Sunday, February 22, 2004


Sorry about the vanishment. It was the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors retreat, a several-days-long affair, the first in many years. It was fascinating, and hard work.

Charles Brownstein, the Executive Director of the CBLDF is interviewed at and they've also posted a three year old interview with me about the CBLDF and the Guardian Angel Tours, why I did them and why I stopped.

I may well roll up my sleeves in 2005 and do a handful of Guardian Angel readings in American Theatres. Not that I have any more time than I did three years ago, but no-one ever really moved into the void that I left. (NB: if you're reading this, and think you could do something that could make money for th CBLDF, you are strongly encouraged to do so.)

In the meantime, a group of dangerously crazed noble and brave volunteers have put into motion plans for a limited membership Sandman convention, to be called FIDDLER'S GREEN, to happen in Minneapolis, probably toward the end of November 2004, with all profits to the CBLDF.

As soon as there's a website, a list of guests, and a place people can sign up, I'll announce it all here. Promise.

Incidentally, one of the things the CBLDF will be sponsoring this year is a Banned Comics Week, to go along with the ALA's Banned Books Week. I suspect it will be quite eye-opening for people to find out what kind of comics have been challenged and banned, and what kind of comics the CBLDF has defended over the years.

At what addess does my grandson post a leter to you? He must writeyou as a school project concerning Coraline.

Mail can be sent to me care of DreamHaven Books, and I'll pick it up when I stop by there to sign stuff. Sometimes that can take quite a while. I'm also really really behind on replying to mail. I'm thinking of having a standard sort of postcard printed for the letters that are coming in from kids about Coraline -- I hate to think of them being disappointed by not getting replies, but there are so many of them coming in.

(For the record, while I love getting letters from kids, I think the practice of obliging students to write to authors as part of school projects counts either as cruelty to children or cruelty to authors.)


I'm not sure if you've run across this yet, but I thought you might like it: -- This entertaining site has treated the London Underground like a star map, and has found constellations. The bird is quite excellent.


August C. Bourr?

That's very cool.

Hi Neil,

Don't know if you've heard this, but apparently Disney bought the Muppets:
It's a strange deal, in that Disney didn't buy the whole Jim Henson Company, but just the Classic Muppets, the Muppet Babies, and the characters from Bear in the Big Blue House. This does mean that Kermit and friends are officially Disney now, and seeing as those are the characters most associated with the Hensons, I'm pretty down about the whole thing.

Knowing your connection with the Jim Henson Company (re: Mirrormask), what's your take on the situation?

Nicole Lee

Well, I do remember that at the time of Jim Henson's death he was famously preparing to sell the Jim Henson company to Disney. (And the Disney-MGM Muppet rides would have been amazing:

Selfishly, if it means that the Complete 1970s Muppet Shows finally comes out on DVD, I'll be happy.

It probably won't affect Mirrormask one way or another -- other than ensuring that Jim Henson Films can afford to stay in business. Beyond that, I wish I felt better about Disney these days. They rather seem to have lost the plot.

I have just qualified as a teacher and am desperate to teach "The Price" to one of my classes. Are there any resources available (audio recordings etc.) to add weight to my argument to my head of dept. that we buy a job lot of "Smoke and Mirrors"? Or - the real question - can I please have permission to photocopy my edition?
Maureen Park.

Well, while there doesn't seem to be an audio version of "The Price", there's a reading of it on the Live at the Aladdin video (which we really ought to expand and do as a DVD), which is for sale at the CBLDF commercial site -- Let me know if it convinces your department head.

Which reminds me:

Dear Neil,

"Neverwhere" is on DVD? I've been looking for it for months, and I've never been close to finding it (most retail clerks look at me as though I've suddenly started speaking Swahili when I ask about it.) If you could tell me where it can be bought, I'd be grateful to you and consider you my idol for one month and all that stuff.

Thank you for your time.

-Micaela McIntosh

It's out from A&E on DVD. You can get it fairly cheaply if you shop around (for example, or rent it, of course. It's Region Zero, although it's listed as Region 1, which means you should be able to play it on any DVD player.


It's interesting -- and irritating -- to notice how much damage the British Government has manage to do to the British Film Industry by removing the tax breaks, with no warning. The immediate effects are pretty bad:

The highest profile casualty so far is the film Tulip Fever, an adaptation of Deborah Moggach's book starring Jude Law and Keira Knightley. On Friday a set recreating seventeenth-century Amsterdam, which had taken months to build at Pinewood Studios, had to be torn down and 80 staff laid off after the film lost 30 per cent of its funding.


There are believed to be 40 British films being planned or in production which will be hit by the clampdown on tax partnerships. The loopholes were closed because the Inland Revenue believed they were being used as avoidance schemes by wealthy individuals advised by the growing army of accountants who help celebrities minimise their tax bills.

(I'm not convinced the second half of that last sentence means anything, by the way. The bit about the growing army of accountants and the celebrities.)

The knock-on effects of the decision may be even worse. Here's the story:,12589,1153592,00.html

Last night I went out owling, with a number of people, led by Sharon Stiteler, official bird lady of, just like in Jane Yolen's lovely children's book OWL MOON.

This is what happens when you go owling. You tromp through the deep snow in the darkness, until you're on the edge of the woods. Then you play a CD of owls hooting and wait for a few moments, silently marvelling at the beautiful starry night and the almost magical stillness, at which point drunk people on snowmobiles roar past incredibly noisily.

You wait in silence, holding your breath, until the sound of snowmobiles and the hoarse singing and yells of the snowmobilers has finally died away, and then, in the pregnant, perfect stillness, you play the CD of owls hooting again, and, after a few moments, as if by magic, from nowhere you hear the sound of another bunch of drunk people on snowmobiles coming toward you.

I don't think anyone's done a proper scientific study on the way that recorded owl-calls can summon snowmobilers, but I think it's pretty much magical.