Thursday, January 22, 2004

How on Earth did this post get this long?

Let's see...

Yesterday I was on Katherine Lanpher's Midmorning show on Minneapolis Public Radio, talking about CORALINE and writing, and taking questions. It turned out it was the last hour of Katherine's last-ever show (she's been doing it for 6 years, and is going off to join Al Franken in New York). It was a very fun interview, and ended with Katherine breaking the news that she was leaving and saying her thank yous and goodbyes. She had it written into her contract that she can come back and do the Talking Volumes interview though. You can listen to the Midmorning interview streaming in RealAudio by clicking here.

Dave Sim's been writing and drawing and lettering Cerebus for a very long time. I know that, because I've been reading it for eighteen years, month in, month out. Dave offered to put me on the complimentary list several times, and I said no, because I liked buying Cerebus. Finally, when my local comic shop closed down, I said okay, and these days they arrive in white envelopes. In two months' time the last white envelope will arrive. I keep getting e-mails from people asking me to opine on Cerebus or on Dave, and I keep declining to comment. Mostly because if you've been reading something for eighteen years, you really want to see how it's going to end (well, I do. What is the scritchy thing in the box? I do not feel it bodes well for our Aardvark) before you talk about it. Forty pages to go. I'm proud of Dave for finishing his story, and hope he gets some rest now: he deserves it.

I wish he were happier about what he's done (he may be happier in real life than he comes across in the interviews and text pieces). But I don't remember being happy about finishing Sandman. Relieved it was over, and very conscious of how far each issue was from the platonic ideal of the issue that had existed in my head before I started to write it, mostly. And that was just nine years of work, not twenty five.

About a decade ago, he did, in the pages of Cerebus, the very best parody of Sandman anyone's done to date (and I have seen many of them). Swoon, Snuff and the rest of them. Dave and I have been faxing back and forth for a while: he's offered to auction the three funniest pages from that storyline (it's in Cerebus Book 8, WOMEN) for the CBLDF, and wanted me to pick them. I'm happy to pick them, but I thought it might be more interesting to see what you people thought... I mentioned this a few months back in this journal entry (and got a few responses) and we may actually get a full formal competion up. But in the meantime, it's Cerebus volume 8, WOMEN. And you may want to pick up Cerebus books 1-7, as well, otherwise I'm not sure how much sense it's going to make.

I noticed a link on Journalista! to, where a number of people give their opinions about Dave and Cerebus, and was pleased to see, down at the bottom, a short piece by Gerhard, who has been collaborating with Dave -- drawing the backgrounds and the world -- for as long as I've been reading it, in which he talks about his collaborator. The Dave that he describes is the one I've known since 1987...


Thea Gilmore is coming to America to play music. I've been a fan of Thea's for some years now, since hearing a song called Resurrection Men, and now, several CDs later, I'm more of a fan than ever. She's a really powerful, smart songwriter. Gigs in Houston, Austin, Santa Barbara and Tampa are up on her website (not to mention the Guardian Festival and the Calgary Folk Festival), with more locations to come. Keep an eye on for more details and more dates.

And if you go to the gigs, say hi to Thea (and Nigel Stonier, who will be there too) from me.


The belt is now on the turntable. Piles of mouldering singles will soon be played. I'd play all the ancient bootlegs as well, except they've all come out in official form since, released by the artists on CD, so there's not much point, except to glory in the pop and buzz. There's probably a program that will allow me to make them into MP3s and neatly fill in the ID3 tags and such as well. In all probability it's software I already own.


I would really like to talk to you and Terry Pratchett one on one. So could you please tell me how i could.

Well, your best bet is to be somewhere that both Terry and I are, and then to walk toward us at a steady pace, looking friendly and unthreatening, and say something cheerful like "Can I buy you both a drink?", and then, social niceties done with, begin to talk.

We're both perfectly approachable, unless you run towards us waving knives.

Y halo thar buttsekcs!1! LOLOL! You bought an N-Gage didn't you Neil.. PWNz0r3d

I've read this a dozen times, and it doesn't make much more sense than it did the first time. Ah well. Once again I feel culturally out of touch. It's like all the spam that arrives promising to show me naked famous people I've never heard of.

Hi Neil! (since you gave permission for fans to call you by your first name during the Q&A at the Last Angel's Tour out in St. Marks , which rocks by the way) I just heard through a semi-reliable grapevine that you're either working on currently, or plotting a new comic series. Any tidbits you could drop on premise or characters? Better yet, how about a little of both?

Also, I wanted to thank you for encouraging those of us who do write to keep on doing so and helping in the ways that you can to point us in the right direction of publishing companies. Most people wouldn't take the time :)

The world of comics is filled with semi-reliable news. Several weeks ago I got lots of e-mails from People In The Know telling me my big secret was out and that I'd be writing X-Men for six issues, which came as a complete surprise to me, because I'm not.

So no, I'm not plotting or working on a new comics series right now. I'm working on the new novel, and am working on the authors preferred text of American Gods right now, to make sure it really, really is the author's preferred text.

I owe Marvel one more series after 1602, but really haven't done any more than kick around a couple of possibilities so far, and I have no idea what it will be (although I do know it will be around the same number of pages as 1602).

So after reading Monstrous Regiment (Terry Pratchett), I was compelled to read The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton). Soon after, I got into an argument, of the friendly and philosophical type, with a friend regarding who might be the most overlooked author, today, of the last 100 years. I was hard pressed to find a better example then G.K Chesterton, who in his time was immensely popular, and having recently read many of his works (not even denting his life's output) they stand the test of time remarkably well for someone who seems to have been largely forgotten.

Do you think the stigma of religion has pushed him to the back of the literary bus, or has his work just not aged well? His books are just as entertaining as Edgar Rice Burroughs best work, and have much more depth. Can a deeply religious writer still be relevant? Or does moralizing have to take a more ambiguous tone to be acceptable?

Looking forward to hearing you speak at the Fitzgerald Theater next month.


I don't think the stigma of religion pushed Chesterton to the back of the bus. If anything, the Catholic readers have helped keep the more obscure Chesterton in print. (It's a very long bus, by the way, and Chesterton isn't anywhere near the back. Trust me on this.) I think the biggest problem is that he wrote one novel of genius (The Man Who Was Thursday), one remarkable work of science fiction that cannot be read as SF but cannot be read any other way (The Napoleon of Notting Hill), a bunch of novels that didn't work even when they were published (The Flying Inn, the Ball and the Cross) some astounding short stories (many of the Father Brown Stories, The Club of Queer Trades) some terrible short stories (many of the Father Brown stories) some amazing essays (Tremendous Trifles, for example) some unreadable essays (anything on distributism), some wonderful poems. I think if anything marginalised Chesterton it was that his writing became a way to subsidise his political creed, and that he wrote too much.

(On the other hand, I'd never have put him into the category of an unambiguous moraliser: The Man Who Was Thursday is one of the most ambiguous books I've ever encountered, and its morals are deeply uncertain.)

The first Father Brown book, The Innocence of Father Brown, is online at by the way. I don't think there's a duff one in the bunch.

Dear Neil,

since there's a lot of talk about Alan Moore at the moment, I thought I'd ask your advice...

A couple I know have just moved in opposite 'Sea View' - if they invited Alan round for a cup of tea would he be likely to accept?

Also perhaps you know if there's any biscuits he'd prefer?



I don't know. I do know that he'll be perfectly civil and cheerful in either accepting it, or declining it. Their best bet might be to knock on that amazingly carved front door, tell him they're neighbours, and that they'd like to have him over for a cup of tea. Again, as with most authors, I don't recommend rushing toward him, screaming and waving knives. (He'd probably turn them into balloon animals or stoats or something, anyway.)

I'd tell you what kind of biscuits he'd prefer, but if I don't it at least gives them a conversational gambit if he says yes to the tea, and it'll keep some mystery in their life if he declines.