Monday, September 15, 2003

Golden loo-women, 1602 stuff, kitten-eating aliens, the usual

In the ideal environmentally correct home of tomorrow, the humble toilet will save water, the bath tub will be for fun and games rather than just hygiene while the wash basin will come in a range of exciting new colours as the bathroom becomes less about keeping clean and more of an "private intimate space, in which scary-looking ladies in gold jump-suits, probably from a planet where they eat kittens, will intrude upon your privacy while caressing the porcelain in an off-puttingly intimate fashion". Normal people will find the experience of visiting a toilet or a bathroom deeply terrifying, and only the brave will ever wash or perform intimate personal functions inside a house. The rest of us will go out to the woods and the walls and the rivers to wash and so on.

They left off the last half of that in the photo caption, but it's implicit in the image, so so I put it back in for them.

You better click on the picture to see what I'm talking about.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

Regarding your series for Marvel "1602" --

After reading 1602 #2, I am very surprised that you seem to be suggesting that Magneto, a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz death camp in the Marvel Universe, is the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. Magneto couldn't be more opposite from the Grand Inquisitor that you portray.

I realize this might not be the best venue to voice my deep concerns, so I apologize. But I don't understand why your editor, the Editor in Chief, didn't tell you that Magneto is not only Jewish, but that his acitivites have always been those of the outsider, the anarchist, the terrorist, even in the Silver Age days. It seems incredibly wrong to turn a Jewish survivor of Auschwit into the Grand Inquisitor of what was nothing but a cats paw for the Spanish and then Hapsburg rulers. Magneto in the Marvel Universe is a man twisted by his rage and pain. He has become that which he hates the most, like the Nazi thugs who killed his entire family and sent him to Auschwitz.

He is the embodiment of the paradigm that hate and violence give birth to more hate and violence. Young Magnus wasn't just a prisoner at Auschwitz, he was in the Sonderkommando -- he helped the Nazis gas, cremate, bury, and plunder hundreds and thousands of his own people each day. He was one of the crematoria ravens, the Jewish men the Nazis forced to participate in the process of genocide.

You always do your research. I'm really surprised you have ignored the Jewish culture alive at this time -- except to make the politically correct reference to the persecuted Jewish victim of the Inquisition. Everything in this story is from a warped Christian perspective, including the importance of the city of Jerusalem.

Ignoring the Jewish and Muslim civilizations of this era, or even the Golem of legend who was being created at this very time in Prague by Rabbi Lowe, is your perogative as the author. But in the context of taking one of Marvel's most prominent Jewish characters -- a Holocaust survivor -- and making him a priest and Grand Inquisitor, and in the context of Marvel's sorry history of past attempts to eliminate their Jewish characters and Magneto's Jewish backstory, I am completely at a loss to understand why you've written 1602 like this.

Please don't let Marvel use you to erase Magneto's Auschwitz history and Jewish identity, which is something various biggotted staff and writers of Marvel have been maneuvering and pushing for years.

I apologize for imposing on you like this, or imposing on this FAQ question site, but I am so very confused and surprised that either you or Andy Kubert (his father is coming out with a magnificent Holocaust graphic novel, for gosh sakes) could participate in a project that took a Jewish character and made him a Catholic priest and the leader of an institution tantamount to the Nazis of the 20th century.

Again, I apologize, and remain a fan,

All the Best,

Rivka Jacobs

I'm not sure why you're blaming poor Joe Quesada for the story or the characters. It's all my fault, honestly. He has nothing to do with the content, except for telling me to make the exchange with the Innkeeper a bit clearer in Issue #1, and letting me know I'd written two page 12s in one issue. There's no evil Marvel revisionism going on, just me telling the story I thought it would be fun to tell.

I'm also not sure why you're deciding what I am or am not doing with any of the characters on the basis of the first couple of chapters. Generally speaking, it's a good way to make yourself look silly. Better to wait until the end, and then complain about what I did, when you have all the facts.

I do find the bit in your letter where you talk about the reference to the Jew killed (not, as you put it, "persecuted") in issue #1 to have been put there for reasons of "politically correctness" to be, well, rather troubling. The Spanish Inquisition tortured and killed a lot of Jews. That was pretty much their prime initial purpose -- they watched for the marranos, the secret Jews, the ones who had pretended to have converted in order to keep their lands or livelihoods, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, and burned tens of thousands. (The last Auto da Fe was in the early eighteenth century.) That really happened. Brushing it aside as unimportant (or "politically correct" -- and what the heck does that mean in this context?) compared to what I may or may not be doing with Magneto and my omission of a Golem leaves me blinking. Rabbi Lowe's Golem is, more than likely, a story. An important story, but a story. Magneto's a fictional character. Obviously an important fictional character to you, but fictional. Torquemada's team were very real.

I put it in because I wanted to make clear what the Inquisition really did, even in a world in which they're burning boys with wings, not because it was "politically correct".

And remember, it's rather hard for me to put Auschwitz into 1602. I'm not "erasing it" -- how could I? I'm just setting a story several hundred years before it happened, with a bunch of characters that the universe is pushing into predetermined roles.

How they came to be in those roles, and how and whether they succeed or fail is part of the journey, as is what happens. I'd say "trust me" but I'm not sure that you're going to. But you might want to anyway.

Is there an annotation attempt for the second issue of 1602 somewhere? My searches have found nothing? I don't want to miss out on the discussion? By the way, where do you think is a good site to get into a discussion about that series?

And really, only 8 issues? It seems like it could be a lot more? I am really engrossed.

Sean Murphy

It probably ought to have been longer. Now I'm in the final act I'm trying to make every panel do several different things, and I'm already wondering about doing an additional story which explains some of the stuff that no-one in the 1602 world really knows, except for one person, and he's not talking.

Let's see. More annotations. I should have put these up as they came in, I suppose:

Julian Darius's 1602 annotations (at were expanded this morning by 4,000 words to include #2 (published yesterday). Thought you'd want to know.


I'm writing to let you know that the second in my series of articles, "Mysteries and Conundrums in Neil Gaiman's 1602", has been posted on Comic World News.;f=19;t=1837

This is the analysis that gives names to all the puzzles in the story and tries to solve them in real time, as the issues come out. There's also a message board afterwards and the discussion that followed the first article was lots of fun.

The true identity and significance of Virginia Dare has been hotly debated. So far, suggestions for analogues have included The Hulk, Thor, Storm and Gwen Stacy. (Personally, I think she's an Animorph!)

Thanks for all the stories.

Jason Pomerantz

In addition, Jess Nevins' annotations for 1602#2 are at

Links to all these, and to any others that appear, can be found at

(Incidentally, it was only after the book went to press that I noticed that I'd bubble-headedly typed Lombardy when I meant Picardy in 1602#2, and that no-one had caught it, which is going to make following Matt's trip across Europe rather difficult for any annotators. Calais, not Milan. Sorry about that, I'm an idiot, and I'll fix it in the collection.)


Hi Neil,

I'm a big fan, excited to get a chance to finally meet you at one of your signings. I missed out on one chance at a store that a friend of mine was working at- and he inexplicably didn't get me a copy, which considering that I had introduced him to your work, such was my fandom, upset me at the time...But I'm digressing...

I'm turning suddenly paranoid, that I'll be unprepared when the time comes...will copies of Endless Nights be available to buy before the signing at the NY book country events, or should I come in laden with stuff in hand. I hope to pick a few actually, for friends who can't make it. i would expect so, but I think my nerves need some reassurance.


Yes, there will definitely be copies of Endless Nights on sale on Saturday, and at the signing on Sunday. (I don't know about the signing at the YMHA on Sunday Night -- that'll probably have copies of Little Lit "It Was A Dark and Silly Night" for sale. They may have copies of Sandman and of Maus, but they may not.)

And there's an article on Endless Nights in the Boston Herald at

Further to my "which dimension is this again?" ponderings of this morning, even without the future toilets, I think that it's pretty obvious that Canadian politics has been infiltrated by aliens.

The increasingly bitter tone of the Ontario campaign took a surreal turn Friday when a press release from the Tory election machine labelled Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty a pet-eating alien. "Dalton McGuinty," the statement said. "He's an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet."

Conservative Leader Ernie Eves blamed the release on a staffer who apparently "had too much coffee this morning ... too much time."

But he refused to retract the statement.
(Could he know this because... he is also an alien? One from a planet where they dress in golden all-over jumpsuits and caress toiletware? I think we should be told.) for anyone who thinks I'm making any of this up.