Thursday, May 29, 2003

Please Help. Also an intimate, but authorised Mickey Mouse, Wallaroos, and Pynchon.

Let's see.... coming up later in this journal entry, an urgent plea for help.

But first,

The Hello Kitty Tarot Deck

"This tarot deck is based on traditional Rider-Waite symbolism with Hello Kitty and friends substituted for the traditional images."

Yes, I know the website also has the Mickey Mouse four-fingered-glove vibrator on it, and even the deeply weird Pooh Bear Vibrator, but there's something about a Hello Kitty Tarot Deck that tells me the world will soon be ending. (Thanks to Red Fish for the link to the site.)


A rumour is circulating that you'll be attending the 'Mythic Journeys' convention (June 3rd through 6th) in Atlanta GA. Is that true? You don't seem to have any previous engagements listed for that date under 'where's Neil'. Just curious!


If it was happening, it would have been posted, honest. Nope, won't be there. Alas and sorry...

Lots of people asking more or less the same thing, of which this is an example....

Dear Neil,
I notice that you managed to wander around some of the nicer parts of mainland Europe and then skipped back over the Atlantic to America and you seem to have missed the British Isles out of your busy signing schedule. My simple and obvious question is therefore; when will you return to Blighty to see your adoring public?
I know that you have deserted this Fair Isle to live in the Colonies, but please come back and see us some time, I'll bake a cake and put the kettle on for you, if it will help!
I'm afraid I'm too impoverished to cross the channel to see you when you come to mainland Europe and you can't get a decent cup of tea from the world beyond Calais, and they all drive on the wrong side of the road and some of those foreigners don't even speak English!
Please note that I'm not a reactionary Xenophobic Euro-skeptic, it's just that I once went to Australia and discovered that the Euro (the intended currency for the whole of Europe) is a type of wallaby or wallaroo. Replacing the English Pound for a pocketful of marsupials seems to me to be a stupid idea...I personally do not have big enough pockets.
If you have any confusion about what I'm talking about you might want to visit:

- Simon Satori Hendley

You're right about the Euro...

I was in the UK signing last August for two weeks, when Coraline was published. I signed in LOTS of places, from Canterbury to Dundee (not to mention Dublin). The reason I wasn't signing in the UK on this tour wasn't because the UK isn't in Europe: it's because Coraline had already had a UK signing tour. I'm sure I'll be back for another signing or two at some point in the next year or so, but I'd rather go and write some more books first.

Dear Neil,
Do you NEVER journey into outerspace for signings/readings? How long must I wait!


We're still hoping to have several clonal duplicates of me on a galactic signing tour by 2006. Keep an eye on "Where's Neil" for details.

Okay. So, the Urgent Plea for Help...

I just got a fax from Gary Groth at Fantagraphics Books. It's a long one, and I'm sure by tomorrow they'll have it up on their website (I just wrote to Gary and asked him to stick it up so I could link to it.) Basically, they were badly hurt when their book distributor went bankrupt on them last year, owing them $70,000, and they were also badly hurt by printing too many copies of some recent books -- their cash is tied up in books in the warehouse. And they are up against the wall, with loans coming due.

There are a lot of people who have no love for Gary Groth, or the Comics Journal, or for Fantagraphics books, and would be very pleased to see them gone.

But for almost 30 years Fantagraphics has been publishing many of the world's finest cartoonists. They brought us Los Bros Hernandez's Love and Rockets and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan and Dan Clowes's Ghost World and, er, Scott Russo's Jizz and cartoonists like Joe Sacco and Roberta Gregory and hundreds of others. Not to mention The Comics Journal, and classic and wonderful stuff like Krazy Kat and Little Nemo in Slumberland. They care passionately about the comics medium, and without Fantagraphics the comics landscape of the last two decades would have been much less interesting. They've offended a lot of people over the years --even so, if Fantagraphics went down the world of comics would be enormously less diverse, have less cool art in it, and, needless to say, it would be bad for comics as an artistic medium and as an industry.

They need help. Basically they need to turn the things in their warehouse into cash.

As Gary says at the end of his fax, "If this was a standard pitch, we'd offer you some extra incentive -- a discount or free books or knicknacks or whatnot. But, it's not... We need the full retail value of our books. But we can offer something that won't cost us any money: anyone (individually or collectively) who buys $500 worth of books from us will get a personal phone call from Gary Groth thanking you for saving Fantagraphics' ass. Think how much fun this could be at a party."

The phone number is (USA) 206 524 1967 or 800 657 1100. But you're much better off hitting their shopping website at

They have a lot of wonderful stuff up on the website -- comics, books, limited edition prints, a Chris Ware lunchbox, tee shirts, erotica (from their Eros Press imprint and elsewhere), CDs, DVDs, and oodles of other wonderful stuff, much of which would look a lot more enticing if they'd put a few more pictures up. I mean, would it kill them to show us what the Jules Feiffer print looks like? Or the two Barry Windsor Smith Prints? And what exactly is the Comics Journal Interview CD? Er, sorry. Anyway, they have lots of wonderful stuff there, buy anything and you'll make a difference, buy $500 worth and Gary will phone you up and say thank you really really politely.

I was trying to think of something I could add to that, to help, and I couldn't. Except if you don't want a phone call from Gary and you'd rather have one from me on their behalf, tell them when you spend your $500 and I'll see what I can do.


One last question before I sleep...

Dear Neil, firstly, I'd like to thank you for contributing to you journal on a regular basis. I was turned on to this two months ago and haven't missed a day since, unless you count that time when I didn't quite make it back to my house due to the intervention of a large dog with a funny hat-like thing. Secondly, I also enjoy your diverse and comprehensive use of the english language. There are times when I have to pull out my three-volume Webster's third new international dictionary (it's this marvelous set my Mother purchased before I was born and I most likely will pass on to my nephew when he's old enough to love such a thing) to understand what you're talking about. My question today has to do with a word that I couldn't find in the three-book set (there's got to be a word for that, I'm sure)(not the not-finding part, but the three-book bit) that you used in your Sunday entry: Pynchonesque (anonymity). I'm guessing this has to do with an actual person from the capitalised 'P'. Is there a story behind this? Thanks again. I'm now off to sell some people some comics. Much care, Dave.

Having to do with author Thomas Pynchon. If you Google Pynchonesque you'll find it mostly used to refer to the plots and style of Pynchon as a writer or as a stylist. I was referring to the way his photo isn't on his books (or, pretty much, anywhere: there are about three very old photos, one from his yearbook, that crop up on the web), there's no bio, he doesn't do interviews, and so on. He's maintained his privacy for many years, now.

(I once told my friend Steve Erickson (an astonishingly brilliant writer in his own right, incidentally) that I sometimes thought it would have been better to be anonymous and go the Pynchon route. He said he'd had dinner with Pynchon some months before, and Pynchon had said that if he were a young author starting out today he probably couldn't do the Pynchon route. Publishers want interviews, and photographs, and signings, and all the rest, now much more than ever before. It was pretty simple to be an anonymous writer when he began writing.)


And here's an article about Arne Svenson's Sock Monkey Book, at