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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Simpsons and the Other Mother



Here's the SIMPSONS episode that I'm in. It's called THE BOOK JOB. I'm not sure how long it'll be up for.

If you're not in the US and you want to watch it, I recommend Tunnelbear (downloadable from http://www.tunnelbear.com/). It's what I use to tell the internet I'm either in the US or the UK, depending on where it would like me to be. They have a free service, but I eventually signed up for the paid one.

And, because it is good that you heard it here first, in the UK Bloomsbury are doing a special Tenth Anniversary edition of Coraline next year, illustrated by Chris Riddell. They just sent me his illustrations...



...

Also http://cbldf.org/homepage/cbldf-cyber-monday-25-amazing-graphic-novelists-personalize-your-gifts-in-the-spirit-of-giving/

Fight censorship this Cyber Monday by getting your holiday gifts from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! 25 of today’s most popular graphic novelists will personalize their books to the fans on your list in exchange for donations to the Fund! Best of all, every item supports the Fund’s First Amendment legal work, and a portion of each contribution is tax-deductible.



As part of the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving holiday gift drive, donations you make on Cyber Monday will be acknowledged by The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation who will make a contribution of $1 for every donation and gift order placed on the CBLDF’s website. In addition, they will contribute $5 for each new, renewing or gift membership made from now until December 31!
25 legendary graphic novelists are personalizing books for the CBLDF, including some of the season’s best new gift books.

Make your holiday comics giving a cinch by choosing from books by bestselling masters including Neil Gaiman, art spiegelman, Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, and Scott McCloud; Lit comics lions Chester Brown, Dan Clowes, Los Bros. Hernandez, Seth, and Adrian Tomine; Indy comics icons Jeff Smith, Evan Dorkin, Larry Marder, Carla Speed McNeil and Terry Moore; Superhero visionaries Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Paul Levitz; or Hard boiled thrill makers Robert Kirkman, Jason Aaron, Brian Azzarello, Garth Ennis, Brian K. Vaughan, and Brian Wood!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Doughnuts, Posters, and remembering Anne McCaffrey

The Simpsons episode aired in the US. I watched it with my daughter Maddy, her friends, and some of my friends. We had doughnuts (all kinds, but mostly the kind with sprinkles on them) and snacks and made it a proper TV watching party (I've always wanted to have one of those, but somehow never had before). I hadn't told the girls anything about the episode so the final twists and turns of the plot (which I am not telling here, because many of you haven't seen it yet) took them by surprise.

When the episode was done, the girls went into the kitchen and giggled a lot, while Bill Stiteler and I watched the episode again, this time with the freeze frame on, to catch the many book title jokes hidden in the episode.

The reviews for it have been wonderful, which is a testament to Exec Producer Matt Selman, writer Dan Vebber, and the crew of staff writers. And in some alternate universe where all the pink people are yellow, I like to think there's a version of me still sipping his drink on the beach at Shelbyville.

...

Rachel Abrams at Harper Childrens emailed me last week to let me know the results of the All Hallow's Read poster competition. And I am a Very Bad Person and didn't blog it (because people were writing on Twitter to let us know that not all the posters were showing on Flickr, and I wanted to wait until they were all visible. And then I got caught up in Simpsons Madness, and didn't get to it. Apologies to all of you artists waiting on tenterhooks.)

The contest is to design posters promoting All Hallow's Read. The winning poster design will become a limited-edition poster to be printed and distributed to participating booksellers for All Hallow’s Read in 2012 (printing and distribution sponsored by HarperCollinsPublishers).

And Rachel says...

We’ve put the posters to a vote and the Grand Prize Winner is…

Sksletonkey for her bewitching depiction of All Hallows Read! http://www.flickr.com/photos/69222671@N02/6311248494/



Tied at First Place are sfdavered
All Hallows Read poster

and Sara Koncilja
all hallows read poster

In addition to her poster being printed and distributed to book stores in 2012, the Grand Prize Winner will receive a signed copy of the limited edition poster and a “Neil Gaiman Prize Pack.” The prize pack will include a signed first edition of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, a copy of CORALINE, and a copy of the CORALINE graphic novel.

First place winners will both receive the prize pack.

My congratulations to all the winners, and, more than that, my congratulations to everyone who took part. The posters submitted (you can see them up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/webgoblin/favorites/?view=lg -- go and look) are pretty much all wonderful. I was glad I wasn't judging the competition.

I hope that people will use (link to, spread around) all of the posters people did next October -- they really are fantastic.

Thank you SO much to everyone who took part.

...

I learned last night that Anne McCaffrey had passed away.

I met Anne for the first time as a teenager, in bed with glandular fever. A friend came over with a pile of books, because I could do nothing but read, and in the pile were books by Anne McCaffrey. I read the Dragonflight books, and The Ship Who Sang, and loved them.

I met her as a person in the late 80s, when I was a young writer, at a convention, where she was the Guest of Honour. It was a small convention, and she decided that I needed to be taken under her wing and given advice I would need in later life, which she proceeded to do. It was all good advice: how to survive American signing tours was the bit that stuck the most (she wanted me to move to Ireland, and I came close). I already liked her as a writer, and by the end of that convention I adored her as a person. Over the years I'd get occasional emails or messages from her, and they were always things where she was looking out for me -- letting me know about a foreign publisher who had money for me but no address to send it to, that kind of thing.

The last time I saw her was in 2005, when I was toastmaster at the Nebula Awards. I was as happy to see her as she was to see me.

I was heartbroken to hear that she had passed away, but then, as I was writing this, it made me foolishly happy to realise that there are actually some photos of us together. So many times, it's not until my friends are gone I realise that there weren't ever any photos...

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hey Hey We're, er, on the Simpsons.

In January, I was here:





I was given a copy of this.



And I recorded my part here, with Producer Matt Selman directing me as hard as he could.


And now, eleven months later, here we come... walkin' down the street... we get the funniest looks from... No, that's something else. Anyway, I like this shot because I am wearing a suit and tie.



If you're in the US, then the episode of The Simpsons with me in it, "The Book Job", goes out tomorrow. 8 pm or 7 Central.

If you're not in the US, then you may have a while to wait until it's on.

No, I haven't seen it yet either. I am hoping to watch it tomorrow with a daughter, her friends, and probably doughnuts.

...

I learned from Mark Evanier's blog that Les Daniels had passed away. Here's the New York Times obituary. I had Les's book "COMIX. A HISTORY OF COMIC BOOKS IN AMERICA" as a boy, and loved it and learned from it. I didn't meet Les until I was a guest at NeCon, in Providence, Rhode Island.

I really liked him, I got to thank him for COMIX, and it's good to say thank you. My obsession with Jack Benny really started when Les and I were talking about radio, and I was saying that the best radio comedies were all British, pointing to Hancock's Half Hour and the Goons and Round the Horne and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Les agreed that they mostly were... but then there was the Jack Benny Show. And a few weeks later, he sent me some cassettes, so I could hear for myself. And I was both convinced and hooked. Thank you, Les.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Coughetty Cough


I'm home from the tour. I'm tired and a bit sick (some sort of cold thing) but happy to be back with my dogs in my house. Already the tour is feeling a bit dreamlike and unreal. (Did Amanda really sing me a surprise Lou Reed/ Velvet Underground song in each new location? Did Amanda and John Cameron Mitchell also sing me "I'm Sticking With You" in Portland?)




Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman


\


I'm glad that I got to be with Jason Webley on the Eleventiest Night of All. This blog has brought me many good things over the years, but I'm most glad of the friendships I've made through it I wouldn't have made otherwise, and I would never have known Jason if I hadn't mentioned, here in this blog, back in the dawn of time, how much I liked a video of a song of his called "Eleven Saints".

Neil Gaiman's photo At the eleventiest party in the whole world, thanks to @jasonwebley.

My best friend and I went to your "An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer" show in Portland on November 8th and it was incredible. The two of you inspired both of us to grow as artists and people. For that, thank you. That said, I was wondering if you could tell me the name of that incredibly creepy song you sang at the end - the one where the disturbed man tells his mother about his killing spree. And how did you find it to begin with? Was it a popular song or something obscure you stumbled onto?


It's a song called "Psycho" written by a blind American songwriter named Leon Payne about fifty years ago. I ran across it as one of the extra bonus live tracks on Elvis Costello's Almost Blue album, where he covered the version done by a man named Jack Kittel (which I eventually heard on a collection of songs that Elvis Costello had covered). When I first started going out with Amanda I would teach myself to play songs, which I would play her over the phone, and that was one of them - I think because I liked a version of it that was more lonely and plaintive and crazy and slow than the versions I'd heard.


During our drive from LA to San Francisco Jack Kittel's version came on (I'd plugged my phone with much random music on it into the car stereo), and Amanda asked if I'd like to sing "Psycho" to an audience larger than her. And, nervously, I said "maybe..."


(Which reminds me: this article on Amanda is the best thing I've read about her so far, in that it reads like an accurate portrait of the woman I married and the person I know. I missed it when it first came out. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/tools/full/150167)


Neil Gaiman


I've not seen Tom Stoppard for years (July 2008 in Brazil), so was delighted to learn I'll be sharing a stage with him in Melbourne Australia on December the 16th. Not actually sharing it -- he'll be on it from 7 until 8, and I'll be on it from 9 until 10. But nearly. And if you want to see both of us talk that evening it gets cheaper.


Talking of stage-sharing: I mentioned here how much I loved the panel I did with Connie Willis at World Fantasy Con in San Diego.

That panel has now been uploaded to YouTube. You can watch it in its entirely. It is Connie and me talking about craft and Where DO We Get Our Ideas and all that for an hour.




...

Let's see. What else? Absolute Sandman Volume 5 came out. And that is most definitely the last Absolute volume of Sandman unless and until I actually write some more.

Dear Neil,
First of all, thanks to you and Amanda for a wonderful concert last week. It was really, really marvelous to be there with you. I'm wondering if the recordings of the tour will be available for those of us who didn't get in on the Kickstarter eventually?
Second is this: I'm a recently declared English literature major taking an introductory course to British - or, since we also read Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon literature. Although I see you as a very modern writer, and also the type of writer many people who absolutely couldn't ever stand to be an English lit major would read books by, reading the first book of The Faerie Queen I was repeatedly reminded of Stardust, and I know you also did the screenplay for Beowulf. How do you see this type of English tradition in relation to your own writing? Is it a conscious, deliberate, or completely unintended influence? And do you have any advice for me for surviving the rest of the term (Milton, Pope, Blake)?
Carolyn


I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm not sure if the physical CDs will be available beyond the Kickstarter supporters (it'll be a 3 CD pack), but the audio downloads will be available for everyone.

How do I see that tradition in relation to my own writing? I don't really think about it much: I love the poets you refer to, mostly (I never liked Alexander Pope's writing as much as I like Pope himself, or at any rate the version of Pope that I read as a boy in the James Branch Cabell Story "A Brown Woman" -- you can read it here, if you're curious). I read it all for pleasure, whether in school libraries or on my own, trying to understand how it all fitted in to the stuff that I already knew that I liked, discovering poets I liked and poets I didn't care for.

Advice for surviving it? Lord, I hate to think of good writers as people you should survive. It's why I worry when I'm told I'm being taught in schools and colleges. I'm sure that Thomas Hardy wrote good books, and wish I'd come across them on my own, and all I know is that enforced reading of Thomas Hardy at school left me with a dislike of his books that's visceral, real and undoubtedly unfair.

Will you in the near- or slightly-more-distant-future teach a writing workshop?


Perhaps. I loved teaching at Clarion, but I also walked away from Clarion with 18 people whose lives and careers I now felt part of in a way that surprised me. I might do it again one day, probably should do, but am in no hurry.


Neil,


Your post - http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2003/06/tommy-leprechaun-dies-organs-are-built.asp


That link that 'goes' (went) to the Missoulian is dead.... do you have a copy of that Tommy the Leprechaun story?...it was most excellent - yes, that short little man touched many lives....
I am, Phantasmagorical - Tommy gave me many pieces of 'magic'.....


Thanks,John


Oh, I met the man who murdered the man who stole his clothes - at MSP - I worked at the prison....

It's sad. So many of the old links from the blog are dead. (And many of the images have vanished as well.) But we're in luck here: I checked archive.org and it still had a link to the original story. You can read it here.

Reading that old blog entry reminded me of the existence of this, from the dawn of the Internet, and I looked on YouTube, and found it once again, and I post it here for anyone who wonders what the original 1944 Warner Brothers version of Lord of the Rings, starring Humphrey Bogart as Frodo and Peter Lorre as Gollum, actually looked like*:








*Not a true statement. For purposes of humour only. Void where prohibited.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birthday Wishes

The tour is over.

It was amazing, and it got better. Vancouver was fantastic. Portland was amazing. Seattle was almost as amazing as Portland, but it was the only stop on the tour I didn't do mostly new material at because we were webcasting it.


Neil Gaiman
I went looking on Flickr for a photo of me last night in Seattle - Amanda surprised me on stage with her signing "Take Back Your Mink", accompanied by a small, well-choreographed burlesque troupe, and then presented me with a birthday cake. But there were no photographs of that up yet, so here is a photo someone took of me in Vancouver. Portland and Seattle were filmed. All the shows were recorded. We'll be releasing a triple CD of the tour to Kickstarter supporters, and there will also be a digital download. I don't yet know how the film of the last two gigs will be released or what it will be once it's edited.

It's my birthday today. I'm 51. There is no way I can get my head around 51.

It sounds so terrifyingly grown up. I know that I am remarkably fortunate: there are people I love who who love me, and I make my living making art that I take pleasure in making. I don't know what else I could ever ask for. So many birthday wishes coming in.

Thank you, each and every one of you. I'm very grateful.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

If this is thursday then where on earth did the last week go?


A blog post written this morning, one-fingered, on Amanda's iPad, while she slept, was eaten by the iPad or the ether.

Damn.
Here's my AMAZING LA assistant Cat's blog about World Fantasy Con and what happened while I was in LA. http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com/2011/11/world-fantasy-con-late-late-show-neil.html
I'm backstage right now at the Brava Theatre in San Francisco.

Let's see..

First of all, a thousand thanks to everyone who gave anyone else a scary book, or encouraged other people to, for All Hallow's Read. Thank you!

Craig Ferguson and the Late Late Show was fun. Amanda was meant to record her bit at 4:20, my section around 5 ish, but a newly added dance number at the opening of the show meant we didn't leave until about 6:30pm... and the rest of the evening squirmed and coped as best it could...

My friend Mark Evanier served as haggis mule for the Late Late Show, and he writes entertainingly and accurately about the experience and the view from backstage at http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2011_10_31.html#021526



Left to right: Moby, Amanda Palmer, Stephin Merritt. Pay no attention to that toy pianist at the back.

The Haggis came from Macsweens via scottishfoodoverseas.com, ace haggis importers. My assistant Lorraine did all the hard work, at one point enlisting both Mark Evanier and Wil Wheaton in her secret haggis-importing clan, and sending around emails that said things like:


Hello all,

First of all, THANK YOU for be willing to accept our Haggis. And tend it. And keep it safe. True friends, indeed...

Sadly, Mark didn't copy me when he replied to Neil that he was a couple of blocks away, and Neil was in the cities at the time taping NPR and by the time I got Mark's note it was too late, the Haggis Shop is closed, the order set, and One Little Haggis is on its way from Scotland for Friday Delivery to Mr Wheaton.

If it is easier for all concerned, perhaps, Mark might acquire the Haggis from Wil, and deliver it Monday. If Wil would like to keep the Haggis and make the journey himself, well, that's just fine too. Mostly, whatever it easiest, I do not want our Haggis to disrupt lives and wreak havoc.

Again, my thanks to you,

Lorraine


Which I quote in full because I love the haggisy emails that were sent around. (Mark Evanier took delivery of the haggis in the end.)

Here's the song... 

And here's the interview...

Right. So the Wilshire Ebell Hallowe'en gig was wonderful, but chaos. We got to the theatre late, late from the Late Late Show, and the rehearsing time never happened, the costume contest and the us chatting took up much more time than we had thought, and we had to be offstage at exactly 10:30 or the tour would turn into a pumpkin, so the set list wound up becoming a peculiarly moveable feast... and it was wonderful. Nothing quite went as planned, but it felt like everyone, including us, was having the kind of evening that only ever happens once.

The scary rabbit twins in fezzes won the costume competition, with Roborina coming in second and Hester Prynne at the far left not winning, although her glowing A was often the only thing in the audience visible from the stage, so I always knew where she was. (Margaret Cho introduced us and helped with the costume competition. She is a very good thing.)


Amanda and I drove up the coast. We spent the night at the Madonna Inn (I am still trying to decide if it's a real American Gods place or not. I think probably it is) and then the next morning drove to San Francisco.

(It's now tomorrow, after the Brava show. Time to type has been tight.)

The Brava show was much tighter than the LA show. I read different things (I plan to read different things every night). We didn't have strict on-stage curfew, which meant that things could run a little long and no-one worried. The Jane Austen Argument debuted a new single, Holes, with lyrics by me and art by Mark Buckingham. (You can listen to it here.)

Amanda played me "Walk on the Wild Side" as an early birthday present, assisted by the Jane Austen Argument and Lance Horne.




And finally, for now (only because I have to stop writing this blog and sleep, despite all the things I meant to write about here) Absolute Sandman Volume 5, containing Endless Nights and Dream Hunters and more, comes out tomorrow. You can preorder it discounted at Amazon,  You can preorder it from Indiebound. (You can preorder it from Barnes and Noble, but they don't get a link until they put Sandman graphic novels back on the shelves of their shops.)

Or you can just go and buy a copy from your local comic shop.

Barnes and Noble have done something very wonderful recently, though. Last year, they recorded me reading the opening passage to James Thurber's book "The Thirteen Clocks", which is one of my favourite books. And now they've animated it. Here's a link to the Barnes and Noble blog where you can watch it.

Right. Sleep.

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