Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Deja late. Also some nudity.

About fifteen years ago I was the chairman of the Society of Strip Illustration, which was, for a while, the nearest thing that comics in the UK had to a professional organisation. I had to write a monthly "Talk From a Chair" for the SSI newsletter, and in February 1988 I wrote a paragraph regretting the passing of artist Don Lawrence.

Several days later I got a phone call from the late Don Lawrence, pointing out that he strongly suspected that I'd meant the late artist Ron Embleton, who had just passed away. They were friends, and had similar styles, and I'd meant to type one of them, and had written the other one instead. He was very nice about it. So I wrote an apology for killing Don off early, and it gave us something to talk about when we finally met, somewhere in Europe, a decade later. He was funny, gracious, filled with anecdotes...

When I was a boy, Don painted a comic I loved. It was called The Trigan Empire -- two comics pages a week, in the otherwise comicsless and dryasdust children's magazine "Look And Learn", which even schools who banned comics allowed. It was the story of something a lot like an SF Roman Empire on a distant planet, and was gorgeous. (And has, I've just discovered, its own web page at The Trigan Empire was the most popular thing in Look and Learn, and when, after a decade, Don asked if he could have a royalty, he was simply sacked by IPC. So he went on to do "Storm", his own comic.

He died on December 29th. You can see a photograph and a webpage here. And here's a page about Ron Embleton -- which I should warn you contains a smidge of nudity, of the Oh Wicked Wanda persuasion.


An interesting e-mail came in from the very cool Janis Ian...

On January 2, 2004, we'll start a project called "The Making of a CD". Yeah, I know, not that interesting to most. But... for six weeks, we'll follow my new studio album from start to finish. There'll be images of the complete drafts of four songs from my lyric notebooks; audio versions of the songs from their earliest inception (just a bad guitar and vocal) through the finished song, the first studio take, the final take, and the rough and final mixes. A real-time timeline, weekly diaries, scads of photos, glossary of terms, budget items and the thinking behind them. Audio of me talking about each song, the players, and the album. In other words, a real, honest look at what goes into this sort of project. Everything - audio tracks, drafts, photos - will be downloadable to your hard drive.

Week five will feature Dolly Parton, who sings a duet with me on a song I wrote called "My Tennessee Hills". You'll be able to hear audio tracks of us working on it in the studio, going over the arrangement, trying to get it right. Once we hit week six, the album will be available through the website for pre-purchase two weeks before general release.

We're also auctioning items for The Pearl Foundation on Ebay over those weeks; early CD's of all the different song choices (including those that didn't make it), CD's of rough mixes, session charts signed by Dolly and the others, and some high-end jewelry.

So if you know anyone interested in songwriting, or recording, or just being an artist, please pass this along and invite them to tune in!

And that's at, currently with its own very seasonal flavour.


FYI, I just called the Fitzgerald Theater to get tickets for the Talking Volumes talk, and the phone fellow told me that contrary to what your website and the mpr website say, the event is on Feb. 8, and not Feb. 15. Hope that there is not some mixup that would prevent the event from occurring . . .

According to the MPR people it's definitely on the 15th, and they're trying to figure out why people would think otherwise...

Hi Neil,

At the Minnesota Public Radio's Talking Volumes event will there be any kind of reading or signing?

By the way, I reccently picked up the Telling Stories CD before I did a few hours of holiday traveling. I normally dislike holiday traveling due to weather, everybody and their Aunt Judy on the road, all of them trying to stop me from getting to where I'm going, but I was pleasantly suprised to find the time flew by as my wife and I listened to you tell your stories. By the time it was over, I was less than 30 minutes from my destination! You took away the part of the holidays I dislike most. Thank you! The liner notes say you recorded enough material for more CD's. Any word on when we'll get them?

I'm pretty sure there will be both a reading and, afterwards, a signing.

The me-telling-stories CD that comes after Telling Tales is pretty much finished, although I have to write the liner notes and come up with a title for it. Adam Stemple did the music, and Michael Zulli painted a gorgeous cover. I'm sure it'll be out by late spring -- keep an eye on DreamHaven's site for information.


and a helpful clarification on that mysterious article...

> Either that, or it was reporting the news from an
> alternate universe...

The correction notice is actually a sidebar to a larger article about the history of the 1903 report. (There's a link at the bottom of the page: "The scoop of the century".)

The short version is that they got a few key facts by telegram, and just invented the rest of it because they had a deadline to meet and the more detailed report wouldn't arrive in time.

I thought it was something like that, but missed the link...


And today's important art news is in the Daily Telegraph: A US court yesterday upheld an artist's right to take nude photos of Barbie dolls being menaced with kitchen appliances, despite objections from toymaker Mattel.

We also learn that Mattel said that the case should go to a jury, because it had shown the photos to some shopping mall customers who had mixed opinions on whether they were parodies of Barbie. But the court said parody was a legal question that judges must decide.

("Excuse me, ma'am. This photograph..."

"The naked Barbie with messy hair being sexually menaced by a handblender?"

"That's the one. I wonder, do you think this is an official Mattel Barbie photograph, or a parody."

"Uh... isn't that a legal question that a judge should decide?"

"No, dammit. We've spent thousands of dollars buying these prints from some guy in Utah, and we're going to protect the good name of America's most beloved doll if it kills us. Now, here we have four Barbies covered in salsa in an oven. Do you think that sends the right message to America's youth?")

Half the $3,700 profit that Mr Forsythe made from the series of photos came from Mattel's own investigators, who bought up copies for the court case. Mattel originally sued in 1999. The court also ruled that Mattel should pay the $1.6m it cost Mr Forsythe to mount a defence. Good. There weren't any photos at the Telegraph site, but, for the curious...

Monday, December 29, 2003

lemurs and naked santas

When I first said I wanted to be a comedian, everybody laughed. Well, they're not laughing now. Bob Monkhouse

And British comedian, actor and game show host Bob Monkhouse is dead. I always rather liked him -- he seemed to be someone playing the part of an unctuous game show host, rather than the real thing. He started out in comics, and remained a comics fan and reader for the rest of his life -- I remember being astonished, after a signing at Andromeda Books in Birmingham in 1988, to be asked to sign some copies of Black Orchid for Bob, who had called and reserved them. Here's a slightly strange -- or at least uncomfortable -- obituary, and a canonical list of jokes. Some are funny, some aren't.

A few weeks ago someone asked you how you felt about Madonna not allowing photography at her book signings. In your response, you compared your post flight self to a disgruntled lemur. This made me pee with hilarity and, being that I work at a zoo, I promptly named our brand new lemur Neil in your honor. Today Neil bit off a lot of my leg. I was wondering if you could ask him to stop biting off parts of people through your super secret Neil-y connection.

I just realized not a lot of this is at all relevant. I blame it on post being-mauled-by-a-cute-and-fuzzy-animal stress.

(You'll find me explaining that in photos I look like a stunned demonic lemur at I wonder if Neil-the-lemur thought that "demonic" was part of the job description.)

Anyway, I'm not sure that it'll work, but I'm happy to give it a try. Right: Neil the lemur, if you're reading this on some Zoo Underground Internet connection, stop taking chunks out of the leg -- or any other bits -- of the nameless zoo correspondent. You're a vegetarian, dammit. Read the literature. This is a direct order from Neil High Command.

(Good luck. Let me know whether Neil-the-demonic-lemur reforms, and which zoo he can be seen at.)

Here's a link to a newspaper article, via Patrick Nielsen Hayden's blog. It's a correction to the errors in an article published a hundred years earlier. (One imagines the journalist finding the original article, to reprint for an anniversary edition, in the dusty and crumbling bound archival volumes, and going "But this is... utter bollocks from beginning to end!" -- or rather whatever the Virginian equivalent of Utter Bollocks is. Either that, or it was reporting the news from an alternate universe...

Normally, when I talk about Minneapolis SF book and comic shops, I talk about DreamHaven. But there are some excellent other comic shops in the Twin Cities, and some excellent SF shops, foremost among which is probably Uncle Hugo's, which is not just a good bookshop, but unique in being the only Minneapolis based SF bookshop to find a naked man in their chimney on Christmas.

Which reminds me -- the amazing Dianna Graf sent this link: It's a quicktime movie, and a big one, so don't click on it unless you're on a fast connection.

What are you doing the Day after Valentine's Day...?

On the 15th of February 2004 at 2:00pm I'll be the guest and speaker on Minnesota Public Radio's Talking Volumes event, talking about Coraline, which is the Talking Volumes book of the month, but I'll be probably talking about other things as well. The talk is at the Fitzgerald Theater -- tickets are $12 each, or $10 for members of Talking Volumes, MPR or The Loft. It looks a lot of fun.
According to the site, Talking Volumes is a regional book club that spotlights a different book each month with feature articles, live broadcasts with the author, small-group discussions, and more.

It also says you can Purchase tickets from the Fitzgerald Theater box office, at 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul, Minnesota, or call 651-290-1221. Box office hours are: Tue.-Fri., noon-6 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

How did they lose time before computers?

Several days spent in computer purgatory, following the upgrade of some firewall software, finally solved and sorted. Several nights spent battling with the iPod, having mucked up some ID3 tags for several hundred Jack Benny radio shows, eventually fixed using a combination of the OTTER program's ID3 tag utility and the Ephpod program. What did we do for endless and disheartening time-sinks before computers? I never lost twenty hours trying to make a fridge work properly, or to make a chair I'd accidentally upgraded turn itself back into something you could sit on.

I notice that less and less actual e-mail seems to be getting to me since all the different services put up their own spam traps. Some I find out about, some I don't. I fondly remember the days before spam, when e-mail was all signal and no noise. Now we're in the position of getting so much junk mail that our post offices are throwing away the junk mail , and some real mail as well. (And I wonder how much mail from me is getting through.)

Let's see... lots of links I should put up, so I can close some windows...

Aahz sent this link -- -- telling the story of from the other side of the chair.

Jonathan Carroll sent me a link to this eBay auction: -- I thought it was hilarious.

If you spend your life sueing newspapers for libel on behalf of others for fun and profit, do not be surprised if, when your life is over, and you can no longer sue for libel, your newspaper obituary is less than glowing:,11614,1112139,00.html

There's an interesting article about literary and genre awards -- The BSFA award, incidentally, is a miniature version of the Black Wossname from 2001:A Space Odyssey

It's always a good thing to be reminded of how unreliable what you see and read is -- apparently the US Park Services is currently removing the footage of gay, feminist, and anti-Vietnam protesters from the video history shown at the Lincoln Memorial, and will be replacing them with "scenes of the Christian group Promise Keepers and pro-Gulf War demonstrators though these events did not take place at the Memorial".

While I thought the first part of this article was generally tosh, I enjoyed the second half --

Here the book-bloggers gather to discuss the year:

I'm reading Danny Wallace's excellent book JOIN ME, the history of his inadvertent rise to Leaderdom (as mentioned here at Very funny indeed. You can read about it -- and indeed, Join Him -- at

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Tonight, Christmas Present (Ghost of). This morning, Christmas Presents (lots of).

In a not-altogether-unsuccessful attempt to get in to the Christmas Spirit (I sort of missed the run-up, being in my hole and writing so it felt like Christmas rather came out of nowhere) I decided it might be fun to read a chapter a night of "A Christmas Carol", starting two nights ago. The first night, it was to Maddy and her friend, who put up with it stoically. Last night, with the appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past, I had a lot more listeners, including Holly, who is knitting me a scarf. Quite looking forward to tonight's appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Reading aloud changes the way you relate to a book -- it occurred to me that I'd never realised that Scrooge's childhood would have been in the late eighteenth century, for example. I've never read Dickens aloud before, and am fascinated both by the way he occasionally goes on too long, belabours a point, repeats it sir and then goes over it once again, ensuring that his readers understand, comprehend, and are entirely satisfied with the points that he makes, points that each reader needs to understand, etc... but also in the way he'll use economies to make subtler points. There are many places he uses words like a miniaturist, conjuring scenes and emotions in small spaces, saying a lot with a little.

Was woken up too early and sat, blinking, on a couch, as the family opened presents -- some fun, some cool, some goofy: Mike and Holly got me an electronic picture receiver, for example, which will apparently download 30 images for me a night. My wife gave me a new Swiss Army Watch, and she and Maddy got me the two volumes of the art of Maurice Sendak. My assistant got me smoked salmon.

And I have to go -- Maddy and I are going to listen to the anniversary Just a Minute on Radio 4 now. Hurrah for the Internet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

hmm. likewise, moo.

You know, I'd feel much more reassured if the American cow with mad cow disease hadn't been returned to the food chain...

The infected cow identified yesterday was a Holstein which was tested because it was a "downer", unable to walk, when it arrived at a Washington state slaughterhouse. The meat from the cow was nevertheless sent to a processing plant.

Agriculture department investigators were yesterday urgently trying to track it down.

Ms Veneman said that only the "muscle cuts" had been sent for processing for human consumption and there was no record of the disease being transmitted through the meat. The brain and spinal column had been sent to a "rendering facility" elsewhere, but she did not specify how it had been used.
Extracted from,12271,1112561,00.html

I was in England making Neverwhere in 1996 -97, and remember the supercilious tones of the government spokesmen, assuring radio listeners that BSE was no danger at all to people, and the calamitous loss in confidence (not to mention slaughter of animals) that followed the discovery that people were indeed getting it. There's a fascinating chronology here, at


Hi Neil!

Just wanted to let you know that at the Livejournal feed your rain and taxes entry was reposted... I wasn't sure if it was reposted intentionally because of the whole mascaraing the innocents thread or if it was a mistake. Cheers!


Actually, it's probably option C: sometimes Livejournal does strange things. Or possibly option D: sometimes Blogger does strange things to Livejournal. If you're wondering whether something has really happened, or is just a livejournal RSS feed oddness, check in at the actual journal at .

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

A note from the president. No, the other one.

Just got this from Dennis Kitchen today, and I thought it was worth putting up on the journal in full....

When the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was established in 1986, it
was to support the defense of retailers who found themselves in
trouble for daring to sell a handful of comics aimed at older
readers. Over the years the idea that comics can speak to adults on
their terms has become less radical to the general public, but too
often in the eyes of the law, they're still just for kids. In
each of the last three national election years, the Fund has defended
a case that tries to press that point. As we approach the 2004
election, we need your support so that when the next cases arrive, as
unfortunately we can be certain they will, we can afford to defend
them, to ensure that you can keep reading, or creating, or
publishing, or selling, comics and graphic novels.

There are many signs that the next legal battle is imminent. This
year both Arkansas and Michigan passed new laws attempting to ban the
display and dissemination of "harmful-to-minors" materials.
On the surface these laws are supposed to shield minors from explicit
materials, but they are so ambiguously phrased that they actually
threaten a great deal of the constitutionally protected materials
that support the individuals who earn their living from comics.

This year, the federal government passed PROTECT, a dangerous law
that broadens the definition of child pornography in a fashion that
threatens any work addressing the idea of minors engaged in sexual
conduct, whether an actual minor is involved or not. Even co-sponsor
Patrick Leahy condemned this provision of the law, saying it
"goes too far." This law and the PATRIOT Act include
provisions allowing for increased surveillance of individuals and
businesses that can be carried out under a cloak of secrecy, so who
can say what's happening that we aren't seeing?

The CBLDF is actively following and fighting these laws. As full
members of Media Coalition, a national association of free speech
advocacy groups, we have participated in nearly a dozen amicus briefs
challenging laws like Arkansas Act 858, the Child Online Protection
Act, South Carolina's Harmful to Minors Internet Law, even
provisions of the PATRIOT Act. We've also lent our name to cases
whose precedents would affect the freedom of creators to take
advantage of their First Amendment right to free expression, such as
Winters v. DC Comics, New Times v. Isaacks, and Tyne v. Time Warner.
We're keeping you informed about these fights and the new laws on
the horizon in Busted!, which has become one of the country's leading
magazines covering the national First Amendment climate.

This is necessary work and we need your support so we can continue to
do it. By making a tax-deductible donation to the CBLDF you will
allow us to build up our war chest so we can wage a first-class legal
defense the next time a member of the comics community is caught in a
legal crossfire. You will help us to take action to stop bad laws
before they start and prevent bad precedents from infecting the law.

Please contribute to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today. If you
haven't yet renewed your membership, now is the time to do so.
If you're not a member but earn a living from comics, then you
have no excuse for not joining now. If you have already paid this
year's dues, we thank you and we ask you to please use this
opportunity to increase your support.

Please visit and make your tax-deductible contribution


Denis Kitchen,


I've done a short update at listing the three events I know I'm doing in 2004. There are probably a few others (there's one US book event I've agreed to go to), and I'll list them as soon as I can get details, but this is basically a writing year, not an an appearing places and signing year.

I've also fiddled with the settings for the FAQ archives, so you can now read the entire FAQ blog at I'll try and do an update soon covering all the things that have been written earlier in the FAQ blog that aren't actually true any longer, like the fact that these days you can buy a Region 0 Neverwhere on DVD (some nice screen-captured stills from it, and a review at

Back home...

Home again, a bit tired. Fred the cat is off at the vet, with some kind of oozing head-wound from fighting something else. He's fatter than when I went away. Everyone else is more or less the same weight, except for Lorraine, who is thinner. Spent this morning opening mail and Xmas cards, feeling cheerfully guilty that I hadn't sent anything to anyone at all. Maybe I'll do a new year's thing, and maybe I won't.

To settle the debate raging in your Live Journal comments section re: Alan Moore's christmas card picture from last year... can you please confirm whether or not he drew Herod slaughtering the innocents, or applying makeup to their eyelashes? To follow the thread in question, click the link below.
Much appreciated,
Moira F.

Er, Herod was applying mascara to the innocents. That was why it was so funny. Alan's an excellent cartoonist, and he drew a long line of small children, miserable, as a gleeful King Herod applied too much eye-make-up to them.

Hi Neil!

As there'd been a topic about using "said," I just want to know which of the two is correct (when quoting a character): "blah blah," said Lee -OR- "blah blah," Lee said. I hope this isn't such a stupid question for you. I'm quite sure that I've encountered both usages in several "really respectable" articles and books.

Thanks a bunch =) Cancan, Philippines

You have. Both are correct.

According to the Solstice this year is actually the 22nd, not the 21st.
Just a comment.

Rebecca, who has been called a pedant

Ah, but if you were properly pedantic, you'd argue that it's not that simple: while I did indeed drive past Stonehenge at about 7:00am on the 22nd of December, where a bunch of people were waiting for the imminent Solstice, it was still only 11:00pm on the 21st in places like Los Angeles... is a lovely solstice site. As they say,

Winter solstice for 2003 will occur at 11:04 pm PST on December 21. If you want to be precise about it, please be sure to correct for your time zone. Planning for upcoming seasons? Here's a chart through 2020, but it's based on Universal Time, so you'll need to adjust it for your time zone.

Dear Neil.
Could "mi sides are splitting and mi mirth is uncontrollable" be a reference to what any fule kno is the gratest buk in Eng. Lit.: A Whizz for Endless?" I larfed mi sides off. o|--< See? Very thin.

Spot on. Nigel Molesworth was last mentioned on this blog in the entry for while the idea of him writing about the Endless makes me grin foolishly -- This is Dilirium. She is a gurl & she skip along saing hello clouds hello sky hello big green mouse-hed thing that etes people etc

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The days are getting longer.

And a very happy Winter Solstice to all our readers.

I forgot to do a card this year, which I feel slightly guilty about, especially when I see an old year's card doing good things for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Diana Schutz (at Dark Horse) donated her Dangerous Alphabet print, and it's up on e-Bay at present.

(There's an interview with Charles Brownstein, the Fund's director, at the Pulse.)

Spent much of this afternoon playing with a small child and her nativity set. Present at the Virgin Birth, I learned, in addition to a mummy a daddy and a baby, were some cattle, three wise men (one of whom was, I was confidently informed, carrying chicken salad back from the shops), a one-eyed polystyrene snowman, and Cruella DeVille.

I had not known this previously.

I'll get a few hours sleep tonight, then tumble into a car, which will take me to the airport and home. With luck I'll sleep
in the car.


What I think I like about this news story:

Joanne Webb, a former fifth-grade teacher and mother of three, was in a county court in Cleburne, Texas, on Monday to answer obscenity charges for selling the vibrator to undercover narcotics officers posing as a dysfunctional married couple in search of a sex aid.

is that the undercover narcotics agents deemed it necessary to come up with a convincing cover story in their quest to buy an illegal-in-Texas vibrator, as if the lady holding the passion parties wouldn't simply have sold them a vibrator without a convincing reason.


Have you ever read "The Specialty of the House"? (author forgotten but found in Alfred Hitchcock sampler) If yes, what do you think about it?

If it's the story I'm thinking of, I thought it was a reasonably solid, if, from the title on, slightly predictable, though slickly done "aha, now you will be the main course" people-eating story. (My favourite of all of them is still the subtlest, Dunsany's "Two Bottles of Relish".) (Just Googled "The Speciality of the House", and found a whole page devoted to such stories -- and their real life equivalents. Ick.)

Am about to have a wonderful Solstice Dinner. The wine will be Chateau Gruaud Larose 97 Saint-Julien. As far as I know, I will not be the main course.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Nothing is certain except rain and taxis.

Today was a running-around-madly day, linked by taxis and rain. From my hotel to the streets of rainy London, getting wetter and wetter while I looked for a taxi that wasn't there, and then into a taxi to Bayswater for breakfast with my friends Matthew and Claudia. Talked movie stuff with Matthew, and then into another taxi and back to Seven Dials to meet a producer who has the rights to a book that Penn Jillette and I want to turn into a film one day, and then, tired of taxis and of being rained on, I darted down into the tube and travelled to Euston and on to Northampton, where I spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, and I'm not just saying that because if I stand next to Alan nobody notices that I really need a haircut. We talk, I see Amber Moore for the first time in many years (she's grown), we eat and talk more, setting the world to rights, then walk out of the restaurant, and it isn't raining, so confidently we step out into the open, at which point the skies open, the rain slashes down and the three of us sprint across suddenly slippery roads and make it to the only cab in Northampton.

Alan's plans to turn his terraced house into the palace of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria continue apace, and he took me upstairs and showed me the cherub vortex on the wall. Alan is of the opinion that sooner or later all suburban houses will have cherub vortices, as soon as the rest of the human race catches up with him in fashion and interior design. I gave him a Jerry Springer The Opera CD as his Christmas present, which he accepted once he'd established that it did indeed have the "Talk to the Hand" song on it, and he gave me a limited edition "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" book, along with a Christmas Card (drawn by Alan). I will not give away the joke (some people reading this may be on Alan's Xmas card list) -- it was good, but my favourite of all Alan's cards is still one from about fifteen years ago, showing, in graphic detail, King Herod mascaraing the innocents.

All good things come to an end, and eventually I found myself back at Northampton station on my own being stared at by people who, because Alan was no longer standing next to me, were obviously convinced that I really really need a haircut.

Made it back to London and my hotel safely. Will be up at the crack of dawn to take a train to the West Country. There. That was my Saturday. Goodnight.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Jerry Springer and me and Dave McKean.

Left Ireland this morning, and flew in to Heathrow. Meetings. Saw JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA tonight, with Dave McKean. Julian Crouch, the associate director/designer met us afterwards, and told us all the cast who were off sick, and all the things that went wrong, or could have been better if the actors hadn't got flu, and we said "but it's quite marvellous", which is really is. Hilarious, blasphemous, clever, magnificently sung and altogether a delight. See it, if you're in London in the next couple of months (tickets aren't cheap, though, although I noticed ticket touts outside just before it started).

Hello Neil,

Sorry to say, but Gomez Gallery is officially closed. Your readers should instead contact the Merry Karnowsky Gallery in California regarding the purchase of McKean Photographs:
All the best,
Lisa C. Hoang

Thanks for the info.

My sister & I were at the comic con in San Diego & went to all your panels & signings. We heard you read Crazy Hair & I instantly fell in love with it. When I got home I told my best friend about it but I couldn't capture the heart of the poem. Then a couple of months ago you did a reading in San Jose, which is near where we live & I took my friend to hear you. Just like I thought he would, he also fell in love with it. We have a very hard friendship & are not talking at the moment, Which is killing me & I think him too, so I would like to give him something that would make him happy & I know Crazy Hair would. But the book doesn't come out for a long time, so I tried looking on line to see if I could find it printed somewhere, didn't have any luck. Wondered if you had any ideas or could e-mail it to me. Thanks for coming up with Crazy Hair it is an amazing poem that I will love seeing in book form. Lor lor

It won't be out as a book until 2005 some time -- but Crazy Hair will be on the next Harper Childrens audio CD I'm doing, which will be out mid 2004: it'll contain WOLVES IN THE WALLS, THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH, CINNAMON and CRAZY HAIR.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Funny Headline In Cleveland Shock Horror.

I never thought I'd find myself actually missing "Wham! Smash! Pow! Comics Aren't Just For Kids Any More!" as a headline, but there's something about the tone of the Cleveland Plain Dealer headline: "Graphic novels get book world's respect and geeks - er, readers' - satisfaction" (I think it's probably the misguided conviction that it's funny) that make me feel nostalgic for the innocent elegance of the usual old "Kerwhap! Spung! Comics Have Grown Up". It's not a bad article, but that headline, sigh... (mi sides are splitting and mi mirth is uncontrollable.)


I was interviewed last month by a very nice interviewer named Sash, who, learning that I hadn't read Francis Spufford's book The Child That Books Built, took it upon herself to provide me with a copy. I've been reading it, a few pages at a time, for the last month, and am finding it both fascinating and terrifying. I often feel, reading it, like I'm reading parts of my own internal biography -- the one formed by books, -- and there are chapters that are scarily personal in their accuracy: the Narnia chapter, or one about the discovery of SF. It's almost a relief when Spufford and I differ in our inner landscape. Astonishingly well-written book about, well, books.

There are books I've written -- Stardust was one -- because I wanted to read them, and no-one else had written them. I almost felt, reading the Spufford book, that there was a book I now didn't have to write.


Just a quick one - is "Anansi boys" a deliberate play on "Nancy Boys", or have you been in the US so long that outdated English slang has slipped your memory? (Apologies if you've already answered this one).

BTW I greatly enjoyed the talk you & Dave did for Foyles - will you come back next yr?

It's deliberate, although mostly because I liked the way the syllables worked.

Not sure when we'll be back for Foyles, but I do know I'll be a guest at the Edinburgh Literary Festival next August (2004), and may well do a talk or signing in London.

I'm majoring in public relations and hoping to becoming a publicist. I'd rather not be a publicist for someone in the movie or music business as I think I'd feel like I was compromising my morals, but figured you very rarely hear about an author trashing their hotel room (either that or those spots get removed from your blog). My question, however, is what exactly does a literary publicist do. I suspect it's quite similar to what a publicst does in any other field, but it seems like there would be far less cause for a literary publicist as authors are rarely more famous then their specific works. Any information would be appreciated.


Well, most publicists work for lots of people. I'm not sure that the morals of authors is any improvement on those of the acting or music profession; but then, I've known a lot of musicians, actors and directors, and none of them have ever trashed their hotel rooms. Except one rock star, now a family man with the spotless conscience of a Victorian Bishop, who said it was something they did a bit in the seventies when they got amazingly bored, but they only did it a couple of times because, after all, you had to pay for the damage.

There are some freelance literary publicists in New York, but most literary publicists work directly for publishers, calling journalists, sending out books, organising book tours or launch parties, and putting authors together with interviewers.

I've used freelances a couple of times, for short periods, normally when I was doing stuff that was outside the area of any single publisher's publicist. But normally I'll rely on the publisher's publicity department, and then only when something new is coming out.

Hi Neil,

I was looking through your site & was wondering if you have a list of all the awards you've won over the years from all the work you've written? I'm curious to know what awards you've won ever since I learned that The Sandman was awarded a World Fantasy award. Thanks in advance for your response. (If no response is given, I still thank you for taking the time to read this.)


There's a page up at which is a bit out of date, and is incomplete, I'm afraid. But it's a start.

I've looked all over, and couldn't find this anywhere in the FAQ. In "August", there is inference that Julius Caesar took his great nephew Caius Octavius (who would later become emporer Augustus) as a lover while Caius was in Spain. Well, I know historically that bisexuality was common in Rome at the time (there was no "don't ask don't tell" policy), and that Caius was in Spain with Julius Caesar in 46 BC., but do you have any definative text to support the case for buggery, or did you make the leap without? Thank you for your time.

Shalene Shimer

Young Augustus was certainly rumoured to have been Julius Caesar's boyfriend. I took pretty much everything in "August" from the Caesar and Augustus chapters of Seutonius's wonderful "The Twelve Caesars", in the Robert Graves translation. (There's more than a little online Suetonius at, although not the Graves.)

Of course you know Jon Singer. Everyone knows Jon Singer. He was the first person I met when I came to California umpty years ago. I was in Norway, for Bergen's very first science fiction convention, and a German fan asked me, "Do you know Jon Singer?" (I bet you don't have a Jon Singer T-shirt, though.)

No, I don't. I did once make someone fall off a chair, at a reading I was doing in Kepplers bookshop in San Jose, by mentioning Jon Singer during a Q & A, though.

>a 1996 Dave McKean Anthropomorphik Calendar for example should provide
>lots of images to put on your wall. And if 1996 ever comes round again,
>you could use it as a calendar.

Well, calendars *do* repeat, of course. 1996 is a rather tricky one,
since it's a leap year. Looks to me like the soonest you could reuse
a 1996 calendar would be 2024.

(You may fairly accuse me of having too much free time; however in my
defense I will point out that UNIX shells -- including the one that
comes with Mac OS X -- have a nifty little utility that will print out
a calendar for any year in the Common Era and even knows about the
change from Julian to Gregorian dating back in the 18th century.)

David Goldfarb

Good lord.

Um, well, I've read some of the FAQ, but it's long and this is faster, do you read the LJ feed? I read fan postings that say you do not, and I've taken that as truth and posted comfortable in the knowledge that you are unaware.

But, now, I must ask as I see you have friends on LJ and I know I'd be peeking from time to time.

Have you resisted? Will you continue to do so? I need to know.

I didn't know I was meant to resist. I'll check the LiveJournal Feed whenever it's been misbehaving, which from time to time it has been, and make sure that it's posting, especially when I need to keep twiddling with settings at Blogger in order to get things to work. Haven't checked it for a while because it seems to have been working fine.


Hello from LiveJournal-land! The officialgaiman RSS feed seems to be a big hit. There's 3602 readers at this moment, and the number of comments repeatedly soars over 30 and 40 per entry. But there's a bit of a problem with that - not all of the people commenting realize it's a feed, and that you don't actually read the comments. Recently it's gotten to the point where every second or third entry, someone will post a comment directed to you, and someone else will step in with the address of the FAQ page and directions to take the comment there.

I was wondering if there'd be a way to include the FAQ address at the bottom of every entry, with some sort of indication that questions to you should go there, rather than in the comments. Or maybe if you'd be interested in having volunteer LJ-ers transcribe the questions over here every few days, or something. I can't speak for anyone else, but it's getting a little annoying to keep repeating "He doesn't read these, go over to his site."

Thanks for listening, and I hope I didn't interrupt your thoughts too much.


Well, the only way I know that I could use to put things at the bottom of every Live Journal feed would be for me to put something at the bottom of every post, which I think would get very irritating for everyone very fast.

I think this is one of those cases where all 3,602 readers are just going to have to have infinite patience with people signing up on Live Journal who assume it's an actual Live Journal, rather than an RSS feed. There are always new people coming along.

Have you thought about putting together a short FAQ for Live Journal people, that you can point them to, explaining what they're reading? (And if you send me the link, I'll post it here.)

Hey Neil,

I noticed that you wrote in your journal that'll you'll be home soon. Do you have a special place that you go to and write?

Yes. Well, there are a lot of special places. Normally I'll borrow a house from a friend (I'm lucky in having several friends with more houses than they have bodies).

And finally,

Hi Neil-

In response to where to buy Dave McKean Art- We have had great success through The Gomez Gallery in Baltimore Maryland. Cheri Landry is extremely helpful and nice. It might take a while (after all I heard Dave is working on a movie :) and he has to print out his work).

The whole family loves your work (and Dave's). Thanks for continuing to create.


You're welcome. And I found a link to the Gomez gallery at

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Anansi answer

Ye gods, you people are fast and informative. First this,

Re: Anansi Question

I'm West African (although I prefer to be identified by tribe-Yoruba, since you asked).
Although I can't comment specifically on the tiger issue one thing I've noticed is that translations of our folk tales are at best approximations. The word translated into tiger may actually refer to something entirely different.
For example, in my language there is a word for lion (kiniun), but the word for leopard (ekun) can also mean panther, cheetah, wildcat, and sometimes hyena.
To be honest I don't actually know what word (in my language) was translated into tiger.


and then this (with a link, yet)

According to this page:
The "tiger" of the Anansi stories is really the African leopard, or the Central and South American jaguar. However, the European colonists throughout Africa--the English, Dutch, and Germans--called leopards, "tigers." And so, in the African patois of the West Indies and in the African/Spanish dialects, leopard was often translated as "tiger" or "tigre."

- Ian 'fuz' Struckhoff

The patois thing makes a lot of sense: Tiger becomes an all-purpose word meaning any big cat who isn't a lion.

Thanks to both of you -- and everyone else who wrote in to help, or is writing in even as I type this...

Anansi Question

A quick question for the world -- I don't know if anyone knows the answer (which may be that "tiger" simply means something else) but in many of the African/West Indian "Anansi" stories, Anansi, the spider, fights or tricks the Tiger. (He did in the one I retold in American Gods, for example, which I think I adapted from one in a book of West African stories.)

I just did a search for Tiger Distribution -- and there seems to be no overlap at all between places that Tigers are, and places that Anansi stories are told (Africa, the West Indies, the Southern United States).

Which seems very odd.

Anyone got any information on this that might make it less puzzling?


My friend Jon Singer is not actually a mad scientist, but he could certainly pass for one in the dusk with the light behind him. Proof for the doubting can be found at:

"Good morning," he exclaimed perceptively.

I'm not really awake yet, but I'll post a couple of things from this morning's in-box...

Dude you are one of USA Today's 100 People of 2003!

Oh. Blink blink. Yes, I am. Good lord. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "when I'm 64."

Hi Neil! Like so many others, I'm an aspiring author who wants to ask your advice on some detail of the craft. This particular questionable detail is about adverbs and dialogue.

Various 'guides to good writing' have told me to avoid adverbs, calling them 'weak' and so forth. And especially to try and avoid the egregious Tom Swifties. And I've also been told not to fear using a simple "said" rather than resorting to more obscure terms like "implied", "gasped", "insinuated", and the all-time winner(?), "ejaculated". But I find that this combination of suggestions either leads to a long string of boring dialogue where the most exciting thing I can think to do is move the words "(s)he said" from the beginning to the middle to the end of the sentence, or alternately to me doing what I've been told not to in order to make things more lively (the more frequent outcome).

I plan to pay attention to this sort of thing in the next few stories and books I read, but the fact that I've never really noticed how good authors handle it leads me to believe it must be one of those subtle tricks that one only spots when it fails. So I was wondering if you had any words of advice as to how one can convey nuances of emotion or intonation in dialogue without either resorting to excessive adverbs or those alternatives to "said". (If you don't, I think I'll just go on using adverbs. They're in the language for a reason, after all.)



"Said's" are invisible. They vanish onto the page. The eye barely sees them -- they become one with the inverted commas that indicate that something is being said. They're the arrows on the speech balloons that show you who's saying what. Lots of authors, when they start out, remember from school that you shouldn't repeat words too much, and are careful to replace each "said" with "growled" "uttered" "yelped' "hissed" "exclaimed" "asseverated" "muttered" "affirmed" and so on, and cannot work out why people dismiss the writing as amateurish. Use them, but use them sparingly. It's like salt in a dish. Too much and it's all you taste.

I don't think there's anything wrong with adverbs (he asseverated, gnomishly) but I do tend to do a final read-through of anything I've written, deciding whether each adverb lives or dies, based really on whether it adds anything. If it's implicit in what I've already said in the book I chuck it out, bravely .

Can you tell people that the film Sex, Lies and Superheroes is screening in Boston on Saturday Dec 20th? Details at


Mr. Gaiman,

The walls in my humble grad-student apartment are depressingly bare (no wolves or anything), and I was thinking that it would be super neat if I could find some original artwork to put up by Dave McKean. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyplace that sold his art, or even posters of covers or other media he did (I'd love to have a big poster of the Neverwhere logo like the one on the DVD set). There are a few prints on Ebay, but ebay can get get out of hand sometimes (and I am only humble grad student). I feel a little odd asking you where to find stuff to buy from someone else, but I don't really know where else to look.

So glad to hear you're writing a new novel. My mother is a middle school librarian (who happened to see you speak at the Atlanta ALA conference, incidentally), and while she enjoyed Coraline, she's been dying for another tome that she can just fall into (as have I).

Please don't ever stop writing,


Well, if you start at DreamHaven's site they have some posters -- the signed Mr Punch Print, for a start, along with the 2004 Sandman Calendar (which is about 50% Dave McKean [later edit -- no it isn't. It's mostly Amano. I was thinking of a different calendar]), -- and then go from there to the Allen Spiegel Fine Arts website -- which is astonishingly gorgeous, and see what Allen has. He's Dave's art agent, and Kent Williams's and Jon J. Muth's and Greg Spalenka's, and lots of other amazing artists'. If you go to you'll find lots of amazing, long-forgotten stuff-you-can-buy: a 1996 Dave McKean Anthropomorphik Calendar for example should provide lots of images to put on your wall. And if 1996 ever comes round again, you could use it as a calendar.

Neil, I am a Brazilian reader that as many in the world, I admire your work. I read many declarations your on as it searched inspiration to write histories of Sandman and other works. It would like to know, as you it had the inspiration to create this sensible side of Sandman, therefore when reading histories I perceive the intensity of emotions and personality of the personage. I am writing on a personage, nothing professional, of course, but all time that I try to improve my personage, seem that I am not being original, my personage finishes seeming some existing other already, this discourages me.
This never happened with you? If already it happened, as you dealt with this sensation? I know that I have an terrible English and a writer to read a thus written message, must very be bad. Forgive me, but I don�t have easiness, as you can perceive, with the English language. Some people had been born to write and to speak in English,
others as I, unhappyly, not. I am thankful for having read my message and if to answer, I will be immensely been thankful. Kisses, Neil.

I suspect you're using a translation program, which creates a wonderfully heightened sort of English. So I think I know what you're asking, but I'm not sure. If you're worried about not being original, then I wouldn't worry too much about that. Whatever you're writing is the first time you've written it, and you're bringing yourself to it. Even if other people have been there before, they weren't you. Make it new, and tell it as best you can.

And now I'm going to make a cup of tea and start work...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Get well soon, Julie; and so on, and chutzpah.

Let's see -- I was checking the Journalista! Blog and learned that Julie Schwartz is seriously ill with pneumonia. Julie's 88. He's a bald, crusty, bulbous-nosed, gruff old New York Jew who has more than his fair number of claims to fame -- he was the DC Comics editor who took DC into the Silver Age, for example. Before he was an editor, he was an agent: he was Ray Bradbury's literary agent, and H. P. Lovecraft's literary agent, and Bester's, and Bloch's. He knew Siegel and Shuster when they were all SF fans together, back in the dawn of time, and published one of Siegel's first stories, about the Rise of the Supermen, in his fanzine. He knew everyone, and everyone knew Julie. When he retired, some years ago, DC Comics made him their goodwill ambassador, and it was in this capacity I first met him, at the Brighton Worldcon in 1987. I told him the plot of this book I was going to write for DC, called Black Orchid, and he listened to the whole thing without grumbling, and we've been friends ever since. He's a mensch.

There's a book of Julie's reminiscences out there, although it's now out of print, and hearing him reminisce is a lot more fun.

I really, really really hope he pulls through.

Updates on his condition are over at the Harlan Ellison board. (Harlan has a board? Who knew?)


The latest round of the CBLDF auction is up on eBay. Lots of goodies...


Yes, the photo is delightfully sinister, and there's no question we're all tickled that the novel is coming along apace. I'm even happy to have learned about Bramleys, as I live in an area where they may be grown. None of this, however, touches upon the critical issue: HOW'S FRED?? Here you fill us in on the poor fellow's sundry travails, knowing that there are cat people out here who will be interested and concerned, and then POOF -- nothing. Zip. Nada. Not even so much as a "He's still in the attic, chattering away, and the leg has healed nicely now, thank you." Instead, we're left hanging. Fred Interruptus.


I've been Fred-free for a little while, although I go home very soon, and will learn how to carry on conversations with other human beings again, not to mention all those skills I've kind of lost since I went off into starting-a-novel-world. The report from home is that he's happy and healthy, but a handful, as he desperately does "I-am-the-most-important-cat-here-and-I'll-beat-you-up-if-you-don't-acknowledge-my-wonderfulness" stuff, which none of the other cats are particularly impressed by.

do you think that keeping a journal helps you place ideas or does it just make them more difficult to remember? like they become written so then they don't fester in your brain creating havoc and stories? or does writing daily things down in a journal turn into a sort of routein that helps you with writing of other things?
Why do you keep a journal?

I'm someone who's forever running into half-jotted ideas for things I've completely forgotten in notebooks, so I never worry that putting something in a journal -- physical or online -- does any more than make a marker of it for when I forget.

As for why I keep a journal, well, I've never managed to keep a diary. This is probably the closest I'll ever get...

Okay, I was reading the post inquiring if you are right or left handed, and my brother, sitting near me and reading over my shoulder, started laughing and mumbled something having to do with hands and, well, lets not go there. At any rate, it lead to him asking about your wife. And the question, coming from a fifteen year old's head, isn't worth repeating, but it did make me realize I have not the slightest about your wife. Not that it is any of mine or anyone else's business, but since you do include quite a bit of info about your kids, friends, friend's kids, and so forth, it is a bit odd that I have never seen mention of her. Is there a wife, or significant other? Are you separated? Or is there an agreement that the wife, or significant other not be mentioned in the journal? And if there was a wife and she passed away, then I am so sorry for bothering you. Jamie;)

I did a site search for "wife" and was relieved to see more than twenty references to mine, by me, on this journal. She doesn't get mentioned as much as, say, Maddy, but then, Maddy will say things like "Have you mentioned me on your journal recently? Say that I'm cool. No, don't say I said to say I was cool. Just say I'm cool." Whereas my wife is happier to be a shadowy and mysterious figure in the background, or something.

Ni Neil!

Mysteries and Conundrums in Neil Gaiman's 1602 #5 is up on Comic World News at this link.

Now that the fate of Richard Reed and his companions has been revealed, maybe you could settle a question that's been raging in the discussion forums, without giving too much away. It concerns the Captain in the Ballad of the Fantastick.

(From Issue 2)
So the captain he ups and he says to Sir Reed,
My crew they are shaking with fear,
So we'll take to the boats and we'll wave you goodbye.
For we're leaving the four of you here, you here,
We'll leave every one of you here.

(From Issue 4)
But just as they think that their troubles are o'er
They re-al-ize what they've become,
For the captain's a monster, which irks him full sore,
The bravo's a burning man, flames from him pour...
While the Lord was as pliant as gum, by gum,
With his lady...

If the captain tells Sir Reed that he and his crew will leave "the four of you here", how can he also be one of the four who transforms later?

At first I thought there were two separate captains, but that would seem to contradict the tale told in issue 5, where the commander of the vessel appears to be the same individual as the man who was changed to a creature of rock.

So which is it? One captain or two?

Thanks again for all the fun you're giving us with this series! I can't wait to hear what the Watcher has to say to Strange...

Jason Pomerantz

It was the mutinous bosun, calling himself the captain, who abandoned the three of them and the real captain on the ship. It's all explained in several of the verses that Matthew's never sung, and it made sense when I wrote it, although seeing no-one except me has ever seen any of those verses, it would have made more sense just to call him the bosun in that verse in chapter two, wouldn't it?

Did you know that you are a Googlewhack? (two words removed)
Best wishes,

Well, if I'd included the two words in question, it wouldn't be a googlewhack, would it? One of them was supernacular...


What exactly do you mean by chutzpah? Who, what is it?! I've tried looking on Google, but can't come up with a solid example of what you mean.


Well, here's the legal definition (including the Supreme Court use of the word) at

A lot of it's just effrontery, sheer brazen nerve, and a sort of monstrous cockiness. I used to have a little quote from Muddy Waters taped to the side of my typewriter (which dates this statement to pre-1986), which I put there after talking two different publishers into giving me book contracts, at the age of 23, with no idea whether or not I could actually write a book.

The slip of paper said, "Don't let your mouth write no check your tail can't cash," and I would stare at it moodily as I wrote.

Hi Neil!
Awhile ago you posted that you got some Bose headphones (your post follows my signature); how did you like them? My wife has noise issues and was thinking of getting a pair for additional blockage.
p.s. Thanks for having such a great blog.

To be honest, the place I am right now is so very quiet that I've not tried them for noise-blocking yet. I'm sure I will, the next time I get on a plane for a long trip, and will report back.

hi neil,

just heard your on simon mayo's radio show, i was wondering what was it that you were happy to do just before the news started and they remembered to turn your mic off.


Did they leave that in? That's funny. The producer (who was in London) had just asked me over the headphones if I'd be willing to do another quarter hour segment, and I said I'd be happy to.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Mean, Mode, Median and More on Bramleys.

I am currently doing a project at school on a job and I picked to write about authors. The problem is, I cannot find alot of information and I was hoping you could (if you have the time of course) to answer these questions:

1. What is the average advance an author gets for a book
2. What is the average percentage of royalties an author gets
3. Were there any courses you took in high school/university that prepared you for writing?
4. Other than university/college/high school, what others things help you prepare for the writing world?

Thank you very much for you time, I do hope you get around to this questions, though I suppose the likelyhood of you answering is not in my favour

Thanks Again,


1) By average are we talking mean, mode or median? I'm not sure that it matters, but they'll probably be pretty different -- the occasional million dollar advance skews an awful lot of $2,000 advances. The advance on a book, except for a few hundred authors internationally, tends to be not very much. My advances for my first two books, twenty years ago, were about $3000 a book. I understand that the typical advance for a first time writer is still in that area now. A solid midlist fiction author is probably getting $30,000 - $50,000 a book, for a book it may have taken a few years to write. An established author in one area moving into another may find advances shrinking rapidly (the advance on Coraline was tiny).

2) The traditional figure is 10% of cover price for a hardback and about 8% for a paperback. They're negotiable.

3) I don't know. At the time I was impatient with all of them, except possibly English sometimes. I knew what I wanted to do, why couldn't they just let me get on with it? These days I wish I'd paid more attention in everything, as it's amazing how often you need things, as a writer, that seemed utterly pointless when people were trying to teach them to you. Like Geography. Or averages.

4) Reading. Reading a lot. And chutzpah. Chutzpah's good too.


concerning the apple-discussion:



You know the world is odd when your favorite cooking apple has a website. And a very interesting one, at that. I was fascinated by it -- I'd assumed that Bramleys had fallen out of fashion in America. I hadn't realised they were only a hundred and fifty years old as a breed, and had probably never properly caught on.

Checked around a bit and learned that they are a zone 5+ apple. Where I live in the US is Zone 4 -- the winters would be too cold for the tree, which means that growing them locally is out. Pity.

Haven't posted because I've been writing. Although yesterday wasn't really much of a writing day, it was more of a figuring-bits-of-stuff-that-happens-out day. You can know what's going to happen in something you're writing, without knowing how it happens, and I wound up sitting in an ancient leather chair in an otherwise entirely empty room, listening to the wind howl in the chimney, writing in the large moleskine I was given in France. One way up I'd write Anansi Boys stuff, then I'd turn it over and write 1602 stuff. The Anansi Boys stuff was still mostly Big Picture (what happens) (X will arrive and make Y's life a misery) while the remainder of 1602 #8 was micro stuff (how it happens) (these three characters are going to meet and this will happen on this page). (Am not sure that I'm going to be able to squeeze Reed's Theory of Natural Philosophy Based on the Arthurian Round Table in anywhere.)

I'm now most of the way through Chapter Two of Anansi Boys, and it's starting to make me happy. It seems to be a real book, and the characters don't seem to be people I've written before. And it's funny -- although funny in the way that "Chivalry" was funny, rather than in the way that, say, "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" was funny.


Was fascinated by the test and theory at

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Happy little pop songs about going to hell

My assistant, The Fabulous Lorraine told me that her band were being interviewed by Euan Kerr for Minneapolis Radio. Here's an article you can read on it, with links. You can also listen to the radio piece on them at the MPR site.

(The article doesn't mention that "City of the Damned" is a Gothic Archies song by Stephin Merritt, though, but it is.)

Finally, the photographic evidence...

So for the last six weeks there has been a steady drip-drip-drip of messages saying things like this:

Dear Neil

You promised us photos of your evil beard! Where are they?

C. Urious

And I did indeed promise. So, at long last, here's a photo of me taken in early November, with the sinister beard.

Of course, that beard has gone now. And my hair looks a lot more like a mop than it did then.

Hi Neil,
I was just wondering what you felt was more important, the story or the writing. It seems that sometimes authors who are known for their writing style get more respect than authors who are known for their storytelling ability.
Thanks much!

I think it's like asking which part of a song you like best, the words or the tune, to be honest. In a perfect world, you shouldn't be able to take them apart. I like different styles of writing (and I like writing in different styles), but if the writing's being used in order to tell a story, then I'd rather it didn't get in the way of reading the story. But then, I like to be able to hear the words of songs...

small things

Morning has broken, and I'm just about to do drive to a studio to be on BBC Radio 5 live, on the line with Simon Mayo.

BOOK REVIEW : Neil Gaiman and Max Decharne will be face-to-face with the critics who are reviewing their books "The Wolves in the Walls", and "Hardboiled Hollywood". is what it says. Sounds dead exciting. Although it won't exactly be face to face...

Hi Neil,

sorry for nitpicking... but how come that you had to sign 850 sheets for the Hill House Edition of American Gods, when there will only be 525 copies? Just wondering...


There are only 500 of the sign-up-and-be-guaranteed-a-book-and-get-a-copy-of-the-screenplay-and-your-own-number things, as I understand it, but according to

there will be 750 numbered copies, and 52 lettered ones, and then you always some some more for spoilage -- the ones that get creased, the ones that the printer ruins trying to get it right. Hill House are having any unused extras returned to them and destroyed.

Mr. Gaiman,

Do you wear an apron when you perform these kitchen experiments? If so, what does it look like?

I'd like the picture in my head of the Neil Gaiman Cookery Hour to be as accurate -- or, if you prefer, since the image depends on your answer, as ludicrous, -- as possible.

Lauryn Angel-Cann

Right. Okay. The Neil Gaiman Cooking Picture. Er, blackish jeans, blackish thick cotton sweater. Black DM boots. Needs a haircut. Holding a large, sharp knife, as if he knows what to do with it. Doesn't.

Hey Neil,
are you left-handed or right-handed?
just curious.


Right-handed. I wear my watch on my right wrist, which is apparently wrong for right-handed people. All my family are lefties, except Maddy.

I read in your FAQ that the blog posts as the Pacific time zone regardless of wherever you might be posting it. Here in Atlanta I read your "late night post" on Wednesday, December 10, 9:48 p.m., but the post was marked "Thursday, December 11, 2003, late night post posted by Neil Gaiman 2:47 AM" Which leaves me wondering, has the west coast has time-warped or is it just me?

Actually that's no longer true -- Blogger now allows you to change it for time zones, and I try and do it when I remember, so it's currently set for the time zone I'm in.

I'd really like to send you a Christmas card. Is that all right, and if so, where should I send it along?

That woul be very kind of you. Send it care of Dreamhaven Books in Minneapolis -- check for their details.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

late night post

There have been a lot of requests from people on the FAQ line to let everyone know when a new issue of 1602 comes out. And Chapter Five came out today.

technically,you can cook any apple.It depends on your preferences.Golden delicious,Braeburn,and Fuji are quite excellent in any pastry or baked alone.Since it's December,stay warm and be well.

Sure, and growing in my garden back in the US there are also Haralsons and Connell Reds and Macintoshes, all of which you can cook with. But none of them have the cheerful huge knobbly sour wonderfulness of something like a Bramley. Trust me on this...

I've lost most of my copies of your books & comics by lending them to people to read. Good Omens, 2 copies of American Gods, Coraline & all my Death comics have now disappered (all i have left is my Sandmans & a wornout copy of Neverwhere) - either lost or lend on by the people i myself lend them to - sometimes they even refuse to return the books, arguing that they're good.

do you have any suggestions of what i should do?

You could try refusing to lend out your books and comics unless the person leaves you something equally valuable to them with you, as a hostage.

Of course, if that goes wrong, you could lose all your Sandmans and books, and find yourself with several unwanted dogs, parrots and children...

How is it possible to have Hill House Publishers print AMERICAN GODS (in any form) when Harper Collins published it already? I mean, if you entered into a contract with Harper Collins for a novel, wouldn't they want to publish it and make the money off of it since they contractually agreed to promote you and your novel? I also wanted to ask you how book prices are generated. Not books like the Hill House edition of American Gods it's obvious why that book costs what it does, being encased in marble and all that(which, by the way, I think is one of the coolest things you could do to a book besides read it), but like when American Gods first appeared in hardcover, who came up with the $49.99 price or whatever it was(I really don't know what it was, I just put it there to illustrate the question)? And then who sets the price for the paperback and trade editions? Does the author have any say in the pricing? Like could Stephen King, on a mad power trip, decide to charge $100 for the last book in the Dark Tower series?


P.S. My wife gave me THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS for my birthday, which I asked for, but then when I opened it up, it had your signature in it. I couldn't believe it. She is the best woman. You signed it in the perfect place, too. The lower right corner of the first black page, in silver. What do you think are my chances of getting Dave McKean to sign it? That would make it complete. It would look killer if he signed it in a gold version of the pen you used (it's really more like a paint marker type thing). Would Dave get freaked out if I asked him to not only sign my book, but to use a special pen I brought? By the way, I read THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS to our 4-year old son and he had a question I couldn't answer: How did the wolves GET INTO the walls? He's a stickler for details.

Hill House got the license to do their special edition of American Gods from Harper Collins, not from me.

Publishers set the book prices. Authors don't have much say in those things.

Dave will happily sign a book, in whatever pen you like, if you put it in front of him. The trick is finding him in order to put it in front of him.

How did the wolves get into the walls? Very, very carefully...

Do people ever send you stuff for criticism? How much would a critique from you cost?...essentially i'm asking if you whore out your expertise.

They do, but they rarely get it, because I don't really have time to read people's books, poems, scripts and short stories. If I did it, which I don't, I'd not charge money for it. And yes, sometimes I'll, er, whore out my expertise (the mysterious Discovery Channel/Channel Four project for example) but it has to be something I'd want to do in the first place in order for me to try to figure out where the time would come from.

Hi Neil.

I saw that you enjoyed Teresa Nielsen Hayden's post about fanfiction the other day (as did I). I blogged on the subject briefly today (well, on the porn aspect of it, mostly) and I thought I'd send you the link on the off-chance that you might find it interesting.


I did, but what I really liked was the "Satan was a Lesbian" book cover, and the vintage naked bicycle ladies mystery...

a cheerful sort of lunchtime post

"Everybody's good at doing something, and I'm good at cooking crumble," sang Lorraine Bowen, in her world famous "Crumble Song", and it occurred to me at some point yesterday that I had never made a crumble in my whole life, and when you're 43 and you've never made a crumble you should do something to remedy that, especially when the alternative is doing some actual writing.

So I took an enormous Bramley cooking apple (why don't they have cooking apples in the US? It was more or less the same size and shape as a small cauliflower, and more sour than any eating apple and perfect for cooking), peeled it and cut it into chunks; four or five plums, which I cut up and de-stoned; some crushed nuts; and a few currants (the small black raisins, not the ribes). I put the fruit in a baking dish, and sprinkled a little cinnamon on. Then I put some flour (about two cups) into a mixing bowl (I used a gluten-free kind I found in the pantry, but as far as I can see most kinds would work) along with about cup of sugar, and a pinch of salt. And some oats. Then I creamed a largish lump of butter into the flour and sugar mixture, worked it in with a spoon until it was all absorbed, and then poured the crumble mixture over the fruit. Then I put it in the not-quite-as-hot-as-the-very-hot oven in the Aga until it looked done, and the top was brown, whereupon I put it into the warming oven for a while, faintly worried about the fact that I'd done the quantities for the topping by eye and not by measuring anything out. It tasted wonderful, though, and even better cold for breakfast this morning.

And for those of you who would rather have a recipe, and a link to the Lorraine Bowen song, I have googled and found

Crumbles, I discovered, don't actually take that long to make, so I still got a lot of actual writing done, and also did most of the lettering draft for Todd Klein of 1602 #6. (I'm rewriting the first four pages a little, to give more information to the reader than I did in the first draft.)

The phone repair man arrived early this morning, chipper and confident that he could sort out whatever the problem was in a hurry and with ease. As the day has gone on I've noticed him and his van moving slowly back down the lane, from telephone pole to telephone pole, looking rather more frustrated with each pole. He's now about half a mile away, and looked very depressed when I drove past.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

My exciting night. Finally, The Tee Shirt Suggestions....

Yesterday's fedex brought the sheets to sign for the Hill House edition of AMERICAN GODS, with a cover note from Pete Schneider telling me there were about 850 sheets of paper in there, and to sign them all. So I set myself up in a big chair, with a pen (er, the Other Lamy, since you asked) and a copy of the Pythons biography on my lap (because it was large and flat), and I started signing.

You can sign 850 sheets of paper in an evening if you set your mind to it.

Or I used to be able to, anyway. I kept signing and signing, and I didn't seem to be making much of a dent in the papers.

Midnight came and midnight went, and I was still signing...

Around 2:00am I carefully counted out fifty sheets of paper, and then doubled it, and then doubled that, and then doubled that, and estimated that I now knew what 400 sheets of paper looked like, and it was obvious that I had signed it already several times over; and there were still many bubble-wrapped reams of paper left to be signed.

The phone here died yesterday under mysterious circumstances (ie the phone people are saying that the line tests okay and there can be nothing wrong with it, and I point out to them that it's dead as any number of dodos so would they mind fixing it) but by dint of a certain amount of cleverness and luck, I managed to get hold of Pete Schneider in New York.

"Er... you didn't count the 850 sheets of paper before you sent them, did you?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"Well," I explained, "by my count, there's about 3000 of them..."

And he was aghast, and we agreed that I could stop signing now, and I went to bed.

And these are taken from the 45 suggestions for what to do with t shirts...

If Timmy doesn't want to wear the signed t-shirt for fear of it getting all dirty (and the signature wearing away when it's washed), he could always get it framed and displayed in a shadowbox. I've run several marathons and one thing I've seen my running partners do in the past is display their marathon singlet in the shadowbox (along with other souvenirs like their medal, finisher's certificate, even a sneaker) and it looks pretty snazzy on the wall.

Greg McElhatton
Vienna, VA


Well, if it was me, and I had the shirt, and there was one of those cluttered restaurants/sports bars nearby that have all those geegaws on the walls, etc., I'd frame it, sneak it in some night, and affix it somewhere up near the rafters. Then take pictures.

I might even do it several times, and make an urban legend of it (or as best I could).

Well, that's as I'd do if I had the gumption. As it stands, were it me and the shirt, likely it'd go into an old rattan suitcase where are kept a few odd clothes from my childhood, various dolls and doll parts, and a sewing kit with buttons. Just because that's where I have other odd shirts that I wouldn't quite wear, ever, for various reasons (complexion, overfondness, aforementioned childhoodness, and the current lack thereof), but like to open up and take a look at now and again.


I'm quite sure this doesn't qualify as brilliant, but if you'll settle for adequate, here are some options:

1. Frame it. I think most framing shops do that now as I've seen all sorts of sentimental things in frames (an online example is here:

2. Wear it on special occasions (cons, readings). The puffy paint will hand-wash and drip dry so it will last for quite a long time. You *could* have someone embroider over the top of the paint to make it more permanent.

3. If you have a large-ish stuffed animal, you could dress it in the shirt. It would probably look very cool on a Windy Lewis bunny.



Just wanted to offer a suggestion for the guy wondering what to do with your autographed shirt... get a really big teddy bear (or any other stuffed toy with one head and two arms in roughly anthropomorphic spots) and put the shirt on the bear. He'd get to look at it all the time, it'd be more interesting and less scarily fanboi-ish than a framed shirt hanging on the wall, and it makes a good excuse to buy one of those huge stuffed toys that cost much more than it seems they should. Maybe you could suggest what variety of "teddy bear" you'd pick, and whether a shaggy wig should be added. =P


I know that if I were to own an Armani shirt signed by Mr. Gaiman, I would spend an evening impersonating said author. I would get a black curly wig, put it into pigtails, find the nearest karaoke bar and introduce myself as Neil "Scary Trousers" Gaiman, Master of Modern Terror before launching into a rousing rendition of Baby Got Back. And if anyone questioned my identity, I would point to the signature and give them a very stern look.


I have a suggestion on what to do with the shirt.

Depending on where it was signed and whether or not the owner would be willing, I say make a pillow out of it. It's fairly easy - cut off the sleeves, neck, a bit of the bottom, buy some stuffing and sew it up. I've done that with some shirts I refused to part with regardless of how small they were.



In regards to uses for a signed tshirt, I like to take various "souvenier" shirts as I collect them, cut out the logo-bits as squares, and sew quilts out of them. Perhaps with a collector's item like yours, it would be best to use the entire shirt and make it the centerpiece of the quilt. Then one could sleep under your signature for pleasant Dreams. ^_^


Re: What do you do with a signed tee shirt?

Do what I have done with a The The shirt that Matt Johnson was kind enough to sign for me some years ago: say you plan on framing it, but really just keep it in the back of the closet instead, hoping that it never mistakenly ends up in the laundry pile or gets thrown out during an apartment move. I have found that this works extremely well, and it has now survived to its fourth apartment in reasonably nice shape. Every few months when I stumble upon it while, invariably, looking for something else in the closet, it brings a smile to my face.

Damin J. Toell


Something to do with a signed t-shirt:
I'm fairly crafty, and what I've done with one of my favorite shirts is sew up the neck, sleeves, and bottom and stuff it, then use it for a pillow. It's easy to get clear plastic cloth-ish stuff and sew it on either as a full cover or just patches of it over the image and signature.

Equally crafty would be to build it into something -- it's fairly easy to make a bookend out of a picture frame, which would be very appropriate considering who the shirt is signed by. Also you could cover a three-ring binder with it and turn it into a writing notebook (or, as I have with my Ani DiFranco signature, a CD carrier).

If you're not crafty or don't have any tools, if you ask around I'm sure you could find someone who'd be willing to do it on the cheap -- heck, I'd be willing to do such a thing for materials + a couple bucks, or just email the pattern I'd use to you for free. With enough glue of a strong enough type, anyone can build nifty stuff.



5 things to do with a t-shirt signed by Neil Gaiman

Write "pay to the order of [you], lots of money" on it, take it to the bank, try to convince them it is a cheque and cash it.

Starch it heavily and put it on your bookshelf

Run it up a flag pole in your front yard. Delcare yourself soverign lord and ruler of the republic of Neilgaimaniana. Invent national dance, anthem.

Prop in a crazy vodoo ritual to steal Neil's powers.

Wear it to impress girls.


I don't know what you SHOULD do with a signed t-shirt, but I can tell you that when they say tumble dry "low", they mean it.

Monday, December 08, 2003

two links, and boxes

Fedex arrived today, bringing box after box after box. Stuff to sign, and stuff to read, and stuff to approve. And a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, a late birthday present from my agent. Which meant I needed to write bunch of "your package arrived" e-mails, and so here are a couple of links... is a Jack Chick comic, if Jack Chick worshipped Cthulhu.

Just an FYI, because you were so good as to make our day by speaking with us in Charlotte even though you were too sick to do the interview -- the actual interview is up on Jive's site at and I believe will be featured in the next print edition.

Thank you very much for the coolest 45 minutes of my life, which was a late birthday present -
Nikki (vaguely speechless blonde chick with interview guy who could not be reached due to telephone number madness)

(And you'll need to read the article for an explanation of that last.)

Manifestly not the post with the tee shirts in

So yesterday I noticed, slightly surprised, that I'd not posted for a couple of days, and thought that putting a journal post would be a fine thing to do of a Sunday evening, and it would have, if only Blogger had been working, but it wasn't, so I didn't.

I seem to have a few brain cells back, which is good, and the writing is working, and I can cook again (having no head for anything except your book means that anything that you put into an oven or onto a stove-top is forgotten completely the moment it's out of sight, which is not a recipe for gourmet delights, more for blackish things that need an overnight soaking to remove from the pan).

I'm writing my novel with two different fountain pens (a Lamy 2000, and a regular Lamy) filled with two different coloured inks (a greenish one and a reddish one), and I'm alternating pens each day, which means I can see at a glance how much writing I've actually done that day, or that week. More than five pages in the same colour of ink must have been a good day. The Lamy 2000 days are my favourites because the regular lamy, although a good pen for signing in, is less happy writing a novel, and handwriting like mine needs all the help it can get.

I've more or less finished the first draft of Chapter One, and now am waiting for the arrival of the notebook I wrote some scenes in when I was in Florida in April 2003, because I think that there were lots of bits I think belong in Chapter Two in there (which is good, because I thought for a while that I wasn't going to reuse it).

So today I'm going back to work on the final chapter of 1602, which I'm doing on the computer. I sent Andy five pages a few days ago, and want to send him another four or five pages tomorrow. Also doing little bits of Mirrormask; also need to get back to the BBC radio play adaptation of Mr Punch.

Apart from that, and cooking, everything's very quiet. I'm becoming the world's worst e-mail correspondent, mostly because I'm currently living in my novel, I think.

Let's see... This is extracted from a longer letter --

I just was listening to the Coraline sample and noticed you don't have an Amazon Associate link set up. The Barnes and Noble one looks like you may not get a commission for that one, either. I just set this stuff up for a friend of mine on her site. If people are clicking there, anyway, might as well make a commission. If you don't need the money, you could give it away to something worthy.

Linda Frasier

Ah, but this site is non-commercial. Which may seem a huge contradiction, considering it's paid for, designed by, maintained by, and exists solely due to the good graces of, Harper Collins US, but also means that it's not meant to make money, especially not by sending you to any particular bookseller. So even on those occasions when it does, it tries to give you a choice, and doesn't make any money from any of the choices it offers.

Mostly in order to cope with the "but where do I get...?" phenomenon, because, for anything that was even slightly odd or rare or signed, the answer was normally "DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis", I gave to Dreamhaven, to set up a commercial site. People tend to assume that I own it, or get a cut of the take or something, which I don't. It helps support DreamHaven; and because the economic life of a big comics-SF-coolbooks-strange-magazines-and-suchlike-objects store is hard enough these days, and because it's the bookstore that I shop at, and I don't ever want to turn up and find that it's not there any more, I'm happy for the site just to help keep Dreamhaven in business, and that's much more selfish and much less altruistic than it sounds.

Hey Neil,

This has been bothering me for some time, but just *how* do you pronounce your surname? I feel a bit of a loser saying it outloud, in case I'm saying it wrong. Teehee. Thanks for your time. And your books! I bought Coraline today :D! Okay, I'll stop bothering you now.

Love, Karen.

It was Frequently Asked Question #1, but it's worth mentioning again. It's pronounced gaym'n. (Incidentally, those FAQs are extracted from the much longer FAQ blog at which I used to keep up religiously but stopped when I realised that no-one seemed to be reading it, because the same questions were coming in over and over, or possibly, given the byzantine structure of the website, people simply couldn't find it, or didn't know it was there.)

Not really a FAQ question.. but I couldn't find an email link. I wanted to address this request to Neil. My daughter Annie and I are long time fans. Tonight she came running breathlessly in to tell me that Neil's apparently a fan of Wreckless Eric (whenever someone else she respects likes some of my old faves, it validates them in her eyes apparently, one of her friends is a new fan of Eric's as well..) getting back to my reason for this note.. I was wondering if Neil would consider writing some reference to Wreckless Eric into one of his works? Thanks.

You mean, more than putting "Whole Wide World" into the plot of Death: The Time of Your Life? I thought that was a pretty good one. I recently ordered his autobiography, A Dysfunctional Success; The Wreckless Eric Manual, and will report back on it.

At the Novello reading in Charlotte, NC you read a wonderful piece from when you began writing. As I recall it was to be included in a future collection (a "gothic" collection I believe) but you couldn't remember the title at the time. Any idea on when this will be out? (And the title/author to find it?) I look forward to seeing your tale in print so I can point others to it.


The anthology is going to be called GOTHIC! Ten Original Dark Tales and it's coming out from Candlewick Press in 2004. It's not yet listed in their database.

Also, rumour has it that One Ring Zero's author CD, now probably to be called "As Smart as We Are", will be coming out in the late spring-summer from One Ring Zero themselves. It contains Daniel Handler's song "Radio", and many other songs nearly as strange, including one by me, and I'm very pleased that people can actually buy it for themselves.

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to direct your attention to my first piece for Green Man Review, a review of your Harlequin Valentine (up at Guess I just wanted another person to brag to; it did earn me an Excellence in Writing Award, after all.

All best,



IQ about 4? Oh. That makes mine even less. Not just writing fiction, but doing a PGCE course is applicable to reducing IQ (secondary school teaching English - imagine stepford wives. Now imagine their daughters go to school, but some rogue, invasion of the body-snatcher girls also get in..)
Anyhow, getting to a point, just wondering about all the great and random info that you stumble across - are you belonging to many e-groups etc. or is it more a "I'm bored, will surf and see what I find today?" approach? (or a blend?)
Thanks once again
Paul G. (PGCE student who did Sandman diss which you [rolling eyes and STILL not answering my Cat/Dog question] signed in London-ta!)

I hope I didn't really roll my eyes. Did I?

No, I don't belong to any e-groups. For a start I've got all of you lot -- around 10,000 messages a year come in on the FAQ line -- and there are nexus-and-hub places I like to keep an eye on, such as Teresa Nielsen Hayden's "Making Light" (Incidentally, her recent entry on fanfiction is a fascinating education and a delight ), and I have strange correspondents like Jonathan Carroll who really does search the web looking for the Strange and Unusual.

Right now I'm on an elderly dial-up network, so I couldn't really surf for pleasure if I wanted to.

But I do tend to accumulate links and open pages, and try and mention them.

For example, this Guardian article,11710,1099884,00.html by Nik Cohn made me terribly happy -- it's well written and fascinating, and it also pleased me to know what Nik Cohn was doing. I've been a fan of his since I was 12 years old, and I read his history of pop "Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom" has a great summary of the unlikely things he's done or been directly or indirectly responsible for, including the pinball in Tommy, and the film Saturday Night Fever.

There's an article at Newsarama about Scott McKowen, who does the covers for 1602, with pictures of the next three covers. (Number 7 is particularly gorgeous.)

And a link from Dave Langford's Ansible led to which was depressingly marvelous in a real-life Prisoner sort of way.

Incidentally, Blogger have put a helpful page on How Not To Get Fired Because of Your Blog, which I bumped into last night, trying to make Blogger work, and not just give me a message telling me that An Error Had Occurred.


I still haven't done the Things to Do With Signed Tee Shirts roundup have I? Oh well. This post is probably too long already. Tonight, probably.