Sunday, February 29, 2004

Happy Leap Day

Holly flew home for yesterday, so we could go and see Maddy in a local production of "The King and I" together (Maddy played one of the Royal Children).

I'd never seen "The King and I" before. The seats of the theatre we were in are incredibly small and would only be comfortable if you belonged to some peculiar alien race with an unusual number of tiny, asymmetrical buttocks. The acting was of... variable quality. After a while I began to rewrite "The King and I" in my head. In my version, Anna is murdered by pirates early on. The King takes over the education of the royal kids, training them up as an elite pirate revenge squad, and also teaching them carpentry. During the intermission the King and the royal children swarm over the theatre, doing all the high level carpentry stuff needed to make the seats comfortable. In the second half they could fight the pirates, or we could just go home early.

All told, though, it wasn't really that bad. I'd never seen "The King and I" before, in any form, but found it astonishingly familiar, probably because it's such an intensely Mary Sue sort of plot, with strange echoes of any number of 60s and 70s SF novels.

I've spent a few days trying to sort out the fact that any number of e-mails that I sent over the last week or so didn't reach their destination. Re-sending lots of e-mails; on the one hand you don't want to resend everything you've sent everyone for weeks, but on the other there's no way of knowing what didn't arrive short of sending e-mails out again with a note saying "did you get this?" Sigh.

Dropped Holly off at the airport this morning, and stopped in at DreamHaven, where I signed a lot of stuff waiting to be scribbled on, along with a waiting box of the new printing of Angels and Visitations. And picked up some interesting looking books -- including a Dunsany Jorkens reissue -- and magazines -- including Comic Art, which I'd somehow missed entirely.

(I just noticed that the Dunsany family has an excellent website, devoted to Lord Dunsany, the castle and estate, and the family.)

I just picked up copies of the Last Temptation and Black Orchid for the first time. I enjoyed them both, but looking at Orchid, and then thinking back on projects like Punch, and Signal to Noise, I wondered why Dave McKean never ended up as one of the illustrators on one of the Sandman story arcs. Was he simply too busy with his own stuff, or did the two of you feel that this type of long-term commitment may not work out on such a schedule?

Or did it just never come up? I realize that Dave was wonderful enough to do the full run of covers, and so his presence was always felt... but I just wondered at his absense as an artist between the pages.

Care to comment?

I always felt like I was taking up so much of Dave's time every month getting him to do the covers, and design each of the books, not to mention do SIGNAL TO NOISE and MR PUNCH during that time, not to mention his drawing the DEATH TALKS ABOUT LIFE insert and HELLBLAZER 27, that I never dared to ask him to draw one of the regular Sandman comics.

Having said that, we always planned to do a Sandman graphic novel together; we figured out the format, and the colour scheme and the look, and the three stories and everything. We only wanted to do it if we had time to do it properly, and we never had the time. Maybe one day we'll still do it. You never know.

I'm writing an essay on Prometheus in modern fiction, which is the sort of thing that never appears any index of classical literature or art. I've already encountered Richard Garnett's story ("Twilight of the Gods"), as well as Harlan Ellison's ("On the Slab" and "The Place with No Name"). Have you come across any other novels or stories in which Prometheus appears?


Let's see -- well, Diana Wynne Jones's Homeward Bounders springs to mind. My favourite Prometheus fiction is Zelazny's very short story "Love is an Imaginary Number".


In re Thea Gilmore's appearance in Austin, Texas: contact and ticket info for The Cactus Cafe (which, incidentally, may be the best *listening* club in the whole town) is available at . It will probably be bloody difficult to get in as Neddie Public, though, because she's appearing in conjunction with the South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW, for short), and SXSW wristband holders get preference for all SXSW events.

Sam Waring
living in Austintatious, Tejas

Thanks Sam.

Which reminds me, I received my copy of Thea's new only-for-fans-and-the-internet "Loftmusic" yesterday. Some excellent covers, my favourite of which was probably a really gentle version of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen In Love?"

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to thank you for featuring the Legends II Scavenger Hunt on your site last week. I was just informed that I was a runner-up and will be recieving a copy of the book. While it isn't one of the signed copies, I am thrilled! You see, I've never won anything before and yesterday was my birthday, so it feels like an extra special birthday surprise a day late. Thank you again!

Tina Randleman

You're very welcome. And a belated happy birthday.

Dear Neil,
I found the court's opinion on the McFarlane appeal very interesting. Who knew that a legal opinion was allowed to go off on tangents (like explaining the origin of Spawn?) I had a conception of them as being nothing but arcane references to precedent, probably in Latin.
But remember when you said that Harlan Ellison was the only one smart enough to claim his copyright in the McSweeney's treasury? I found it a relief to discover that of course it was unnecessary, and you guys were not dumb not to put a notice in, because the copyright notice referred to the compilation, and did not claim copyright of the stories therein. Duh, Harlan!
Anyway congratulations and good luck with putting out Miracleman and everything.

Nope, Harlan was the smart one. No-one was saying that McSweeneys was trying to steal the copyright of any of the authors. But having the copyright notice (and registration) puts Harlan in a much more straightforward position should anyone else try to steal his story.

Or to put it more accurately (from the library of congress copyright basics circular):

Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant's interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.

and from their FAQs...

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section ?Copyright Registration? and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

With all the things you write in your blog, do you ever think that anything you write can be used against you in the future?

Raymond F.

You know, that's not something I ever give much thought to. There are things I don't say here because it's not my place, or because I don't it out before I'm ready (for example, you'll not learn which producer-director combination is going to get American Gods until they're ready to make the announcement, or which actor has just attached himself to the Death:The High Cost of Living film, which is as it should be) and there are things that I say here from time to time that are just plain wrong -- and people don't seem shy about writing to let me know, and sometimes I even remember to put up a correction and apologise....

Which reminds me: Lots of e-mails over the last few weeks about my post on closed captioning, many of them under the impression that, seeing that the government had to cut funds for closed captioning, well, something had to go and it might as well be Scooby Doo, and anyway, the private sector will soon (or ought to) pick up the slack, so what's the problem?

If you're interested (or you simply felt I'd got the wrong end of the stick) go and check out points 1-4.