Tuesday, February 24, 2004

In which an endless legal case is put to rest...

You know, if I were Todd McFarlane, I would simply have apologised a long time ago. Instead, Todd threw a lot of money at lawyers, and lost the legal case in every way he could lose it, and then threw a lot more money at lawyers to appeal and just lost it again, for good.

You can read the Seventh Circuit Appeal Court's decision in Gaiman vs. McFarlane at It's a well-written and faintly amused judgement, which even includes the Lone Ranger's secret identity, for those who want to know (although it puzzlingly omits to mention that the Lone Ranger was the Green Hornet's uncle).

From having listened to Judge Posner eviscerate the hapless Mike Kahn (Todd's Lawyer)(here's the MP3 of the oral arguments) I can't say it was any kind of a surprise, but it was a huge relief, and the end, or pretty nearly, of a long chapter of dealing with an incredibly shifty and dishonest publisher, of the kind I was warned about when I got into comics, but somehow never really expected to encounter in real life.

It's also, I think, an important judgement for protecting creators from rapacious or crooked publishers, in that it clarifies what a copyright notice is there for, and what a copyright form is there for. A publisher can't (as Todd did) file a form with the copyright office three years after something has been published, claiming to have written something that was written by someone else (er, me in this case) and thus start the statute of limitations running for copyright purposes -- if the real author doesn't find out about this within three years, he or she has lost his copyright. As the judgment points out, "Authors don't consult the records of the Copyright Office to see whether someone has asserted copyright in their works". Nor can a publisher sneakily set the statute of limitations running by printing a different copyright notice on a later edition of a work, again, as Todd did.

Anyway... it's still full steam ahead now for the Miracleman plans, and now I need to figure out what I want to do with Angela, Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn.

And yes, any money successfully extracted from McFarlane on this nonsense and left over from legal bills goes straight to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (something I decided and announced from the first).

(Many, many thanks go to Jeff Simmonds and Alan Arntsen, at Foley and Lardner, and to superlawyer Ken Levin, for all their hard work.)


Dear Neil,

Just wanted to let you know how useful your work is. At uni yesterday, during a lecture on medical imaging of the gastrointestinal system, on a list of stomach pathologies was "bezoar". The lecturer said he'd be very surprised if anyone knew what it was and what caused it, and of course, having read "Calliope", I knew. I was told I must have been doing my further reading, and it could be argued that I have been, just not the further reading specified by the department.



Happy to have helped. It's one of the many things that literature is good for...

you got me hooked on this poorly translated online newspaper and for good reason. read this and learn how to motorize your dead animals:

how is fred the very unlucky black cat?



Good lord.

Fred's well, right now. Much too well to be living in the attic, but he's still up there due to his irritating habit of attacking all other local cats with gusto. And teeth and claws. (Sigh. Twitcat.) He's also started doing tricks, but mostly only if there's no-one else watching, in an attempt to make me look really gullible. ("Do you want to see him do a trick. Okay, Fred. Fred? look, he did it just fine when there was only me here... FRED! DO THE TRICK! Er. Sorry...")

Re: Those crazy and noble folks who want to put together a Sandman Convention, if one wanted to volenteer their time or whatnot, who should they contact?
Shalene Shimer

I think they'll be announcing all that information very soon. And I'll put it up here, and link to their website, the moment I get it.

In the meantime, you could do worse than keep half on eye out at (Which is not just a cheap excuse to congratulate Michelle and Kurt on their upcoming nuptials.)

Hello there,

I'm just writing to you due to a few days ago i bought the spanish edition of your neverwhere book. I just have started to read it and i think it is pretty good. I have also seen through this web that there is a release of the neverwhere serie's and book on dvd. I would like to know if that new edition that has been release of the neverwhere dvd it includes Spanish language or captions and if it is possible buy it for the europe Zone (2) to play it on a Spanish DVD zone area.
I would be pleased and thankful if you could answer me this information.

Thanks alot and thanks for your attention.

Best wishes,

It will play Region 2, but is not in Spanish, I'm afraid.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
What do you do when you don't know What Happens Next? Besides Make Something Up, I mean. Do you talk it through with someone? Do something else until it comes to you? Email authors whom you admire? Think really, really hard? Please send help.

Mostly, I don't try to force it. Sometimes I'll sleep on it, just going over the scene in my head, or the problem in my head, and it'll often be there in the morning.

If it's not urgent (ie, if no-one's waiting for it) I'll sometimes just forget about it. Put it out of my head, and let the boys in the basement (in Stephen King's memorable phrase) do the work. It's amazing how many times I've gone back to something insoluble that I'd abandoned because I didn't know what happened next to find that in the time between it had sorted itself out in my head, and reading it as if for the first time, the way to do it was obvious.

(Several years ago I started a story called SUNBIRD, and stopped when it wasn't working. I ran across it yesterday, read it, thought it was funny, and wrote a very happy bunch of additional pages, now knowing more or less the shape of the rest of the story. It's an R. A. Lafferty story, only not as good as any of Ray Lafferty's actual stories. But inordinately fun to write.

It contains bits like this:

And there was Zebediah T. Crawcrustle, who was the only one of the Epicureans who was flat-out broke: he shambled in unshaven from the street when they had their meetings with half a bottle of rotgut in a brown paper bag, hatless and coatless, and, too often, partly shirtless, but he ate with more of an appetite than any of them.

Augustus TwoFeathers McCoy was talking--

"We have eaten everything that can be eaten," said Augustus TwoFeathers McCoy, and there was regret and glancing sorrow in his voice. "We have eaten vulture, mole, and fruitbat."

Sometimes you can solve plot problems by going at it head to head, but mostly in my experience you can't. Take a walk. Have a shower. Cook a meal. Let it stew (the plot, not the meal), quietly, in the background.

Forgive me if this has been covered before, but at the end of Amercian Gods you attribute the quote "Call no man happy until he is dead" to Herodotus, actually it was the Greek Sage, Solon who said this. Not sure if this was meant to be that way.

Actually, it's right at the beginning of American Gods. And Solon was certainly the one who said this, to Croesus. As far as I know, the only record we have for this conversation is the Histories by Herodotus. (You can read it on the web.) Shadow's talking about the book he read it in, not who said it in that book.

Dear Mr. Gaiman

I saw a newsitem in an Icelandic newspaper that you'd be giving a talk in Reykjavik in April, is this true?

*fingers crossed*


I don't think I'm coming in for April, no (or at least, I've not heard about any dates), but I spoke to the Icelandic Publisher of Coraline at Frankfurt, and I hope very much to be nipping in to Reykjavik some time this summer, yes.


For many years, whenever people have asked me who my favourite fantasy writers are, after I've mentioned Susanna Clarke, they look blank. "One day," I'd tell them, "She'll finish her novel...."

And look, she did, she did!,6109,1153541,00.html

There are some amazing short stories by Susanna out there, and most of them have made it into the various Years Best Fantasy anthologies. And one of them is in the Sandman:Book of Dreams collection.