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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A moment of coolth

Home again. I plan to do nothing for a few days except eat and sleep and, sometimes, walk, and recharge my batteries. Time to recover. The walking will be made more difficult by a storm that hit this area and toppled trees, blocking paths. (A huge oak tree very near the house was struck by lightning, and had to come down. The middle of the tree was charcoal. There's sun in places that have only before been in shadow.)


The dog was extremely happy to see me. The corn and tomatoes and aubergines (eggplants) are ripe, I ate blueberries and raspberries from the bush this morning...

It's nice to be home.


Hi Neil. This isn't a question, but rather an answer to one. Methinks the Time writer described your hair as "suspiciously good" because it's luxuriant (oh all right, THICK then) and still dark (no signs of grey, at least as far as we can see). This probably makes you a prime suspect for wearing a wig, having hair implants, or at least using some unconvincing hair coloring products. Of course, no self-respecting Geek God would ever do any such thing.Cheers!
Tin Ambat




It's got all sorts of grey in there, these days, honest. And it seems to be getting lighter as I get older too. (Here's a picture of me at the Stardust premiere, wearing a tuxedo in the LA heat, the act of a madman, where you can see the goofy clown hair, sort of.)



So I'm sure that a few thousand have answered your "What's a mathlete?" question by now, but just in case they haven't: I first heard of the term "mathlete" on the brilliant TV show Freaks and Geeks. The mathletes were a school team who competed in math tournaments. I don't know if the term originated with the show or if Judd Apatow got it from somewhere else but I'm pretty sure that's where the journalist got it from. And it made me laugh when I saw it. Freaks and Geeks was an awesome show.



And hey! At least it must be nice to still look young enough to be compared to teenagers, eh?
gina



Got it -- thanks to all of you who wrote in and told me... (Alas, I was no mathlete. It is a mystery to everyone how I managed to scrape a B in Maths O-Level, and Maddy and Mike both laugh at me for being absolutely rotten at numbers, when they are both mathy whizzes.)


There's too much media stuff for me to even try to keep on top of it right now (apart from a couple of positive early Stardust reviews -- The Hollywood Reporter and FilmsinReview), but Anne Thompson from Variety said something in her blog that made me happy --


Coming out of the convention, the two films I can't wait to see in their
entirety were nowhere to be found on our original list (that's the beauty of
Comic-Con, really).



The first is Pixar's Wall-E, which sounds amazing. The Second is, I'm happy to say, Coraline...



It's astonishing to see the body language these puppets are able to convey. The
Coraline cast comes to life in a way neither Tim Burton's nor Aardman's
characters ever have (which isn't so much a slight against those creators'
wonderful work as a testament to Selick's attention to character). The clip
itself — which features Coraline's first foray into the "Other" world, where the
3-D becomes more pronounced — conveys a look that is genuinely unique to the
film, not an extension of the Tim Burton aesthetic we've seen in Selick's other
projects (such as "James and the Giant Peach").

You can read what she has to say over at:



http://weblogs.variety.com/thompsononhollywood/2007/07/comic-con-toon-.html


Dave McKean has done a new cover (and two new interior illustrations) for the Subterranean Press Limited Edition of Coraline. This is what the cover looks like:



Details at: http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/2007/08/01/announcing-coraline-by-neal-gaiman/

(And, no, this doesn't mean there won't be any more books with Hill House. Hill House already have the licences from Harper Collins for Anansi Boys, Neverwhere and Fragile Things, and I see from their website that they will be getting in the Trade Paperback part of the Anansi Boys two-book-set next Monday, although the main volumes won't arrive from their Polish printer until late August.)

(And as I know that Hill House have had problems with communication issues over the last few years, if anyone out there has had trouble getting a reply or information from Hill House, please contact my assistant Cat Mihos at Cat@gaiman.net , and we'll make sure that any messages get forwarded to Harper Collins and to Hill House.)


...


One of my favourite moments of Comic-Con was after I came off the Focus panel. I had my photo taken, then noticed that there was a man waiting around to talk to me, and the man in question appeared to be Matt Groening. And it was: he wanted to introduce his son to me, who was an SF reader (and we talked about Gene Wolfe). And then Matt and I had the conversation about stuff and at some point in there I mentioned casually that, no, I didn't want to cameo on the Simpsons, but as I once pointed out here, I really really really would love to be a head in a jar on Futurama.


And he said that this could be arranged.

I gloat. Hear me.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Notes from a vegetable

Today was meant to be spent in a vegetative state, but there were a lot of phone calls and even a meeting in there. All travel plans for the next week have been changed, and everything's a bit up in the air. Your author is, post convention and red-carpet, a vegetable.

Article from Time Magazine http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1647474,00.html (what's a mathlete? And why is my hair "suspiciously good"? I think my hair is pretty suspicious myself: yesterday before the premiere I was glaring at it and thinking it looked like clown hair. And then I brushed it and flattened it and put stuff onto it. Yet by the time that I got out of the limo, it was back to normal. But it's not good).

More hair and school comparisons over at USA Today ("With his shaggy raven hair and black leather jacket, Gaiman looks like a goth-obsessed high-schooler crossed with a Hell's Angels biker," which just leaves me thinking of the Noel Fielding description in the last Big Fat Quiz of the Year.)
http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2007-07-30-neil-gaiman_N.htm

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Prelude To A Kiss



Thanks to everyone who sent this in! Hurrah!

Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Maddy TV Episode Two



(By the by, if anyone does have any video of Neil being snogged by Jonathan Ross at the Eisner Awards, pretty please put it on YouTube. Or email it over. Or both.)

Regards,
The Official Web Elf

PS from Neil, you don't have to, honest.

PPS from Web Elf, ignore that last PS.

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blur

(This is Neil, guest blogging in my blog.)

Yesterday is already turning into a bit of a blur. CBLDF board of directors meeting early in the morning. Then a meeting about the Neverwhere film. Saw old friends Mark Buckingham and Jill Thompson briefly then down to the big hall for "Spotlight on Neil Gaiman". I felt like a kid who had not done his homework, and had brought nothing to the show and tell, so I just burbled and answered questions for the 75 minutes and nobody seemed to mind. A signing (at which I finally met Wil Wheaton, and saw my Interworld co-author Michael Reaves -- who sat next to me, and took enormous pleasure in saying ominously, "Remember Caesar that thou art mortal" while I signed and signed). Up to room, grabbed late lunch, er, something I've forgotten, then back on my head for the CBLDF signing, and then it was getting a bit blurry so I napped for 40 minutes before the Eisners, and showed up later than everyone else, but was happy to be led to a table already containing Ann Eisner and her nephew, Jackie Estrada and Batton Lash, Dennis and Alexa Kitchen, and my future co-presenter Jonathan Ross at the table.

The Eisners were just starting as I got there -- Bill Morrison hosting, assisted by Jane Wiedlin -- and you can find them summarised much better by other people. I was there as I was presenting an award, and had forgotten that Volume 1 of Absolute Sandman was nominated for the best reprint collection. It won, and editor Scott Nybakken, Vertigo ubereditor Karen Berger, and reprint colour hero Danny Vozzo and I went up to collect it. I babbled about the weight of the thing and forgot to a) thank lots of people by name and b) mention that Volume 2 is going to be better.

I got blindsided when they gave me the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award ("I don't deserve this," I said. "Jack Benny was given a similar award and said 'I don't deserve this, - then again, I have arthritis, and I don't deserve that either'. But I don't deserve this." And then I said that the world of comics was a family, and you look after your family. ) This is who Bob Clampett was, if you don't know.

The presenters who were really good -- people like Brian Posehn (from Mr Show and the Sarah Silverman show, who turned out, when we chatted afterwards, to have been at my CBLDF benefit reading at the Stinking Rose in 2000) and Ellen Forney and Alison Bechdel (who announced that, to celebrate the record number of women nominated for the Eisners, they would now re-enact the historic Britney Spears-Madonna MTV awards kiss for us all, and then did).

Jonathan and I were the last of the presenters, and we hadn't worked anything out to do because I turned up so late. ("You'll be funny," I said, having found myself on stage with Jonathan a few times before. "I'll be the straight man." )

It was almost midnight. Everyone was tired. The energy was ebbing from the room...

Jonathan explained that he was famous in England, and that he loved comics... He loved comics so much he had named his son after Kurtzman and Kirby. He loved comics even more than he loved masturbation. And he loved masturbation.... And he was off.

Now Jonathan Ross is funny. He has hosted more awards shows than probably any human being alive. And he was in his element.

Every now and again, I'd manage to stop laughing, and get us back onto announcing and presenting awards. (I was thrilled to present one to Alison Bechdel for Fun Home, one to Gene Luen Yang for American Born Chinese.)

Finally the mad gleam in Jonathan's eye focussed on me, and he announced that we would now celebrate the Eisners and comics... by re-enacting Madonna and Britney Spears' famous kiss at the MTV music awards...

So yesterday night, on that stage, in front of thousands of comics fans and professionals, I got an Eisner, the Bob Clampett Humanitarian award and was snogged by Jonathan Ross.

Maddy thought it was funny. She said I turned lots of interesting colours.

...

From the Convention:

On Saturday you can meet Neil Gaiman & Brian Froud while doing a good turn for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! Award-winning illustratorBrian Froud has has turned a poem by critically-acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman into a beautiful poster making its debut here at CCI. 100 ofthese will be autographed by both creators.The drawing for tickets will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday up in theAutograph Area. Winners MUST then go to Booth 4818 (Imaginosis,located in the Fantasy Illustrators section) to make their $20 donation to the CBLDF and pick up the poster. Neil and Brian will autograph the posters for the winners from 3 p.m.- 4 p.m. in line AA1 up in the Autograph Area. Bring the poster AND the winning ticket.

Today I'll be appearing briefly on the Rogue/Focus panel at 12:15 in Hall H (Hall Hell, as the Con people seem to be calling it).

And at 7.00pm I'll be at the Horton Plaza cinema for a special event. Is it possible that Henry Selick and I will be secretly presenting Coraline-related stop motion footage there? Er, it is possible. The Rogue/Focus event will reveal all.

..

Right. Now I shall get out of bed, and sip things to turn my gravelly croaky voice into something that sounds more like me.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Maddy Gaiman TV!



The very first episode of Maddy Gaiman TV from Comic-Con! And if you happen to be in the area... visit booth #1033 for NeverWear Neil Gaiman merchandise, official tee shirt of Miss Maddy Gaiman.



Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Psst.. it's Maddy!!

Hey ya'll!! THIS IS MADDY!!! :D I am kind of doing this post secretly because I'm not exactly sure if dad has handed his blog over to me yet. He will probably be posting lots of stuff in the next couple of days just telling people where he will be while we are here at Comic-Con and stuff.

Okay, back to me! Since I guest-blogged in Budapest I have had so many compliments and people saying they loved it. Well now I'm back! (But I'm kind of worried because what if it's not as funny this time and then everyone will be like "EWW MADDY ISN'T AS COOL AS WE THOUGHT". Let's hope that doesn't happen.)

Well, while we have been here dad has done a lot of interviews and press stuff and panels and all that jazz! P.S. I saw Jessica Alba and she is very, very pretty in real life!! At the moment dad is off doing something and I am sneaking in this blog entry so let's not tell him shall we? I bet he will find out anyway though... darnit jim.

So I will be reporting back from day to day now!! Fun fun fun. Keep on reading.
tehehehe

Fabulous Maddy

I feel like a cork

Long long very long day, during which I said thank you for the Spike TV Comic Icon Award (which will get in October), saw a man dressed as a banana, did a presentation in Hall H for Stardust then walked off the stage and walked back on and did Beowulf, ran a camera gauntlet for about an hour of interviewers and then did the same with press interviews, then was hauled down to the Hall for a G4 interview and over to the CBLDF booth for a signing and then had some down time but there was a problem with the room key so I sat on the carpet with Charles Brownstein and talked CBLDF stuff for 15 minutes waiting to get into the room and then to the STARDUST screening which we introduced and then Jane and I did a Q&A afterwards, and I got back to the hotel room around half past midnight...

And I thought, proudly, "I'm holding up so well."

And then I thought, "But it's only Thursday," and it all got a bit colder. Couldn't do it if Pam and Cat weren't moving me from place to place and crisis solving in the background. They're so good sometimes I never even find out there was a crisis until long after it's been dealt with.

CBLDF board meeting tomorrow at 8.00 am and the day keeps going from there...

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Quick charitable wave

Is Maddy Blogging yet? No. She is sitting on the balcony reading the final Harry Potter book. So it falls to me to post links to http://kpatrickglover.wordpress.com/2007/07/21/prepping-for-blogathon/
and
http://bad-goth.livejournal.com/15093.html -- two blogs that are supporting the CBLDF for Blogathon. (A list of the charities being sponsored is up at http://www.blogathon.org/list.php.)

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Here and Now

I'm rather hoping that Maddy will take over this blog while we're here in San Diego, but she is fast asleep right now so it's up to me to say that a) we're here, that b) I signed piles of books and the 50 CBLDF prints, and that c) this evening Roger Avary and I presented 20 minutes of 3D Beowulf footage to the world.

And while I can't show it to you in 3D, and it's Not Really The Same as seeing the Actual Thing, the trailer is now up at http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/beowulf/

...and the Beowulf website has gone live at http://www.beowulfmovie.com/.

After the presentation there was a party-reception-thing on a rooftop. I don't think I moved more than five paces from the entry in the two hours I was there, saying hellos and doing mini-interviews and the like and occasionally watching people with plates of nibbles go past but never coming near enough for me to actually find out if there was anything on the plates I wanted to eat. Sigh. I am crap at parties. At the point that I realised that any attempt to say goodbyes would mean I would be there for another hour, I slipped off down the stairs and went back to my hotel, still wondering what kind of nibbles had been on those distant plates....

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One of those long posts that goes all over the place...

Sooner or later, Stardust will have come out, and no-one will be interviewing me about it, and I won't be linking to things about it, and I'll have a life back again, and this won't be the *Stardust movie blog guest starring Me and the San Diego Comic-Con*. But that's what it seems to be tending to turn into right now, for which I apologise.

There are a lot of Stardust preview screenings happening currently around the US. (I think on the sensible assumption that the word of mouth is good from people who've seen it, and that we need a lot more of it.) I'm not going to post them all (I don't find out about most of them) but if you google "free stardust screening" or "stardust preview" or similar you'll find them -- here's one on Thursday in Boston, for example, along with competitions, like this one for free tickets in Canada. Then there's a bunch of extremely strange things I didn't even know about before I started googling just now, like Stardust make-up, and Stardust Jimmy Choo shoes...

(Heidi MacDonald sent me a "review" of the Stardust poster, which I thought was wonderfully silly. It's at http://toddalcott.livejournal.com/114557.html.)


(Here are some Stardust dead princes watching the action. From left to right: Sextus, Tertius, Primus, Secundus, and I can't for the life of me remember whether Julian Rhind-Tutt and David Walliams are Quartus and Quintus or the other way around. Sorry. I checked the IMDB thingie and it was quite useless. It didn't list either of them, but it still has someone listed who, I assume, simply told them she was in it to pad her resume.)

Comicon is nearly here, hurray! I was browsing through the schedule and must say I expected to see Maddy's name in this panel listing. Would she consider doing this sort of thing in the future? She seems to have fun when talking about her Dad!

Sunday, July 29

12:00-1:00 My Dad Makes Comics!— What does a comics career look like from a kid's eye view? Find out with Sky and Winter McCloud, daughters of Scott McCloud (Making Comics); Alexa Kitchen (Drawing Comics is Easy (Except When it's Hard)), daughter of Denis Kitchen; and Brennan Wagner and Amanda Wagner, son and daughter of Matt Wagner (Grendel, Mage) discuss what it’s like living with dad, the cartoonist. Room 5AB


Maddy was meant to be on that panel, and was looking forward to it, but she has to walk down the red carpet for Stardust later that afternoon, and we can't be in both places at once.

She bought a dress yesterday. It has accessories. She's just had her hair cut. I have no doubt that she will outshine me, and I will be so proud.

...

There's a very sweet UGO interview with me up at http://www.ugo.com/ugo/html/article/?id=17568&sectionId=2 although it has the kind of little transcription mistakes that it's all too easy to make on a phone interview. I didn't actually say that the protagonist in The Fermata was "masticating" on naked women, for example, and I think I was talking about Tales of the Norsemen, not the Lensmen...

...

Cat Mihos has come off tour with Tool to help me survive San Diego. She'll be helping move me around and dealing with all the people who want time with me, and being cruel but fair. (She wants me to tell the whole wide world that she really really really needs a Batgirl costume. Does anyone out there make Batgirl costumes?) As I type this she and Charles Brownstein are busily trying to sort out the logistics of signings at the CBLDF booth on Thursday and Friday.

Hello Neil, I have read your bit about attack dog fans at comicon and dissapointed as I may be, I have decided not to molest,pester, or otherwise stock you at comicon on Friday. If you should perhaps detect me breaking this promise, I will be the wide eyed blonde crying profusely, dressed in black leather....

Sigh. I think people may have taken what I said the wrong way. What I meant was, it's work for me. I don't get to go to San Diego Comic-Con to enjoy the con. I have a bodyguard/crowd handler with me at all times, just to allow me to get from place to place on time. It used to be Kevin Starr and is now Pam Noles (for whom this is the best time of the year in the whole wide world and who offers amazingly important advice for anyone going to the con in this blog entry so read it). I'm not there on holiday and I'm not attending the convention to do things and go to panels (which may be part of my frustration); I'm working. I love meeting people, but it's been 15 years since I was able to really enjoy a San Diego Comic-Con, because there are too many people there.

I don't have "attack dog fans". I have lots of nice readers and there will be an enormous number of people who are coming to San Diego to see me and to see the other Guests and panels, and that's a good thing. I'm not asking people to leave me alone, or not to say hello or whatever. I like it when they do. (Yesterday I happily mentioned on this blog that I'll sign stuff when I can, and suggested that people not drag around copies of Absolute Sandman because it is heavy.)

I'll be working around the clock every day, doing panels, signings, interviews, meetings, promoting the CBLDF and so on. It's an unmissable experience. But -- and this was the point I was making to the Hollywood Reporter question -- it's not something I'd ever do for fun. There's a reason why I've limited doing the full five day Guest of Honour bit to every four or five years: it's exhausting. The last time I did it, in 2003, I wrote, on the Sunday,

Yesterday was fun, although the schedule was slightly punishing, and around 5:30pm I wound up with a clear-cut choice between attending a dinner, two receptions and a meeting before I did the CBLDF late night reading, or going to my hotel room to sleep for a couple of hours. Holly and Pam Noles, who is moving me from place to place at this thing, ganged up on me (it didn't take much) and I went off and slept, before going down to the end of the CBLDF Auction (the Quilt Michelle Made went for $2600) and doing the late night reading.

...and that's mostly what the latter half of that con is like in my memory. A blur of signings and trying to be in two places at once. I don't doubt that this will be very similar.

In previous years I'd take the train there, so I'd get some work done, and take the train home, so I could decompress and spend three days each way not talking to anyone and just watching the world pass by. This time I can't do that -- immediately after the con I fly to the UK to do a Beowulf presentation...

I was perusing some comic-con stuff and noticed under vendors, it said "Neverwhere--Neil Gaiman Merchandise." Just curious as to what this merchandise this might be? Thank you for all the helpful info, too. The Comic-con schedule is a bit overwhelming, so seeing it broken down like that was useful! Good luck this weekend!

It's actually Neverwear, a pun I ought to be more embarrassed about than I am, and it's Cat's project. There will be two tee shirts on sale at the con, an Anansi Boys one, with art from the upcoming (apparently coming sooner than later now) Hill House edition by Dagmara Matuszak, and the Scary Trousers tee shirt with art by Kendra Stout. I may even have a picture of the latter by the time I'm ready to post this.

I've now got more signing information -- this just came in from Charles Brownstein:

The CBLDF will host two very limited members' only signings at its booth. Because these signings are on the show floor we can only accommodate a very small amount of people.

Signing tickets will be offered as a thank you to anyone signing up for new or renewal membership at the Con. Tickets will entitle the bearer to one signature from Neil. People signing up for membership at $100 or better will also receive a set of Black Phoenix Perfume Imps from the Anansi Boys & American Gods collections, while supplies last. Card carrying members with a current membership card (expiration date 7/31/2007 - 7/31/2008) can get a ticket by making any donation to the Fund.

Signings will be:

Thursday 6:00pm
Friday 6:00pm

Please do not line up more than 15 minutes prior to the signing. Because this will occur on the show floor, starting the line up as close to the starting time of the signing will ensure everyone's safety on the floor. Please do not line up if you don't have a ticket. While we'd like to accommodate everyone, we need to strictly limit tickets to ensure that the floor is safe for all attendees and other exhibitors.

Tickets will be available at the CBLDF booth (1831) at the START of each day, on the day that the signing occurs.

...

(And I think I'm now allowed to say that there will be something cool and Coraline related at 7:00pm on Saturday and that you can get tickets for it from the Focus Pictures booth. (Could this be anything to do with the five minutes of Coraline they mention in the Variety blog will be screened at Comic-con ? I can neither confirm nor deny this. But given how hard I'm hinting, if I were you I'd have suspicions.)

...

There's a sneak peek at Beowulf in the LA Times, with quotes from me and Steve Starkey at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/la-et-beowulf25jul25,1,4436117.story?coll=la-headlines-entnews
...

And finally this came in on the FAQ line. A story of great oddness, in a small sweet kind of way. And it was prefaced with the statement:

I'm getting married in the...

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/28/30_28mysterybride.html

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luck, the good kind

I'm starting to repeat myself but it's still true: the best bit about having accumulated a dog, it seems, is not the devoted hound, and it's not even the way the walking the dog keeps me much thinner and healthier than I was previously. The best bit is nights like tonight, when the fireflies are out in abundance like gleams and glints and stars in the gloaming, and there's a low ground-mist like something from a horror movie or a dream. And I never saw that world before I had the dog. I didn't go out walking in the evening on my own. I didn't know it was there.

There are a couple of clips from Stardust up at Yahoo.com, introduced by me -- one scene that was shown last year at Comic-con, in which Mr DeNiro and Mr Gervais haggle over some lightning, and one scene in which the Primus, Tertius, Septimus and the Bishop of Stormhold have just raised their wine cups and toasted their quest, with unfortunate results...

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809426615/video/3439942/

(And there's a nice, although not particularly optimistic, review over at http://www.geek-vs-life.com/blog/2007/07/23/sprinkling-some-stardust/)

I'm interviewed about Comic-Con over at The Hollywood Reporter. It's actually a really fun interview. At least, I'm being possibly too honest, and I hope no-one takes it the wrong way...

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Monday, July 23, 2007

More info to come. But this is a start...

Here's some Comic-con info.

incidentally, if you're planning on carrying something around on the offchance you find yourself bumping into me in a breakfast line or a lift, make it something light. I will feel guilty if anyone carries around an Absolute Sandman for the whole convention, just in case.

Hello Neil! I'm a huge fan and will be attending Comic-Con for the first time this year, and meeting you is what I'm looking forward to the most. With that being said, I was told from more experienced individuals that the best way to get something signed at the signing after the Friday session will be to skip the session altogether and just get in line for the signing. I really hope this isn't the case because I would love to do both. Any advice?


Actually, it looks like they are doing a drawing for tickets in the signing line at midday on the Friday so nobody will need to miss anything.


However, I've added in a bunch of signings during Comic-con, in order to try and make a few more people happy. I'll be signing on Thursday (probably), Friday and Saturday.


Here's the current version of the Comic-con schedule...


Wednesday 9.00 pm -- Roger Avary and I present the first batch of Beowulf to the world at the Horton plaza. If you miss it or can't get in, our presentation and the Q&A will be taped and reshown, along with the footage, at 5:00pm and 6:00 pm on Thursday. As per the previous post, and the link on the comic-con site, tickets to all these things from the Paramount booth... which won't be open on the Wednesday. Hmm. I'll investigate.


Thursday -- we're still finalising the signing for the day. I'll put it up here when I know. but it's most likely to be around mid-day and last about 30-40 minutes...


I'll be at the Paramount Pictures presentation in Hall H -- talking Stardust (and showing a scene or two) and then, with Roger, talking Beowulf.


Then I do lots and lots of interviews and things, and surface once more at the Stardust screening that night, 9.00 pm at Horton Plaza. I'll introduce the film, and then, around 11:00 pm, I do a Q&A. (Again, tickets from the Paramount Booth, or available from the CBLDF, if they have any left... the Stardust package has already sold out but it's possible that a few people who bought it may not be at Comic-con and will throw their tickets back in, so checking with the CBLDF table prove fruitful).


Friday -- currently
Midday is the drawing for signing line tickets (see above).

2-3:15 PM SPOTLIGHT ON NEIL GAIMAN. ROOM 6 CDEF

3:15-4:15 NEIL SIGNING: OFFICIAL COMICON AUTOGRAPH AREA ROOM 6


and then, to help with the signing thing...

6-7:00 PM CBLDF SIGNING AT THEIR BOOTH # 1831


And then that evening I'll be a presenter at the Eisner Awards.


Saturday --


I'm not yet sure what I can announce. Suffice it to say that if you turned up at the midday Focus/Rogue panel you might see or learn something to your advantage.


2:30-3:30 PM I'll be doing a signing with Brian Froud at his booth # 4818, for a poster we did of my poem Instructions, which will benefit the CBLDF.


7:00 PM -- the mysterious event that you might have learned of at midday will occur, and will go on till about 8:30ish.


(I'd rather just give you details, but so far I've been specifically told not to. Which is, in my opinion, a bit silly, and as soon as I can tell you things, I promise I shall.)


Then there's the CBLDF Benefit auction, which I plan to try and make it for the end of...


Sunday -- I get to do a proper panel!


10:30-11:45 Jack Kirby Tribute— Let’s face it: when it comes to comics, it’s Kirby’s World and we just live in it. 2007 has seen a bumper crop of Kirby projects, including the first volume of DC’s deluxe chronological reprinting of all the Fourth World stories, a major documentary about Jack on the Fantastic Four DVD, and Mark Evanier’s upcoming art book Kirby, King of Comics. Join Evanier as he talks to Neil Gaiman, Erik Larsen, Darwyn Cooke, Mike Royer, and members of the Kirby family about the lasting influence of the undisputed King of comics. Room 1AB


And I would love to do a signing on Sunday, but alas I cannot, for immediately after that panel I have to flee to LA for Stardust...


...



For years people have written and asked about a Dave McKean short films DVD. And now it's happened... It's coming!
The most information on it that I've found is at http://community.livejournal.com/davemckean/23697.html

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Stardust at Comic-Con. Beowulf Preview ditto.

I'll be putting up a whole post -- possibly later today -- with all the information about my movements and signings and so on at Comic-con. But I'm getting this up first...

http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci07prog_paramount.shtml

Only at Comic-Con!

Paramount Pictures announces special offsite screenings for Comic-Con attendees!

Paramount Pictures has announced two special screenings at Comic-Con which will take place at offsite theaters. Tickets for these events are available on a first-come, first-served basis only at the Paramount Pictures booth (#4423) in the Comic-Con Exhibit Hall.

On Wednesday, July 25, be among the first to see footage from Beowulf. This World Premiere screening will take place at 9:00pm with a special introduction and Q&A with Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. Repeat showings will occur on Thursday, July 26 at 5:00pm and 6:00pm.

On Thursday, July 26, see the new film Stardust, with introduction and post-screening Q&A with Neil Gaiman. This special screening is at 9:00pm.

Once again: Tickets for these events are available on a first-come, first-served basis only at the Paramount Pictures booth (#4423) in the Comic-Con Exhibit Hall.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Party Party

So this is the million words party post, and as with all good parties, I already feel faintly sick from devouring too many sweet things. (In this case, big lumps of honeycomb, the first from the hive. The Birdchick will tell you all about it. with photos, soon enough.)

(Celebratory Party Art above by the Wonderful Web Elf.)

But it's not just Million Words day. It's also Mike's Gaiman's 24th birthday. Mike, for the record, has a real job, at Google, and no longer looks like this:
He is also no longer anywhere near as impressed by monkey-pony monsters as he used to be.

Hi Neil,

not a question as much as a statement. I just want to tell you that the beautiful new hardcover of STARDUST (which I'm very happy about and which looks absolutely amazing on my shelf) has some pictorial problems. I have compared only one image, and by memory only, but at least the picture of the Fairy Market is missing its edges. The slightly familiar-looking gentleman in the dark glasses in the lower left corner is missing in the hc; only his left shoulder and arm is left. So I'm glad I have both versions. :-)

Yr obt Servt,

Martin Andersson

That's pretty much the only change, and it actually dates back to the original 1998 hardback -- because the size -- and the ratio -- is different from the smaller version , the four double-page spreads, which are "full bleed" and go to the edge of the page each lost a little bit at the edge -- in three cases, you lost a little bit of tree or sky, but in the fourth you lost, er, me. So, to make up for it, you get the new drawing of the Fairy Market as endpapers with me (and Charles Vess, and even Maddy) in there.

why are you so concerned about your hair and makeup?
HELLO; you're a master artist! No one expects you to be pretty, witty and
wise, yes but not PRETTY! Besides you're a man, a manly man at that! And
even though you are now more mature, most women (not me - I'm a shallow
as dish water and a sucker for a pretty face) but most young women love
an older man! So stop fretting about your looks, you're on a press junket
not doing glamor shots!

If you do TV, you get made up for it. Otherwise you look washed out, and if you're me your hair covers one eye in a distracting sort of a way, or something similar. It's one of those sort of fact of life things that you just sort of get used to if you're on a junket, where the TV cameras are omnipresent, or if you're doing TV interviews in a studio. The make-up person doesn't care whether you're male or female, old or young; she cares about making you look human on screen. The hardest job in the last few days (for the make-up lady) was when I had to be interviewed in front of a green screen, and she had to make my hair lie down and behave, because otherwise it would have caused bizarre optical effects when they replaced the green screen with Stardust images. I don't fret about my looks. Mostly, I'm amused by them, and by the process of hair and make-up. It's one of those things you don't expect to have to deal with when you start out as a writer.

Hello Neil,

Since you've recently gone from two and a half cats to six, I was wondering if you'd like one more. We've got a feral called Thor who we took in back in January after a nasty injury. He is very likely the world's sweetest cat. The only problem is that we have two other cats, one of which (the 'alpha cat') won't accept him. Well, that and we're technically breaking our lease by keeping a third cat on the premises. We've been looking for a good home for him via both Craigslist and our local daily paper, but have had no luck whatsoever. He'd make either an excellent companion or an excellent barn cat. We're concerned that if we don't find him a home within the next two weeks, we'll end up returning him to the street after having gotten him a lot of veterinary care and habituated him to regular human contact--and it just feels wrong. So while I suspect you won't be able to take him, could I perhaps prevail upon you to ask anyone you might know in the Albany, NY area if they'd consider it? If they want more information, we've created a Xanga blog for him at www.xanga.com/thorstory.

Best regards,

Circus

Good luck finding a home for him...

Hey Neil,
The Official site for Stardust, aside from being a really nice site to visit also has some music playing in the background that is QUITE nice, and I was just wondering if you knew if this was actually bits of Ilan Eshkeri's score for the film.
I do hope it is as I find it quite lovely to listen to, and I can see it fitting the story well.
Thanks
Scott

That's Ilan's score in the background.
...

I just got the galleys of my short story in a book called FOUR LETTER WORD:New Love Letters (Here's the Amazon Uk link) to proofread, and find it rather disturbing that I can't see anything wrong with it. (Rereads again. Okay. I found a gives that should be a give. Whew.)

Right. Now let's carry on with the party. Who's got the Twiglets? Where's the Tizer?

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Friday, July 20, 2007

A million words. More or less. Argh.

I'm home, and a bit exhausted. It was a beautiful day, and I took enormous pleasure in wandering around the garden in my dressing gown this morning while not being interviewed. Oh, how I love not being interviewed. I could spend several happy lifetimes not being interviewed, and between the not-interviews I think I could joyfully not get on planes. I could especially not get on the kind of planes that sit on the tarmac for three hours before taking off. I could not get on those planes with a smile on my face and a tip-tapping of my toes.

Anyway, everything here was as I left it on Sunday, more or less. Some small furry bandits (at a guess, but a good one) had completely stripped the pear tree of hundreds of unripe pears, and have started to invade the corn patch. Lots of raspberries, blueberries, carrots, onions and beets. And the apple tree is still laden with apples.

Then I got dressed and wandered down to the hives to see if the bees had missed me. And I promptly got stung on the back of the neck by a bee who obviously hadn't. Which was, I suppose, not a bad thing as a) I now know that I'm definitely not allergic to bee stings, and b) those of us who've been beekeeping had a pool for the first of us to get stung by a bee.

The first of the cluster of interviews to bear fruit is http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117968880.html?categoryid=2508&cs=1 which is a Variety article by Anne Thompson in which we learn that "Finally, after a long, painful gestation, 2007-08 is poised to be Gaiman's year at the movies." I don't honestly remember a lot of painfulness over the last fifteen years of dallying with movies -- mostly it was just interesting, occasionally amusing and often educational.

Anne Thompson's blog, over at http://weblogs.variety.com/thompsononhollywood/2007/07/gaiman-king-of-.html is in some ways more interesting, as she talks about what she perceives as wrong with the Stardust marketing -- "First, I think it will appeal mainly to women, which makes studio marketers crazy. Paramount's selling this movie like an action adventure to get the boys. They're not capturing the charm and sweetness of the movie in their materials. They're making it look like everything else. I asked Nora what she thought of the Robert DeNiro flying pirates billboard and she said it was "dumb.""

Over at http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000322.shtml you can learn about a Stardust special Comic-Con thingummy that the CBLDF is doing --

Be among the first to experience the film magic of Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess' Stardust at Comic-Con! The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is offering 50 VIP packages filled with exclusive Stardust goodies, plus a special pass to attend a gala San Diego screening of the film to take place on Thursday, July 26.

The Fund's exclusive Stardust VIP package includes: an all-new Stardust print, limited to 50 pieces signed by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess; a set of 5 Stardust fragrance imps from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and a ticket to the San Diego exclusive screening of Stardust. Stardust VIP packages are available for a donation of $100 to the CBLDF. The Stardust screening is on Thursday, July 26 at 9 PM, and features an introduction by Neil Gaiman, followed by a Q&A afterwards.

Pre-orders of this very limited package will be taken until Tuesday, July 24 at 10:00 PM Pacific Time. You can pre-order here:
If any packages remain, you may pick one up at the CBLDF's booth [1831] at Comic-Con. All Stardust VIP packages *must* be picked up from the CBLDF's booth on Wednesday evening, July 25, or on Thursday, July 26 before the convention closes at 7:00 PM.

(Given what you're getting, I tend to think that the $100 donation should be a minimum, and that if you want to put in more, you should, hint hint.)

http://cbldf.safeshopper.com/22/305.htm?778


I've now seen about 20 minutes of Beowulf in 3D. As soon as I figure out how to describe it without joyously stomping off into happy and impressed swearing, I will. In the meanwhile I'll simply mention that in addition to that footage -- which is reel two of the film -- being screened on Wednesday night at Comic Con (well, at the Horton Plaza), it (along with film of Roger Avary and me introducing it and answering questions) will be shown again twice on the following Thursday Afternoon so that another 800 people can see it. I don't yet know how people will get tickets to get in to those screenings, or to the Stardust screening on Thursday Night (except for the CBLDF ones) or the Coraline event with Henry Selick on Saturday Night that I'm not supposed to mention yet. But as soon as I know, I'll put the information up here.

Which reminds me -- there's another auction at http://cbldf.safeshopper.com/21/cat21.htm?882 -- this is the CBLDF Saturday Night Comic-con auction, although they will, as you'll see, accept bids from people not at the con. An amazing bunch of things from people, and they've got some interesting things from me that they've gathered over the years, including the fabled Stardust paperback covers from 2000 that were designed by Avon, and that Barnes and Noble killed at the last minute -- the idea was that the covers (which form a triptych) were respectively romantic, fantastic, and sort of respectable, and that the book would have three covers and would allow bookshops to rack it in different parts of the store. (When Barnes and Noble killed the idea by refusing to stock it if Avon did it, they took the middle cover and put a blue leather cover over it, with a little window through which you could see the man on the horse. I never really knew who the man on the horse was.) I may have another set somewhere, but I think these were my only ones, and unless they exist in the Harper Collins archives, this would probably be the only set around.



And there's more in the auction -- including what looks like a comic that I doodled during a CBLDF board meeting three or four years ago, which Charles Brownstein rescued from the yellow jotter on the table.

I have been examining the Comic-Con schedule, and I noticed the only autograph time for you (currently) is listed as "Limited - Drawing for a line ticket at 12:00 PM Friday" with the signing listed as being 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm on Friday. Do you know if you will be doing any signing on Preview Night? I would love to get my Absolute Sandman signed, but I fear I will haul it around all day Friday and then not get a line ticket.Thank you! Jeanine

There are a couple of other signings scheduled, so I'll do at least one signing on each Comic-con day (except for Sunday) -- one signing will be at Brian Froud's table, and one will be at the CBLDF booth. (And then there's the tee-shirts that we haven't announced yet.)

...


I wrote to Paul Cornell to tell him how much I loved the Dr Who Human Nature two parter, and wound up getting him to a Stardust screening -- which he writes about at http://paulcornell.blogspot.com/2007/07/stardust-and-faf.html

And from http://www.stardustnews.info/ I read Stardust reviews like
http://thetruthisoutwhere.blogspot.com/2007/07/stardust-movie.html
and discovered that you can ask Matthew Vaughn questions at
http://buzzsugar.com/410236 , although I don't think Martyn's quite found
http://www.mostlydamaged.com/movie-reviews/stardust-review-3.html or Dan Guy's Flickr accumulation of Stardust promotional pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/stardustpromo/ yet.

...

And as I reluctantly admit to a million words of blogging... http://www.theage.com.au/news/books/caught-in-the-blogjam/2007/07/19/1184559950812.html is a lovely article about authors and blogs, why we do it and whether we should or not. While blogs are criticised for being inaccurate, unedited, multifarious, narcissistic, having too many pictures of cats, and encouraging people who aren't experts to behave like experts, these issues don't overly concern me. Me neither.
...

So that's about a million words. Next post we ought to have a party. With balloons.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Interviews. Also sushi and a TV spot.

Today I did interviews with the New York Times Syndicate, the New York Times and the New York Post. Had lunch at the New York version of Sushi Sasabune, about which I cannot say enough good things. And which I hesitate to mention here, because I like that no-one's quite noticed it yet. But I want it to be in business the next time I'm in New York, even if I can't get a table.

This morning I heard that the new TV spot for Stardust was pretty good. And you know, it is...



Another 17 interviews tomorrow.

Here's a bit on Michelle Pfeiffer, with a great photo of her as an old witch at the start of the film... http://stylescenes.latimes.com/fashion/2007/07/michelle-pfeiff.html
(One thing that fascinates me is that Claire Danes gets to play an Yvaine who is every bit as grumpy as the one in the book, but that the way they cut the trailer and the shot they used here, she seems amiable and compliant. It's the kind of thing that people who study gender semiotics in trailers would probably have things to say about. I just watch it with puzzlement.)

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

junketty junk

I'm doing a sort of one man press junket right now (although Michelle Pfeiffer will be doing it as well tomorrow). Lots of interviews (MTV Movies, Time Out NY, NY Daily News, Time Magazine and the LA Times today, along with a "round table" interview with about ten journalists and a photo shoot (thank heavens they had a make-up lady for the shoot, who made me look less like a giant panda around the eyes than I really do right now). Tomorrow is the NY Times syndicate and the NY Times, and the NY Post. Then I get on a plane and do it some more.

I'm brain dead, partly from being interviewed out and partly because travel to NY yesterday afternoon proved really problematic -- my flight was cancelled, and I didn't get in until after midnight, on a different airline, on a delayed flight flying via Milwaukee (and at that, I did better than most of the other people on the flight, who had to stay overnight in Minneapolis).

I also decided that the thing you most don't want to hear from a check-in person is what the lady at Midwest Airlines said to me when I showed her the Northwest slip saying they'd put me on MidWest, after I'd made a mad taxi ride from one airport to another. She looked down at it and said "You have got to be kidding!" The flight they'd put me on was oversold and had standby passengers.

But they got me on it somehow, and all was well. I just wish I wasn't so tired.

Regarding raccoons getting through catflaps: a few years back someone set up a computer with image-recognition software to stop their cat bringing in small animals (and incidentally test their image-recognition software). It also stopped a skunk getting in; it should work on raccoons too:

http://www.quantumpicture.com/Flo_Control/flo_control.htm

I don't think it would do any good, seeing that it's all based around the same magnetic cat-door that our raccoons have already figured out how to jimmy. It's very clever, though.

...
And over here -- http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=11038 -- is a little of the Beowulf score.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

A band of bandits

The promotional world for Stardust is starting, which has a nervous author who was convinced that no-one in the world is going to know about the movie, or that it's good, starting to breathe a sigh of relief. There are free screenings starting to get the word out, and according to Google news, if you buy stuff at French Connection you can get free tickets...
http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/ny-shoptalk0713,0,2458209.column?coll=ny-entertainment-promo


And I got a phone picture from my friend Kelli Bickman in New York letting me know that new posters have been spotted in Manhattan. They take some elements from the original poster and rearrange them...



(And Kelli says -- Neil.. S.O.S. i've recently fallen prey to a real-estate con-artist who is trying to steal my rent stabilized apartment/studio of 12 years and I don't have the resources to fight the court battle. Is there anyone out there who can help find me a pro bono real estate attorney in Manhattan (or will barter art)? or if there is anyone out there who has considered buying my work or commissioning a painting but hasn't gone the distance, now is a Very Good Time. Help me save my home and squash this con artist. A court date has been set for July 23. Thank you ten billion times for your help. kelli bickman - www.kellibickman.net I've known Kelli for about 15 years, she's a great artist and a very nice, kind person, so I'm happy to post this. Any New York lawyers who like art out there?)

Anyway, here's the International version of the original poster, which is a bit more golden than the US version.




I just realized this morning that the weekend Stardust opens is also the weekend of the Perseids meteor shower, one of the most active times for "shooting stars" of the year; so it wouldn't be unheard of at all for people to see the movie, walk out of the theater, and actually see a shooting star themselves.

Was the opening planned that way (if it was, this is an incredibly cool bit of marketing that I'm surprised I haven't seen mentioned yet), or was this just an amazing coincidence?


It's an amazing coincidence. But now I've told people, maybe it'll be a key wossname in the marketing strategy, in those parts of America where you can still see the stars.


...

It's all animal world here at the house. The last two cats came home from my assistant Lorraine's (she got a jungle kitten and decided she had too many cats in too small a house), while Fred the Unlucky Black Cat, who had vanished for several weeks, reappeared last night slightly the worse for wear -- he had an injury on his thigh that smelled like rancid cheese, which I washed with peroxide, and a new scar on his forehead, and he's now in the basement recovering and appreciating not being outside any longer. He now goes floppy whenever he gets picked up. I've gone from two and a half cats (the half being Fred outside in the garage) to six cats in a couple of weeks.

Fred's garage, which has a magnetic lock on the cat door, so only he can get in, has recently been invaded (which may be why he'd vanished, and also why he had a new leg injury). Birdseed was scattered everywhere. So the Birdchick set up a camera to find out who could be doing it, and how.

The conclusion -- not entirely unexpected -- is that a magnetically locked cat door is no obstacle to a family of determined raccoons...


(Overexposed photo tweaked by Bill Stiteler.)

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

the circus drums in the distance...

This coming Monday the interview media circus for Stardust begins, or it does for me anyway. So I went in to Minneapolis yesterday and got a haircut from Wendy at Hair Police, so I will look less like a man with a honey badger growing on his head in the photographs, then I nipped down to DreamHaven and signed stacks of books for them (some that people had ordered and some so they could sell them over at their www.Neilgaiman.net shop). The circus starts Monday and then, with a few outbreaks of Beowulf on the way, it barely stops until about August the 3rd. Argh.

Let's see... Actor Doug Jones talks about me and Miss Maddy visiting the Hellboy set over at his blog, and the day the three of us went to Margaret Island. His blog is just like him. http://dougjones.wordpress.com/2007/07/08/i-think-im-still-alive/

(Here's Maddy and Doug -- sans Abe or Faun or Silver Surfer makeup -- on the bridge the Sunday of fountains and Viggo Mortenson, with Margaret Island in the background. The next time we saw Doug he had shaved off most of his hair, because it's more comfortable, and cooler, to have your head encased in latex if you look like a marine recruit.)

Film Ick reviews the script to Hellboy 2 at http://www.filmick.co.uk/2007/07/all-hellboy-2-you-can-handle-for-one.html.
From the bits they quote, it's obviously an earlier draft of the script than what's being shot currently in Budapest, but you definitely get the flavour. I enjoyed the first Hellboy film, but didn't think it was a major Guillermo Del Toro work. I'm pretty sure, from all I've seen and from reading the script, that the second film will be one of those sequels that improves and deepens and is seriously better than the first film in the sequence, rather than being one of those films that gets knocked out quickly to try and get people to buy tickets for something not quite as good as the thing they liked the first time around. Guillermo sees it as an upbeat, comic-book-based companion piece to Pan's Labyrinth, anyway.

...

I keep meaning to write about, or at least link to, Heather McDougal's Cabinet of Wonders

http://cabinet-of-wonders.blogspot.com/

which is fast becoming one of my favourite stopping off points on the web. It's a blog of essays and pictures of things I either know a bit about and wish I knew more, or about things I know nothing about and really really needed to. Everything from Ossuaries to astrolabes, automata, orreries and shadow-puppets, and even short films of stop motion beetles, like this one.

Start back in March and come forward, or just poke around the coolness...

And not far behind it for sheer interesting stuff, if a little more narrowly focussed, is

http://paleo-future.blogspot.com/

yesterday's future, today.

The link stolen from Eddie Campbell's blog, 1947 comic artists drawing their most famous characters blindfolded... http://a-hole-in-the-head.blogspot.com/2007/07/eyes-wide-shut-in-1947-life-magazine.html

And finally, for when you need a complete trilogy of movies condensed into one tiny pill (like those retro-future "instant roast beef dinner" pills from Just Imagine):

http://xkcd.com/c254.html

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Badger. Mushroom. Snake. Well, only badger really.

Stardust will be screening at the Edinburgh Festival -- http://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/films/stardust/. No idea if I'll be there or not. Like so many things I found it at about the same time as the Stardust News Blog did, but Martyn finds so much other stuff I miss. http://www.stardustnews.info/ is the site, and it's worth bookmarking

Right.

I think this is the best news story today. It's better than the tree man one. Honest.

THE Iraqi port city of Basra, already prey to a nasty turf war between rival militia factions, has now been gripped by a scary rumour – giant badgers are stalking the streets by night, eating humans.
The animals were allegedly released into the area by British forces...


(I found a picture of the whoo scary scary badger in question.)




I saw the "Teen tie in" edition of Stardust at my local B&N. The cover was just blue with stars on it and the word Stardust. It looked really ugly and dull. Why do you let them put covers like this on your books?

Um. In this case, because I didn't get any say in it. Paramount didn't approve any of the covers that Harper Children's proposed, and the book had to have a cover, and finally -- and I think it was more or less at the point where the book was going to press -- Harpers offered the blue cover with the logo and Paramount accepted it. I was on the road while all this was going on, and not in a place where I could see email attachments, so I missed it all. Ah well. These things happen. There are many editions of Stardust with pretty covers on them. Like this one...


(I just stole this picture of the new Hardback illustrated edition from Charles Vess's blog over at http://greenmanpress.com/news/archives/181)

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Jam stains

I tried hiding some Spoiler text yesterday, which worked for anyone reading actually my journal, but seems to have failed for anyone on the various feeds. Which means that I'm not going to answer a few more spoilery Dr Who comments that came in. But I also got told off for spoiling the identity of the character that John Simm plays for anyone in countries that have not yet got the new Season 3. And while I take the point of the people writing in to grumble, I have to point out that this is the internet, and honestly, it was difficult not to know it mid-season, for those of us who didn't figure out what the backstory in this season would be from the combination of the end of the Christmas episode and the last scene of the first Martha Jones episode ("How did you DO that?" said Maddy, "I mean, you just knew it back then?" and all I could say was I've watched TV and it's not hard. The last of the big three baddies had to come back, after all). And once something like that has been broadcast, written about in the UK newspapers, and become part of the wealth of universal knowledge, it's sort of hard to avoid.

Hello Neil,
There seem to be a lot more people dropping your name recently. Here it is in today's Working Daze in reference to the upcoming Comicon.
http://comics.com/comics/workingdaze/archive/workingdaze-20070711.html
Cheers,
Sam


That's so sweet.


Did you know you haven't used the word "parenting" at all? I'm looking for a little experienced advice on comics and young children. Recently my mother-in-law (normally a truly wonderfully helpful person) rearranged our bookshelves and put the comics down with the other picture books. I'm not paranoid about exposure to violence, but I'm not sure my 2-yr-old really needs to be flipping through The Watchmen instead of The Snowman. Do you have any words of wisdom?

I don't think it's a bad thing not to use the word "parenting", for I have no ideas at all about parenting, although I think I've figured out a few things about being a Dad in the last 24 years. (The main thing I've figured out is as long as you love them and treat them like you'd like to be treated, things mostly work themselves out. And that if you ever find yourself in an argument with a teenager, you've already lost.)

I can't see that Watchmen is going to be anything more than pictures to a two year old. And I'd worry a lot more about jam stains on your comics than exposure to violence. (They aren't being exposed to violence. They're being exposed to pictures.)

Most kids self-censor incredibly well. They reject things that they think look dull, or too scary or weird, or just too old for them. And often when they do get hold of stuff that's too old for them, they don't necessarily get what you're getting from it. (I've been accused of writing an explicit sex scene in Stardust and asked how I think that's okay for kids to read, and I have had to explain that the scene is only explicit if you bring yourself to it, not in the words used, and that it's significantly less explicit if you're a kid and you don't know what's being described.)

But a useful rule of thumb on what you give your kids access to is probably whether you're comfortable explaining it to them or not. If you don't feel comfortable answering the question of "What's that man with the splotchy face doing?" with "He's breaking that man's finger because he wants information about who pushed The Comedian out of the window and no-one in the bar is telling him anything," then probably you should move that stuff to a higher shelf, yes.

And then, as I said, there's the jam stains.

...

And look, you can see me pushing the new queen's cage into the honeycomb over at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/07/cant-stay-out-of-hives.html

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sorry

Every now and again, you read the news and wonder about the bits they leave out. I mean, when a man robs a bank disguised as a tree, and according to the Associated Press, "He really went out on a limb," police Sgt. Ernie Goodno said Sunday. There has to have been more to the police briefing than that. Probably at least a "We hope this will teach him to leaf banks alone," a "He had to bough before the might of the law," and "It was like an episode of Copse". The public has a right to know.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

orchids and hemlock

The dog training, since you asked, is going very well. Dog has figured out that if he sits next to me and persistently places his nose between my right hand and either the keyboard or the mouse, I will eventually stop attempting to type and take him for a walk, while I for my part can get him to sit, lie down, come, or shake paws three times out of five if I'm also holding something he likes to eat and if there's nothing interesting going on and if he feels like it. I think we're both making excellent progress.

I just took him for a walk down in the woods (he took off after a wild turkey. On every walk we've been on recently he's wound up flushing a turkey, who then flies off making lots of noise, so he'll chase her and ignore the chicks. This time she ran off until he was well away from them, and then took to the air, and he vanished off after her, coming back five minutes later soaking wet and with large bright grass-green patches all over him) and the woods are a strange mess of wildflowers and towering giant hemlocks, and every few feet a wild gooseberry bush flourishes, leaving me puzzled why tiny green caterpillars devour all the gooseberry plants I put in while the wild ones grow like nobody's business.

(Excuse me. The Birdchick and her husband, non-beekeeping Bill, have just arrived with a new Queen for the Kitty hive. I need to go and put white clothes on and walk in the woods once more.)

Dan Guy wrote to let me know that...

The word cloud hasn't been updated since the server migration two+
weeks ago. Now that you're on a host to which I have decent access
I'm rewriting the word cloud's back end to be much more efficient.
(The label cloud is still operating normally, though, and now is even
automatic.)

Which is to say, the word count quoted was incorrect. Here are the
right numbers:

1,000,951 words in the blog
4,082 words are by Maddy recently guestblogging
996,869 words by you
3,131 words to go until you reach the million word mark!

So it's closer than I thought. Tick. Tick.

There's a song on the new They Might Be Giants album called "Careful What You Pack." According to Flansburgh, it was written for a movie but wasn't used. There's been some speculation that the movie was Coraline. Can you confirm?

I can. Yes, it's a song they wrote for CORALINE. There were a few they did that didn't get used.

Did Maddy like the Doctor Who Season Finale?

She really did. She even cried a little when the master died (I thought the death was great but was still a bit grumpy that my prediction that the master would be shot by his wife had come true). She liked it more than I did, really. I thought it was a bit of a curate's egg (in the erroneous sense of Good In Parts, not in the actual sense of All Rotten) but I would forgive a lot for John Simm's performance as the Master, which I loved, especially following Derek Jacobi's, which I loved in a very different way. And if it wasn't Blink or Human Nature, it still had lots of things I liked, and Utopia and The Sound of Drums were both enormous fun. Even if the Toclafane plot was the Cybermen plot of the season two end, and was also the Dalek plot of the Season one end. I hope that season four won't end with the discovery that somehow human brains are fuelling the New Mechanoids. And the least said about the mini-Doctor in the cage and the magic saying of the name that makes it all better, the better...... .

Hi Neil,

Your journal entry regarding your plans for Comic Con reminded me of the interview you recently had with Quint from Ain't It Cool News, in which you mentioned that on that Wednesday, July 25th, you would be hosting a showing of Beowulf footage, with Roger Avary, for a theater of about 400. My question is whether this is still going to happen, and if it is, what I can do to take part in it. (This is my first Comic Con, and would love to start it off right.) I apologize if this information is forthcoming, or if I just missed something. I'm so excited, I can't wait. Thanks for listening. (Sorry if I accidentally sent this twice.)

-Ben

I'm not sure. If I find out about how people can get in to that -- or the Stardust event on the Thursday evening, or the event on the Saturday that I can't talk about yet, I'll post the details here.

I do know that the Beowulf panel and screening will be filmed and repeated, so if you miss the original panel you will still be able to see the 3D footage (and a film of me and Roger burbling about it) at some point during the convention. But I don't know if I'm allowed to say that yet. If I'm not, deny everything.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

enchanted flowers

Hi Neil You've probably already seen this but just in case - you're mentioned in the latest Dog eat Doug.


http://www.comics.com/creators/dogeat/archive/dogeat-20070709.html


Enjoy!
Maria


Good lord. So I am. What a nice way to start a morning.

John Hudgens writes to tell me about about his film American Scary, the documentary on horror hosts (of which I am one), letting me know about a screening of the film at Comic-Con: The screening is at 7:30pm, Thursday July 26 in Room 26AB (south side of the Convention Center, above Hall H.

Because the con is so big and so much is happening, it's usually true that anything you want to see or do clashes with something else you also want to see or do, and in this case I think I'll be introducing a Stardust screening mostly for journalists that Paramount are doing that night. (The Will Eisner's Legacy panel, which was the only one I really wanted to be at, is opposite the Spotlight on Neil Gaiman panel. So it goes.)

In a recent Journal entry, Logan asked about novel word counts. Amazon.com has a feature for some books that gives text statistics in the "Inside this book" section. The American Gods trade paper has, according to this, 182,721 words, an average of 11.4 words per sentence and at their price you get 16,300 words per dollar, a bargain!

I like to think so. (Although priced per word, upcoming picture books like The Dangerous Alphabet, which Gris Grimly has illustrated, will work out at something nightmarish, like 10 words to a dollar or something... Then again, a picture is worth a thousand words, which adds about 30,000 words.)

The Comic Con schedule has been announced, although I know there are a few extra things that aren't up yet or decided, including a couple of Coraline-related happenings on the Saturday which Focus haven't yet announced so people won't know that I'm doing anything on the Saturday yet. (Or, if they don't get the information up quickly, ever. )

I wish I was on more comics or book-related events -- Thursday and Saturday it's basically just the giant movie presentations, which I tend to think of as something separate to real Comic-con, and movie-related events that may not be open to all or even to lots. (And a couple of events that were hoped for, one with me and Joss Whedon, and one with me and Dave McKean, had to go by the wayside, one because of scheduling problems and one because of Dave not actually coming to Comic-Con this year.)

I'm just glad that Mark Evanier invited me onto his Jack Kirby panel on the Sunday morning.

And talking about Coraline, I meant to post this earlier. It's a long article that gives background on Laika (the studio) and on Phil Knight, and on Travis Knight, who is the lead animator on Coraline and is really good http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/117/features-the-knights-tale.html

(Also I fixed the word counts in the last post.)

Right. Back to work.

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twelve thousand words to go

Went out to my writing cabin today for the first time in many months, having failed to notice that it was a day like an oven in the Midwest and having many optimistic but inaccurate memories about how effective the portable air-conditioning unit in there was. I cooked, but I hand-wrote about a thousand words of a short story for the BBC's Radio 4. (Who, after I agreed to do it, kept writing and pointing out that the money for a short story from the BBC is even worse than money from anywhere else and was I absolutely sure I still really wanted to write it? And of course I do.)

I took the dog with. And I stopped writing when the storm clouds rolled in and it all turned into night outside.

I just got a slightly nervous email from Evan Dorkin, who was surprised and, I think, a little worried by the response to his LJ rant about the scents in Diamond, so I wrote back and reassured him that I thought it was funny and honestly hadn't linked to it so that people would go and shout at him. This is Evan Dorkin, after all, the man behind Milk And Cheese and the Eltingville Club, and he rants really well. He's very funny.

Todd Klein is the best letterer I've ever worked with, and because I like working with him so much he's now statistically pretty much the only letterer I've ever worked with. He's a craftsman, and one of the nicest people in comics, and he was my unofficial editor on Sandman as well. He's just put up a website at http://kleinletters.com/, and if you're interested in the craft of lettering comics, or in the story of Sandman from the only other person to be there from Sandman #1 to Endless Nights... and a whole lot more besides, then you should wander over.

Just out of curiosity, how many words were Anansi Boys, Neverwhere, and American Gods respectively? I'm working on a novel and, while I don't want to modify it for word count or even aim for any word count, I certainly don't want it to fall in that ackwardly middle novella-type length that you see published so infrequently. It's amazingly hard to find word counts for published novels... Thanks.
Logan


Anansi Boys is a hair under 100,000 words and Neverwhere is a few thousand words over 100,000. American Gods when originally handed in was about 200,000 words (and still is, if you get the "Author's preferred text edition" in the UK and was cut to somewhere a bit under 180,000 words. Stardust was 50,000 words. Coraline was 30,000 words. (I think that 60,000 words is probably a good minimum word count to aim for when you write an adult novel, 40,000 for a book for younger readers. But publishers go more for whether they like something than what the word count is.)

Hi Neil,
I noticed on the Comic Con sneak-peek schedule that you will be on a movie panel on Thursday 7/26 and the Jack Kirby tribute panel on Sunday 7/29; will you have your own session during the convention?
thanks!


Yup. I'm still waiting for final confirmation on the various other panels and presentations I'll be on, then I'll post them all here, but the solo one is:

Friday July 27th:
2-3:15 pm Spotlight on Neil Gaiman.
Room 6 CDEF
signing after from 3:15-4:15 pm


And talking about word counts, I notice from http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/clouds/words/ that I'm now a mere 12,000 words away from having written a million words on this blog in the last six and a half years. Blimey.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Blueberry Girls


I took Maddy and her friends to the Mall of America today -- they had unspecified preeteenage things to buy and I needed to visit the Apple store to get Final Cut Studio -- stopping only to pick up my friend Les Klinger from his hotel and drag him along. Not content with having annotated all the Sherlock Holmes stories, he's spent the last few years annotating Dracula, and told me all about it while we ate lunch. The two thirteen year olds and one almost thirteen year old went shopping happily, and returned with several bags, including a bag with the Victoria's Secret logo. ("You really don't have to look like that, dad. We only bought sweatpants there.")

Then I dropped Les off at his hotel and spent too short a time with several old friends, including the Sherlockian Michael Whelan, the Roden family and Michael "Langdale Pike" Dirda, the best-read man in America. Then went home. Installed Final Cut Studio...

Charles Vess talks about BLUEBERRY GIRL, our book for mothers and daughters, and he shows some pictures -- pencils and finished art -- over at http://greenmanpress.com/news/archives/185. It's a poem I wrote for Tori's daughter Tash, before she was born, and Charles is making it magical. The plan is to donate a percentage of the royalties to RAINN . We announced it a long time ago (in this post) but it's taken a while -- Charles has had so much on his plate, and the paintings have taken him so much longer to do than he expected. But they are astoundingly beautiful.

Talking about raising money for good causes, I got this astonishingly heartening email from Beth at Black Phoenix Alchemy lab...

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how the charity drive is doing. =) In the first five days that the Stardust and Good Omens scents were live, we generated $1500.00 for the Orangutan Foundation UK, and $5370.00 for the CBLDF. That brings us to a current total of $15,300.00 for the CBLDF to date!

Which, given the costs of the upcoming Gordon Lee trial (there's an excellent interview with Charles Brownstein about it at http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/features/118336212712690.htm), is a very good thing indeed. Diamond distributors have asked to be able to put a couple of the scents in their catalogue, which Evan Dorkin amusingly interprets as a sign of the oncoming apocalypse. Personally, I think that a better indication of the apocalypse is an entire article on Canadian Comics that manages not to mention Dave Sim or Cerebus. Bizarre. (Incidentally, for those of you who missed it the first time around, I believe Dave's offer at the end of http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/08/lewis-and-clarke-not-to-mention-snuff.asp still stands. Over two thousand people got free comics from him by simply writing in and asking, and I hope that many of them came back and bought the Cerebus collections...)

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