuss was being made about something that looked, at the end of the day, a lot like a, well, a nipple. Given the amount of discussion of the nipple display in question, I'd somehow subconsciously assumed that there was something special about this particular nipple -- that it would be an amazing shade of green, or that it would look like a peony, or it would whistle, or do tricks, or light up, or something. Nope. Normal-looking human nipple. The kind you see in most countries on television during soap commercials.

And as the nipple volume seems only to increase -- people started to sue, for heaven's sakes -- I kept waiting for someone in the media to say something sensible. Finally Frank Rich has. http://www.iht.com/articles/129515.html

...

Dirk Deppey, the Comics Journal Journalista! blogger, has been promoted to editor of The Comics Journal. On the one hand, that's great news for the Comics Journal. On the other hand, Journalista has become invaluable, and the world will be emptier without Dirk's take on the news. He says he'll be back, and we here at neilgaiman.com journal, all of us, like, me, and well it's just me actually, very much hope that he'll soon look on editing The Comics Journal as a minor sideline to his real work, of telling us who's saying what, and what he thinks of it.

...

Neil, it appears that TWO PLAYS FOR VOICES has been added to the iTunes Music Store:

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=5434264

-- Mike


Oh good. Thanks.

...

I stopped off at DreamHaven a couple of days ago and Signed Stuff, including the new edition of ANGELS AND VISITATIONS: A MISCELLANY. It was first published in 1993, and in 1997 I put it out of print, with the agreement of Greg Ketter, who runs DreamHaven, because it was just meant to be a small press short story and miscellania collection, and by the time it had sold 25,000 copies through five printings I felt it was done.

It didn't occur to me (although I suppose it should have) that copies would start to zoom up in price, but zoom they did -- these days if you want one you'll mostly pay around $100 a copy, according to Bookfinder.com, although signed first editions seem to be $200-$300. (There was also a signed, limited first edition, also signed by all the artists -- Dave McKean and P. Craig Russell and Bill Sienkiewicz and Charles Vess and everyone, and I've no idea what that goes for.)

So really, the new edition exists so that people can read Angels and Visitations for a sane amount of money. It has some overlap with Smoke and Mirrors, but also some journalism, essays and early short stories that aren't in there.

If you need a copy, go to the DreamHaven site books page: http://www.neilgaiman.net/books.html it's about half way down the page.

...

DEAR NEIL.

For a school silkscreening project I have chosen to do your face and your autograph as the image, I hope that is okay because my teacher, although she was the one that suggested we made images of a particular artist/musician/writer/whatever we liked, says that it's better if you tell the person that you are putting their face on a shirt because they ought to know. So I've just told you, hoping that it is okay.

Also, in an issue of Canada's Entertainment Weekly, a picture of you was featured in which, as my friend kindly and loudly pointed out, you resembled Richard Gere. I couldn't quite make the connection but apparently alot of other people could. Just thought you'd like to know that, according to some people, in that picture, you (apparently) looked like Richard Gere.

Cheers,
Isabelle



Sure, use my face for your project.

I'm still not quite sure what I looked like in that Entertainment Weekly photo (nothing entirely human), but Richard Gere was not anywhere on my list.

Late Night Line Up

Let's see...

I realised that when I wrote "The Moon Moth" in the commentary on Hiding the Elephant a couple of days ago, I meant "The Mascot Moth". "The Mascot Moth" was David Devant's vanishing lady illusion. "The Moon Moth" is my favourite Jack Vance short story.

Stan, the caretaker of the ancient log cabin motel, now small apartments, one of which I go to to write things, is no longer caretaking, and will be moving to sheltered accommodation. He came to me today to see if I was willing to take Boomer, his dog, because Boomer adores me, and Boomer, as Stan will be the first to tell you, growls and snaps at most everyone else. He was an abused dog that Stan rescued from an animal shelter.

I'll probably say no, mostly because I'm not here all the time; and while Boomer adores me there's no guarantee that anyone else in the house would be Boomer-adored in quite the same way, or would want to look after him while I was on tour. But it makes me sad.

I was sure I'd written about Stan before, and I did, almost exactly a year ago, at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003_02_09_archive.asp#90310758. Oddly, Stan's political opinions have sort of shifted, I think, to a sort of general condition of "all them politicians, they just lie like rugs".

...

Just a reminder, this Sunday is the CORALINE reading and interview at the Fitzgerald Theatre. According to http://www.mpr.org/www/books/talkingvolumes/index.shtml it will be broadcast live over the web, as well as on Minnesota Public Radio. It's from 2:00-4:00pm Central Time.

...

No, the New York Times Obituary for Julie Schwartz isn't by Harlan Ellison. Harlan's trying to find a place to run it currently -- it's 2000 words long. (I put him in touch with the Guardian, but it was over their word limit for obits.) (Here's the Daily Telegraph obituary -- as good as any Telegraph Obituary, which is very, except for the bit about Eleanor Roosevelt being governor of New York in 1929, which is from an alternate universe.)

Harlan's battle with AOL continues. The Ninth Circuit appeal court has sent the case back for trial. Lots of info about it at http://www.authorslawyer.com/c-ellison.shtml and a discussion of what that means from Harlan's lawyer at the Scrivener's Error Blog.

And Harlan's story "Goodbye to All That" has been nominated for a Nebula. As have a number of good things, including Coraline. Congratulations to all the nominees. Details at http://www.locusmag.com/2004/News/02_NebulaNominees.html At http://www.sfwa.org/awards/2004/nebfinal2003.html there are links to many of the stories (and excerpts from longer works) up online, for those of you who would like to read them.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Banana Shoes, mostly

Maddy is nine, which means we have long conversations about how embarrassing I am. In Maddy's ideal world, her parents would be invisible, inaudible, and, apart from somehow making food appear on the table, in all ways imperceptible, like the unseen servants in early versions of Beauty and the Beast. And transport would happen too. We're definitely good for transport. Although that too has its drawbacks.

There are many things I do that are embarrassing to Maddy, and frankly most of them consist of simply existing within a five mile radius of her school. The most embarrassing thing of all, though, is Having a Mini. If you've ever wanted to watch a nine year old girl do her best to squirm into nothingness, picking her up from school in a Mini will do it every time.

"Ah well," I told her tonight, as I drove her back. "You in your turn will probably one day have children to embarrass."

"What? Like YOU were embarrassed as a kid?"

"Well, certainly," I said.

"HOW?"

"Well, for example, when I was a teenager my father had these peculiar bright orangey-yellow shoes of a very strange European design. They looked sort of like giant bananas. They were embarrassing."

"Grandpa wore Yellow Banana Shoes?"

"He said they were the most comfortable shoes he had."

"See! That's EXACTLY like you. He had banana shoes and said that they were comfortable. You've got a Mini and you think it's cool. It's EXACTLY THE SAME."

"But his banana shoes were embarrassing. Whereas my Mini..."

"DA-AD."

I suspect she's right, of course, which makes it worse.

Anyway. She's taking part in a local theatre production, which meant that this evening I took her to a local hair salon, filled with happy kids and nervous parents and smelling like ammonia, where, while I read the Les Klinger Annotated Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, her dark brown hair was dyed black. And now she is radiating contact embarrassment at merely the idea that someone (anyone) might, under some circumstances -- any circumstances -- see her, and know that her hair has been dyed black.

All my efforts to reassure her were failures. "It could have been worse."

"How? How could it POSSIBLY be worse?"

"Well, if it had been a production of Anna and the King of Norway you'd be dying it blonde. Take a lot longer, and everyone would know..."

"DA-AD."

Got home, got Maddy to bed, to discover that Captain Morgan the cat (last seen in this blog attempting to insert himself into my nose: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003_08_24_archive.asp#106188354266932888) has worked his way up from simply sitting in the bath, licking the dripping tap, to, tonight, turning the taps full on. And the bath plug turns out to be of the kind that can be put in by e.g. a small brown cat sitting on it. If he were just a little bit brighter I can see many advantages in having a cat who'd run a bath for you; as it is, I have the awful feeling that unless I replace the taps with ones a cat can't turn on, sooner or later he'll manage to flood the place.

In the meantime I've gone onto eBay and bought a couple of pet drinking fountain things, one for upstairs, one for down, in the foolish hope that he'll soon forget his new skill if it isn't needed.

Which mention of eBay reminds me. There are lots of FAQ thingies stacking up. This eBay page may not stay up for long, but while it does, it's intriguing and very strange:

Neil! I was directed to the best and most engrossing e-Bay listing I've seen in a good long while. The auction ends in just a few hours, so even if you post this, your readers likely will miss the chance to acquire the accursed object. But all the same, it's worth a read:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3701347648

Cheers,

-- DAN


...

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
I am a Senior attending an all girl's boarding school in New Jersey and in several weeks I am going on a trip to Spain for two and a half weeks for our project exploration term, and I really need some new reading material for my trip, all the fantasy novels I have read are starting to blend together, and I was hoping you might have some reccomdations for me, I would love to read some more classic works so as I might have a fuller understanding of the allusions in your writing.
Thanks,

Eleanor Brimmer


Let's see... I'm not sure what's in print right now, but classic fantasies that shouldn't blend, and should make you happy to have read them would include Hope Mirrlees' Lud-in-the-Mist, Lord Dunsany's fantasies, both the short stories in volumes like Time and the Gods, and the longer books like The Charwoman's Shadow and The King of Elfland's Daughter, James Branch Cabell -- The High Place is a good place to start: it's the story of what might have happened if Bluebeard had woken, married, and tired of Sleeping Beauty, or Jurgen, or The Silver Stallion -- and then there are Ernest Bramah's Kai Lung stories, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books, and there's always Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. Charles G Finney's The Circus of Dr Lao is, I think, back in print at present. T. H. White's Sword in the Stone and his Once and Future King remain marvellous...

They're an odd bunch of authors. If there are books in print you can probably find them through B&N or Amazon.com, or try DreamHaven (who are more likely to see if they have any second-hand copies in their secondhand section), or online dealers. I hope you can find some before you go to Spain, anyway... (Actually, considering that the greater part of them are public domain texts, you could even find them on the web and print them out, or get or buy them as ebooks.)

http://promo.net/pg/ is a great place to start looking for legal etexts. So is Blackmask at http://www.blackmask.com/page.php

Disa wanted to be wished Happy Birthday two days ago, but I forgot to put up a journal entry that day. Happy Belated birthday.

Dear Neil,

I've a question about book tours and interviews and such in general. Are they mandatory? Publishing House X accepts book for author Y, print, bind, distribute, then X tells Y "here, you're going to these cities to sign things and meet people, and you're going on these talk radio/TV/semaphore shows also." Is that how it works? Or does the author have a say in it? I mean, what if you're not a people person? It seems like a bit of a silly question, but myself being fairly introverted, and an eventual author (introvert, but optimist), I wonder about it.

Best, Adam


The author has a say in these things. No, they aren't mandatory. Many authors grumble that their publishers don't do enough to send them on tour and so forth. And you are very unlikely to find yourself plunged into it: more likely, it'll be like being a lobster in a pot: you'll do a small interview here, and a little signing with a few other people there, and slowly the water will get warmer and warmer without you noticing, and then eventually you'll be happily signing and being interviewed and going on TV and the water will be bubbling, and by then it'll be too late.

Don't worry about it. Worry about writing good stories and good books instead. That other stuff can take care of itself, in time.

If it's any consolation, I used to be terrified of the idea of going on TV; and the first time I went on TV, I forgot how to speak. Quite literally. John Lloyd, on the TV show SOUTH OF WATFORD, asked the first question, and everything just went away. And John had them turn off the cameras, told me not to worry, turned them on, and everything was fine.


...

It's very barely a year since I last plugged Vitamin Q here. It remains consistently the most entertaining source of trivia on the web, even though they omit William the Conqueror's posthumous explosion from their strange Royal deaths list (well, it occurred shortly after he died, but it's still my favourite goofy posthumous thing that happened to British Royalty). (The monks tried to force his rotting, corpulent body into a stone coffin too small for it, it burst, and the place was evacuated...) (honest.) http://itsa.ucsf.edu/~snlrc/britannia/hastings/williamdeath.html

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Crash. "Morning has broken..."

Good morning.

Lots of explorer windows and firebird tabs open I can close with a clear conscience if I put the links up here. So without ado:

Fascinated to see that the process of English electability redefinition continues. Now it's Michael Howard reconfiguring the Tories into something that's a lot like New Labour, just as Tony Blair once sculpted New Labour to be electable by positioning it as a more caring version of the Tories. Interesting to see the Tories endorsing gay partnerships, and partnerships that don't include marriage: "To recognise civil partnership is not, in any way, to denigrate or downgrade marriage. It is to recognise and respect the fact that many people want to live their lives in different ways." http://www.guardian.co.uk/gayrights/story/0,12592,1144769,00.html

Just discovered that my friend Oliver Morton (author of Mapping Mars) has a blog -- Mainly Martian, at http://mainlymartian.blogs.com/. For those of us with any interest in Mars, and the current scientific wossnames going on there, Ollie's your man. I'm fascinated.

I've always enjoyed Ursula LeGuin's non-fiction writing: she answers questions over at the Guardian Online, and they are good and sensible replies, occasionally illuminating, always interesting. http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/sciencefiction/story/0,6000,1144428,00.html

I was faintly puzzled a couple of times, though, when she grumbled about the book covers getting her characters' skin colour wrong, and the BBC radio adaptation mispronouncing Ged's name. They seemed like things it's pretty easy for an author to fix -- for the skin colour, it gets fixed either in later editions (you mention it to your editor, who mentions it to the art department, who mention it to the artist) or, if you realise that people are going to do this (after they've done it the first time) you make a point of letting people know. Yes, they ought to read the whole book, but they're artists, and they may not even have read the book, and just told what to draw by the art department, who themselves may have only had the conversation with editorial that goes "the scene on page 112 might be a good cover image: hero, heroine and giant eagle descending..." If, as Ursula points out, artists consistently get skin colour wrong, then you might want to mention it to your editor up front as something to keep an eye on.

And if it matters to you how characters names are pronounced, then again, you mention it ahead of time, surely -- it's the work of a moment to write a pronunciation guide ("it's Az-IR-a-phale"). The BBC are always dead keen to get things right....

...

Reasons to use Google #20047: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3445523.stm

...

I love this poem, I think because it crystallises what I, as a young man, thought would happen if I got anything published. And, of course, when it happens you slowly learn it's not like that at all.

While over at the Washington Post, Jessa Crispin reviews some graphic novels. It's fascinating, the feeling that we're slowly slipsliding into a brave new world in which we can take for granted the idea that Graphic Novels can get reviewed in real places without anyone having the need to wave and shout and point out that that's what they're doing. No whams or kerpows either. It seems like only yesterday that Journalista! was bemoaning the decision to put out a Sergeant Rock hardback as an act of supreme own-foot-shooting folly on DC's part, and now the book is beng positively reviewed alongside Palomar and The Fixer and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen II.

...

Hello Mr. Gaiman,
A Plug for Yourself--Marvel 1602, Issue 7 of 8, is due out Wednesday. Fast coming to the end of the run. Is issue 8 going to be a double sized issue? Will it really all end or will you have one more issue (to tie up loose ends?). Somewhere I read that you owed Marvel another mini-series-would that be something to look forward to in 2005 or 2006, and would the purpose of that also be to fund Miracle Man? Thanks for your valuable time--how's the book coming? Dave G.


Yes, 1602 #8 will be 35 pages (as opposed to 22 or 23).

The story that began in 1602 #1 gets to finish in #8. There are certainly other stories that can be told.

Yup, the Marvels and Miracles deal with Marvel was a two project deal. I'm going to try and finish the novel before I start project 2 though -- and we still haven't decided what Project 2 actually is. And Anansi Boys is back being written after a month-long hiatus.

1602, as a comic, basically pays for the costs of the current appeal, and previous legal costs, on the whole McFarlane case. Part of the deal was Project #2, which is financially a lot closer to the normal model (ie Marvel gets to keep some of the money).

Republishing Miracleman, and finishing Miracleman, both look like they're getting closer. But it may be a mirage...

...

And I have to go and do things, so I'll leave the anecdote about Julie Schwartz, a comics fan I shall probably call Mr X, and how you can find them both in Diana Wynne Jones's novel Chair Person, for another time.
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