Friday, September 12, 2003

From the mailbag...

And sometimes things don't get answered because I don't yet have the information. For example, this came in last month...

Dear Neil,

Is there any plan to release Avalon on DVD any time soon. I live in a half-Polish household and so this seems like the ideal film for us but I can't see any release plans anywhere. Is it already available in Poland? If so, I can have it shipped over.

Matt Devereux

And I can answer it today....

I got an e-mail yesterday letting me know that Avalon will be released by Miramax on Dec 9th. I don't think that any of the work I did on it has made it into what they'll bring out, mostly because the work that I did was extra stuff for the subtitled Polish version, and in the end they wound up doing an English dub instead. I think you can safely assume that the original Polish subtitled version will be on the DVD as well.

Avalon is a remarkable film -- it looks astonishing, is haunting, deep, frustrating and magical in equal measure, like an art-film version of the Matrix, or a middle-European Philip K Dick structure created by a Japanese director more to unsettle you then to excite you. In a grey, futuristic world, people enter a consensual reality run by computers to play illegal war-games, and the finest player is a woman called Ash. There are hidden levels to the game, and to reality. It doesn't look like anything else: it's like an SF tone poem, or a mood, as much as it is a story.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I searched the FAQ and the journal, and I know I'm not inept at searching because everyone on campus asks me to do their internet research for them (and I do it for free!) So can you please tell me if 1602 will be released in a book format, like Sandman and Stardust were? With all the pretty little pictures, not the hardback. (Though a hardback would be cool, too!)

Thank you for letting me waste your time,

--Sarah (there are too many of us in the world)

I'm sure it will, yes. Hardcover doesn't mean it won't have the pictures, just that the binding will be more solid than that of a paperback...

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

You wrote:
>It certainly makes me wish that DC would do a Lucien the Librarian Action figure for librarians everywhere.<

Actually I'm not a librarian, but I have Lucien one my desk. All in grey with a staple of books in his hands and glasses. I've got it as a present from a friend. Is it pirated? It has a "(c) 2000 DC comics" written under its foot.

It really looks nice. I could send you a picture if you want to.

You're right, of course -- DC did a set of little plastic figures from The Dreaming, and Lucien was one of them, along with Merv, and Eve, and Cain & Abel. (And Nuala and Daniel, I just found out, when I went and checked at the DreamHaven site -- picture up at

Lots of people writing to say how they've found or read Sandman at their library, and many other letters from librarians...

you said: "I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that's unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do."

This is just *so* true.

I work for Wellington Public Libraries in New Zealand. Recently they bought up a sizable collection of "Adult Graphic Novels" including the full Sandman Library and things like Transmetropolitan, Invisibles, Powers and Lenore to name a few. They're being housed by the sci fi/fantasy apparently, which I think is a great idea.

Let the teens find them!

Still waiting on a pic of the Sandman quilt, by the way. If I don't see one soon, I'll have to make my own :)



In response to the message about some libraries not carrying Sandman graphic novels, or not finding them suitable for the YA section . . . I'm happy to report that many more libraries are indeed interested and beginning to build large collections for Young Adult as well as adult readers. It seems more and more of the yearly Library conferences (local, national and international) are conducting workshops about comics and graphic novels. Most if not all of these workshops are conducted by fairly knowledgable individuals who know a great deal about comics and include good starter lists for various types of collections. More often than not, Sandman is included in suitable materials for YA collections, as well as collections geared toward adult readers.

I myself am currently working as a library assistant at the Carrollton Public Library, in charge of collection development for graphic novels. We already had a sizeable collection of Sandman books when I came on board and I've made sure to fill in any gaps. We also carry a complete collection of Jeff Smith's "Bone" and Kurt Busiek's "Astro City". As it is the most popular trend in libraries (as far as what's asked for the most and circulated the most) are all the Manga titles we have.

Obviously there are some communities that are not going to be as receptive to graphic novels as most seem to be. But it seems that the greatest challenge to those of us trying to build interesting and well rounded collections, comes from the inside. There are still a few librarians who don't quite grasp the merit of comics and graphic novels as an art form as well as a valuable and worthwhile literar form. But more and more are getting the picture.



Hi Neil--

This isn't so much a question as an answer to the fellow who was looking for _Sandman_ in his local library. If he contacts his librarian again, he might want to look up Kat Kan's _Voices of Youth Advocates_ article, "Recommended Graphic Novels for Libraries" (Volume 23, issue 5, pp 322-4). Kan recommends the Sandman series in the "Fairy Tales and Magic" section.

I hope this is helpful!

By the way, I wish they'd do a Lucien action figure, too - I'll have to content myself with the figure in the Dreaming PVC set in the meantime, I suppose.

--Beth Tarr (_Lucien's Guide_: )

and an interesting question:

Hi, Neil.

In response to the article attacking booklending - don't you see any similarities between booklending and online filesharing? Admittedly there is not the fact that filesharing actually creates duplicates of the files shared, whereas the books leant don't. I used to be all for file sharing, but I've come to my senses recently (like with shoplifting, I will not steal from peopel I respect/know need the money. but Eminem? Sure. Same goes with file sharing. Which is not to say I disrespect EMinem. AHHH. I'm contradicting myself. Anyway). Still, the big cheese of the music industry foaming at the mouth with rage is just pricless. As if there calling it theft - they've been at the same for years, ripping of artists, consumers and those that work for them.

Anyway, thanks for the stories etc etc. And the journal. I've just started my own one at - shamless self-pplugging -

Sean Birnie,

Not really, no. Most obviously, because each book in circulation has been paid for. One person doesn't get buy a book then print their own free editions of it, on demand, for anyone who's interested. (It's the bedrock of copyright: who has the right to make the copies.)

Scott McCloud makes some interesting comments about all this in an essay about micropayments at his website --

File-sharing other people's IP may be a kind of "theft," but it's a kind the world has never seen before; one that has a strangely philanthropic component. It takes time and computational resources to offer those songs to others for free; an effort rationalized by high retail prices, disdain for record companies and the belief that musicians see very little of our dollars.

Micros won't eliminate file-sharing (any more than they'll eliminate other forms of free content) but they could reduce the incentive. After all, if musicians did start selling their songs for small change directly to their listeners, why would those listeners still devote time and computational resources to stealing business from their favorite bands�just for the privilege of giving free content to total strangers?

Most users are neither Saints nor Sinners. If getting it legitimately is just a few more cents, while getting it for free is just a little more work (or even risk), a significant number will "do the right thing" at the drop of a hat. At a time when 1% of computer users (Mac owners running OS X) just bought 10 million songs in four months�nearly all of which they probably could have found for free with a little effort�it seems a little odd to be speaking of the collapse of paid content.

A question on The Man Who was Thursday -is the Martin Gardiner annotated version worthwhile or does it all just get annoyingly in the way when all you want is to read a good story?

Neither -- it's just not a very good choice of book to have annotated, and the annotations don't add anything. Gardner's Annotated Alice is excellent.

I have searched through this whole site and I'll be damned if I can find any mention of additional material in a new edition of American Gods, and maybe for Neverwhere as well, but I was certain I had read something along those lines. Was I in a world of my own imagining when I read that or is there actually editions of those books with material that did not appear in the original US hardcover editions?

Information is at
and as soon as I have more information I will tell the world...

Delighted to hear that of all the Barnes & Nobles in Florida, you're going to be at the one located less than a mile from my house. I'm looking forward to buying a signed copy of "Endless Nights" to put next to my signed copy of "Neverwhere".

Will you be doing a reading? Any suggestions or information about when to get there to line up?

I asked if I could do a reading at the Ft Lauderdale signing, or at least use a microphone and do a sort of a run through the Frequently Asked Questions, but I was told that they apparently don't have room or facilities for anything like that. So people will just have to ask me things when they reach me, I suppose.

They'll be handing out bracelets all through the day that will mark your place in the line (and also let you go off and grab something to eat, or sit down, if the wait is interminable) and they start doing the bracelets on the Monday Morning.

Neil, I've an organisational sort of question for you. In your journal, you often comment about what you're reading or what books the post/FedEx/whatever has delivered. I have a mental image of you receiving dozens of boxes of books every week (a description which may only be slightly hyperbolic). So what do you actually do with all of them? Do you really have sixteen different editions of Coraline hanging about in boxes in the basement? Are there bookshelves in every room, piled high with books, and in no particular order? Do you just point at the boxes, then Lorraine, and mumble, 'could you just do something with those?' and she secretly tosses them in the bin or keeps a used bookshop in business (although occasionally drawing mustaches on Delerium before sending them out)? Do you bribe a librarian (with or without the shushing action) to come in and label everything with the Dewey decimal system?

I find myself in the bookshelves-everywhere-and-in-not-very-good-order category, so wondered how someone who owns (I assume) a much larger library than mine handles it.


Actually, the answer to most of those questions is yes. The basement is filled with boxes of books (and plastic tubs of books, which is a bit safer for keeping damp and rodents out). Lorraine makes them vanish after they arrive (if they arrive while I'm here I see them first; if they arrive when I'm not they can be strange surprises years afterwards) and produces them on demand. And sometimes she even bribes a librarian to come in and help out with the filing and the sorting and the putting things places, although I think that Jodi, the librarian in question, does it because she likes it, really. There are three huge basement rooms, in addition to the basement library itself, so it'll be a while before they all fill up. And on the day I need more space I'll probably just do what Frank Miller did -- sign everything in sight and send it to the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

And a final one:


I've found the Hunt the Marble game on the Mouse Circus and have whiled away probably-far-too-long on it (nice picture, by the way. Where is it?). Just one thing that is getting me. Where the hell is the fifth marble??? I'm reasonably certain that I've scoured the whole picture at least once... Or is this some kind of bizarre in-joke that tells you that I haven't read the book closely enough.

By the way, I saw Wolves In The Walls in Gosh! Comics yesterday and thought it looked utterly gorgeous. I haven't bought it yet, because I'm going to get it at your Foyle's signing thing. So far, I'm up to three copies of that and two of the paperback version of Coraline to buy...

Anyway, thanks for the daily journal and everything else,


Given that I don't know which of the four marbles you found, it's rather hard to tell you where the fifth one is. But it is there. When I did the Coraline marble-hunting game, I did it with an eight year old girl, who found all the marbles in minutes and with ease. Do you know any eight year old girls, who could help?

And one final link: It's not learning that Police are searching for a man who paid for $150 in groceries at a Food Lion grocery store with a $200 bill that amused me, but discovering that The bogus bill -- the U.S. Mint does not print a $200 bill -- bore the image of President Bush on the front and had the White House on the back. It also included signs on the front lawn of the White House with slogans such as "We like broccoli" and "USA deserves a tax cut," Roanoke Rapids police said.
Instead of being labeled a Federal Reserve note, the fake bill was marked as a "Moral Reserve Note." The bill bore the signatures of Ronald Reagan, political mentor; and George H.W. Bush, campaign adviser and mentor.
Which sounds one step up from paying for something with Monopoly money.