Tuesday, October 14, 2008




But home. And my dog is very happy to see me.

Walked outside under a mist-shrouded moon and the world smelled like leaf-mould and mist and autumn earth, and I thought, it was late summer only last week, and before that I was walking this path about to go to China and it was mid-summer and life this year feels like it's a series of stop-motion images, one replacing the next.

Can you please put a word out for the Iowa man arrested and facing 20 possible years in jail for possessing-- not distributing manga? (It was the mail man who decided that his express mail package had questionable art, and reported it to the police). The Comic Book Legal Defense is trying to help.

Absolutely. Normally when I explain what the CBLDF does, I explain that it's there to defend the First Amendment rights of comic creators, publishers and retailers. Now I'm going to have to add "readers" to that list.

"Handley's case is deeply troubling, because the government is prosecuting
a private collector for possession of art," says CBLDF Executive Director
Charles Brownstein. "In the past, CBLDF has had to defend the First
Amendment rights of retailers and artists, but never before have we experienced
the Federal Government attempting to strip a citizen of his freedom because he
owned comic books. We will bring our best resources to bear in aiding Mr.
Handley's counsel as they defend his freedom and the First Amendment rights of
every art-loving citizen in this country."

Mr. Handley's case began in May 2006
when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven
Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal
Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package
contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his
materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was
followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed
him to his home. Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector's office,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa
Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police
Department seized Handley's collection of over 1,200 manga books or
publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and
other documents. Though Handley's collection was comprised of hundreds of comics
covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images
appearing in a small handful.

Putting the case into context, Burton Joseph,
CBLDF's Legal Counsel says, "In the lengthy time in which I have represented
CBLDF and its clients, I have never encountered a situation where criminal
prosecution was brought against a private consumer for possession of material
for personal use in his own home. This prosecution has profound
implications in limiting the First Amendment for art and artists, and comics in
particular, that are on the cutting edge of creativity. It misunderstands the
nature of avant-garde art in its historical perspective and is a perversion of
anti-obscenity laws."

Here's the Harper Collins trailer for The Graveyard Book. It's the version from YouTube.

Miss Kitty was along for the first few stops of the Graveyard Book tour, and then for the last one. She's posted an account, with lots of photos, on her blog: Here's the first, at the National Book Festival in Washington DC, then to New York, Philadelphia and Chicago (where Kitty and her young man Drew were reunited, and I lost her until...) Minneapolis (where you have a wonderful photograph of my dog, asleep at the reading)

(Also a Washington Post photo of me reading on the Mall.)

You've probably already received 15 emails telling you the same, but American Gods made a list of the 100 best books of all time in the Sydney Morning Herald. I would have voted it number one myself, but it was up to a popular vote. (I try to get as many of my friends and coworkers as I can to read American Gods - up to 8 now. :)
Anyways, the link is here:

What fun!

Dear Neil,

Is there a research bibliography for "American Gods?" I was thinking specifically of the cons that Wednesday relates to Shadow and the various magic tricks Shadow does/mentions/researches and realized that if you're willing to fly halfway across the globe and risk Mongolian blood worms for research purposes, you no doubt read piles of books for information that is held therein. Assuming there is a research bibliography, would you please publish it? I'd love to see what other cons are out there that Wednesday and Loki may have used.


There's an incomplete bibliography up at I talk about Coin tricks at and apologise for never finishing it at David Maurer's The Big Con is a lovely book, although I mainly put it down because I can't remember the rest of the books on confidence tricks I used.

Hi Neil,

Just a quick query/comment. At the weekend I bought a copy of The Graveyard Book from my local Waterstone's store, despite the release date being 31st October. (Unless I have the release date wrong, but this is what it says on Amazon). I was confused that shops were able to sell the book before the offical release date as I can remember the hype surrounding the last Harry Potter, where shops were covering their shelves of the book with plastic or paper covers so you couldn't even look at the book, never mind buy it.

Is it just that, with the Potter books, there is so much media attention that shops go out of their way to avoid selling the book early or is this a legal obligation for all books? If so, shall I return my copy of the book to the shop?!!!! (please say no to this last point, I can't bear to part with it now I've got it!)



Not at all. The way it works is like this: there are release dates for books. Sometimes they are really strict, what are called "One Day Laydowns" (The Graveyard Book in the US was one of these) and if the books go on the shelves early bad things happen, and sometimes they aren't -- the books go out to bookshops with a note on the box of what the release dates are, but get put out on the shelves around that time, or earlier, without anyone getting too grumpy.

So while copies have crept on sale early in some shops in the UK, nobody is going to get into trouble. They would have got into trouble if copies had gone onsale early in the US, though.

Hello, Neil, hope you enjoy it back here in Britain. I was just wondering, is there any difference (text wise) between the child and adult additions? Also, exciting!, The graveyard book was been released 3 weeks early, which is pleasing. Just making sure you know. see you in manchester hopefully. Matthew.

Nope. No difference in the words. Just the pictures and the ISBN.

The Site Inquiry line is the prefered method of contacting the Webgoblin, and he would like Ana K, who wanted to translate this blog into Russian, to get in touch with him.


Just wanted to say thank you for posting the link to the story I did for the LA Weekly. I really appreciated having the chance to interview you.

BTW, my friend Jeaux Janovsky (actually the person who turned me onto The Sandman sixteen years ago) did some cool artwork for his blog post about the story and I wanted to share it with you.
Thanks again.


Consider it posted.