Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Politics, Portugal and no gumbo-limbo trees

A couple of us who attended Fiddler's Green decided to start a community on for those who were there (or wish they'd been there) and wanted to keep in touch. So we were hoping you could mention this in your journal so maybe some other people would come and join us., one of the maintainers, otherwise known as

Consider it mentioned, Johanna. And for that matter:

Hello Mr. Gaiman I was wondering if you could post a little " Thank You " for me, to some very nice people from the Fiddler's Green Con. I don't know how else to contact these guys. I would like to thank people like Dan, Georgia, Rocky, Walker (just to mention a few - and I hope that I didn't misspell anyone). I "suffer" from the worth case of shyness this planet has ever seen, but so many people were extremely nice to me. Even though they might not remember me, for our conversations (thanks to my shyness) were fairly brief, I will remember their kindness for a very long time. Also a big THANK YOU to all of the people that made Fiddler's Green happening and of course to you and the other Guests of Honor. I think that all of us had a great time. Thanks Natascha

I don't think you were the only shy person there, Natascha.

It's strange -- it doesn't seem that long ago that I was walking from the San Diego convention centre to the hotel, at the San Diego Comic-con, in company with 'Walker, Michelle, and Pamela Basham (who couldn't make it to the convention, due to impending parenthood), and they were telling me about a convention they wanted to do, with all profits to the CBLDF. And I threw in an idea that Brian Hibbs had once suggested to me, and watched them run with it.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,I have been reading your blog for awhile now, and was just wondering is this blog/ writing outlet going or saying what you want it too? It seems that due to your schedule, popularity and so forth, you tend to have to spend a good deal of time telling people where you will be and plugging your new work and others you respect. Does that kind of exposition take away from your original thoughts of what this blog was to be or represent for you? Do you find it is more or less personal? Sincerely, A curious reader P.S. keep the ink flowing Thank you

I think this blog tends to be sort of seasonal. There are seasons where I just seem to be answering questions, and seasons when I seem mainly to post bizarre links, and seasons when it's essays on writing, or on home life, or whatever. It's accumulated about a million words of burble over nearly four years. When I started the blog, in February of 2001, I just wanted to tell people what it was like to follow a book from completion to publication. I continued writing it because there were about 20,000 people a month reading it, and I really appreciated the instantaneous and unmediated access to the world, whether I wanted to talk about freedom of speech or link to a woman auctioning a holy toasted cheese sandwich, or mention a signing or an event. (Although now there are a lot more than 20,000 people a month reading it...)

I was gobsmacked to realise -- actually to be shown at Fiddler's Green -- how many of the people who were there came from the community that's grown up around the boards at, or from the livejournal feed at not to mention the original usenet core group from the depths of altfanthingie. (My assumption is that without the blog, and the internet, Fiddler's Green wouldn't have been a fraction as successful.)

Which reminds me: in Amadora, in lovely Portugal, they are having a career retrospective for me, which I wish I could have been at (as soon as I master the whole bilocation bit, I'll start turning up at a lot more places). To quote from their press release...


British comics writer Neil Gaiman is the subject of a career spanning retrospective opening on October 23 at the Amadora Comics Center (CNBDI) in Portugal. Original comic art, pages, drawings and scripts from the most representative titles Mr. Gaiman has worked on will be on display.

Neil Gaiman is one of the most influential comic book writers in the English language and has produced an impressive and diverse body of work. Artwork and scripts from Sandman, Sloth, Troll Bridge, The Last Temptation, Miracleman, Mr. Punch, Death, Pavane and Stardust will be a part of the retrospective...

The Neil Gaiman Retrospective will be at the CNBDI's gallery through December.

A full colour catalog, with texts in Portuguese and English by Mr. Gaiman himself, and curators Jo�o Miguel Lameiras and Pedro Mota, will be available.

If you're in Portugal between now and the end of December, they have some wonderful artwork up. I sent them Dave McKean's cover to Sandman #9, among other things.

Neil, Sure sounds like you found a bunch of great stuff waiting for you when you back back from the Green, but one item in particular caught my eye, so I just have to ask: how does it feel to have bits of your work being taught in high school classes? Is it as weird a feeling as I imagine it is? dave golbitz

I'm not sure. It's definitely a bit odd. It was odder when I realised that the children's books, like Coraline, had made it onto junior school curricula, and I started getting letters from whole classes of kids, with drawings.

Over at The Mumpsimus, Matthew Cheney talks about the experience of teaching American Gods to a high school class: and his conclusions are completely fascinating. I do hate knowing that American Gods may be for someone else what Thomas Hardy was for me. (I'm sure I would have enjoyed and appreciated Hardy if I'd found him in my own way and in my own time, but an enforced High School encounter with Thomas Hardy rather ruined him for me forever.) On the other hand, someone who would never have known that she or he would have enjoyed something like American Gods might be introduced to it for the first time...

Excerpted from the lithograph description on Ebay: "... by way of illustrating in as pointed a fashion as possible that even though Dave Sim and Neil Gaiman are at diametric opposite poles on the political spectrum..."

Neil, I think that this is the first ever instance of anything that I have seen implying that you have a strong political stance. Now, if I could only figure out what end of the political spectrum Dave Sim resides at, I could have some insight into your political views. You seem to hold your cards close to your chest on this sort of topic, so I was suprised to see something like that on EBay. I am not trying to be a blog-troll, as is often the perception when politics comes to the internet, but it was such a shock to me to read that I felt like mentioning it to you. Maybe it was the fact that not only were you suddenly the inheritor of a political view, but a political view capable of being "at diametric opposite poles" with someone elses views. Of course all of this probably falls into the category of "none of your damned business."Yours regardless of politics,Claude V. Smith

I don't think I'm particularly evasive, or even close-chested, about my political views. (Mostly what I am politically is vague and issue-specific.) I remember when I was asked if I was a communist on this blog last year, I explained that I wasn't, and added that:

...Of course, when stood next to the choice of American political parties ('So, would you like Right Wing, or Supersized Right Wing with Extra Fries?") my English fuzzy middle-of-the-roadness probably translates easily as bomb-throwing Trotskyist, but when I get to chat to proper lefties like Ken MacLeod or China Mieville I feel myself retreating rapidly back into the woffly Guardian-reading why-can't-people-just-be-nice-to-each-otherhood of the politically out of his depth.

(If pressed to pick a political system, I think that some country or other ought to try jury duty as a way of picking its politicians: if your name gets picked, and you can't come up with a good enough excuse, you'll have to give up four or five years of your life to helping run the country, which avoids the main problem of politics as I see it, which is that the kind of people you have to choose between and vote for are the kind of people who actually think that they ought to be running things. If you have a country and want to try this as a political system, let me know how it works out.)

Beyond that, where adults are concerned I get to be a First Amendment absolutist, and a great believer in the off-switch.

Dave Sim's own political views, like his religious views, are uniquely his own, and are explained at great length in the back of Cerebus and elsewhere. I don't think, politically, we have an awful lot in common -- which, as Dave pointed out, correctly, in that eBay listing, is kind of the point. The CBLDF is a big tent. CBLDF members (and directors, for that matter) believe and support lots of different things, but agree that the First Amendment is a) important and b) needs defending and c) applies to anyone who makes or publishes or sells comics.

Hello I was wandering after your last post, what do you do with all that books and stuff you receive, specially those in lenguages you don't understand? Greetings! Rodolfo

Mostly the foreign books go down to the basement, into the appropriate boxes. Beyond that, things go onto shelves, or get eaten, or get read or worn, or are used to open envelopes, or whatever seems appropriate...

Hi Neil, Just a word of thanks. I've spent much of the last 19 years being told that telling stories is just another form of lying, as if it were some persistent habit I need to quit. But tonight I just recieved my first monetary award for a short story I wrote in a community writing contest, and also my very first public reading. So just wanted to send a thanks for keeping a blog that encourages people like me to do what makes us feel good, regardless of outside opinion. Skye

It's my pleasure. Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent. Welcome to the storytelling clan.

Neil, I'm hoping that I'm terribly late on this, and oodles of people have laready mentioned it but the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have recently started selling a scent in support of the CBLDF... OIS�N
Proceeds go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A legendary warrior bard from Irish lore and a renowned member of the Fianna. His saga is detailed in two of the four great Cycles of Celtic legend: the Fenian and Ossianic Cycles. A lyric, wistful blend of summertime Irish blossoms and herbs, glistening with vibrant white musk.
Their scents are truly wonderful: can't recommend them highly enough.

And they have what looks like a Harry Clarke "Faust" illustration up on their site, which impresses me, but I'm easily impressed by Harry Clarke. Anyway, no, you're the first to mention it. A CBLDF scent. Cool. Can anyone who tries the scent let me know if it really does glisten with vibrant white musk?