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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Will no-one help the widow's raccoon?

Let's see. Recently I've written an introduction to a book on The Twilight Zone, and am currently doing my editorial pass on the galleys of INTERWORLD, a young adult book that Michael Reaves and I wrote some years ago that we're currently bringing out of mothballs, dusting off and sending to meet the nice people.

I also got swept up in a small adventure that turned me into a giddy twelve-year-old comics fan, and about which I shall say nothing more until the time is right. And possibly not even then. It was all Jonathan Ross's fault, anyway.

And now the weather forecasters are predicting the mother of all winter storms for us in the midwest this weekend. Ten inches of snow. Freezing rain. An ice storm. Everyone is making contingency plans and buying several months' suppies of toilet paper, and I'm being English and am convinced it won't happen. Interesting weather almost never does, not when they say it will.

This just came in from Charles Vess, who wonders if any of you have any of the STARDUST art he's looking for...

From Charles Vess:

From June until September of this year I'll be mounting an exhibition
of my Stardust art at the the William King Regional Art Museum in their
premium exhibition space.

A LOT of people will be seeing the exhibition and I want to put my best
'face' forward. So I'm looking for various pieces of Stardust original
art that I've sold over the years and would like to borrow that art back
for this show. The names of the donors will be included in various
publications concerning the exhibit as well as being on the identifying
labels themselves.

In particular I'm looking for these full page illustrations:

(All page numbers refer to the trade paperback edition)


1. (page 46) The couple on the hill (with the Village of Wall in the background)
beside a tree looking up at the falling star.

2. (page 52) Tristran in his bowler hat entering the deep woods surrounded by
various fairy types.

3.Cover art to mini #2 with all of the Lords of Stormhold floating in
the air around the dark rocks of Stormhold.

4.(Pg #96 -97) The two pages of multiple panels with Tristran's first candle walk
between worlds.

5.(Pg #104)Tristran and Yvaine walking in the wood. She has a crutch.
6.Tris and Yvaine riding the unicorn through woods with gnarly
creatures in the fore ground.

7..(Pg #161) Small figures of Tris and Yvaine looking up as galleon passes
through golden clouds above them.

8. ( Pg #188)Tris passed out on ground w/ Yvaine sitting beside him. A dark
haired woman (his mother) stands above him. Red goblin creatures frolic
in the fore ground tree limbs.

9.( Pg #193)Tris in a sitting room w/ Victoria Foster surrounded by nick nacks
and green men. A cat sits on the rug beside him.

10.( Pg #205) Yvaine gives Tris the medallion. Dark haired Mom looks on. The air
around them is filled with all manner of people and beasties.

11. ( Pg #209) Looking down at the fair w/ the Village of Wall off to the left.
Very small figures of Tris and Yvaine walk off thru the field. In the
far distance the mountains of Stromhold rise w/ Flying Galleon beside them.

12. (Pg #213) Last piece in the book. Colored pencil on black paper. Yvaine
stands amidst dark stones and raises her arms towards her 'sisters' that
dance through the night time sky above her.

Here's my e-mail if you have any information on the location of these
pieces:
charles@greenmanpress.com

Thanks!

Charles

...

The previous post drew a lot of responses -- most of them agreeing with me. A few articulately disagreeing, and I thought I'd post a couple of them....

Mr. Gaiman-

If I may, a few comments about today’s posting about the appearance of the word “Scrotum” in the children’s book.

1. A few librarians in this NY Times article were quoted out of context from e-mails taken from LM_NET, a listserv for school librarians. In fact, LM_NET postings are subject to copyright and librarians were not contacted by the Times in response to their quotes.
2. All librarians are not tight-bunned, tight-assed “Shh-ing” maniacs. (I know, I am one—a librarian, that is, not tight-assed.)
3. Given the current climate of education in the US, you can’t blame a public (or private) school librarian for being incredibly sensitive to this issue. Unfortunately, we live in a period where it’s easier to throw away books and tell kids to “just google it” rather than keeping librarians on-staff. Each of us fights for our credibility and necessity every day. One conflict with a prominent community-member over (an admittedly) ridiculous matter such as this can end a career, as it’s easier to drop a staff member’s salary than fight a legal battle over censorship. While there are those of us who are willing to throw our chins out and fight, there are many battle-scarred vets of the library wars who have been cowed by the system and will quietly drop it rather than fight anymore. The public school librarian is fighting to keep of the endangered species list.

While I’ve been an ardent fan of yours, I could not let today’s journal slide without some commentary.

Yours,

Harry F. Coffill
Library Media Specialist
East Grand Rapids Middle School


I'm afraid that just because something is "copyright" it doesn't mean it can't be quoted. It can. It's called Fair Use. And I don't see why the Times would have to contact the people about their quotes -- if it's written down, that's all you'd have to show the fact-checker, if there is such a thing... Once you've said it, it's out there. (This blog is copyright me. Doesn't mean it doesn't get quoted, or that I'm consulted about it when it is. Here's an example of one time it happened. If you're going to say something in a semi-public forum, you're quotable, or misquotable, and that's just how it is.)

Hey Neil,

Speaking as a librarian, I happily bask in your general approbation.

Speaking as a librarian, I detest the idea of censorship, and the thought of choosing not to purchase a Newberry-winning book simply because of a single word.

Speaking as a librarian, I must also point out that the issue is, unfortunately, perhaps a bit more complicated than that, and that referring to those librarians who choose not to buy the book as "rogues" who've gone over to the dark side is likely to be an unfair oversimplification, at least in some cases.

Are there prudish librarians who have knee-jerk reactions to "bad language" and "inappropriate content?" Of course. We're only human, and therefore only flawed.

However, in many cases...using, as an example, the librarian cited as saying that SADLY, they will not be purchasing the book...it is likely NOT the librarian's own personal choice or even preference to exclude this book from their collection, but is the decision of the library director, library board, or school itself, based upon community outcry and patron pressure. In many cases of books being challenged, the challenge never goes as far as a banning. However, there are still cases in which otherwise excellent books are banned due to some small piece of "questionable" content. Don't forget, one of the most challenged and banned authors of all time is Judy Blume, the author of well-beloved, classic, but very frank (and therefore "dangerous"), children's and young adult books.

Librarians, as much as anyone and everyone else in this country, are subject to mob rule at times, and are always always subject to the workings of bureaucracy and politics. It's sad, but it's true.


...which I understand, but both of which emails leave me thinking that surely saying "It won the Newbery Medal. We order the books that do that. It's been the most respected guide to quality children's literature since 1922," would fend off most threats to a school librarian's job... wouldn't it?

Ah well. My next children's book, the one I'm currently writing, is very unlikely to have any rude words in it at all, but people I've read the first few pages to tend to look at me with a concerned sort of look and say "Is this really a children's book? I mean it's scary and then that stuff..." and I say yes, and I'm sorry but that's how the book goes and there's nothing I can do about it. Of course there is -- I could cut it out and write a book that wasn't as good. And I can hope that anyone who gets past the first couple of pages will find it very hard to put down. I can hope. But I'd understand any school librarian who was worried.

And I also got this from the "Higher Power of Lucky" post, which made me smile...

Hey there, Neil.
I illustrated "The Higher Power of Lucky" (although it didn't occur to me to provide a picture for the minor scrotum incident). Thanks for weighing in on the whole kerfuffle. Coincidentally, I read "Endless Nights" yesterday, absolutely loved it, and made some sketches this morning which I posted on my blog:
http://planetham.blogspot.com/
I'm also a Writers House client, so maybe I'll see you at some swanky cocktail reception sometime (if they even have such things).All the best,matt phelan


Well worth checking out Matt's cool artblog, if just for the masonic raccoon... And alas, while I have been a client of Writer's House for almost 20 years, I've never been to a swanky cocktail reception there yet (although they once threw a lovely bash with nibbly bits at the Franfurt bookfair for all my foreign publishers).

...

I get a lot of appeals for good causes in and I long ago sighed and decided that I can't post all of them. But this one has camels in it...

Not a question, so much as a request. There is an amazing thing going on in Kenya involving librarians, generosity, and of course, camels. The link is http://camelbookdrive.wordpress.com/ if you could post it for the fabulous readers of this blog. If you have already mentioned it, I apologize. It's been awhile since I've visited, although now I seem to have spent about 3 hours reading past posts. Damn.

Beth (librarian in training, who, for the record, is perfectly happy about the word scrotum in any book)


consider it posted. And I'll see if I can't put together a bunch of books for the camel library...

And finally, another article from Nerve's comics issue. This one's about the Gordon Lee case and the CBLDF. I've written about it here before -- I've been writing about it for years. But if you've missed it, or you thought it was over... http://www.nerve.com/dispatches/clark/gordonlee/

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