Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Prague below...

When I was in Chicago Jill Thompson gave me a copy of the Scary Godmother DVD. Maddy and I watched it together this evening -- she's been a fan of the books since she was old enough to have a book placed in front of her. It's really fun -- a slightly wobbly start, but as soon as it gets to the Fright Side it takes off and becomes visually cool and genuinely funny. My main puzzlement was that they didn't get Jill (who, after all, is really the Scary Godmother) to do the voice herself; every time the Scary Godmother spoke I'd think "but that's not what she sounds like". Maddy laughed at the jokes and enjoyed it no end.

I don't do many book reviews here, and I don't normally ever bother with giving things bad reviews (better not to mention them, I normally feel), but seeing that the Holiday Gift-Giving Season is coming up, you may want to avoid buying The Comic Book Encyclopedia by Ron Goulart (Harper Collins) for anyone this year. It has an eye-catching cover, lots of cool illustrations and design work, but is, as an encyclopedia anyway, useless. I browsed through the copy I was sent today, in the way one does with reference books, and I didn't encounter an entry without a factual error or an embarassing typo. It's short on facts, is padded with obscure 30s and 40s characters ("Captain Midnight" and "Captain Tootsie" together get two full pages, while Steve Ditko gets three short paragraphs) and contains several odd moments -- why on earth spend over half a page slagging off the short-lived and now completely forgotten Clive Barker comics by Marvel in the early 90s with a lengthy entry about Clive's lack of success in the comics field, when most contemporary creators don't get mentioned? The author makes it clear that he doesn't like most comics since the 80s, the book isn't really aimed at anyone in particular, and has a sort of attitude of "why should anyone care what year From Hell started or Bone ended, or how one correctly spells Aardvark-Vanaheim or Sam Kieth, or who actually created John Constantine?" It's the kind of book that I wind up resenting because, damn it, there really should be a Comic Book Encyclopedia, on a par with the Clute-Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction or the Clute-Grant Encyclopedia of Fantasy. A good one, filled with usable information, not something that reads like it's been knocked together in a hurry from older books, un-copy-edited and unfact-checked. A book like this is going to be useless as a work of reference, and it takes up the space on the shelves and on a publisher's list that a real Encyclopedia of Comics could have used. The comics field deserves much better than this. (And Ron Goulart, who has written with knowledge and passion about the comics of the 40s, and written some decent SF in his day, could have done much better than this.)

Neil- I have been thinking of going to your Anansi Boys reading in Chicago-if I can get my algebra homewrok done. I was wondering what Anansi Boys is about and whether you will do a book signing or not? Erm, if you don't want to answer the first question, that's fine. And if you do do a book signing, would it be before or after your reading??? You response would be much appreciated.Thank You.-Lizard

Signings at the Chicago Humanities Festival are always after the reading/talk. Anansi Boys is about what happens after Fat Charlie's father's funeral. It's quite funny, and scary, and odd. I think it may be a love story. I don't know, Lizard. I've not finished it yet. Maybe when it's done I'll know what it's about.

Another thought on elections, from a Palm Beach County pollworker:

Florida may find a way to be a problem again this election. Once people get their lives scraped back together a bit, I think there may be a mass exodus from Florida. Everywhere I go I hear people ready to sell their houses and get the hell out of Dodge. Which means there will be hordes of people in moving-van limbo during that crucial 29-day period who will be unable to vote.

(Also, forgive me if I'm being nosy, but is Tori's house okay? I know she couldn't have been far from where the two storms made landfall, but I haven't heard a peep.)

--Amanda Coppedge

Oddly enough, I asked her that same question this morning. She says that apart from the fifty-foot yacht -- not hers -- that the hurricane dropped in her back yard, and the lack of power, it appears so far to be fine. She, very sensibly, was in Cornwall while the hurricane season came through.

John Kerry's rehearsing for the big debate tomorrow night at The House on the Rock (resort)!! Has he read "American Gods" then??? - Steve Manfred, River Falls, WI

Probably not. I hope he got to visit the House itself, if only to listen to the Mikado play the Danse Macabre...

Really fast one for Ingrid: I had an import DVD that at first played only in black & white, but I got round it by just bringing up the DVD Player Settings menu and selecting the display option. I then chose, I think, RGB from the three video options that appeared. But if you try each one of those three, that might fix it. Cheers, Pete - P.S: Adored your Miracleman: Golden Age, Neil

There you go, Ingrid. Worth a try.

Hello, I'm currently mired in rewriting a novel length manuscript and I'm wondering: what is your writing process like? Do you agonize and obsess over every word, or do you just hack on through to the end knowing that an problems can be fixed later? Also, do you work very closely with your editor on rewriting? How much professional feedback do you get? Thanks so much. I'll be seeing you at Fiddler's Green. Jeff (Manxom Vroom on the World's End)

It depends. Mostly I just carry on. The bad stuff can mostly be fixed or thrown out. The most valuable thing is the period between finishing it and when you reread it pretending you've never read it before and definitely didn't write it, the few weeks when you allow yourself to forget it. Then when you read it as a new reader, sometimes it's obvious what to do to fix anything that needs fixing. I'll also send stuff out to people whose opinions I trust, explaining that until it's done they aren't really allowed to say much more than "Is there any more?" but once it's complete I'm happy to take all and any input onboard. Just as long as no-one minds me throwing it back overboard as soon as I start rewriting.

(Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what's wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.)

hello, we are a group of young fans of your books and as some kind of thanks to you we play a live action role-playing game inspired by your Neverwhere in Prague (Czech Republic). So if you would like to see some photos of Prague Below and it's inhabitants, visit I hope you would enjoy it Karmin

I enjoyed it very much -- thank you for sending the link.

Hi Neil, Discovered this little gem whilst voyaging upon the Internet Ocean and thought you might appreciate it:
Your writing has broadened my horizons, my mind and my philosophy. Thank-you. Best regards,Tim Edwards

That's hilarious.

Students at a Catholic school complained about new Haribo sweet wrappers which they claim portray fruit having sex.

(Click on the link to see the wrappers in question, and the rest of the article.)

I just recently finished listening to American Gods and really enjoyed it. This made me wonder if there is a chance we might see an audiobook of Good Omens. I've read it a number of times and think it would be quite fun to have an audio version of. Are there any chances of this ever existing? Thanks,Gregory Blake

I know that Harper Collins very much want to do one. And Terry and I would both very much like to hear it. So I think the odds are pretty good one will happen.


Had a good talk with Julia Bannon, webmistress of, about the next incarnation of the site. The biggest problem is that there's an incredible amount of stuff to be read and looked at on the site (did you know that the 1997 Neverwhere website is archived in It's the top window on the right), but it takes a certain amount of poking about to find things (and there are some things that even I can't find without googling for them). I want to open it up, make it cleaner looking, and also make it much easier to access the stories and articles and pictures and so on. It seems silly to have it all, and then for people not to know it's there. The next incarnation of the site is probably still about ten months away, though.

Also talked to my editor, Jennifer Brehl, about finally bringing out a mass-market paperback edition of Smoke and Mirrors, my last short story collection, which I think we'll do when Anansi Boys comes out in hardback next year. Assuming I finish it, of course...