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Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Coffee Table Book and why reality is being replaced by small pieces of paper

My scary goddaughter Hayley Campbell is here, working on a book of The Art Of Neil Gaiman or somesuch, and she has disappeared off to

...maddy gaiman is so cool.....

(I just stopped blogging and took the dogs for a walk. I'm sure it didn't say that when I left.)

(Just for that, a photo of Maddy Gaiman and Hayley Campbell from last week. Maddy is wearing Hayley's hat.)




Anyway. Hayley has disappeared off to the attic where she is scanning things and going through tubs of old artwork and faxes and wanting me to explain why I used to draw vampire bunnies and fax them to Steve Bissette back in the 80s.

Also, she is taking art from the walls to be scanned.

Where art used to be on the walls, there are now random PostIt notes, describing what should be there. I keep feeling like I'm in a Philip K Dick novel.



...

I wanted to plug a book here. I got my copy free, and was delighted, because it was a huge and impressive book. Then I read it and got much, much more delighted.

It's really heavy. It's also really good. Here is a photograph of it that amused me, because it is a coffee table book that takes up a whole coffee table..


The book is called 75 Years of DC Comics: the Art of Modern Mythmaking, and it's published by Taschen with production values that I've never seen from a comics publisher. Fold-out pages, amazing reproductions of old art, rarities, wonders, along with a history of DC Comics since the beginning. The majority of the text (although, probably not all -- there are captions, timelines and suchlike as well) is by Paul Levitz, who knows where the bodies are buried, and is too much of a gentleman to tell all, but tells more than I ever thought he would. It weighs 15lbs (7 kg) and comes with its own carrying case.

The production values, as I said, are amazing. They raise the bar for what any comics publisher can do in the future.

This is the Taschen Books website page for the book, where you can look at the first hundred pages of the book in a pop up window.

There's also a great photo on the Taschen site of Paul displaying the book, which makes Paul look a bit like a garden gnome holding a normal-sized book.

Paul Levitz is a normal-sized human being and not a gnome of any kind.

Also, it has a Marc Hempel Sandman drawing on the spine, alongside the five iconic superheroes and Swamp Thing. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

The only downside is that now I am starting to fantasize about a Taschen quality Complete In One Volume All 2000 Pages of Sandman book, like the one that I've suggested over the years to DC Comics. They've always looked at me and shivered whenever I've suggested it. (It could have its own carrying case. Or wheels. Or screw-on legs for making it into a table.)

Actually, that's not the only downside. The other downside of owning it is realising that there are people who I now have to buy it for as the ultimate xmas/hannukkah/winter solstice/etc present. It's really expensive. But it's the perfect present.

Here's the Amazon link, if you want to check it out. It's on a fairly serious discount there. (But it's still not cheap. It works out at about 50 cents an ounce.)

Here is the indiebound link, so you can support your local indie bookseller.

And it's very probable your local comic shop has a copy as well. (Here's a local comic shop locator so you can find out.)

...

Right. A couple of things: first of all, Patrick Rothfuss's blog is doing the wonderful Heifer International thing he did last year. Go and read this: http://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/2010/11/worldbuilders-2010/ and then just look at the amazing things in the raffle at http://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/ and marvel. You make a donation to Heifer International. You feel good. You probably come away from it with a signed book of amazing wonderfulness.


As he says,

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them. Plus there’s the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That’s nice, too.

Don’t forget, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to the Team Heifer page and chip in. Trust me. You’ll feel great afterward.


...

Over at Kickstarter, the fundraising of pledges to make an animated film from my story "The Price" is up to 983 backers and $68,000 pledged. That's almost half-way there.

I'm thrilled and amazed that it's gone so well so far, and I suspect Christopher Salmon is too.

He needs a lot more people to pledge money, obviously. We've got 12 days to go. If you have a blog, can you blog it, or put up the widget from the site? If you have a news site, go and interview Chris, or just mention it as a way for people to get involved. Twitter it. Facebook it. Tell people.



To encourage things along, I just went over to last.fm and put up a full length audio of "The Price" from the Speaking In Tongues CD for streaming:

http://www.last.fm/music/Neil+Gaiman/_/The+Price.

So if anyone wants to know what "The Price" is about, give them the link, and tell them to listen...

...

The SF Playhouse (in San Francisco) is doing the Stephin Merritt CORALINE musical. Details, video, photographs and such over at http://www.sfplayhouse.org/season1011/coraline.php?video=1#link_video
...

Here's something Hayley just found in a tub of old faxes. Somebody didn't like Death Talks About Life. Click on it to read why...

...

Right. A quick wander into the mail on the FAQ line...

Any chance there will be a reprint of GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF? I miss it.

All best,


I'm afraid not. That book, like the Duran Duran biography, won't be reprinted. Cherish your old copies.

Hi Neil,

I saw you give a talk at Washington University in Saint Louis back in 1999. As you can imagine, it left quite an impression seeing as I'm writing this note to you more than 11 years later.

Back then, I was a philosophy student with aspirations of changing the world with esoteric babble and the like. It was a stroke of luck and fortuitous timing that I found myself there, at Graham Chapel, listening to you talk so openly and candidly about your own creative process.

Little did I know then that I'd end up a painter now. So much of what you said still rings in my heart and in ears. I've always wanted to thank you for that - what you offered. You've been a sort of friend and mentor to me since.

I am writing now because things have come full circle in a way. I am now living in China - recently invited by Sichuan University to be their 'artist in residence' - a great gig which has lead to a invitation to deliver a series of lectures (arising from my sense of my own art, curatorial work, and creative process.) I will deliver my first talk to the University (and art community here in Chengdu) next week. It will be the very first time for me.

When i saw you talk 11 years ago, I actually imagined myself in your position. Of course I hadn't done anything momentous (not that I have now :) - but still, I imagined that it would happen...I imagined that I would have the opportunity to talk about my own work (whatever that was to be)...and I'm a bit taken back that it is happening now. I trust that this will not be the last time - and that such experience will impact my work in ways I can't imagine.

I am now painting in a studio space in a remote farmer's village, outside of the big city. It is not so far removed, practically, from your cabin in the woods...with your window. My rule is like yours, I can look out as I like, for as long as I like - and all the while my paint (and your keyboard) beckons the work. That is what it's all about.

I will talk about Phenomenology and the creative process. I will draw comparisons between cave paintings and Picasso while sharing my own humble paintings and curatorial history. I will make a reference to you - what I learned by watching you talk. I don't anticipate your being in the audience, but your ears may be burning next November 25th.

So here is a cheers and a genuine and profound thank you. I imagine that mine is one of countless affirmations that what you are doing is important and meaningful; all well deserved. I wish you the best along your creative journey.

I think that what makes it all so incredible is that what we do is so solitary and personal. We make art from nothing but our heart, our mind, and our hands. And then to talk about it so openly seems terrifying, not having done it...but it's what i've imagined so many times, so it is meant to be. Manifest destiny in a pure form, eh?

So thanks and cheers to you one more time. Have fun with your upcoming talks in San Diego. You'll be in mind when I offer my first.

Sincerely,

Will Kerr

PS - I have a studio cat too - a real Chinese farmer's cat that adopted me as a wee kitten... I named her 'Gui Mao' - which means Ghost Cat...and she sure is!


I remember that talk in St Louis, and how nervous I was -- it was the first time I'd ever been invited to give a proper We Are Paying You To Do This university talk -- and then getting there and being told by the Art Department who had brought me in that the English Department were boycotting it and me because I wrote comics, and feeling vaguely like a fraud as I wondered whether I really had anything to say that was worth hearing. Then standing up in the chapel, and just talking.

And then I read this, and it made me incredibly happy. Good luck with the lectures, Will. Not that you'll need it.

Dear Mr. Neil, a very happy Birthday to you! My B-day is the 20th of November, and they gave me as a present The Graveyard Book, which I´ve just finished. You made me cry in the end, young Bod wants of life what I have always felt and wanted while I was young, whilst reading the Jungle Book or Robinson Crusoe. Thank you for deeply moving me.

Did you know none of your books are sold in Bolivia? your comics yes, but I bought Anansi Boys in Buenos Aires, Argentina and The Graveyard Book was purchased for me in Valparaiso, Chile.

It took me a little while to realize, while I was reading and wishing to have adventures like the ones I read, that I didn´t live in an "ordinary place" like England, that the jungle, the gold hunters and the "indigenous people", were in fact very near. We speak Aymara at the market place and have wild parties with Afro Bolivian saya being played with loud drums, but I thought, when I was a child, that foreign and adventure where elsewhere...not in my home country, if you know what I mean.

The Graveyard Book set me thinking that, in truth, the real adventure is life itself, and growing up, and learning your challenges, your asserts and your mistakes...

I just wanted to share my impressions with you. Thank you very much for your beautiful books, and, again, a very happy birthday to you...

Mar


You're right. Adventure is where you find it, and so is romance. (You might like this Kipling poem about Adventure and Romance and where it isn't, and why you're wrong if you think it's dead...)

Neil,

Almost all of the photos in your last blog are broken.

Also, the tags you use are cute, but inconsistent and not really functional. I was trying to browse dog posts and nothing I clicked came up with much.


The dog pictures are fixed, and I've learned never to link to tumblr images.

There's nothing I can do about the labels, though. Inconsistent and not really functional is what we aspire to here in the labelling department. Here is the complete list of blog labels, weighted by size showing frequency of use: http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Journal/Labels where you will see that, to my shame, one of the most frequently-used labels on this blog is COMPLETELY ABANDONS THE IDEA OF WRITING LOTS OF LABELS AND GOES TO BED INSTEAD.

I suppose I couldn't persuade you that inconsistent and not really functional is a feature, not a bug? No... Oh well.

...

The Moth auction just finished
. It's made money that'll help support The Moth in its storytelling mission this year.

Here's a final comment from someone who won a twitchange auction, a couple of months ago, which says it, I think, better than I ever can:

As a recent winner of a Neil Gaiman auction, I felt the need to respond to the comment someone made about cronyism and the benefits of money after your story on The Moth. First, my wife and I are in no way rich. We bid what we could afford, and did so not just because it would be cool to win, but because it was for charity. Believe me, had it not been for charity, my wife would not have gone for it.

The point of these auctions is to raise as much money as possible for those in need. Yes, $4,400 is a lot of money to some (myself included), but that money went to a good cause, not into Neil’s pocket. And yes, we would all love to have the money to bid on the things we want, but that just isn’t the case. If you’re looking at these auctions with jealousy instead of appreciating how they help others, you’re missing the point entirely.
Kris Dalpiaz

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