Sunday, January 11, 2004

Some wonderful Pot Noodles

"Superhero fantasy is unsuitable as a serious theme for literary fiction, for much the same reasons that Pot Noodles are out of place at dinner parties," we are informed in Adam Mars-Jones's Guardian review of Jonathan Lathem's Fortress of Solitude. (Personally, if I felt like that, I would have assumed that the book's title might be a dead giveaway as to potential content, and not even have picked it up.) It's a good thing, I thought when I read that sentence, that no-one had told Michael Chabon that, or we would have never have been allowed to read Kavalier and Clay.

It also reminded me that a wonderful novel that has been out of print for many many years has recently been reissued: Robert Mayer's Super Folks in which a retired superhero who has forgotten his powers comes out of retirement in a perceptive and funny commentary on pop culture. And that Joseph Torchia's heartbreaking novel of a boy's letters to Superman,The Kryptonite Kid, is still out of print -- here's an Amazon link: read the two reader reviews at the bottom of the page. One is a rant about why no-one should read it, and one is a memoir of the book and the author.

I read that you and Dave had access to something like THREE EXTRA HOURS of Labyrinth footage while you were conceptualizing MirrorMask. What are the chances that it will be released to the public? Was there anything truly inspiring that influenced MirrorMask?

No, what we were watching was a three hour long rough-cut of Labyrinth, with the puppeteers rather than voice actors voicing the characters (Dave Goelz's hilarious Sir Didymus made the version in the finished film seem mildly irritating by comparison). Mostly what we learned from it was how good an editor Jim Henson was -- there are some excellent sequences in the finished movie that were just too long as filmed.

Hello! I always wondered why there don't appear any greek gods in your books (I know I know, but I don't count Orpheus and that muse as gods. I also know that Morpheus is one of the sons of Hypnos in the greek mythology blabla. However, I mean the big ones like Zeus, Aphrodite and so on).
I also wanted to thank you for your work. You were my subject for my final examination in english :)
Thank you for your time!
Greetings from Austria,

Well, Pluto and Persephone are in The Sandman "Song of Orpheus", the Eumenides are all the way through "The Kindly Ones", and you'll see Stheno and Euryale in there as well. I'm not sure why you don't count Orpheus or Calliope, though.

And there's one of the major Greek Gods in "Stardust" of course.

One reason why I mostly left the Greek Gods alone in Sandman was that I felt that Eddie Campbell had staked them out as his territory in his DEADFACE comic, and I didn't want to intrude on what he was doing.

Can you give me advice to make a winning fiction story for kids 8-12 years? I want to win a scholarship cause, i dondt have money to finish college. Im thinking of a fiction with a good message, like, trust, or maybe friendship. Am also avoiding speking animals and bad witches.Please i really need the help and i know that Neil Gaiman is a perfect writer, i know he won prices on sfwa and i admire him, so please i will apreciate your help on this. Thanks..

Sure. Tell a story you care about about people you care about, and make the reader care what happens to the people in the story. Let your message come second to your story. And when you're done, have a friend who's good at spelling and grammar and things like that proof-read it for you.

Can I share a bit of success that you kind of encouraged? You often say that the best way to write is to write. So, when an opportunity arose, although it scared the heck out of me, I jumped on it--some freelance for White Wolf. And now the book is published, and my name's on the title page and everything! Wow! Thanks for encouraging us to write.

You're very welcome.

Looked through the FAQ and don't think this as been asked before. When writing do you show your work to anyone before you submit it to an editor or publisher? For instance do you show it to your wife or kids or friends to see what they think?

-Paul Andrews(UK)

No, but I do have a small cadre of beta readers I'll send things to while I'm working on them, when I need opinions (normally for short stories).

Hello Mr. Gaiman,
A while ago you mentioned Do you know that there is another group of free click sites which let visitors support everything from children to chimps? If you do, great! If not, here you go:
If you'd like to post it in your blog sometime too, it would be splendid.
Take care & thanks

what a good idea.

Dear Neil!

Few weeks back I was in a second-hand bookshop and found there a copy of Death: the High Cost of Living. It was a bargain, too, only 8 Euros.

Imagine my surprise, when at home I opened it and realised that somebody had scribbled your name on the first page. I don't see why somebody would forge your name on a comic they're about to sell (obviously the bookstore owner had not seen it or could not prove it was actually your autograph, since the price was so low), so I'm inclined to think it is genuine.

But the doubt lingers... Could you, pretty please, scan your autograph and post it on your site so that I could make sure? If the autograph is genuine, it was a find of a lifetime. If not, it still doesn't diminish the value of the comic in my eyes. :)

Thank you in advance!

Yours adoringly,

The trouble with that is that there are an awful lot of signatures. There's a full Neil Gaiman, there's the one Maddy calls "Nell Gurgle" and then there's the one you get when I've been signing for a long time, which normally starts with an n and then sort of continues a bit and stops. So if I posted one it might not actually be the one I signed, if I signed it...

I suspect that this is the sort of thing that you might be best off asking over in, the message boards.

And for those of you who wanted a little more zuegma. Or possibly a little syllepsis..

Not a question, but a comment: I wrote one of my wordplay columns a few years back about zeugma (, and regular reader/contributor Danny Fahs sent me a couple hundred examples, including some really good ones, and a few with eight or ten noun phrases. ( Of course, they don't rhyme and they don't tell a story, so they're not as impressive as "Have Some Madeira M'Dear" in that respect, but they're still pretty impressive.

Danny also noted that the term "syllepsis" may be more apt for certain items usually labeled zeugma, but I'm afraid I was never entirely clear on exactly what the distinction was, despite the aid of the Linguistic Devices page (

Jed Hartman