Sunday, August 31, 2003

The silence of the hamsters...

I never knew how to say Michael Chabon's last name. I always said "Chuh-bonne". According to The Village Voice ( it's pronounced Ka-BONE. I doubt whether that's really true because they say Updike is really pronounced Oop-decay (which makes me think they're taking the piss).

You know Michael, so when you introduce him to someone else, you said, "Hello, this is Michael ------."


It's probably worth pointing out that the entire Village Voice article is a joke.

Incidentally,Entertainment Weekly liked the first issue of 1602 a lot, according to a mini review quoted over at The Dreaming.

I don't think I've ever mentioned Maddy's dwarf hamster, Creepy, here before. This is partly because much of the time he barely exists -- he just sleeps. And it's partly because the hamster wheel in his cage didn't work until recently. Now it's been fixed, he's making up for lost time, during his nocturnal waking hours working out on what must be the loudest hamster wheel in creation.

You know that noise that the TARDIS makes, when it's materialising somewhere? It's a noise an awful lot like that. It's a noise that can, I am discovering, be heard through thick brick walls and through several closed doors. A grinding, graunching, rattling, continual noise that sits at the threshold of perception like a toothache and only stops, for a minute or so, if you're actually starting to get used to it enough to begin to tune it out.

No, I'm not asleep, yet. Why do you ask?


Did a reading today at the con -- read 95% of my story "A Study In Emerald" to a really nice audience, and then had to stop, out of time, and off to the airport...

Now I'm home, and pretty tired. The flight was okay, but transportation back from the airport sort of didn't happen as it was meant to, and by the time I eventually got home I was sort of done, so I will save my comments and thoughts and so on about the convention and Hugos (no, I didn't say it again, although the time I had planned to write a thank you in got eaten by the Chapters signing, so I really just thanked all the editors over the book's lifetime)...

So a couple of things -- first of all, I finally got around to paying my 25 cents and reading Scott McCloud's THE RIGHT NUMBER tonight. I thought it was the best thing Scott's done since the lovely black and white Zot "Earth Stories", and hope the Eisner Committee are prepared to do their micropayment bit.

The biggest problem right now with the Bitpass thing is that there's not enough to spend the micropayments on yet. (And I understand why Scott keeps suggesting I put up something for a micropayment. Maybe something for the CBLDF...)

I sometimes think that anyone who blogs or livejournals should be pointed at Mr. Charles Pooter, hero of the extremely funny, in a dangerously understated sort of way, DIARY OF A NOBODY. Which was written by George Grossmith and his brother Weedon, first published in the 1890s, and which you can read here, at Think of it as a Victorian Blog...

And my Neverwhere DVDs arrived. So they do exist, and should be shipping any moment.

Mostly for people at Torcon

What I did today: I signed at Chapters for around 700 people. It was fun, although it lasted a bit over seven hours, and I was a bit dazed toward the end.

Then I went straight from the signing to the Hugo ceremonies, and was entirely chuffed and grateful to win the Hugo for Best Novella.

And tomorrow (Sunday) morning I'm doing a reading at Torcon in room CC 104A. It won't be followed by a signing, as I'll have to get on a plane almost immediately afterwards.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

En route to slumberland

For those of us not leaving the TorCon area (convention center, hotel, etc.) is there a place where you might be found before the Hugos or after the Hugo party that lowly folks like me might have access to?


I honestly don't know. Before the Hugos I'll be at the pre-Hugos reception, where I shall admire China's suit. Afterwards, I'll be around. (Last year I was mostly sitting in the hotel lobby drinking and chatting with Terry Pratchett and Janis Ian and several other nice people and saying "thank you" a lot when people congratulated me.)

I know I'm doing a reading at Torcon at 11:00 am on Sunday. I don't yet know which space it'll be in -- keep an eye on the daily updates. I'll read an unpublished story, though.


Fascinating interview with Elvis Costello about life, love and North -- his new album -- in the Guardian.

Mr Gaiman,
This is kind of a strange request. You know the speech in American Gods where Sam tells Shadow what she can believe? May I have your permission to use it as a monologue for an audition?
Either way, thanks for your time.

Sure. I'm happy for anyone to use anything I've written as an audition piece -- it's not like anyone is paying to see it, after all...

& so to bed.

Friday, August 29, 2003

in Toronto; and the urge to annotate...

I'm in Toronto. Should spend this afternoon being interviewed (Macleans, CBC Newsworld and the Globe and Mail) and signing stock, and such.


Hi Neil,

I know you're aware of Jess Nevins excellent 1602 Annotations, but I was wondering if you'd read this peice (;f=19;t=1722) by Ed Cunard at He goes page by page and sort of makes plain talk of the various puzzle peices. I just thought you'd find it fun to read how people are trying to unravel your ball of twine so early, and maybe even make you think "Hmm... I hadn't thought of that" a few times.

To Maddy: Happy Birthday! I hired a copy of The School Story from my library to read to my young cousin today in your honor.

- Phil

Thanks. I think the article is actually by Jason Pomerantz.

There's another interesting set of annotations occurring at, while Jess's annotations are growing in leaps and bounds at


Right. Toronto signing at Chapters tomorrow (saturday) in case anyone came in late...

Oh, and finally...

Hi Neil,

You might find the following comic very interesting, especially since it has a drawing of you:
It's all true, by the way.

Nicole Lee from San Francisco

Congratulations to both of you! (Nicole was one of the first people in line at the Thursday DC signing, and she says I should come and sign in Malaysia. And I should.)

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Terry Pratchett and Lucy Anne

Washington DC people should know that on Sept 30th at 6:30pm, Terry Pratchett will be in conversation with Michael Dirda, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, talking about Good Omens, which is the Washington Post Book of the Month. Undoubtedly also answering audience questions about everything under the sun, and signing books as well. I ought to be there, but I spectacularly failed Bilocation at school, so although I will be in Finland (possibly even in Sweden by that point) I won't also be in Washington.

And while this journal isn't a personal column, or a help wanted, I wanted to put in a plug for Randi, AKA Lucy Anne, who is the tireless finder of cool stuff over at the Dreaming website ( She's looking for a new job -- her resume is up at

And given that an awful lot of people read this blog, I thought I'd see if I could help get her gainfully employed again.
She says that, ignoring the resume-speak, what I
do is find needles-in-haystacks using the Internet, phone
contacts, print sources, and news aggregators like Factiva
and Nexis, on topics ranging from pharmaceuticals pipelines
to consumer product trends to technology predictions.

Oh yes, and in my spare time, I'm library administrator,
magazine coordinator, and trainer for information services.

I'm looking to do the same for a corporation that needs an
quick and organized research librarian, but will happily
work as an administrative assistant if the position allows
me learn new skills.

The August the 28th post.

Let's see -- today's big news is MADDY GAIMAN IS NINE TODAY. (And on the subject of birthday parties, why is there a plastic box filled with wobbly water-balloons in the kitchen? Do I have anything to worry about?)

I promised her that I would tell people at some point that Maddy's current favourite book is "The School Story" by Andrew Clements, a book she found on her own and loved so much that she read it over and over and made everyone else in the house read it -- and we all really enjoyed it. It's a book about a twelve year old girl who has written a novel she wants published, and her best friend, who is a natural born agent. It's also a pretty good portrayal of the New York publishing world.

And Maddy thinks everyone should read it. Especially people who want to know about being published.


There's a nice article about me in the Toronto Star, although the article is peculiarly certain that I've already got the Hugo award for best Novella for Coraline. And while I'm happy to be the favourite, I'm nowhere near as confident about it as the journalist. (My favourite of the novellas is Paul Di Filippo's "Year in the Linear City".)

The Hugo, incidentally, is not the kind of award that makes meaningful phonecalls of the "We just thought you should know that you REALLY OUGHT TO COME TO CLEVELAND FOR THE AWARDS CEREMONY. We can say no more than that," variety. Or the "You've won, you won't be there, please write a speech so it's not embarassing," kind of award. In the case of the Hugos, nobody knows who's won, except the awards administrator and whoever's getting the plaques made.

China Mieville says that he will be wearing a suit to the awards. I hope he gets to go up onstage and wear it while getting a Hugo.

Lots of fun ballot-stuffing going on at the SFWeekly Hugo site now... Or possibly David Brin really is that popular.


"So I spent from 6.00am until 1:30pm standing in lines, and then 1:30 until 4:00ish sitting waiting"

MWAHAHAHAHA! Now you know what the fine folks at your SIGNINGS go through...but then, the people in line at your signings actually want to see you.


The comparison had not entirely failed to cross my mind. Although I hope nobody's ever had to get into line for me at 6:00am for a 4:00pm signing...


And for those people wondering about the signing on Saturday:

Having already arrived at Torcon, I scouted out the Chapters where you're doing the signing. They have signs up saying that you'll sign any number of Wolves and Coraline, and two other items, presumably per person.

Tom Galloway


Hi Neil:

How do the profits work for an author when it comes to hard cover vs. paperback? I ask now because I just bought Coraline in paperback, after waiting these many months for it to be issued that way. I just can not justify spending the extra money for a hard-covered book, even when I want to read it when the book first comes out.

In fact, I should confess that I borrowed American Gods from the library since I didn't want to wait for the paperback. Sorry about that your loss on that one, but there is a back-handed compliment in there somewhere!

Thanks for everything (the blog, the books, the comics, etc)


Well, mostly an author will be getting something between 8% and 15% of the cover price of what you pay. (In comics that 8% is being split with an artist, so the writer will be getting something closer to 4%.) So that's how it works.

The idea with paperbacks is that they're cheaper than hardbacks, but the publisher is selling more of them because more people can afford them. So don't worry. These things work themselves out.

Beyond that -- don't ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that's what they're there for. Use your library). Don't apologise to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend's copy. What's important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read...

"And I shan't get shirty when they say I look peculiar..."

I had a long sort of day. I learned that while the INS tell you to be there at 6:00am and they deal with the first 300 people, you actually should be in line outside their offices at 4:00am if you want to be certain to be seen, and right now they're only seeing the first 150 people. Arriving at 6.00 am, and seeing a fairly long line, I got on the back. When they opened the doors at 6:30, I was around #180, and was in the group that was going to be sent away, but they made a final check for people who had Come A Long Way, and I had, and was admitted, along with a couple who had had a death in the family and had to fly to France.

So I spent from 6.00am until 1:30pm standing in lines, and then 1:30 until 4:00ish sitting waiting. And then, at 4:00pm, I spent about a minute showing a helpful INS officer my passport and getting the stamp in it that will let me go to Canada and come back.

I got some writing done, but it's hard to write standing up shuffling forward an inch at a time for hour after hour, so mostly I just wished I'd brought a book. And I wished my cellphone didn't have a potential camera attachment, thus making it something that wasn't allowed in a government building. And I wished I'd thought to bring something to eat...

But, at the end of the day, I got my stamp. It's valid for a year, and by October, I was told, I should have my new green card.


Phill Jupitus interviewed Thea Gilmore recently on Radio 6 -- the interview (with songs removed) is at It's a fun, burbling sort of chat, during the course of which I discovered that Thea used to do cover versions of Jake Thackray's song "Lah-Di-Dah", something I'd love to have heard. (She also used to do Jake's "Castleford Ladies' Magical Circle".)

Thackray was a very individual singer-songwriter, with a delivery half-way between a sort of North Country Noel Coward and Jaques Brel, who could do some remarkable things with poetry and humour and the places he put his rhymes and the way the words worked. I keep meaning to ask Terry Pratchett whether Jake's song about Old Molly Metcalfe informed the shepherdess stuff in The Wee Free Men.

Neil, I hate to do this but I'm going to keep bugging you and bugging you until I a) get an answer to my question somewhere in your journal or b) it eventually turns up on the Vertigo website. I kept hearing about a Sandman: Endless Nights Special that was supposed to come out at the same time as the hardcover. This individual comic supposedly is an extra Dream story published separate from the Endless Nights collection. Please, if you can find just a moment to address this it would mean the world to several dozen comic book geeks and geek-ets in the suburban Detroit area. Thanks!

Always in love with your work,

Thanks. It's not an extra story -- it's the Miguelanxo Prado Dream story from Endless Nights, reprinted in comics format (which is a smaller size than Endless Nights) so that comic shop people will have something to sell customers who find the idea of buying a 180 page $25 oversized hardback sort of scary. If you're getting Endless Nights anyway, you don't need it, unless you want to give it to your friends as a present.

Sandman: King of Dreams arrived through my mailbox today. Today.
Today not being early november, I found that a little strange. sent it to me in Scotland, so do us Rule Brittania Kids get it first? Or do Titan publish it here and then DC print it for the U.S in November? Just Curious, but its a great book, and I can't believe you almost killed Matthew!! Shame!

Hamza Khan

Well, Titan don't publish a separate print-run -- they tack on to the back of Chronicle Books (not DC)'s printing of the book. But it certainly looks like they got it out first, which makes me sort of happy -- it's nice when the UK gets something before the US. And very unusual.

And finally, the last word (I hope) on the subject of ...

Kittens & Nostrils --

Alas, I am sad to report that my formerly-feral cat, Buddy, an all-black mongrel found on the streets when he was about eight months old, is now nearly three years old and STILL trying to insert himself into my nostrils at night. He has also discovered that a singular claw, inserted delicately into a nostril, hooked around the edge of the skin and then yanked back forcefully, will indeed make me jump out of bed screaming like a banshee.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is it will only get worse. Once a nostril-abuser, always a nostril-abuser.


Colleen @ Del Rey Books

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


Info in from Felicia Quon, she of the Coolest Girl's Name (long time readers of this blog will remember that Owl Goingback has the coolest boy's name)...

This Saturday (30 Aug) at 1:00 -- i'll beSigning at Chapters Festival Hall 126 John Street (416.595.7349). No, I don't know if there will be a reading or a Q & A. There may be.

(At the last signing I did, I signed all the copies of WOLVES IN THE WALLS that people wanted, along with a couple of other things.)

Then I'll be at the Hugo Ceremonies. And I'll be wandering about afterwards, either clutching a Hugo with a bemused expression on my face, and hoping they'll still let me into the Hugo Losers Party, or nibbling crisps happily in the Hugo Losers Party. (If you happen to have something you want signed and you happen to run into me, and you ask nicely and there's a pen around, yes, I'm sure I'll sign it. Pick your moments wisely, though.)

Then on Sunday the 31st, I'll be doing a reading at Torcon. Place to be figured out. It won't be followed by a signing, cos I'll have to get in a car and go to the airport to go home. (This one is just for people attending Torcon, as a thank-you-for-having-me.)


This is assuming that I get the stamp in my passport tomorrow that lets me out of/into the US. I'm writing this from a hotel near the INS in Minneapolis, and just put in for my 5:30am alarm call. 6:00 am I'll be there, with a notebook, and I'll write 1602 #7 while I'm waiting...


And this one stands in for several dozen received today. I thought there was only one nasal cat in the world. I was wrong. They seem quite likely to be the Next Big Thing...

Not a question but more of a thank you. I rescued a runt barn kitten about a year ago from a farm up by my sisters place in Brainerd. Ever since when ever I fall asleep this cat has been trying to take up residence in my nose. All along I have thought that my cat was a little lose in the noggin and now through your entry I know that odds are that it is because he was ripped from his mother far to early. I sat Oswald(the Cat) down this evening and explained to him that he could stop worrying about his mental state that he just suffered from seperation anxiety. hopefully this little talk will prevent him from trying to move into my nostril tonight.


You are not alone, Charles.

Regarding the Novello Festival of Reading in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 18th - will there just be a reading and perhaps a Q&A session, or will you be signing anything as well?

-Sarah H.

I'll do a reading and a talk and some Q & A as well. There's normally a signing at these things, although I don't have details. Assume there will be. I'll post info as I get it.

And now I'm going to try and have an early night.

Nasally inserted wake-up kittens

It looks like everything's working again -- thanks to all of you who helped in identifying problems.

So a hasty late night post, being typed around an asleep-on-my-keyboard medium-sized tabby kitten who rejoices in the name of Captain Morgan. He looks a little like Buddy-who-vanished, being sort of brown and sort of stripy, and was found by Lorraine hanging hungrily and miserably around the house a month or so ago. He and Coconut, Maddy's kitten, immediately became inseparable. Captain Morgan is a sweet-natured kitten, who has only one failing.

He waits until you're asleep, then climbs onto your bed, and tries to insert himself into your nose.

It never works, a hefty kitten being much larger than the interior of a nostril, but he keeps trying until you open up an eye and pick him up and drop him onto the floor. And then he bounces back onto the bed and tries to stick his head into one of your nostrils again. So you sweep him unceremoniously onto the floor, and bury your face in your pillow; and he sneaks back onto the bed and waits patiently while you go back to sleep and roll over, or just come up for air, and all of a sudden there's a small brown cat patiently trying to push its head into your nose.

Sooner or later he'll wake you up enough that you'll get up, carry him into the hall, and shut the door firmly, with him on the other side of it, and go back to sleep for the rest of the night.

I commented on this peculiar habit to my assistant Lorraine today, in the casual way you do when you don't want someone to think you've gone mad. "Er, Captain Morgan the kitten keeps trying to push his way into my nose while I'm asleep," I told her. She looked relieved. "Yes, he does that to me as well," she said. "I think it's because he probably wasn't weaned properly."

It's possible, I suppose, although I thought that misweaning just meant they sucked and chewed on things, not that they had grandiose fantasies about being nasally insertable, small wet muzzle first.

Sometimes I worry that one night I won't wake up, and he'll succeed in his bizarre quest, and in the morning there'll be nothing but the tip of a kitten-tail sticking out of one nostril to tell me he was ever here at all.

Which wasn't what I meant to type when I sat down to do this -- I thought I'd just stick up a bunch of interesting links before bed...


Let's see: Some Wolves in the Walls reviews -- one from the Cooperative Children's Book Centre, and one from the Toronto Globe and Mail (Which also reviews Little Lit 3.)

The Guardian talks to Scott McCloud about Micropayments. And I kept putting off posting that until I'd used my 25 cent micropayment to read "The Right Number", but I still haven't got around to getting through the whole credit card number thing to actually sign up to pay my 25 cents...

I shall, and then I'll write about it. Honest. is an excellent article by Peter Sanderson about the Mirrormask panel in San Diego.

A couple of minor errors worth correcting (mostly because it is such a good article) -- Lisa Henson explained that The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth had each "cost more than $4 million twenty years ago. No, they cost more than $40 million each, twenty years ago. Henson and Gaiman discussed a short film that McKean had made, called "N[eon]." "It's a very wonderful short film that Dave made for nothing in his mum's barn and on her pond," Actually, that's Dave's film "The Week Before". "N[eon]" was shot partly in Venice and partly in a town square that was entirely in Dave's imagination.

Yet, either because I missed hearing it or because it was not made clear, not until I got back from San Diego did I learn that MirrorMask is actually intended to go direct to video in 2004 without theatrical distribution. That means that the majority of film critics will probably end up ignoring it or being oblivious to its existence. Not true, I'm happy to say. Currently the release plan involves opening it small theatrically in major US markets.

Information's here, at


I think this might, potentially, be the single coolest piece of news in a long time; the BBC plans to make its radio and TV archives fully downloadable. The service, the BBC Creative Archive, would be free and available to everyone, as long as they were not intending to use the material for commercial purposes.

(And Maddy will be more than happy to learn that she'll be able to listen to more than just the latest week's episode of "Just a Minute".)


Incidentally, has a dangerously moreish quality -- particularly the wedding stories... It's hard to read just one.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Phone blog test

I am with Maddy at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. It is very hot today, and everywhere one looks one sees sweaty cleavage. Acres of sweaty cleavage. Not that I am complaining of course...

[later edit -- this was me testing the whole mobile phone blogging thing, in the downtime between Lorraine's band FOLK UNDERGROUND leaving the stage and Puke and Snot coming on. And I was surprised, on getting home, to discover that I'd got it to work, using blogger's e-mail function (which had never worked for me before). Which means that, at least in theory I can now get here from anywhere I can get a GSM signal.]

Saturday, August 23, 2003

just watch the swan

I'm currently reading a book called THE TURK, about the famous eighteenth-century chess-playing automaton (the book has a website -- the preface is here at Chapter 1 (also on line on the site) talks about John Cox, an Englishman, who made a mechanical, moving, elephant, a tiger, and a swan. Coincidentally, a friend just sent me a link to a museum site with Cox's silver swan on it. It still exists (although it's now pretty fragile) and you can watch a real video of it preening, moving its head, and swallowing a silver fish. Check out for a little sense of wonder at the movement and grace of a quarter-of-a-millennium-old technology.

(The next book to be read will be Martin Millar's just finished novel Lonely Werewolf Girl, which my assistant Lorraine has already read, and tells me is quite possibly the best book that anyone's ever written. This is high praise, and even if it doesn't manage to clear that particular hurdle I'm still really looking forward to it.)

Once again the Live Journal feed has stopped feeding. It seems to do that when the RSS feed doesn't validate -- last time we had this problem someone helpfully forwarded me a link to the feed validator at and I'd go in and clean up stray ascii characters it couldn't parse until everything worked. This time I haven't got a clue what's wrong with the entry it's marked up as not validating.

And the FAQ line seems to have gone down yesterday afternoon and not come up again. Which is a good excuse for me to go back and answer lots of the things that came in over the last few days. But not tonight.

From Saturday morning US Time "I Have a Cunning Plan" will be available to listen to, probably for the next week -- it's a half hour radio documentary: Twenty years after the wily Edmund Blackadder first appeared on our screens, the series' producer John Lloyd tells the inside story of one of television's classic comedies.

And there's a new Brian Aldiss short story in the Independent. (I got more of a kick from the idea of a Brian Aldiss story in an English quality newspaper than I think I did from the story itself, which read more like part of something much longer than like a short story in its own right.)

And it seems that Diamond will be making busts of the 1602 Dr Strange, which is fun.

Wolves in the Walls is on the New York Times bestseller lists for the second week running, and now Coraline's joined it in paperback. Which is nice, particularly because I believe that Wolves is a comic (I think the publishers are calling it a graphic novella. Not that that means anything at all.) Your mileage may vary, but I like the idea that I've finally written a comic that made it onto the Times list...

Not a question, but I can't seem to find anywhere else on the site to input my ideas.
I was re-reading Stardust for the nth time, and I couldn't help realizing how similar it was to Great Expectations. I found all the characters and plot points.
I thought it was ironic how you put in the bit about Dickens being a young man in the first part of the book.
Great stuff. Myself, I hated Great Expectations, and had Stardust been dubbed a re-working, I never would have picked it up.
Thanks for writing such marvelous books, and do keep writing them, else I will run out of things to read.

I don't think I'd call it a reworking; but there are definitely a couple of places where Stardust and Great Expections wink at each other from across the room, yes.


I should be able to post details for the Sept/Oct mini tour of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Croatia and Germany very soon. And there will be a UK signing tour in early November -- again, I'll put up the details as soon as they're finalised.


As far as I can tell, the Fox suit against Al Franken seems to have presold more than enough extra copies of his book to pay the legal fees he'll have incurred defending it, but it's still nice to see the judge's comments:

"There are hard cases and there are easy cases," the judge said. "This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally." ... In addition to denying the injunction, the judge took direct aim at Fox for bringing the case.

"It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it," Chin said.

The judge also said the "Fair and Balanced" trademark itself is weak, considering those words are used so frequently "in the context of the public marketplace."

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: Male!

Spent the day being interviewed by Scott Brown from Entertainment Weekly...

So here's a link to the fascinating Gender genie. I tried it on several pieces of mine, and it was convinced the author was male in each case. Tried it on writings of other people, and it called gender correctly each time. Then, because I wanted to make things harder for it, I went and checked the writings of several transgendered people, and in each case it accurately called the gender of the writer as the one that the person had elected.

Apparently it only calls it correctly about 51% of the time, according to the "Am I Right?" stats, which may mean that I just got lucky...

Have fun playing with it.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

a couple of night things
is a Newsarama page, where you get to see some of Andy Kubert's 1602 pencils, and what Richard Isanove does to them.

This one cheered me up no end...

Thank you, Neil.

After an evening of feeling saddened by the ugly side of the comics industry that I love (seeing sooo many internet trolls spewing vitriol all over Comicon's Pulse site, specifically), I came to your journal seeking relief. As I so often do...

..And there was the recent posting about the CBLDF and it's "suspicious intentions." Are the rumor-mongers everywhere? This is depressing; what can I do to help stem the flood?! What would Neil suggest...?

I just joined the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

There, feeling better already. Thank you, Neil!

Scott Challman


And Scott Brown from Entertainment Weekly has arrived to do the interview, which will take up most of my tomorrow, I expect.


Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I just read on ICV2 that there a book Sandman: King of Dreams by Alisa Kwitney is being released in November. How different is this book from The Sandman Companion that was written by Hy Bender released 4 years ago?


Well, Hy Bender's book is a Sandman companion. It's an inside look and commentary on Sandman, and an excellent one. If you've read Sandman, or plan to re-read it, it may point out things you'd missed, or illuminate things you'd forgotten. Alisa Kwitney's King of Dreams is a big illustrated, full colour book that's a sort of an overview, and an introduction -- for someone who's read Sandman it's a souvenir, while it's probably a good introduction if you haven't.

They're very different books, and they cover completely different ground.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Why I won't climb out of a coffin this year

The Hallowe'en horror-hosting gig has unfortunately fallen through: the movie channel in question (and I'll not embarrass them by naming them, for they're big enough that you'd think they'd have some money) realised that their budget didn't stretch to actually flying me in and putting me up for the couple of days that it would have taken to film it, and were apparently shocked and disappointed by my negligence in failing to live in Los Angeles.

Oh well. Maybe next year.

And Dirk Deppey adds some sensible points to the anonymous Oklahoman note at Journalista!

People who talk loudly in comic-book stores....

I've never had a very high opinion of people who talk loudly in comic stores. I'm not talking about the customers, and I'm not talking about the staff. It's the other ones -- the ones who hang around the front counter -- normally really irritating the staff, and getting in the way of the customers -- talking loudly about the secret world of comics. Because these guys know the secrets. And they tell everyone. That they know nothing is no impediment to them talking...

Jo Duffy, a very nice lady, overheard one of them claiming intimate knowledge of a number of writers, ending with "Now that Jo Duffy -- that guy is a bastard. Let me tell you about him..."

My cousin Adam Gaiman told me about listening to one of them telling a comic shop in Newcastle everything he knew about me. Adam thought it was particularly hilarious, because none of it was even remotely true. At the point where the gentleman announced that it was common knowledge in the industry that "gaiman" was a pen name chosen to proclaim my sexual preferences to the world, Adam went over and showed him his bus pass, with his name on it.

Sometimes I worry that the Internet is in danger of giving the loud guy at the front of the comic-books store an audience rather larger than a couple of kids and the manager. Case in point...

Dear Neil,

I'm not certain if this is the appropriate avenue by which to raise this question, but I could not find any other contact information (such as e-mail).

I've been at turns entranced with and nauseated by the Jesus Castillo case in recent weeks. Your relationship with the CBLDF is well known, and their association with you has been enough to engender my trust and support even were I NOT already the sort of person that gets passionate about censorship and freedom of speech issues. But I just found this posted over on Steven Grant's "Permanent Damage" column ( and I would be very interested in your thoughts.

(To be clear, this is NOT Mr. Grant's opinion, but rather a letter he received from one of the readers of his column.)

" You mentioned the Castillo case briefly in this week's PERMANENT DAMAGE. One interesting thing I don't think a lot of people are aware of - in fact, I think a lot of people are trying very hard not to talk about this - is a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the current administration at the CBLDF.
I've heard a lot of things and I've tried to put a bug into a few people's ears about this - because one day this is going to be a big story. But the CBLDF is apparently the holiest of holy cows in our industry, because no one is even questioning this.

Basically, I live in Oklahoma, in Tulsa, and I've heard more than one lawyer in our local comic book store speak at about the Fund's deficiencies. These are people who have done pro bono volunteer work for the Fund and been staggered by the lack of coordination and perspicacity on the part of the fund's leaders. They say that the fund is run by unqualified politicos. They say that the fund has been derailed by pro-pornography interests and funding (always a tricky subject in OK - you never know if someone is mentioning pornography because they are a Bible thumper or not). They say that the representation in the Jesus Castillo case consisted of a bunch of New York First Amendment lawyers who had no real interest in actually getting Castillo off on what would have been an open & shut criminal argument, but instead wasted their resources on the boondoggle of trying to prove that the 'Legend of the Overfiend' or whatever kind of tentacle love book it was was considered art - which backfired immensely in the jury room. They say that the Fund is basically dedicated to the defense of more abstract political freedoms as opposed to the actual nitty-gritty of getting people like Castillo out of trouble and keeping their businesses alive.

Now, of course, there's a lot of unsubstantiated stuff up there - but I've heard this from numerous sources. This is all rumor - but - if there's one thing the Nixon administration taught us its that where there's a stink, there's probably shit. There's nothing wrong with defending the First Amendment - of course not - but if it's a choice between defending a simple criminal case where a member of our community has been endangered and trying a longshot First Amendment precedent-setting argument, a lot of people think that the Fund has its priorities shot.

Of course, most people in comics are not lawyers, they don't know what's going on, they only see the Fund as the Good Guys and would never think anything bad about a not-for-profit foundation which effectively positions itself as the last line of defense against the forces of evil. But maybe someone needs to ask some tough questions in the legal community and see if the comics community's perceptions of the Fund's priorities match the realities."

I a bit uncomfortable with this author's take on the situation, and given that I plan to be a comics writer and my fiance is an intellectual properties attorney who does work for the occasional comics creator (to say nothing of my aforementioned passion on the subject) I would love to know what you think.

Sorry if this is not the proper way of contacting you. Let me know (if possible) how best to address you at this site in the future.


Er... not sure what I can say about that. It's not even "Do you still beat your wife?" It's "The Oklahoma lawyers who hang around a comic store I go to say you rape your wife every night. Does she bleed a lot? Hey, where there's smoke, right? And they say you killed and ate your kids. One day it'll all come out."


They say that the fund is run by unqualified politicos.

The fund is run by Charles Brownstein, who is the the Exec Dir, along with a couple of part-timers and a bunch of volunteers. It's overseen by a board of directors consisting of two retailers, one publisher, two writers, one lawyer, one former publisher (who is also an artist and agent), one retailer website person who used to be a distributor, and one distributor. It also has a general counsel on retainer.

Here's a Who's Who at the Fund. (It needs to be updated -- it omits newest board members Chris Staros, publisher of Top Shelf Comics, and Milton Griepp, from the ICV2 website.)

They say that the fund has been derailed by pro-pornography interests and funding (always a tricky subject in OK - you never know if someone is mentioning pornography because they are a Bible thumper or not).

If it has been, I have no idea who the pro-pornography "interests" are. To be honest, I kind of wish there was "special interest" funding out there -- it would make the CBLDF's life a lot easier.

The CBLDF publishes its accounts at the end of the year. Since I've been on the board, every dollar that's come in has come in the hard way, one at a time, from memberships, from selling things at conventions, from eBay, from readings, and so on.

(This is why the CBLDF is always fundraising.)

Is the CBLDF going to wind up supporting material that someone considers "obscene"? Yup. Quite often. Is it what you'd consider obscene? That depends on who you are. Ask the Virginia man who spent the night in jail for selling a kid a copy of Elfquest.

They say that the representation in the Jesus Castillo case consisted of a bunch of New York First Amendment lawyers who had no real interest in actually getting Castillo off on what would have been an open & shut criminal argument, but instead wasted their resources on the boondoggle of trying to prove that the 'Legend of the Overfiend' or whatever kind of tentacle love book it was was considered art - which backfired immensely in the jury room.

The representation in the Jesus Castillo case was a local lawyer, who bought his comics at the store in question.

There were no New York lawyers involved. There were no lawyers with agendas.

The CBLDF has nothing to do with directing the details of the case (as these lawyers would know, if they were involved in the only case the CBLDF has funded in Oklahoma. A case the CBLDF stopped being involved with, if I remember correctly -- it was long before my time -- at the point where the lawyers, and the accused, started plea-bargaining, and pled guilty, which we don't do). We find lawyers, work with them to find expert witnesses, and write cheques. We get other organisations involved where necessary.

The Jesus castillo case wasn't tried as a 'precedent-setting" case. It was a comic-store manager being tried for selling an adult comic to an undercover cop. Given the shape of American obscenity laws, one of the things you need to do is bring in expert witnesses to explain to a jury that the material has merit. We did.

Nobody has any idea what "backfired in the jury room". It's very easy to be a monday morning quarterback, where legal cases are concerned. The lawyers succeeded in getting the second case against Jesus thrown out. They lost the case, and the local DA won it.

They say that the Fund is basically dedicated to the defense of more abstract political freedoms as opposed to the actual nitty-gritty of getting people like Castillo out of trouble and keeping their businesses alive.

I think abstract political freedoms are a very good thing, personally. The CBLDF was founded to support a specific abstract political freedom, the First Amendment, along with an abstract idea -- " that comics should be accorded the same constitutional rights as literature, film, or any other form of expression". Mostly, the way I've seen the CBLDF support these abstract political freedoms is by keeping people like Castillo out of trouble.

Sometimes it supports them by opposing legislation that would make it much easier for the guys working in the comic stores to get in trouble. The current Arkansas proposed legislation is a good example of this. It's easier to stop legislation that would criminalise keeping material that might be "harmful to minors" -- which could include, under the proposed law, superhero comics and novels that aren't for kids -- in the same space as kids' material, than it is to fight the court cases afterwards.

The fund has a pretty good success rate. It has an excellent success rate in the cases you never see, because they get sorted out before they ever get to court. In the ones that do get to court, it has a solid success ratio -- we've won a lot more than 50% of the cases we've been involved with. We'll win more as the years roll on. We'll lose some more, too, in all probability.

I think it's worth pointing out that, over the years The Comics Journal has never shown any reluctance in investigating the CBLDF's handling of individual cases, or really investigating anything to do with the CBLDF, and exists as a sort of de facto watchdog. It's definitely given the CBLDF a seriously hard time in the past over internal problems and on ways that cases have been handled -- and hasn't given the CBLDF a free ride. (I've always felt this was a good thing.)

And beyond that, I'm not sure what to say. There's nothing in that letter that has any truth to it. The subtext of the letter would appear to be that either the mysterious author or the unnamed lawyers think that the CBLDF would be better employed in telling retailers not to sell dirty books (that's dirty like real dirty, or dirty like Cherry Poptart or Omaha the Cat Dancer). Or Death: The High Cost of Living. Or Frank Frazetta posters. Or anything else that local police have ever objected to. As former CBLDF Exec Dir Chris Oarr pointed out, "One thing I have learned since working at the Fund is how many incidents of store harassment involve "bread and butter" titles you would never think of racking in the adult section. Sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero comics account for the bulk of complaints that we deal with at the CBLDF. Most of these are dispelled with a letter or phone call from our attorney, so they don't end up in court. But the fact remains that the complaints we encounter involving mainstream comics far outnumber those involving explicitly adult or "underground" themes. "

Here's a brief history of what the fund is -- how it came into existence and what it does.

Does that help?

Also e-mails in this morning to let me know that someone (again, doing the internet equivalent of talking loudly in the front of the comic store) is planning to organise a boycott of 1602 for a reason that would make them look kind of silly when the whole story is told. (C'mon, give me credit for having some kind of brains. 1602 may not be high art -- nor is it intended to be -- but it plays fair.)

Several more saying of 1602 "well, it's an Elseworlds really isn't it?". Not really. As I tried to explain in the press conference, you can certainly read it as an Elseworlds, but it's not a narrative strategy that will repay the biggest dividends. Part of the fun of the story is, I hope, "how did we get here?" and "how can we get back?"


Dear Mr Gaiman

This, I swear, will be the last time I bother you. I
just wanted to let you know that 'Nice Hair' is back
up and running at:

Your lookalike is in today's strip, so I figured it'd
be polite to let you know before I vanish back into
the fog.

Oh, and I also wanted to tell you I really enjoyed
1602. I didn't think it was possible for anyone to
make Daredevil even remotely cool, but you did it.

Take care of yourself!

-Mandy Mauchline

PS: I really think I'll have to draw you as a
washerwoman now. Very sorry.

Mainly 1602 stuff, really.

Dear Neil:

Yet another "Cannot Find Server" page


Yup. That made me laugh. I think we need more pages like that on the internet...

If anyone wants to hear a little bit of Dawn French reading Coraline, Bloomsbury have a little of it up at It's the scene where Coraline meets her other mother for the first time.

I was just wondering whether there will be copies of Sandman: Endless Nights available for purchase at the NY Is Book Country talk/signing. Need to find out whether I need to plan to acquire it ahead of time or not!
Dan B.

It'll be for sale there.

Every now and again people send me messages about how rude I was about mead in American Gods. So to make up for it, however inadequately, let me proffer the Got mead website.


The best thing about writing in notebooks is that you don't have to worry about the power going out, or people telling you that we'll be landing in a few minutes and you have to put anything electronic away now please or we shall crash and yes sir that means you I don't care if you're writing a story or not put the bloody thing away now.

The worst thing is spending several hours doing search after search on your computer for every name you could possibly have titled a missing file containing a half-finished introduction you desperately need to wrap up, and then searching for every word that you remember in the file itself... before it finally occurs to you that you might possibly never have actually typed it.


Every second e-mail I'm getting this evening is a virus. Nortons is earning its keep. Beware.

hi neil. i loved 1602 issue #1, however, i was wondering when the next issue was coming out. i remember reading in your journal that you were working on issue #7, but i didn't find any info on issue #2 on the Marvel website. as i am not a patient person, i thought i'd ask you. thank you for all your wonderful dreams.

pepper reed

It's monthly, which means there should be a new one along every four or five weeks.

(Some comic shop owners have grumbled that they've had readers who've come in, bought their 1602 #1, and left. It's worth reminding those store owners that, if they didn't hate it and want to know what happens next, those people will be back at least 7 more times, sometimes just hopefully asking if the next issue's out yet. Which is 7 more chances to get them hooked on other comics and other creators. They're new customers. This is not usually considered a bad thing by shops.)

There's already a 1602 website up at

Part 3 of 1602 arrived today, all lettered for me to proofread. It's the first one I've enjoyed reading so far -- the plot's started, and we've met all the characters, and I'm comfortable with Andy and he with me, so the whole thing's a lot less stiff than the first two. Of course, that's almost eight weeks into everyone else's future.

Also had a long conversation with Andy Kubert about page 22 of 1602 #6, mostly having to do with me having written two panel 3s on that page in the script, bringing an already impossibly-crammed page up to an impossible ten panels. (In the end we slipped a few of the panels over to the previous page, where there was room. More or less.)


And as a little follow-up to yesterday's Batman-beating-someone-up-in-Oxford-and-running-away story -- possibly in reaction to it -- the Australians have decided that it's something in the costumes. Ashburton Child Care Centre director Madeleine Kellaway explains, "You get a little gang of Batmans and Supermans and they need a victim.",5478,6995255%255E2862,00.html for details...

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Police in Oxford Hunt Batman

While I am perfectly willing to believe that this happened -- -- I find it very difficult to believe that A police spokeswoman, familiar with the exploits of Gotham City's Dark Knight, said: "It was really a case of 'Kapow!'"

Two Lizzes a Jon and a Sandy.

Hi Neil,

I got myself a new boyfriend almost a year ago. He's a great guy and has introduced me to whole new worlds such as computer games, Japanese animation, bipolar depression and your work. Previously I spent most of my time in art galleries and socialising.

His birthday is coming up and I want to give him something special - Endless Nights & Death: The High Cost of Living. I'm quite proud of myself for finding out about Endless Nights and your website. Frustratingly the release date for Endless Nights has moved back to October (his birthday is in Sept) so he'll have to wait a little for that. My question is, is it possible to order/buy signed copies of either of these from you (or elsewhere)? I'm assuming you have no immediate plans to come to Australia for a bookstore signing.

Any advice greatly appreciated,


Well, firstly, don't worry about ENDLESS NIGHTS coming out in October. There are mighty engines rumbling to make sure that the book is published in time for New York is Book Country. The official publication date is September 17th, I believe. Whether that means bookshops will have their copies that week, or just comic shops, I don't know. But it won't be late. (They started printing them a couple of weeks ago. I think the books are being bound currently.)

As for how to get signed copies of things...

The easiest way is DreamHaven. It's my local bookshop in Minneapolis -- a huge purple building, filled with all manner of books and comics and magazines, with toys and statues and CDs and stuff. It is a dangerous place to go with a full wallet, and a dangerous place to take a friend (I took Michael Chabon there. His eyes lit up when he saw their display case filled with pulps, and he started to buy...). It's where I get my books and comics.

They run the, which was a site-name I owned, and was happy to give them, so I'd have somewhere to point people who asked "Where do I get a copy of..."

(And yes, I've noticed that the .net site is now the commercial site, while the .com is the uncommercial one, but what can you do?)

Anyway, when I do stop in at DreamHaven, an evil grin spreads over the face of Elizabeth-behind-the-cash-register, and I am rapidly ushered into a back room (DreamHaven has more back rooms than any other bookshop I know) and pointed to a table on which there's a pile of books (many of them with post-it notes on saying things like "For Bernard, it's a birthday present"), some pens, and a chair. Then I sign stuff for a while, and eventually escape by climbing a wall disguised as a washerwoman, or by digging a tunnel.

(If people send them a book or two, and ask them to have me sign it, and enclose postage and a self-addressed envelope and such, then they are also happy to add that to the pile of stuff I'm meant to sign.)

(But there's no guarantee when I'll next be there. If I'm out of town, or hiding and writing, it can be months.)

The other alternative is, if you see that I'm doing a signing somewhere, write to them or phone them, and reserve a signed copy. Almost every bookshop that's doing a signing assumes that this will happen, and they make the authors sign books before the signing starts, or after it's done, or both.

(It's a good bet that Borders on Wall Street still has signed copies of WOLVES IN THE WALLS, for example. And if they don't, Books of Wonder does.)

In this case, I'll be doing a signing at New York is Book Country in a month. I'll post the details as soon as I have them -- but I'm pretty sure I'll be doing it with whatever bookseller is sponsoring the festival, rather than at the DC Comics Booth, as DC doesn't sell their books directly. And if you need a signed Endless Nights, you could possibly order it from them.

(DreamHaven's probably a safer bet, as they're less likely to be nervous of posting things to Australia. Another alternative might be for you to e-mail Justin Ackroyd at Slow Glass Books, in Melbourne. Justin closed his doors and moved his bookstore onto the web, at and he and the Dreamhaven people have been known to indulge in peculiar forms of barter; I can say no more about it, but Justin sometimes has signed-by-me-things for sale, while the people at DreamHaven probably have thylacine skulls, opals-as-big-as-your-fist, and the occasional bottle of 1972 Penfolds Grange Hermitage.)


and a couple on previous topics --

Hello Neil,
And even another 1602 message for anyone still needing a copy of #1. There are presently over 100 listings on Ebay for single copies to multiples of 10,25 and 100 copy lots.
There are a lot of copies out there and should not be more then cover price.
It is rather odd that retailers are sold out beyond the demand. Two Comic shops in my area, which has a large comic buying population only ordered 50-70 copies. This is a book I would have ordered 150-200 copies (depending on the store and location. when I was working in a comic shop and doing the ordereing.
Anyone who has ever worked a comic shop should know it is just math. Add the monthly totals sold of an issue of Sandman with the monthly totals sold on say Wolverine Origins which was also by Kubert and Isanove, add a little adversment and a dash of word of mouth and you have a sell through total that meets the demand. Quite simple really.

Jon A.
Sonoma County CA


Regarding the flavor of Blue Moon ice cream -- as a pastry chef who has made dozens and dozens of flavors of ice cream down through the years, I'm pretty sure this flavor is derived from orange, lemon and possibly lime or tangerine zest or oil, probably with a bit of Cointreau thrown in for good measure (often commercial ice cream makers will use Cointreau or triple sec flavors, not the real thing). I'm going to experiment with this myself, but I'm pretty sure it's just a combination of citrus peel flavors, something we in the dessert business refer to as the "Trix" or "Froot Loops" effect. Sandy


Ok, I'm almost positive this isn't in the FAQ somewhere:

What are the chances of The Children's Crusade ever being reprinted and bound in a book form? It's probably a copyright nightmare but, really, it would be worth it. It's very difficult to find all of it. Pretty please?

(Though between that and The Sweet Hereafter, "The Pied Piper" is forever a dark and terrifying story in my mind. Almost wrecked the new Pratchett version for me, though not quite.)


it's not a copyright nightmare -- all the books were DC/Vertigo, and not creator owned -- but I'm not sure that anyone's ever been very keen on making it happen. There was a Spanish or Italian version that collected the "bookends", and I think I've seen a version that collected the bookends and the Books of Magic story, but the crossovers were annuals (which were 48 page stories, if I remember correctly) and there were several of them, and some of them were more successful than others.

It's not impossible that some of the material might be collected, but you're probably better off trying to collect it all, rather than waiting.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Includes grumble, review, recipes, etc.

To buck the trend on 1602 messages, then, here's one saying...I've read the first issue, and I like it, BUT! WHOSE idea was IT to EMPHASISE every other WORD any CHARACTER says to ANOTHER CHARACTER? because IT gets REALLY really REALLY annoying SOMETIMES. Y'know, novels generally just assume the reader can figure out where the emphasis is, and this doesn't seem to happen so badly in your other why in this one? It really breaks up the flow of dialogue, unfortunately.


Actually, I pretty much agree -- if I'd known it was going to be in upper and lower case lettering when I wrote the script, I certainly wouldn't have used so many stressed words. I actually like them when you're doing all-upper-case lettering; I can use them to show what the stresses are, and try and push the words over into something that you hear rather than see. (Look at classic Eisner's SPIRIT lettering, or some of Dave Sim's Cerebus lettering to see what I mean.)

Once it moves into upper and lower case (it was an edict from Marvel, not something I chose), I think you read it more like prose, and the stressed words tend to attract attention, rather than disappear into the balloon. So there's an awful lot less stressed stuff later on in 1602.

(There was a reason why Dream, who spoke in upper and lower case, rarely stressed anything after the first couple of issues, when I saw what it looked like, in Sandman.)


Let's see...

WOLVES IN THE WALLS reviews have started showing up -- I keep meaning to post some (and may indeed already have):


And for anyone wondering about the Edinburgh Fringe production of Smoke and Mirrors here's an on-the-spot review...

Hi Neil,

I sent in a few months back on this line about Smoke and Mirrors at the Edinburgh Fringe. Just back from a weekend in Edinburgh, and caught the Saturday night show. Was slightly worried it'd be empty (the perennial risk of attending any Fringe show) but it was quite busy. Maybe 70% full. It was only when I got into my seat I realised I might not want to see the stories interpreted by someone else. But it turned out fine :)

The White Road was very well paced, with some minimal set dressing giving it a nicely antiquated feel. I had forgotten the exact details of the story, but the tone suited my memory of it. The details came flooding back as it progressed. Mr Fox came off innocent and victimised, and the fox-lady was devious and sneaky :) As I said it was well paced; Fox's fiancee built her story up effectively - her account of her dream conjured up the imagery with great effect - and the climax was frenetic but very very very good. The way you noticed Mr Fox trying to point out that the 'hand' was indeed a paw, but the innkeeper was too quick for him. Mr Fox's closing monologue was done in near-darkness, after he had been attacked and the fox-lady was leaving. The delivery was careful and measured, and when I checked my book again today I realised that you had written it as poetry, which was appropriate.

When We Went To See The End Of The World was done with just Dawnie standing in front of the audience with a jotter in hand. It was the same actress that was the fox-lady, but you wouldn't have really noticed. She mixed some cutesie cutesie laugh moments in with some chilling moments. I really liked how the fantastical elements of the story (such as crossing twilight or the unicorn encounter) just came off commonplace. One of the things I always liked about the story and it came across really well in the show.

We Can Get Them For You Wholesale started off much more for laughs than I imagined, with Peter being very very geeky :) But this all made sense too, especially considering his nature. The ending was necessarily changed, with 'the thing' becoming a ice-hockey masked, boiler-suited chainsaw-wielding maniac. This was the only thing throughout the whole show I wasn't so keen on, but it certainly gave shock value to end your night on (and send you out into some gothic streets thinking about...)

All in all very worth it. Actors were all really good, especially the guy who played Mr Fox/Burton Kemble, even though he didn't have a lot of lines. The sight of his grinning paled face sitting in the dark while Peter was compiling his lists was quite eerie :)

I've never experienced your words read out loud, and this show didn't disappoint. Moving, chilling, grin-making, lots of things. I know they've done the work in staging all this and financing, and they should be proud of what they've done, but it's your words and the show works well because of what you gave them


Which certainly makes me want to see it.

And when this came in I assumed it would be the last word on Blue Moon Ice Cream...

I just read your journal entry that mentioned Blue Moon ice cream. Blue Moon has been my favorite flavor since I was very young. I always thought it tasted like the milk that's left in the bowl after eating Fruit Loops. I've tried several brands, and I think The Chocolate Shoppe in Madison, WI has the best. Babcock Hall Ice Cream (served at the University of Wisconsin's Unions and food service) has a decent blue moon as well. The flavor is stronger than the Chocolate Shoppe's, but less creamy.

Your remark made me curious about what that flavor really is so I did some not-very-in-depth searching. I never did come up with a definitive answer, but there are certainly are a lot of people out there who like it! Here's just some of what I discovered in my fruit-loops-ful search: calls it "Smooth and creamy and a very popular flavor, spend a little time under the night sky and try some Blue Moon!"

The Chocolate Shoppe's blue moon is "creamy ice cream with a "Fruit Loops" cereal flavor and a wacky blue color."

Here's a recipe for a home version. It contains pineapple and blue curacao. I may have to try this and see how close it comes.

The Cedar Crest site describes it as "Sky-blue Cedar Crest Ice Cream, with a blue flavor to match."
But according to an article by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online "the Blue Moon flavor in Cedar Crest ice cream actually is almond." (This article also mentions a slew of other Blue Moon flavored foods and beverages.)
Almond doesn't sound right to me at all, I think I'll have to see if I can track down some of Cedar Crest's blue moon. I'm off to the store, wish me luck!


P.S. Good luck to Holly in college--although anyone discerning enough to like Blue Moon will certainly do just fine.

Madison Punk Rock!

Now, I'm thinking that pineapple and almond taste nothing at all alike, even when coloured a particularly violent shade of blue, when this arrives, to shed more light on it. Or less...

Hi Neil,

Blue Moon ice cream is made from cantaloupe. At least, it was at Canon's on the south border of Cleveland, where I grew up. And I've found an indicator that this is the case elsewhere:
So, enjoy. It's good for you!

-joe in San Rafael, CA

and I'm just pondering the canteloupe possibilities, when I read this:

hello neil,

blue moon ice cream! i've only seen that once, and it was while on vacation at a tiny ice cream shop in manistique, michigan. i was wary of doing a search on it because i always thought it was one of those quirky midwest/upper peninsula things but, according to this website (, that's exactly what it is. most people can only find it in the UP and wisconsin. i think it tastes faintly of marshmallows, though it's been years since i've had any. i paid a dear price for it, too, since it was gotten on a bit of adventure my cousin and i weren't supposed to be having (i was all of 14 at the time) and almost had to walk the twenty miles back to our house in gulliver. so that is blue moon ice cream, and the mystery still holds.

andrea norstad

and now marshamallows enters the picture, and I realise there's also a whole website filled with comments from people who also don't know what flavour Blue Moon is....

Several people wrote to say "It tastes BLUE" but it doesn't, not really, not in the way that certain pink desserts taste pink, anyway. I suspect that the genius of Blue Moon ice cream is that if it were, say, canteloupe orange, you'd go "Ah, it's canteloupe flavour" (if it was) and never think about it twice. Whereas it's the gulf between the vivid blueness of the colour and the pineapple flavour (or the marshmallow-almond. Or whatever it is) that makes it work.


Nice Hair is pretty damn funny webcomic that makes fun of you and Tim Burton. Don't sue anyone.

Okay. I won't sue anyone. That was easy.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Blue Moon ice cream (Tasty world. Very Tasty...)

Holly leaves to go to college in about a week, so today we went off on a very small road trip together, down the Mississippi Valley. At one point we wound up at the Lark Toys Carousel, and we ate Blue Moon flavoured ice cream together.

I don't know what flavour Blue Moon is. (The only places I've encountered it were at the Lark toys place, and at the Baraboo CircusWorld Museum.) It's sort of vanilla-citrus flavour, is an extremely bright blue in colour and smells (Holly says) of fruit loops. I bought her a glow-in-the-dark rubber duck, and a new copy of a book I used to read her every night when she was tiny (Outside Over There, by Maurice Sendak, a book Maddy found much too disturbing and weird, when it was her turn to have it read to her.)

We had a wonderful time, in a quiet sort of ohmigodmydaughter'sactuallyleavingforcollegenextweek sort of way.


Dear Neil, I have read "The Wolves in the Walls" to my three year old daughter. We both enjoyed it very much. She has informed me that there are horses in our walls and that we need to use tools to open the walls up and have a look.
Please let me know if I should send the bill for damaged wallboard directly to yourself or to your publisher.

Let her know that she won't need to open them up and look inside. She just needs to wait until the Horses Come Out of the Walls...

Hello favorite author,
I will be attending the NY is Book Country thing which you are doing on the 20th (the day before my birthday), and was wondering whether you were reading AND signing, or just signing, and how many things you would sign for each person, etc. Oh, and ON my birthday the following day I see you are doing something with Mr. Speigelman at 92 and Y. Will that be a panel, just so I can organize my day around it. Thank you Neil.

Not a problem...

I'm reading and signing on the 20th, for anyone who has a ticket.

I'm signing on the morning of the 21st as part of the street festival.

I'm doing a panel with art spiegelman that evening at the 92nd St Y. (As part of the promotion for Little Lit 3 "It Was a Dark and Silly Night".) We'll be talking about writing for adults and for children. Not sure if there's a formal signing at this one -- I'd assume there isn't, if I were you.

As for what I'll sign for each person, it'll probably depend on how many people there are and how long they let me sign.

Dear Neil,

You're on the board of the CBLDF, so you'd know the answer to my question as well as anyone.

My question is in regards to the supreme court declining to hear the case of Jesus Costello. I am a cartooning student at SVA, the only college in the country with cartooning as a major. There are alot of students and faculty there, cartooning majors and not, that care deeply about comics. I was wondering if perhaps we could be of help in some way, by some form of petition perhaps. I was thinking something along the lines of writing the supreme court, letting them know that there really is a large, concerned group of americans who really think this ruling was wrong. I could easily get a large portion of the school involved in canvassing comic shops and getting signatures. It would be easy to get thousands of signatures. I know the CBLDF has pretty much chalked this up as a loss, though, so I was wondering if you thought this was a worthwhile endeavor at all. I just feel like I can't sit by as a citezen in a citezen-participatory government and let this happen. I have a great need to DO something about this. If you think I and my classmates could be of help, or have any reccomendations on how to go about it, I'd appreciate it.

Matthew Smith Bernier

Well, I can give you my answer -- it's not me speaking for the CBLDF, just a private individual, though.

The Jesus Castillo case is over. The Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear any case, and they've said no. Personally, I don't think that we ever had much chance to get the Supreme Court to hear this case (although I still think that it was a wrong thing that they refused to hear the Mike Diana case). It's done. It's not the end of the world. We got one entire case against him thrown out, he won't do jail time, the fine is paid, it could have been a lot worse.

It's a battle. It's not the war.

But yes, there are lots of things you can do. None of them are about the Jesus Castillo case directly.

The biggest one is, get yourself educated. The CBLDF's features page is a place to start. Follow the links...

Dave Marsh wrote an excellent book called "50 Ways to Fight Censorship", which is now out of print (although still floating around used). Here's the Amazon page for it. I wish some publisher would get Dave to update it, and bring it back into print.

You can get a pretty good idea of the approach that Dave Marsh was suggesting (and of things that you can do) with the chapter titles...

2. Register and Vote!
3. Send Your Senators and Congressperson Letters or Mailgrams.
4. Teach Your Children How to Know When Censorship Appears in the Classroom, or Elsewhere.
5. Oppose De Facto Censorship of the News Media by the Wealthy and Powerful.
6. Get Involved With Your Library.
7. Make Art That Fights Censorship.
8. Speak Out About Freedom of Speech at Schools, Churches, and to Youth Groups in Your Town.
9. Write a Letter to Your Local Paper in Defense of Free Speech.
10. Call Your Radio Station Talk Show.
11. Support Those Retailers Who Fight Against Censorship.
12. Read Banned Books. Read Everything About Censorship and First Amendment Issues.
13. Gather Information and News Clippings on Censorship and Send it to a Central Clearinghouse.
14. Buy Banned Records.
15. Write and Perform Songs About Free Speech and the Perils of Censorship.
16. Write Movie Moguls and Tell Them to Eliminate the MPAA Ratings Code.
17. Watch "The Simpsons" and Other Controversial TV Programs.
18. Contact Your Local Cable Outlet to Find Out if It's Being Pressured to Censor Its Programming.
19. Join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
20. Join the Freedom to Read Foundation.
21. Stop the Attack on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
22. Join Article 19.
23. Support the American Booksellers Association Foundation for Free Expression.
24. Get to Know the Censorship Groups. Study Their Literature, and Expose Them to Public Scrutiny.
25. Investigate the Tax-Exempt Status of Pro-Censorship Lobbying Groups.
26. Find Out Your State's Requirements for Purchasing Textbooks.
27. Run for Public Office On a Platform Supporting Freedom of Expression.
28. Write to Your Favorite Artists; Find Out What They're Doing to Help Preserve Freedom of Expression.
29. Make an Anti-Censorship Home Video Showing the Various Benefits of Free Speech in Your Community
30. Write About Your Positive Experiences with Art.
31. Become a Voter Registrar. Organize a Voter Registration Drive.
32. Form a Group That Establishes a First Amendment Litmus Test for Politicians.
33. Start an Anti-Censorship Petition Campaign.
34. Boycott Products Made and Marketed by Companies That Fund the Censors.
35. Start a Grassroots Anti-Censorship Organization.
36. Start an Anti-Censorship Newsletter.
37. Contact Local Arts and Educational Organizations; Persuade Them to Stage a Free Speech Events.
38. Set a Good Example by Starting a Parents Group to Combat Censorship.
39. Contact Local TV Stations and Propose a "Censored Films Festival."
40. Use Community Access Cable or Community Radio to Raise Awareness of Free Speech Issues.
41. Stage a Mock Trial on Censorship.
42. Sue the Bastards!
43. Create a Public Service Announcement to Be Aired Over the Radio.
44. Make Sure Local Schools Have a Course on Freedom of Speech.
45. Contact Others Concerned About Censorship--Use the Classifieds!
46. Talk to Teachers About What They're Doing to Ensure Free Speech.
47. Picket the Censors.
48. Have a Moment of Silence to Keep Speech Free.
49. Have a Speak Out Day.
50. Make the Real Obscenities the Real Issues.

(And yes, when he wrote the book, The Simpsons was indeed a controversial TV programme.)


Jess Nevins is annotating 1602 at


and lots of messages coming in that are more or less evenly divided between ones like this:

You write:
>And enough e-mails and messages come in from people who just like
>having it here (some of them read my books and comics, and some of
>them wouldn't if you paid them, but they like coming here and reading
>the journal) that I feel like it would be missed if I stopped.

I certainly enjoy reading it and would miss it. I am, on the other
hand, confident that the enjoyment of a new Neil Gaiman novel would
more than outweigh any sadness from missing journal entries. Therefore
I say that if putting the journal on hiatus would be needed in order
to write a novel (or even just would make it better) then by all means
do that. I'll understand, and I bet most of your other readers will too.

David Goldfarb

and ones like this:

DEAR Neil,I read the suicide girls interview & nearly died at the thought of not having this journal up for any long period of time. Then I thought well he has to do what he has to do & if in order to write a new novel that means no journal for awhile... I can certainly understand the need for no ,or rather less, distractions. Then I remembered how long it took you to write American Gods & started hyperventilating all over again! Now after having just read the latest journal entry by you it seems there's a CHANCE that it may not "go on hiaitus"....PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE don't take this journal away!!!!!! (that's my true heart's desire my sensible brain part will wrest control away long enough to say )- forgive me for asking anything of you because you already do give soooo much of yourself to your fans & God bless you for it,& if that's what you need to do I will understand & will survive...I will try...honest.....but,oh God!Please don't!!! (sorry)

Well, the next novel won't be as long as "American Gods". It's not that kind of book. Beyond that, I haven't really decided anything yet. And when I do, and if I do, I'll put it up here. So don't start hyperventilating yet. I'm still here. Unless, of course, I'm actually Tom Clancy. (I think I'd rather be me, really.)

Dear Neil,

Just in case you missed it going up today, Fantastic Metropolis has just posted Jeff VanderMeer's amazing Survey on the "Physicality of Books," where he interviewed about 70 authors, including you and me, by asking 5 questions about books and posting everyone's fun responses.

Here is the URL:

Vera Nazarian

...which was a good excuse to look at Fantastic Metropolis again. There are undoubtedly lots of you who won't care one way or another that Alan Moore's Jerry Cornelius introduction/essay/pastiche for Moorcock's "Firing the Cathedral" is up on line. But it made me enormously happy. I met Jerry in pretty much exactly the same way that Alan did, only I was 11, not 14...

Friday, August 15, 2003

And do not forget the colourist...

Over at Newsarama there's an interview with RICHARD ISANOVE, who is currently doing a wonderful job on 1602. The art style is fascinating: Andy draws completely finished pencils, then Richard goes in over the top and colours them, using, among other tools, the computer.

Fair and Balanced. Well, fair anyway.

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