Wednesday, April 28, 2004

heigh ho the glamorous life

A couple of things that made me smile in recognition: this Posy Simmonds cartoon is for any of you writing novels today:,12694,1168224,00.html; while the last part of this article, the form letter from John Cleese, is for any of you wondering how to deal with all the books that come in asking to be read and for helpful blurbs :,6109,1201821,00.html. (I should have a form letter, instead of my current system of two piles of books that came in with a blurb request, with the books on the first pile being more likely to be read than the books on the second pile, but neither of them having any strong likelihood of being read before the book is published...)

Just wanted to say hello to you and ask a question. So hello, and here's my question. =)

I'm a big fan of fantasy films/books and the Jim Henson one's. Fantasy films like that are what I wanna direct. I'm trying to work on one as a short film right now but here's what i want to know. im really looking forward to dave mckean's and your's film Mirrormask. I've looked all over for images and registered at the site.

So when is a teaser trailer coming out? i'm dying to see some moving images from this film. i just so hope it gets a theatrical release. also what's the budget on the film? i heard 3 million from one site, then 4 million and then 5 million. can you tell us what the budget is? or at least give a ballpark figure. for someone like me who's working on almost no budget. it's always an interesting thing to know.

- Marco

It was four million dollars, and beyond that I don't know. I spoke to Dave this morning, and they're all working as hard as they can, while slowly going mad with worry about overloading the office electrics and what the render nodes are going to do next. "One day," I assured him, from the safe distance of 4,000 miles away, "you'll look back on this and laugh." In the meantime he assured me that what they were outputting from the render farm looked amazing, and I'm certain that it does.

I'm amused to find that there is a Sinister USB Duck at It's USB 2.0 and its eyes blink when you transfer data.

Of course there is. Of course they do. Why am I not surprised?

(And remember, there is an authorised, legally downloadable MP3 of The March of the Sinister Ducks up at, for those of you who have not yet heard it.)

Hi there. I just thought I'd tell you that your journal is now responsible for me wasting about an hour every day before I start writing, reading the accounts of your daily exploits and following the strange and informative links you keep putting up. My question is, how the hell do you do it! I know that you've got quite a bit of time as a fulltime writer to explore these things, but still I shudder to think of your output. Comics, books, films, TV appearances, its just frightening. Does your wife remember your name anymore! I have problems with my partner just writing for two or three hours a night. Your journal may steal an hour but your work ethic is inspirational. Good show old man
Ok, here's the actual question, the writing of which partially excuses the existence above rant. I'm writing a comics script (yeah I know, who isn't) and I was wondering where you stand on how much direction you should give in the text to the artist. I've read your script for Calliope and have found it to be extremely useful as a starting place (I've put all my non-dialoguey bits in caps and everything), but still find myself wondering how much of an iron-grip I should have over the direction the art will take. Finally do you personally request many changes in an artists finished work, or do you consider this to be an infringement on their role in the co-creation of the work.

Ta ta for now, and thanks for the words!

I'll rarely request a change in the art -- I can think of maybe a handful of changes in Sandman, a couple of facial expressions in 1602, little else. Mostly if an artist got it wrong it was because I didn't describe it very well. As for how to write a script... it's whatever works best for the artist you're working with and for you. That may be detailed panel by panel descriptions, it may be classic Stan and Jack Marvel style ("Jack, maybe some kind of big menace is coming in from space, while the Fantastic Four are being evicted from the Baxter Building, yeah?") and then putting in work when the art comes in. Most writers find their own level of description, and learn how much they can rely on the artist to bring his or own point of view. Some of them draw stick figures. You do what works. (I put a lot of this in the essay in SANDMAN: DREAM COUNTRY that precedes the Calliope script.)

As for the journal... I dunno. It's become this weird thing in its own right, partly because of the sheer number of people around the world who are now reading it. About half a million people (508,456 last month, if I understand the figures properly) coming by plus the livejournal syndication and the RSS feeds and stuff. (People were on for 58,365,915 seconds last month, which Google tells me is 1.84954374 years, for whatever that's worth.) Which is a fair incentive for posting something rather than not: knowing you have an audience. And as long as Harper Collins is happy to keep the site up and pay for it, I'm happy to keep writing it.

On the other hand, a few posts that I know I have to give some thought to, the kind that are sort of on my mental to-do list, take me as long to get around to as anything else that people are waiting for.

The people reading it provide me with some of the content, some of it turns up on browsing, and some I run across on other blogs -- without the link from Scrivener's Error for example, I would never known that Warner Brothers is happy to claim in court that pretending to masturbate is a vital part of the writing process for FRIENDS, in an appeal court document filled with statements like:

Reich admitted at his deposition he had pantomimed masturbation in the
writers' room during the time Lyle was employed on 'Friends.' He also agreed he and
other writers discussed sexual conduct and foreplay in the writers' room and break
room. Reich also acknowledged he and others altered inspirational sayings on a
calendar in the writers' room so that, for example, the word 'persistence' became
'pert tits' and 'happiness' became 'penis.'

but we soon learn that

Here, defendants argue the sexually explicit conversations among the writers
were not gratuitous but had a compelling business purpose: to generate ideas for jokes,
dialogue and story ideas for the show which routinely contains sexual innuendos and
adult humor and situations. According to the defendants no alternative to these sexual
brainstorming sessions exists.

So there you go.


No hurry as I know you are very deeply busy writing (saw the journal entry), but if/when you get a moment, please tell me where I can get the Greek editions of any of your works. I suspect I should just order them from a bookshop in Greece, but just in case I can do buy them in the U.S., I'm asking. I was thinking about translating a bit of Coraline into Greek for fun and wanted to compare translation styles.

I don't know of anywhere in the US that sells foreign editions of my stuff, I'm afraid (I just looked at Dreamhaven's, but couldn't find anything there.) I think you'll have to order it from Greece. (I think the last book I saw from Greece was the Greek edition of Sandman: The Dream Hunters.) Good luck.