Sunday, June 27, 2004

It's deja vu all over again. Or is it?

Many, many messages on similar lines of which this was by far the nicest. Not to mention the politest.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I'm sure tons of people have mentioned this, but just in case they haven't---

Recently the fans who read your journal through the LiveJournal feed are getting twice the Neil-ness because the entries have been double-posting. Curioser is the unpredictability of the posts: Blogger obviously felt that your triumphant return needed to be trumpeted in quick repetition, but neglected to double-post your Harvey Awards speech. We were then reminded of the coolness that is Fiddler's Green before work and once again after.

Much as we love you and your work, I don't think we wholly agree with the Blogger's erratic favoritism your entries. I know you're really busy, what with all the things going on in your life (including reading this extended and blathery email and writing something about your hobbies, family, inspirations, and pretty much your background by July 9th), but we'd really appreciate it if you can wave some magic wand and fix this double-posting business.

Thank you,

The one that really puzzles me is blogger apparently reposted the latest one of them while I was on a plane back to Minneapolis.

Anyway, yes, I'll certainly investigate -- I'll talk to the authors on the web (who run the website) and and see what can be done. I know that there are certain limitations in what we can do about things, mostly because (at least as it was once explained to me by someone from LiveJournal) of the way that the LiveJournal OfficialGaiman RSS feed was originally set up, by whoever set it up. It also seems to be something that's happening more frequently because of new improved blogger. And given that there are about 5000 LiveJournal accounts subscribed to the feed, it's something I'm very aware of.

It's certainly not something I'm doing on purpose. Promise.


Lucy Anne found me the links to the articles from the Dreaming website, which should be a help for the people doing papers on me.

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers

St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th ed. St.
James Press, 1996.

Authors and Artists for Young Adults

Contemporary Authors

There's a fair amount of biography in the following interviews:

This one is from 1999. It's very long and chatty...

And here's one from the same period, that's not quite as long...

The one where I mention Fiddler's Green and absolutely nothing else

I should mention that Karen Berger (editor of Sandman from 1987 on, and queen of Vertigo) is now a guest at Fiddler's Green, the CBLDF-supporting Sandman Convention in November in Minneapolis, and that Karen will be joining me and Charles Vess and Caitlin Kiernan and Todd Klein and other guests still to be named. And I have been told to mention it in its own post so that people who want to link to it don't have to wade through stuff with me burbling on about how BBC Radio 7 now keeps the entirety of the last week of stuff up for you to listen to again, or something, because that will confuse people who want to know about Fiddler's Green.

People who actually want to be properly confused about Fiddler's Green should instead go to their extremely unreliable guest page, where they name the guests correctly, but take you into weird and extremely unreliable worlds. (Charles Vess was the Fifth Monkee? Who knew?)

People who want to be slightly less confused can learn about the Fiddler's Green Saturday Night Auction and Masquerade at their website. Academics, librarians and educators, not to mention people who have ideas for panels, can find all the information they need, not to mention e-mail addresses.

And I should probably mention that it has 500 memberships (plus guests and staff) and that when they're gone, they're gone. And that you can volunteer for things.

Fiddler's Green. Sandman con with all profits to the CBLDF. In all probability the only one of its kind there is or was or ever will be. Fiddler's Green. Now in its own coveniently-titled post, which you can link to and will help with the google rating. Fiddler's Green con. It melts in your mouth, not in your hands. The Fiddler's Green Convention. Has only half the calories of butter but tastes like freshly-plucked water-vole.


(Exits, congratulating self for not even mentioning the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series site and launch date, then realises self just messed up the whole only-mentioning-Fiddler's-Green thing and bimbles off shamefacedly resolving to do better in future.)

What I said at the Harveys

I gave my speech. It didn't end quite like this one does, because the last page of the speech apparently didn't print out (ho ho how I laughed, sitting at the table, just about to go up and give the talk, when I realised that). And several people asked me afterwards if I could post it somewhere, so here it is.

Harvey Awards Speech.

I'm in the middle of writing a novel currently, and unlike the pleasant social world of comics where, if you're me, you talk on a daily basis to editors and artists to letterers or colourists or cover artists, writing a novel is something that's done solo. It's just me and a lot of pieces of paper. Even my family leaves me alone to write.

This means that when finally offered the opportunity to speak, I'm liable to begin with apologising for being so out of practice, and then to start blithering unstoppably.

Forgive me if I blither.


Harvey Kurtzman was a genius. And that was not what made his work special. We've had a number of geniuses in comics, and we have a number of them still. Some brilliant work is cold. There are some things one admires, but one cannot love.

Kurtzman was someone who was doing what he wanted to do, enjoying himself. Happy to rewrite the rules because there were no rules, as long as you were creating art.

Most of us are happy to have created just one world class, life-changing work. Harvey did it a number of times. He is one of the people who created the world in which we exist.

He endured senate hearings, commercial exploitation, watching some of his most treasured creations fail. Along the way he created art that will remain forever, and inspired a list of people longer than your arm, all of whom watched Harvey strive toward excellence, break new ground, tell new stories. Some of them went on to become cartoonists or writers or filmmakers � people like R. Crumb or Terry Gilliam. Others simply discovered that the worlds and visions that Harvey Kurtzman gave them changed their world, in the way that real art does. It gave them new eyes. Perhaps a more cynical view of the world, certainly a more pragmatic one. Harvey's worlds were, at least in their EC incarnations, never fair. You got what you needed, and what you deserved, and you normally got it in the neck.

I was fortunate enough to have met Harvey Kurtzman, in 1990, at the Dallas Fantasy Fair. He told me how much he appreciated what I was doing, which I took, not as any indication that he had read anything I had written, but as him expressing his pride in a younger generation of comics writers and artists. That there were bright young creators out there who cared about comics as an artform mattered to Harvey Kurtzman. He'd invested his life in the crazy belief that comics were art, and not anything to apologise for, and that investment reaped its dividends in the lives it influenced, in those of us who believed it too, and acted accordingly.


When, as a young man, my dream of getting to make comics started to become a reality, I started to meet comics people. These were the people who I had looked up to in my teens, in my twenties, as gods upon the earth. These were the names that I conjured with. I would read everything I could about them when I was growing up, in a time when there was precious little about them to read, and even less of what they had done still in print.

And now I was to meet them.

And I discovered, to my surprise, that quite a lot of them were cranky old jews. Or wannabe cranky old jews � they seemed to be enjoying themselves too much to be properly cranky, and not all of them were actually Jewish.

And now, approaching my mid-forties, eighteen years after writing my first comic, I find myself heading down the conveyor belt towards cranky old Jewhood. I'm at the age where they start to give you lifetime achievement awards, and you rather wish they wouldn't, because it may be some kind of a hint that it's time for you to sit down and shut up.

It is the prerogative, however, of those who are one day to be cranky old jews to give advice to the generations that will follow them. And while some of you are my contemporaries, and others are my seniors, I shall advise anyway. My first piece of advice is this:

Ignore all advice.

In my experience, most interesting art gets made by people who don't know the rules, and have no idea that certain things simply aren't done: so they do them. Transgress. Break things. Have too much fun.

2) Read outside of comics. Learn from places that aren't comics. Don't do what anyone else is doing. Steal from places that people aren't looking. Go outside. Many years ago, when it was almost unheard of for foreigners to write American comics, people used to ask why British Writers were different. I had no idea. I did notice that when I spoke socially to people like Alan Moore, or to Grant Morrison, we mostly weren't talking about comics. We were talking about avant garde forms of poetry, about non-fiction writers, about weird things we'd found. Grant Morrison discovered a long-forgotten Victorian children's author named Lucy Clifford, who wound up influencing both his Doom Patrol and, much later, my Coraline. We loved comics, but they weren't all we knew. There's a whole cool world out there. Use it.

3) Read all the comics you can. Know your comics.

The history of comics is not a long one, and it's not unknowable. We can argue about whether or not hieroglyphics were the earliest comics, or the Bayeux tapestry or what. At the end of the day, we don't have a long history. You can learn it. You can, these days more easily that you ever could before, study it. And the high points of the last century in comics are quite astonishing. There are things that Winsor McCay did in Little Nemo that are still unsurpassed. Things in Herriman's Krazy Kat that are jawdropping. There are things, as a writer and as a storyteller, that Harvey Kurtzman did, that Will Eisner did, that Robert Crumb did that you should familiarise yourself with and learn from.

There's more classic and important material in print now in affordable editions than there has ever been. Let it inspire you. See how high people have taken the medium in the past, and resolve to take it further.

Isaac Newton, even as he created the foundations of huge swatches of science, said that if he had seen a little further than most men, it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.

We've inherited an art-form from giants, some of whom were cranky old Jews, and some of whom weren't Jews, and some of whom weren't even cranky.

Another piece of advice:

I've learned over the years that everything is more or less the same amount of work, so you may as well set your sights high and try and do something really cool.

There are other people around who can do the mediocre, meat-and-potatoes work that anybody can do. So let them do that. You make the art that only you can make. You tell the stories only you can tell.

As a solution to various problems you may encounter upon the way, let me suggest this:

Make Good Art.

It's very simple. But it seems to work. Life fallen apart? Make good art. True love ran off with the milkman? Make good art. Bank foreclosing? Make good art.

Keep moving, learn new skills. Enjoy yourself.

Most of the work I've done that's been highly regarded has happened in places where, when I was working on it I tended to suspect that it would go one of two ways � either I was doing something cool that, if I was lucky, people would talk about for some time, or I was doing something that people would have a particularly good laugh about, in the places where they gather to discuss the embarrassing mistakes of those who went before them.

Be proud of your mistakes. Well, proud may not be exactly the right word, but respect them, treasure them, be kind to them, learn from them.

And, more than that, and more important than that, make them.

Make mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than to stare at a blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong, too scared to do anything.

Critics will grumble. Of course they will. That's one of the functions of critics. As an artist it's your job to give them ulcers, and perhaps even something to get apoplectic about.

Most of the things I've got right over the years, I got right because I'd got them wrong first. It's how we make art.

As a keynote speaker last year for the Eisners I said that compared to where I dreamed that comics could be, as a young journalist in 1986, we're in a Golden Age.

And I was taken to task in certain circles for this, as if I'd said that this was as good as things could get, or that there was nothing at all wrong with the world of comics. Obviously neither statement is true.

We're in 2004, the year that Dave Sim and Gerhard finished the 300 issues of Cerebus, the year that Jeff Smith completed Bone, both monumental tasks, both unique. Cerebus cannot be compared with anything anyone else has done. It's unparalleled in its evolving portrait of its subject and its subject's creator. Bone is, beginning to end, the best fantasy tale anyone's told in comics. That in itself gives me hope for the future.

It's the year that my daughter Maddy discovered Bettie and Veronica, and that gives me another kind of hope. Any world in which a nine year old girl can become, off her own bat, a mad keen comics collector because she cares about the stories, is a good one.

I think the Internet is changing things.

Twice in the last eighteen months the Internet has been used as a way of rallying around publishers who needed help. Good publishers who had cash flow problems, and who put out appeals for assistance, letting people know that now was the time to buy. And people did. The Internet meant that information was given to the people who needed it.

Last week, a web-cartoonist with a large readership, who had told his readership that he would really like to quit his dayjob and devote the time to the comic, if they could raise the same money he made in his dayjob. His readers dipped into their pockets, five dollars here and ten dollars there, and delivered the annual wages from his dayjob.

The internet gives your comics cheap access to the world, without printing bills. Of course, it still hasn't worked out a reliable way to pay people for their work, but Randy Milholland quit his job yesterday to do Something Positive full-time, and Top Shelf and Fantagraphics are both still here.

Despite the grumblers, I think the Internet is a blessing, not a curse.

And if I have a prediction it's simply this: the often-predicted Death of Comics won't happen. There will be more booms and there will be more busts. Fads and fashions turn up in comics, as with all things, and, as fads and fashions always do, they end, normally in tears.

But comics is a medium, not a fad. It's an art-form, not a fashion. The novel was once so called because it was indeed something novel, but it's lasted, and I think, after a few shakedowns, the graphic novel, in whatever form, will do likewise.

Already some things are changing:

When I started writing about comics, before I ever began to write comics, I wanted a world in which comics would simply be regarded as a medium like any other, and in which we were accorded the same respect that any other medium was given. The amount of respect that novels and films and great works of art got. I wanted us to get literary awards. I wanted comics to turn up on the shelves of bookshops, and to sit next to books on the bestseller lists. Maybe one day a comic could come out and be on the NYT bestseller list.

We've got all that. And I don't think it's important after all.

Right now I actually believe that the best thing about comics may well be that it is a gutter medium. We do not know which fork to use, and we eat with our fingers. We are creators of a medium, we create art in an art-form, which is still alive, which is powerful, which can do things no other medium can do.

I don't believe that a fraction of the things that can be done with comics have yet been done.

For now, I think we've barely scratched the surface.

And I think that's exciting. I don't know where comics as a medium will go in the future. But I want to be amazed, and I'm pretty sure that I shall be.

And I trust that one day when you, whatever age, race, gender, or ethnicity you may lay claim to, are in your turn a cranky old Jew up here giving a speech, that that will always remain true.

Friday, June 25, 2004

One to be going on with

So, after a week away I'm -- well not really back, but I'm home anyway, having seen The Magnetic Fields in Minneapolis last night (and chatted to Stephin about his plans for a musical stage play of Coraline), and tomorrow I fly in to New York, give the Harvey speech (which I will start to write as soon as I've finished writing this) and then straight home again, and back into my hole.

My only real news is that I assumed while I was handwriting that I was writing about 200 words on a page. It turns out I was actually averaging about 260 words a page, so have written about 13,000 words more of the novel than I thought I had. (I would hazard a guess that this is much more exciting for me than it is for you. For me it was like discovering that elves had left 13,000 words of novel in the night.)

Am currently still turning a handwritten half-finished zeroth draft into a typed first draft, and I seem to be managing around 7000 words a day. Which is nice in a monomanaical sort of way; which is to say, I'm sure there are other things in the world than the characters, problems and words of this book, but you'd have to remind me about them.

I'm starting to see places in the first half of the book where I obviously knew some things about my characters, and things that I needed to have happen at the end of the book that I wasn't telling myself -- one nice thing in particular. Patterns start to appear. And it seems to be quite funny.

The main thing I've stopped doing while typing the first half of the book is worrying so much about what happens in the second half of the book -- I suspect that by the time I get back there it'll all have sorted itself out, more or less. And if that sounds rather vague and amateurish, I'm sure it is. But at least it means that the plot may wind up feeling inevitable, which is a good thing, rather than imposed from above, which I'm always less of a fan of.

And other than that, it's been an interesting week, in a doing-absolutely-nothing-but-writing sort of way, because there are things you can do to avoid writing even when that's all you're doing. This was the week I fell in a lake, for example. And I made blueberry and banana jam. Both of these things seemed like good ideas at the time.

Also Nick Powell, who is writing the music for the WOLVES IN THE WALLS pandemonium e-mailed me an MP3 of the first song he's completed, a lullaby, which was waiting for me when I got home. It's lovely.


This was in my inbox when I got back, and made me smile. It's from author Kate Bachus:

Being a List of Ten Things to Do while the Author is Off Transcribing:

10. Check blog obsessively anyway.

He might decide to take a break and snowshoe the forty two miles to an
internet cafe and post something because he misses us all so very much after

9. Wail. Gnash teeth. Rend clothes.

Fortunately one's coworkers scarcely notice as this is normal behavior.

8. Buy a truck.

Get an exceptionally good deal because it's from a hockey teammate who loves
me. Take loan agent, wife, son and teammate out for Thai food. Then spend
a clandestine hour in the parking lot playing with all the buttons and
running the windows up and down and adjusting the power seat so it's in
Astronaut Mode and listening to six CDs at once and feeling smug.

7. Contemplate current pile of projects.

This includes a novel, an overgrown blog bodyguard noir thing that I really
need to finish, a short story (ditto) and the Unbearable Essay Collection,
which has reached Damoclean proportions and really should Just Go Away Now.
Fortunately contemplation isn't remotely related to actual writing, and so
far the pile remains safely untouched.

6. Play elevator games.

Pick an old elevator in the building, wait until a group of really stressed
looking people get into it, bound for the eleventh floor or higher. Get in.
Wait until the doors are closed and the elevator is in motion and say
"sayyyyyy, look at what this can do!" and bounce exuberantly, making the
elevator hydraulics joggle and the cab sproing around and everyone in the
elevator look like they're going to pass out with fear.

Repeat with next load of uptight office people.

5. Write silly email.

Not quite as good as reading Neil's stuff, but it will have to do for the

4. Work at office job.

Only advised as a last resort measure, when all other possibilities have
been exhausted and security has permanently barred one from the elevators.

3. Plan vacations we can't afford to take.

Almost as fun as going, and much cheaper. Send Becca funny emails with
pictures of places we'd like to go, with exes marking the spot on the
idyllic beach where we'd sit drinking mai tais. Feel very mature and
responsible for not actually spending all that money and staying at home and
planting begonias and drinking lemonade on the lawn instead.

2. Plan other people's vacations for them.

If you cannot go to the famous writers, the famous writers must come to you.
Amuse self sending out emails and inviting people to dinners and wondering
how many people of the people who are coming you can get away with seducing.
Cackle fiendishly. Send more email.

1. Pine.

Because really one doesn't grudge the Author any time needed away,
particularly to concentrate and do Good Stuff, but misses him mightily all
the same.

- K

and this one needs an answer...

My 9 year old daughter sent a note to Mr. Gaiman several weeks ago as part of a 3rd grade assignment. She was to pick her favorite author and send a note to them. She picked Mr. Gaiman. Unfortunately, he never responded to her. I was wondering why he did not respond.


Well, there are a couple of possible reasons: 1) I may not have received it yet. If it was sent to Harper Collins Children's Books, they tend to forward all the mail every few weeks -- it can arrive in a couple of days, or it can arrive eight or twelve weeks after it was sent. Mail from Hodder Headline or from Bloomsbury in the UK is even more intermittent. If it was sent to DreamHaven, I pick up the mail when I go in. I tend to go in every four to six weeks. Sometimes more if I'm travelling. (I was last there last Thursday, and picked up the last months' worth of mail, which leads us to reason two...)

2) I may not have replied to it yet. I haven't even looked at the mail from last Thursday from DreamHaven. In a normal week, my assistant Lorraine would by now have gone through it, and all the mail from children doing school projects or from classes of kids would by now be in the Children's Book Mail box, which tends to get more priority than the regular fan mail box, because if most kids who write to authors have deadlines. The ones who actually think to say "I get a better grade if I get some kind of reply from you" tend to go higher up the pile than the ones who just wrote to say they liked a book. But what with Lorraine's broken arm, she might not have done. (I expect she'll eventually read this and say "hah! I did" and then tell me where that box is...)

But right now, I'm off buried in the next novel. I'll not be answering kids' mail for a couple more weeks, at least.

And kids do rather better than adults. I used to send anyone who wrote to me a postcard back, on the theory that postcards are fun and personal, even if they couldn't read my handwriting, and if it's a postcard people forgive you for not writing a lengthy letter. And then one day I had to face up to the reality that all the mail was not going to be answered any longer. At least, not by me, if I wanted to do anything else at all. There was just too much of it.

Probably what I need to do is write a nice postcard-for-kids that I can cross off bits that don't apply and sign it and send it back, and then at least people would be replied to faster. Still wouldn't speed up the mail getting to me, I'm afraid. But that would only take care of half of them. (Where did you get the idea for Coraline/will there be a sequel and suchlike similar questions) it would leave out all the ones that want a bit more. Such as this one...

i'm doing an english report on you for ,yea, English and no matter how much i search and search for your bio online, it just goes straight to talking about your work. i know your one of America's most honorary writers, but i'd like the know about your hobbies, family, inspirations, and pretty much your background. so please please can you send me some info before July 9th (that's when it's due) ? you'll be ABSOLUTELY the BEST WRITER IN THE WORLD if you do:] <3 Carmelle, 11 grade

You know, I was pretty sure that the Contemporary Authors series "about the Author" biographical articles were still around on the web -- the FAQ links to one of them, but it's now vanished entirely. So I'll do my best to write something about my hobbies, family, inspirations, and pretty much my background by July 9th, and put it up either here on or over at, or in both places. No promises, but I'll try.

Friday, June 18, 2004

wrap up

A couple of things I should post before I fall off the world: is the convention in Australia next year -- Guests of Honour, me, Poppy Z Brite and Richard Harland. It's in Melbourne.

In addition to Kate Worley's death last week, we also lost guitarist Robert Quine, which I mention because I hadn't seen it reported anywhere.

Someone sent me this: which made me smile ruefully. Poor librarians.

Good News, Bad News...

Thanks to all of you who wrote in on the Firefox issue: I uninstalled version 9, and reinstalled version 8, and yes, all of my bookmarks, extensions etc were still there. I think I'll stick with version 8 for a bit.

Thanks to those of you who pointed out that the Amazon Link from yesterday is no longer to something called "The" but is now to the Spanish-Language version of "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish"...

Hi Neil, I think you'll find that the Spanish book you mentioned is, based on a translation by a person who only took Spanish for a few months in school (me), the Spanish translation of "The Day I swapped my dad for two goldfish".

oh, and just a question I think I asked before but never saw a reply to: there were rumours a while back that DC was working on an comic book adaptation of Neverwhere... is there any truth to this? I'd love to see more Neverwhere, the DVD set really reiterated my love for both the series and the book.

I'm not sure that I'm meant to say anything about this until DC does its own press release, but yes. They are.


Thank you SO MUCH for telling us about MOCCA. I had no idea this was going on next weekend, I had no idea about the museum, and the fact that I am going to be hanging out in NYC next week with a bunch of mates I think just sent my heart into arrest. I didn't think next week could get cooler: we're already hitting Lou Reed, the Pride Parade, MoS, Zen Palate, and broadway, but hearing about MOCCA, well...I can die happy right now.

Quick bourgeois question: are the cheapest seats for the banquent (where assumably you'll be speaking??) really $1000?

Anyway, thanks thanks thanks I will definitely be poking my nose into the convention and if you bump into a girl with purple hair and a tendency to ramble when she's nervous, slap me upside the head. :)

Sax in Ohio, soon to be NYC

No, the cheap seats in NYC (and we use the word cheap here sort of loosely) are $60 each -- it's in the paragraph after one about the $1000 tables at


according to "marvel previews" (issue 10, august 04) the 1602 hardcover edition will be on sale 9/1/04. i thought that might be of interest for some of the readers of your blog.

Greetings from Germany,

I'm sure it will be too. Thanks...


Last night some friends and I took Maddy to see The Pirates of Penzance at the Guthrie. Overall it was delightful -- Maddy, who had been expecting to be bored to tears, gave me an impressed thumbs up as the first scene ended, and spent the rest of the show glowing with joy. I didn't really mind the liberties taken (Queen Victoria descending in a balloon at the end)although I wished there had been some attempt to make the bits they wrote themselves sound even vaguely Gilbertian. I did wish that the Major General hadn't been staged as a sort of Music Hall "turn" -- someone convinced of how very funny he was and making sure we all knew it. Humour is funnier when it's straightfaced; or to put it another way, in this case we should be laughing at him, not with him. I think. But the plusses way outweighed the minuses -- fabulous pirates, for a start...

Other exciting things I did yesterday included signing a stack of stuff at DreamHaven (they have, it seems, been having a run on CDs since I mentioned them here last week, so I signed lots of CD booklets for Warning: Contains Language and Telling Tales), getting a haircut from Wendy at HairPolice (a woman who can make the single word "dude" perform pretty much any function in the English language) and eating at Midori's Floating World Cafe (amazing tea selection, nice sushi, great rice-balls): was aided and abetted in much of this by John M. Ford & Elise.


Dear Neil Gaiman,
I spent over an hour today trying to find an obscure entry in your journal archives where you listed all the gay men in your works, only to discover that Vandemar and Croup weren't on it, as I had somehow got the impression. I don't know much about making websites, but I know I don't ever want to go through that again, so do you think you could pretty please install some kind of keyword search on the archives? (Inserts variety of obsequious gestures to indicate that is not trying to order Neil Gaiman who is, after all, a god among men, around)

You are much too kind, and I'm not. But there is, really, truly, a search mechanism on the archives -- actually on the whole of the site. I'm sure we'll try and make it clearer and a little less hard to find on the next radical site redesign. If you're at then it's the magnifying glass with the word "search" in backwards writing underneath it on the top left of the page. It's also


Right. The bad news alluded to in the header... I'm going off to type up the work done so far on the novel. The place I'll be going has no internet access. Or phone. If I come up for air and to check for emergencies (and to see the Magnetic Fields next week), I'll post something to let you know I'm still alive, but if you don't see anything for the next week, assume that I'm away writing and that this is a good thing.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Morning catch-up...

I made the fatal mistake of upgrading Firefox last night. The new iteration doesn't seem to want to work (when I try to open it I get a message informing me it's finishing installing extensions, and that this could take a minute, which never goes away), and has taken most of my bookmarks and suchlike with it. Oh well. Back to Explorer.

Mr. Gaiman:
Thanks for all the wonderful stories. Can't wait for "Anansi Boys." And I can't wait for your next short story collection--all of your recent stories, "A Study in Emeraldy," "Monarch of the Glen," etc., have been brilliant, and they'll be ever more brilliant under one cover. You are definitely at the top of your game, and it's scary to think you could still get better!

Two questions: one, what in the world is "The"!!!
Amazon has it listed here.

Two: when will a hardcover compilation of 1602 be out?

Thanks for your time. My only complaint about your blog is that you're not self-promoting enough. You've got a new story in "Flights"! Why didn't you say so. Love your work.

Kelly Christopher Shaw
Milwaukee, WI

I did mention there was a story in Flights. (I got my copy yesterday, and it looks to be an excellent collection.) I just didn't say it very loudly. I suppose that, while I do try and mention things that are coming out, I tend not to advertise them here quite as loudly as I should. I read the Flights story "The Problem of Susan" last night (I always try to read things when they're printed. That's when I get to see them with new eyes.) I was fairly pleased with it -- it was the first fiction I was able to write after last year's meningitis, when I'd had a couple of months of not being able to think straight.

While I don't know what "The" is, I googled a little and discovered that NORMA (my Spanish publisher) have a licence to sell spanish-language work into the US as "Public Square Books", which explains the publisher. Not really sure what it could be though.

The 1602 Harback should be out in a couple of months -- Scott's drawing the cover currently, and I have to write the afterword this week, along with proofreading the whole.

I've been out of the comics scene a very long time, but I use to love your Books of Magic. I recently read an old news article (Aug 2003) that you were going to revive the Books of Magic series that was to be released in early 2004.
But I've looked through the DC Vertigo site, and there's no mention of it.

Are you indeed working on a Books of Magic story, and where and when will it be released?

It's coming out very soon. The marketing people at DC Comics became very concerned that it was called "Books of Magic", although it's filled with sex and death and things, and that the Books of Magic novel series from Harper Collins is marketed toward children. So it's now been cunningly retitled "Books of Magick" to distance itself from its predecessor while still sounding the same. It's being written by Si Spencer and drawn by Dean Ormston. I'm involved in it, although I'm not writing it -- I've made lots of suggestions for the sort of places I thought the story might go, and I'm actively rather than passively consulting on it (which just means that if I don't think something is working, I tell Si and Shelly, and suggest ways it could be fixed). Si's doing an excellent job on it. It's a story called "Life During Wartime".

Dear Neil,
I have a bit of a problem that maybe you can help with. I became a Reverend some months ago so that I could perform a wedding ceremony for some friends. That wedding is this Saturday. Here is the problem...I haven't spoken in front of a group of strangers since high school,(and they were'nt really strangers...not that these will be either come to think of it). My question is how do you battla stage fright when you do readings? I saw you read in St.Paul in February and you seemed so relaxed. Is that your natural state, or do you have some calming exercise that you do before a reading?
Thanks for reading and especially for writing,

I still get stage fright, and I've learned to like it. I'd probably miss it if I wasn't in some kind of utter funk for the last few minutes before I walk out onto a stage. It's a little boost of adrenaline that wakes me up, slows everything down just a little, sharpens everything up. It's not a bad thing. You just have to make sure you don't gabble and squeak for the first minute (if in doubt, always slow down, always pause, always stop to breathe. No-one's going anywhere -- especially not during a wedding).

I try and get out onto a stage, if possible, beforehand, when there's no audience, and just get a sense of the place. And knowing what I'm going to do fairly well helps. Practice reading your wedding ceremony in front of a few friends, or in front of a mirror.

The main advice I can give is this: enjoy it.


I kept expecting to see people commenting on this article in MediaGuardian, but I haven't yet. It's about a report from Ofcom, the UK regulatory board for commercial channels on a Fox News report, failing to show "respect for truth", which is apparently something that news channels in the UK are meant to do. (Fox News is now being broadcast in the UK as well as the US.) The article continues:

This is a tricky issue for Ofcom: how to regulate channels which are not produced principally for viewers in Britain. The Independent Television Commission, which preceded Ofcom, responded to complaints last year that Fox did not meet its strict "due impartiality" rules by issuing a ruling that is regarded in some quarters as a fudge to avoid a standoff with Mr Murdoch: it said "due" meant "adequate or appropriate", and Fox News could justifiably claim to have achieved a level of accuracy and impartiality that was appropriate to its audience in the US, where different rules apply.

It's those last four words that fascinate me. You only have to reach an appropriate level of impartiality, you have to be accurate, but only to a degree appropriate for Americans. Different rules apply.


I've been reminded to remind everyone that I'm the keynote speaker at this year's Harvey Awards, which will be happening at MOCCA in New York. The "Spirit of the Harveys" art exhibition is currently up and on display (it's a terrific looking line-up: artwork spanning Kurtzman's career, alongside original art by many of the creators nominated for this year's Harvey Awards, including Patrick McDonnell, Dave Sim, and G.B. Trudeau.

The Harveys are on the evening of the 26th of June. I'm the keynote speaker, as I said, and Evan Dorkin is Master of Ceremonies. Banquet tickets can be bought -- details at, or call 212-254-3511 today to reserve your seat.

On the Thursday night after [thanks Elayne] the awards is a benefit for Dave Cockrum -- details here.

And then there's the MOCCA expo over the weekend, which looks pretty amazing...


And seeing that Father's Day is coming up soon, I thought I'd plug the Orka Silicone Oven Gloves (or, as they are known in my house, the Zoidbergs, because once you put them on you can wave your lobster-clawed hands above your head and say "Look, I am Zoidberg" while your daughter rolls her eyes in embarrassment). Here's the Amazon link, because the "Evil Overlord" review made me laugh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Day I was Interviewed by Maddy

You know, there's probably something that's more enjoyable than being interviewed for an audio CD by your nine year old daughter, on her first time ever in a recording studio and behind a microphone, but if there is I don't know what it is.

Maddy went from "I'm scared, what if I mess this up?" to "this is really fun" in about sixty seconds, was an absolute professional, and came away from the experience telling me that she'd learned all sorts of things about writing (and about me) that she didn't know. We actually did the whole interview twice, so there's about half an hour of us talking altogether, of which only about seven minutes can go on the CD. I'll see if we can get a longer cut of the interview up on the website. ( is the junior (I got Maddy a Blondie CD as a thank-you for all her help on this; her life changed forever when she saw Debbie Harry on the Muppet Show DVD, last month.)

Lots and lots of cool and unusual things arrived in the mail today. I was amused by Joan Revill's The Sun Sign Reader "the ultimate astrological birthday book of fictional characters and events", a gift from someone who thought I'd like having a book in which I was the entry for my birthday, for my files, turned out to be a wonderfully odd potpourri of fictional characters, strange events, high culture, low culture, spiced by the birthday of an occasional author. The kind of book that I wish had an index rather than sun-sign tables in the back.

One of the birthdays listed was Sherlock Holmes's, at least his birthday according to William Baring-Gould (it's given as Jan 6th 1854) because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle neglected to mention it in his books. Baring-Gould famously annotated the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories, in 1967. One of the other cool things that arrived today was proof copies of the new two volume Annotated Sherlock Holmes, coming out from WW Norton later this year. It's a completely new annotation, done by Les Klinger, and it's absolutely essential reading. Les has been annotating the books for Sherlockians (or Holmesians if you're English) for some years. Now he annotates for the general public: almost two thousand pages of Holmes stories, with illustrations, and the sort of notes that illuminate rather than irritate. We've come a long way from Victorian England, and it's very useful both to have Les telling you what a Tantalus is, or a gasogene, and also to have him illuminate many of the wonderful textural anomalies that can keep Holmesians (or Sherlockians, if you're American) happy for weeks. Was Watson's first name really James? Who really wrote "The Lion's Mane"? Does a Goose have a crop, and would it have held a blue carbuncle if it does? The book's coming out in November 2004, in a slipcase, and will make the perfect present for anyone who has been, or needs to be, infected by the Holmes virus.

Hey, Neil! I was looking around, and I discovered that there is now an official MirrorMask "teaser" site at I was wondering if you'll be able to put up pictures (possibly larger versions of those which accompany the official synopsis)? I'm terribly excited about MirrorMask and the Death film. I hope you write 1609 or The Seven Sisters someday, and until then, good luck on Anansi Boys.


Well, I don't do the site, but I've suggested to Hensons that they ought to get more up there, and I'm sure they will. I'll post here as soon as I hear anything.

Hey, Neil,
Are you still going to open for the Magnetic Fields in Minneapolis?

Probably not -- they have an opening act on this tour. Claudia asked if I wanted to do a reading as well, but I said I was quite happy to see the one they've got, and not to be something that stopped the band from coming onstage. I'll be at the gig though. Maybe they'll let me be the person who tells you not to take flash photographs while the band's on or something.

Hi Neil,
I'm sure I've seen a link to it before, and filed it away in that shadowy, cobwebbed part of my brain where I put things I should remember, but is there a list of all of the awards you've won somewhere?

Greg Carere

I don't know. Hang on, I'll search the site. Yes, there is -- at It's not quite up-to-date, I'm afraid.

Hey Neil,

I started writing my first book. You are the author I look up to the most. A master wordsmith. The way you use words to exact the maximum meaning with such simplicity leaves me awestruck. No other author has ever given me so much to think about.

I love writing my book, but I have really been struggling with point of view. I was disappointed to see you recently answered a question similar mine, but not exactly the same. I figure I'll ask anyway, in case you have anything to add to your previous answer.

Every writing guide (book or internet) says its bad to flip around with POV. It looks sloppy, and reduces the intimacy that you achieve with a single 3rd person limited (ug - it's taken me 3 weeks to get the handle on all the terms they use). I have two main characters who are making a journey together. They will be put in situations which require fundamental changes if they are to survive. They are equally important, but their personal journeys are very different. I feel I can attain the greatest intimacy with them and a fuller understanding of what happens to them if I can delve into both of their thoughts at will.

But all the advice I've found says to stick to one point of view, anything else annoys editors. If you're a first time author, do publishers just reject books like this?

Cheers, Elese

Er, that advice is bollocks. If you've got a story that needs to be told through more than one point of view, tell it through more than one point of view.

Editors like good books. If a good book comes in told by a Centauran Hive-Mind, the editor will like it. They don't reject stories because they have more than one point of view in.

What's sloppy, and what many starting writers do is start a sentence from one characters's point of view and end it from another's. I'll try not to change point of view in the middle of a scene, unless I need to and it works. But there's nothing at all wrong with having lots of points of view in a book. The advice I gave the last person to ask a similar question was to look at several of his favourite books and see how the author handled it.

(To be honest, I'm sort of puzzled that anyone could take this kind of advice seriously, at least after a moment's reflection, because there are so many good, successful books out there that have a multiplicity of points of view in them. Take a look on your shelves.)

There's an awful lot of bad advice out there. Take a look at Teresa Nielsen Hayden's comments on Todd James Pierce from the Creative Writing Department of Florida State University, who tells would-be writers how to write cover letters to publishers. The only trouble is, all his advice is useless and worse than useless. (His Tip Four: Lie.)

The problem with the good advice is it's mostly much too simple. Joe Straczinski told me about the time that he, when young, got hold of Harlan Ellison's phone number and phoned him up. He explained that he was a young writer and nobody would publish him. According to Joe, Harlan said "They won't publish you because you're writing crap. Stop writing crap and they'll publish you." Which was very good advice, and Joe took it. But it's sort of simple.

If you want to know what an editor is looking for, this entry on Teresa's blog explains, very straightforwardly, the 14 things that an editor is looking for. It's in section three, the Context of Rejection.

Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


And, as a final note, BBC Radio 4 are broadcasting a dramatisation of Terry Pratchett's MORT...

write stuff

You know, a writer's morale is mostly to do with whether the book is working or not. Last week I was pretty miserable, mostly because it felt like Anansi Boys had sort of ground to a terrible halt. Today I rather blindly started chapter 8, and, bizarrely, everything was okay. It now feels like the book knows what it's doing even if I don't, and I'm much happier. I'm about 45,000 words in, I'd say, and I'm still writing in longhand, but am getting very close to the point where I'm going to start typing. Which will be a sort of second draft on the first half of the book, while I'm still chugging along in first draft on the second half. I expect.

A writing question, and I've seen you answer a few of them before.

I was wondering about telling a story from the first person, and the point of view dying character at the end. My ideas for this are starting to come together, but this bit seems a bit weird. Usually, a story from the first person has a reason for the main character to be telling the story (ie, Robin Hobb's Assassin books open with Fitz as an old man writing histories).

I'm also considering more of a transcendence than death for the main character, but that doesn't really give a reason for how the story would be spread to the world.

Do you think I need to construct some sort of reason? Or can I just tell the story the way I feel I should, and logic be damned?



I don't think it's a matter of logic. There's nothing at all wrong with first person narratives where the person telling it dies at the end. (I've written one of them, and read many more.) Tell the story the way it needs to be told, and enjoy telling it.

The main rule of writing is that, if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.)

I've been rereading some P.G. Wodehouse recently, and am fascinated by what he does with point of view. The point of view he writes from (if he's not telling a first person account) is The Author's, which allows him enormous freedom to zoom in and out of people's heads whenever he wants to, in a way that is, I suspect, completely forbidden by the writers' guides.

(Back when I was writing Sandman monthly I came up with a definition of story that satisfied me. A story, I decided, is anything that keeps the people reading turning the pages, and doesn't leave them feeling cheated at the end. Everything else was up for grabs.)

Hello Neil,

I just got done listening to Coraline on cd and enjoyed it very much. (I'd read the book last year but had to briefly give up on my struggle with the library to discover where they'd hidden the audio book while I went back to school.) In particular, the cat was just so much more *so*, and the bit with the Other Father in the basement was vastly more creepy than I'd remembered it. Have you thought about recording any more of your books? I suppose, considering that Coraline took up three cds and wasn't a very long book to begin with, that an unabriged version of, say, American Gods would be a significant project. (I checked some of the archives to see if you'd mentioned this before, but I'm almost certain I've managed to completely miss a handy search feature that would make the process simpler.) You have a wonderful speaking voice, and those of us trapped in North Dakota (*neighborly next-state-over wave*) don't have much of a chance to go to a reading when you're out on tour.


I decided not to do American Gods because I sound more or less English, and I wanted it to be read by someone who sounded American. So there is an excellent American Gods unabridged audio, which you can buy on cassette, or get through your library (or rent -- I just googled and found it rentable at It's read by George Guidall. Some libraries have it on CD, although it's never been commercially released on CD. And while it was out and downloadable through and itunes for a short time, it seems to have vanished now.

There are short stories read by me on CD. WARNING:CONTAINS LANGUAGE is a double CD with anumber of tracks on, including Chivalry, Babycakes, Nicholas Was..., Cold Colours, Troll Bridge, The White Road, and Banshee.

TELLING TALES is a single CD with A Writer's Prayer, Harlequin Valentine, Boys and Girls Together, The Wedding Present, and In The End. They're both from DreamHaven.

The NEIL GAIMAN AUDIO COLLECTION is the new CD coming from Harper Collins -- it contains The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, Cinnamon and Crazy Hair. And my daughter Maddy is going to interview me for it as well, which should be fun. (The reading of TDISMDF2G will also come with the new Harpers edition of Goldfish.)

Here's the cover of the Audio Collection:

There's also a CD (which doesn't have a title yet) coming out from DreamHaven later in the year, with The Price, Daughter of Owls, Shoggoth's Old Peculiar and the Facts in the Case of the Disapperance of Miss Finch on it.

I'd love to read an audio of Stardust, and an unabridged audio of Neverwhere (I hate the fact that the current audio of Neverwhere, although really well read by Gary Bakewell, with Eno music, is extremely abridged -- less than a third the length of the book.) I don't know that I'll be able to persuade Harpers to do them, though -- their attitude is that it's much easier to sell audio books when there's a new book coming out. They may well be right.


I put up a few links on Where's Neil to the Mocca Harvey Awards (I'm the keynote speaker) and Mythcon (I'm G of H), and will write something more about the Harveys and Mocca next post...

And so to bed. G'night.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Whales, beavers, unborn rabbits and barnacle geese, actually

I need to start listening while I'm talking. I was having an incredibly respectable telephone conversation with an extremely respectable person this afternoon, and the subject wandered over to Basque whalers, the way that it does, and I was explaining that whale meat was one of the few red meats that the Catholic church historically allowed to be eaten on Fridays and during Lent. "And, oddly enough, beaver was classified as a fish too," I explained earnestly and helpfully and accurately. "So on Fridays and during Lent people used to eat beaver." There was the sound over the phone of a very respectable and respected person making a sputtering sort of snorting noise, and I noticed that statement was capable of meaning rather more than I'd meant it to...


Many cool things happening. For example, over at the following gauntlet was thrown down, following complaints that things were getting sloppy:

Help me quit my job. Seriously. Click on that donate button and give me a buck... fifty center... five bucks. Whatever. I've more than enough readers that if over half of you did that, I'd have a year's salary and could quit my day job - and that's forty hours freed up for the comics. Go ahead.

So they did. $22,000 came in. He gave up his day job. That's cool.


There's a mystery beast in North Carolina, unless it's someone playing in photoshop.


Harlan Ellison's settled his case with AOL -- details at I take the sentence at the end of Harlan's statement to indicate that AOL paid Harlan serious money, because otherwise he wouldn't be in a position to return the donations. But I could be wrong.

Mostly I'm glad the case is over.


I've always wanted to ask a question but I never devised a good one. So recently I won a presitgious award and enough scholarship money to pay for a book or two, and I was wondering what was the first award for writing that you won and how old you were when you won it? Re-reading this I see that it is still a stupid question, but I guess I still feel uplifted for being recognized for doing something I love.
Thanks for all your writings, they helped to inspire me to go ahead and experiment and write "weird" things, and consequently it was a strange idea that led me to write a story which literally won me "artist recognition".


Let me think... I was awarded the School English Prize when I was about 13 (having been fairly beaten to it the previous year by a 12 year old Ian Hislop). The prize came with a Faber Book of Modern English Verse, and a copy of Return of the King (the school library only had the first two volumes of Lord of the Rings, and I'd read them several dozen times by that point, and I really wanted to know how it all ended).

Then nothing for another 13 years, until I got the Mekon Award from the UK Society of Strip Illustrators for Violent Cases. And since then I've got more than my fair share of the things.

About six months ago my wife, who was tired of tripping over them, got me a cabinet in which to keep awards, which sits in the hall and looks very nice. It contains lots of cool looking objects which otherwise were just sitting on windowledges and in corners, and attracting dust.


Please, Neil.
Is Fred doing better?

He seems to be absolutely fine at present. I stopped him leaping out of a second-storey window in pursuit of a fly, this afternoon. Twitcat.


Someone wrote in asking how to get stuff either signed by me or personalised by me for a significant other's birthday (and I won't put up any more info than that because otherwise the significant other might figure it out) -- the answer is, DreamHaven Books' site has lots of signed stuff in stock, and depending on when you need something by and when I pop in and sign stuff, it can sometimes even be personalised. They don't charge anything more for signed stuff than for unsigned. Drop them a line.


Do they manage to translate the names of the Endless into other languages alliteratively?

For French the obvious renderings are Destin, Mort, R�ve, Destruction, D�sir, D�sespoir, D�lire, which is close but not quite there.

--Mark Rosenfelder

Sometimes yes, mostly no. Vladimir, my Croatian translator, was incredibly pleased that he'd succeeded in making them all start with "S", for example.


And on the subject of listening while you're talking (which is where we came in) I learned from the Guardian today that the sentence that you need to master in order to become a real ventriloquist is "Who dared to put wet fruit bat poo in our dead mummy's bed; was that you, Verity?"

I thought you'd like to know that.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Small pre-Bloomsday Sigh

I'm a fan of copyright. Big fan of copyright, actually. I'm also in favour of copyright continuing after an author's death -- as Mark Twain said, before Congress, back when it didn't, I like that extension of copyright life to the author's life and fifty years afterward. I think that would satisfy any reasonable author, because it would take care of his children. Let the grand-children take care of themselves. That would take care of my daughters, and after that I am not particular. I shall then have long been out of this struggle, independent of it, indifferent to it. (The whole of the speech is pretty cool actually.) And I don't actually mind, given the extra 20 years that the Bern Convention added, that my copyrights will, with luck, help feed my grandchildren too.

But then I see, via kitabkhana something like this, and I just sigh:

One of the biggest events in the literary calendar - the centenary celebration of Bloomsday, 16 June, the day on which the events of James Joyce's Ulysses take place - has been seriously marred by a bitter struggle over copyright.

Stephen Joyce, the grandson and last surviving relative of the writer, has caused consternation by declaring that any public reading of what is regarded as the most influential novel of the 20th century will be a breach of copyright and cannot go ahead without permission and payment. Readings in both London and Dublin to launch the first ever unabridged audio CD of the book - the 22 discs last 27 hours - have been cancelled because of fears of litigation.

So, for whatever it's worth, and for the record, and as long as it's not-for-profit, people can always do readings of my stuff, if they want to, in public, in private, in school, in front of small invited audiences of marsupials, or even in Dublin. No permission or payment will ever be required. And my unborn grandchildren will just have to learn to live with it.

After the Thunderstorms

Woken up this morning rather earlier than usual, by my assistant Lorraine. "I made you a cup of tea," she said. "Can you drive me to the Hospital? I think I broke my arm in the night."

She'd tripped over something in the dark, and hadn't wanted to bother anyone, so lay in her room in agony for four hours. Bizarrely, that bit I understand. The bit I don't understand is the making me a cup of tea with a broken arm. (Not that I'm not grateful. It was a very nice cup of tea.)

Several X-rays later, it seems the bone is cracked, not broken, her arm is now in a sling, she's on painkillers, is much happier, and she won't actually be playing the violin when Folk Underground appear at the Duluth Renfest this weekend. And I'll be making my own tea.

So I'll just post a bunch of links and things. Apologies to all of you who sent me these for not including your whole messages:

There's a poster for Howl's Moving Castle up at Diana Wynne Jones! Miyazaki! I'm really, really looking forward to it.

On the subject of Japan, I've been fascinated by this Japanese news summary site. Part of it, I'm sure is just the way things are phrased: TOKUSHIMA -- A company president who set up a surveillance camera in a dormitory for female Chinese trainee students "to prevent the trainees from disappearing" faces charges for peeping, police said left me with a short story in my head, in which people slowly vanish away, and eventually completely disappear, unless they're watched by helpful other people with surveillance cameras all the time. While the headline Probe shows adults rampantly approaching kids for sex left me pondering the unfortunate set of meanings of the word rampantly.

There are plans afoot for thousands of Christians to move to South Carolina, and then secede from the union. No word on what the South Carolinans think about this.

Some nice person in Hawaii sent me this link to an article about a Childrens literature conference with a lovely photo of The Wolves in the Walls.

There are a bunch of things coming out I've not mentioned, that I probably should. This is the cover of the forthcoming Harper Childrens edition of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. The red circle, which you can't quite read, tells you that the first printing is a limited edition which comes with a free CD of me reading the story.

This is the cover of Fantagraphics' book of interviews, Hanging Out With the Dream King, by Joe McCabe. The cover, at least at this stage in its design, sort of misses out on telling what's actually interesting about the book, which is it isn't that it's a book of interviews with me (well, it has one) but more with people I've worked with and collaborated with -- Joe's interviewed people as diverse as Tori Amos and Alice Cooper, Charles Vess and Sam Kieth, and pretty much everyone else he could find. The cover photo looks like it's me in a padded cell, but it was actually taken in the Library Hotel last year, the day after the signing that went on forever.

This rather gorgeous image is listed on Amazon as the cover of Creatures of the Night, the upcoming Michael Zulli book, containing adaptations of "The Price" and "Daughter of Owls". Actually the cover looks like this. The first image is part of the cover that Michael Zulli has done for the second "Creatures of the Night" book, his adaptation of "The Facts in the Case of the Dissapearance of Miss Finch". Here's more about the first book. It's a hardback -- uniform with P Craig Russell's Murder Mysteries and John Bolton's Harlequin Valentine.

I was fascinated and amused by the story of Pete the Public Service Porno Puppet.

Oliver Morton's comments on the Beagle Report, or lack thereof, over at Mainly Martian, strike me as one of the joys of blogs: informed, timely, sensible commentary by someone in a position to know something about the subject -- in this case, Mars, and how to land on it, or not.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Remembering Kate.

It seemed appropriate to post this today. I wrote it eleven years ago, the introduction to a collected edition of a comic called Omaha the Cat Dancer.


OMAHA Introduction.

I don't like soap operas, I often have a blind spot when it comes to funny animal comics, and I'm continually disappointed by pornography, which is why it is perhaps surprising how much I like Omaha the Cat Dancer.

And I do like it, very much. It's consistently one of the best comics being published today. Reed Waller has been consistently improving his craft as an artist since it began. Kate Worley's dialogue is economical, well-observed and effective. I care about their people, and am absorbed by their story.

And the sex stuff is pretty good, too.

I first met Reed and Kate some years ago, at a signing I was doing in Minneapolis. (That was before I knew Minneapolis well, and before I knew how accurate a city portrait their 'Mipple City' was.)

I ran into them again at the 1990 San Diego Comic Convention after that, several times, and got to know them better, and to be able to tell them apart: Reed is the small quiet one with the facial hair, Kate is the tall redhead. At one San Diego party, for reasons too complicated to explain here, I wound up exchanging tee shirts with Kate in order to get my leather jacket back (there may be a moral there, which probably has something to do with people stupid enough to wear heavy leather jackets in the San Diego heat, but I have no idea what it is), a story that seems to travel the world and which mutates into something stranger each time I hear it; and you'll not get the truth of it from me.

After that Reed and Kate and I would chat on the phone from time to time -- and with increased frequency during the time of Reed's illness, which occurred during, and delayed, the production of the stories in this comic.

In brief: Reed was very ill, and had no medical insurance. Kitchen Sink published a benefit book, called Images of Omaha, to raise money for his medical and living expenses. Many of the brightest talents in comics donated their time and energy to the project, drawing pin-ups and short comics for the book: so many of them, and with such enthusiasm, that the benefit comic wound up running to two issues, which demonstrated that Reed, and Kate, and Omaha were better loved and respected than perhaps even they knew.

I wrote an afterword for the first of the benefit books -- it was an honour to be able to contribute, and in such sterling company. Reed got operated on and got well, and Omaha The Cat Dancer came out once more.

Reed Waller continues to be a quiet craftsman -- although he talks a little more once you get to know him, always interestingly and always to the point. Kate Worley continues to be a tall redhead.

Linda Williams, in her remarkable book of film criticism Hardcore, pointed out the similarities between pornography and musicals as genres, that just as in a standard Broadway-type musical the story exists to keep the songs from all happening at once, to showcase the different types of song, in pornography the plot exists only to keep the sexual acts apart. They're what you've come to see (the songs, or the sex), what you'd feel cheated if you didn't get. It applies to other genres too, in any medium.

Before writing this introduction, I had the pleasure of sitting and reading the Omaha story to date in one long afternoon. I'd never done that before -- I'd read a comic here and there, as they came out (with occasional interruptions from the British department of Customs and Excise). And one thing became very apparent: in Omaha, the sex, like the conversation, like the people, exists to forward the story.

I began this introduction by listing certain prejudices. But it's still not surprising I like Omaha. (And not just because it could be used as a manual in the craft of creating comics in serial form -- aspiring creators take note.)

Omaha The Cat Dancer is a soap opera, but it's drama, not melodrama; it is a funny animal comic, but the funny animals are real people; and it's neither erotica nor pornography -- simply a story in which the virtual cameras continue to roll while people take their clothes off and make love (just as they do in the world you and I inhabit) -- delineated with an unblinking charm which has the odd effect (for me, at least) of making one wonder where all the sex has gone in the other fictions one reads or hears or sees...

Neil Gaiman.

August 1993


It's suddenly hot and it's humid, and I woke to the Tornado Sirens going off in town, except I think it was a test, as there doesn't appear to be a tornado watch. Last night my bedroom window was drummed on by huge moths, crashing into the glass like lightweight fluffy bullets. I think we can safely assume that summer has come to the midwest...

Hullo Neil,

What are your thoughts regarding Houdini's secrets being revealed at Outagamie Museum in Appleton, Wisconsin? According to this news link (,12271,1231258,00.html) many magicians and stage-hands are upset about it and the museum's Houdini exhibition is causing a stir.

Personally, I like the mystery. As Stephen King wrote, good mystery opens the door a crack and reveals just enough of the dark room beyond to ignite your imagination. Opening the door (or kicking it down in some cases) and turning on the lights kills the mystery.

Mystery is good. Or maybe it's a Scorpio trait. Which doesn't explain anything because I'm not a Scorpio.

Keep wearing black,


I read a version of this which got lots of things wrong from the BBC, and now this rather incendiary version in the Guardian.

The version from National Public Radio has the advantage of being much less excitable and silly. And it has Teller being interviewed as the voice of reason at the end. (Yes, that's what he sounds like.)

Click on the speaker icon to hear the piece.

I'm with Teller on this: it's a storm in a teacup.

Firstly, more people saw the Fox "Masked Magician" special in which Valentino, the Masked Magician (whatever happened to him?) demonstrated how "metamorphosis" is done than will, I would wager, visit the Houdini Museum in Appleton Wisconsin during its most successful century of operation. Secondly, it's not "Houdini's secrets" - it's how Houdini did one illusion, the Metamorphosis. Thirdly, it's not an enforced revelation -- you have the choice of learning how its done or of keeping the mystery. Some people do, some people don't. Fourthly, the best thing about methods being revealed is that most stage illusions aren't done in exactly the same way they were done in 1920... well, listen to Teller's quote.

If you go and see Penn & Teller's current show in Las Vegas, it begins with an illusion called Honour System. It's a box escape, which you can either close your eyes when the trick is happening, or not. The first time I saw it, I closed my eyes, and it was one trick; the second time, like most of the audience, I kept my eyes open, and it was another. Both were unutterably cool.

There's a joy to mysteries, a joy to answers, and then there's a weird second stage, where magicians do things simply to baffle each other, to, say, take a trick that's always done with prop X and do it with a sleight of hand instead, where the object is sometimes to take the fact that someone knows how a trick is done and spin that knowledge. A little knowledge of magic can often leave you more baffled, rather than less.

Hi Neil...

Any Fermata updates?


Nary a one. The script is still with Bob Zemeckis to do a director's pass, and he's been full time on Polar Express for much longer than he expected to be. (He thought originally that he'd be shooting The Fermata while in post-production on Polar Express. Just as Dave McKean expected to be working two days a week on Mirrormask, and instead a good week is where he gets a weekend off. I'm sure that one day making films in computers will free up time for directors: but it doesn't seem to have happened yet.)

congrats on the stoker, studly


Which came in last night. "What an odd message," I thought. "They don't give out the Bram Stoker Awards until... early June. Oh." Then I checked and felt awful -- I'd utterly spaced the awards ceremony, and hadn't written an "if I win, can X pick up the award and say this?" e-mail or anything.

But I was awarded a Stoker for Sandman:Endless Nights by the Horror Writers Association. (Big grin, still tinged with embarrassment for having lost track of it.) And congratulations to Peter Straub for winning best novel for lost boy, lost girl. I read it on a train last year, and my comments on this journal became the book's back-cover blurb, and I cannot be prouder.

You mentioned in your blog recently your daughter Holly's favourite 'songs from her childhood' - Just out of interest, could you list the names of the respective artists of "Barcelona" and "These Foolish Things" ?



The version of "These Foolish Things" is Bryan Ferry's, from his first cover album called "These Foolish Things". "Barcelona" is the song from Sondheim's Company. There.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Your extra bonus post.

The last post didn't go onto RSS feeds, because the front page was too large, so here's an extra post so the thing will republish...

re: the Infantino lawsuit

The more cynical of us out there seem to think the timing of the lawsuit might be related to the fairly-recent death of Julie Schwartz, who, I think was the last of the people from the time period (Broome and Fox being the notable others) still alive and could possibly contradict Infantino's version of the facts. Also, people think it's ironic for him to sue, given his years as DC's publisher

Ironic possibly, but interesting.

I can't see that Julie's death can have much to do with anything. At the end of the day, a legal case like this gets fought on contracts and legal simplicities, not on what dead people promised. My case with Mcfarlane was, once we got it in front of the jury, incredibly straightforward: there were lots of documents, they all said what we said they did, and the law was pretty clear on the nature of copyright and what you sign away working without a contract and what you don't. (Even Todd and his lawyers couldn't claim what I did for them was work for hire, and eventually fell back on some very dodgy statute of limitations defenses instead.)

Anyway, I can't see the point of having much more of an opinion than "this will be interesting" without having read the lawsuit.


Took Maddy to see the new Harry Potter film. Enjoyed it, more or less, but I kept wishing the plot would stop ticking for a moment and let a bit of film happen. And toward the end I found myself wishing they'd thrown out the CGI monsters and gone for puppetry and people in costumes instead. Or at least got Bernie Wrightson to design the werewolf.

And the novel is officially past page 200, although I don't think I'll actually use the scene I wrote today. But I needed to write it in order to know I wouldn't use it, if you see what I mean.

One of those yesterdays...

Yesterday was one of those days, where I didn't get any novel written. I got a daughter off to Italy for the summer, though, with a working notebook computer which had arrived ninety minutes before she was due to leave for the airport, and got some words for the WOLVES opera written (someone wrote to ask me what made it an opera as opposed to a musical, and I think it's the plan to have the whole thing sung. It'll contain the words of the book, and then lots more). (My favourite bit I've written for it so far is The Grand Entrance of the Queen of Melanesia.) I have to try and catch up today.

Every now and again, since September the 11th, something will remind me that I may live here but I'm not an American. Having had some small experience of the new-improved-it's-us-against-them-and-you're-all-them version of the Immigration services I found this story utterly credible:,12271,1231089,00.html and post a link to it here mostly because some people reading this may be journalists coming to America from friendly nations, who need to know that they now (probably) need the appropriate visa or they may face deportation and suchlike.

(I've been very puzzled, my last couple of times flying into the US via Minneapolis, at the questions asked by the immigration officers. "So, did you get into much trouble with the local police in London?" was the one asked last time I came back, as if I was to be caught off-guard and say "Oh, not much trouble, just a night in the cells", and the time before that it was "Remember to let us know if you've got any fruit, or cheese, or marijuana, or anything like that, and we'll get rid of it for you" in the casual off-hand tones of someone hoping I'd say "thanks for reminding me, yes I did forgetfully leave half a pound of Cheshire cheese and a dozen joints in my bag" in return. I'm not sure if these questions are meant to startle me into some kind of admission of guilt, or if the immigration people just ask these things to keep themselves amused.)

Ok Neil, I've looked all over your site and I haven't been able to find an answer for this.
I was re-listening to "Snow, Glass, Apples" tonight (all around wonderful, by the way), and I remembered something that had caught my attention last time I had listened to it.
You refer to the "mound of Venus" as the base of the thumb.
I was always under the impression that one's mound of venus was nowhere near the thumb (well...I guess it really depends where the thumb is, but go with me on this) but was the mound of flesh located on top of a female's pubic bone. I checked my anatomy textbooks, and sure enough, the Mound of Venus (mons veneris/mons pubis) is exactly where I thought it was.
I've looked on line, and I can't find anything about the mound of venus that you speak of.
Am I missing something? Are there two mounds of venus? Or does Snow, Glass, Apples have some new, different meaning that I am just now noticing? This and Dorothy Parker's "The Little Hours" are my favorite short stories, so you can understand how important it is to me that I am able to reconcile what you meant with what I think of...

Yup, there are two mounds of Venus. There's the one on the base of the thumb, and the one that isn't. If you google "mound of venus" and, say, "palmistry" or "thumb", you'll just see lots of links to the thumb kind.


Many years ago I was sent a copy of "Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask" by Jim Munroe for a blurb, and by the time I read it it had already been published. It's an excellent book -- a funny, cool riff on superpowers (well...) and twentysomethingness. Jim's just got the rights to the book back and put it up on the web in downloadable format: you can get it at While you're his site, take a look around. I particularly enjoyed his letters to firms whose brands he had mentioned in his next novel, invoicing them for product placement.

I just noticed my old friend Steve Jones has his own website up. I've known Steve for about 21 years now. He's one of England's most active and knowledgable anthologists. I loved this account of his travails promoting the new edition of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRES. Steve is someone who knows what he's talking about, expects you to too, and will happily say things like "Well, of course you'd think that. That's because you're a moron," in a literary discussion, if he disagrees with you. This is Steve presenting a panel/signing on the book at the Vampire Society:

There then followed the question and answer session... It began fine. Then some guy in the audience asked me that hoary old question about why I don't use more women writers in my anthologies. I am so sick of hearing that. I tried to point out that the book included seven stories by women, which wasn't a bad percentage for a horror anthology, and that I had also edited another book which he might have heard of, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women. He continued to argue. I went on to explain that I don't choose stories based on the race, creed or sexuality of the author but on what I perceive to be the quality of the fiction. He wasn't having any of that either. We argued some more. I lost my temper. Voices were raised.

At which point, a woman from the back of the room marched towards the panel, exclaiming in a loud voice that I was a disgrace, that she had never heard such language (I don't think I was swearing, at least not that much), and that she was leaving! Which she promptly did.

I was momentarily stunned. Something like that had never happened to me before. I made a throwaway comment about the woman's behaviour, and another guy in the audience leapt to his feet and said that I had treated that woman badly and that she was entitled to her opinion. I flippantly replied that I thought we were there to listen to the opinions of the people on the panel. He disagreed. Attempting to get the talk back on track, I called him an idiot and told him to sit down!

That's when I realised I had lost our audience.

Yup. That's our Steve. It's all at
There's an excellent interview with Steve, done by Nancy Kilpatrick, on the site where he talks about his career and his Best New Horror anthologies, along with a very scary photo of me as toastmaster at the World Fantasy Convention in 1993 with Steve and Dennis Etchison.

Hi neil, I was wondering how the production on the Death movied is going. I've been looking all over the internet and all I could find were old articles saying things would probably get started this spring. Is it still gonna happen? Has there been any progress?

Yup. Lots of progress, and it's all pretty interesting. I'll post stuff up here when there's a link to something in Variety or the Hollywood Reporter or something, though. Currently it's being budgeted, if that helps.

Mark Evanier linked to this article in Newsday: Carmine Infantino sues DC over the Flash. Interesting. Obviously Silver Age Flash was what's called a derivative character, which is something that these days DC would probably give you a share of -- not the full share you'd get if you created something completely new. But I wonder why Carmine's suing now -- it may have something to do with (if I'm remembering it correctly) copyright renewal laws on work done before 1978, which allow people who had signed away their rights to reclaim them after a certain period of time. If that's the case, and Carmine Infantino prevails, then we may see a number of other characters slipping their corporate leash to surviving creators who are now co-copyright holders, or, more likely, the characters being sold back to Marvel or DC.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

How to Survive a Collaboration.

Mr. Neil Gaiman sir, I know that you collaborate with other people all the time on stories or art or music, so are there any tips you could give that might help a couple of guys that are trying to turn a non-functioning collaborative writing duo into a funtioning one?

I have no real idea why some messages get pulled out of the enormous inbox and some don't. This one wasn't going to be, and then I thought, well, he sort of has a point. I've collaborated all over the place. And I have learned a few things. So these are in no particular order:

1) Only collaborate if you both are working on the same thing. If you and your collaborator are writing the same book, great. If you want to write something like Prisoner of Zenda, and he wants to write something like Atlas Shrugged you'd better stop now, while you're still on speaking terms. Picking a recent collaboration, Gene Wolfe and I wrote a very short book together a couple of years ago called A WALKING TOUR OF THE SHAMBLES. We were asked to collaborate on something to be published for the World Horror Convention in Chicago, and we chatted about it on the phone. I was deeply intimidated by the idea of writing with Gene, and suggested that we do something that had its own shape, like a dictionary or a tarot deck or a travel guide. And Gene had already written a dictionary and I'd already written most of a tarot deck, so a travel guide it was. And we both knew what sort of thing we were writing -- tone of voice, all that.

2) Collaborations, on the whole aren't written by (in this case)Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe. They're written by (again, in this case) a two-headed entity called GeneandNeil. Part of it is about checking your head and ego at the door, and making the best thing you can. And part of it is about having fun making something you couldn't make on your own.

3) The best thing about a collaboration is having an immediate audience: you get to write for your collaborator, he gets to write for you. It's immediate feedback. Gene and I wrote A Walking Tour of The Shambles in the simplest way possible: I'd write four pages, and post them to Gene. The following week I'd look in the mail, and there would be four pages from Gene, which would be sharper and funnier and darker than what I'd written. So I'd try and write something even sharper and funnier and darker to make Gene smile... It seemed like the book was written in no time at all.

3) In an artistic disagreement, the person who cares the most, wins. Trust me on this. Arguments about aesthetics and art tend not to get into simple easy right and wrong places. Mostly they're about different kinds of right. On the whole, when there's a disagreement, one of you will care more. Go with that -- at least you'll be erring on the side of passion. Ego's not important. Cool art is important.

4) Know your boundaries. Know where you're willing to give, and what you're willing to give in on. My attitude on lyrics, for example, varies a lot depending on the song and the project, from "this is the sort of thing I'm talking about, feel free to take it as a starting point and we'll mess with it" (which is my attitude to the preliminary work I'm doing on Wolves in the Walls lyrics) to "change one word of what I've given you and you can give it back and forget the whole thing" (on something else).

5) On the one hand, you're best off knowing the business deal that the collaboration's based upon going in. On the other hand, most of the collaborations I've done have had the simplest and most sensible financian/business agreements, viz., "we'll split this 50/50 and not worry about who ordered the salad."

Hey Neil.

I'm new here and wasn't quite sure where to post this, so I hope this is okay.

Anyway, I've read that you allow fan fiction of your works, and I was curious as to why? Most authors don't allow fanfic because of concern for losing their rights.

I am a fairly new author (just had my first paid publication and am working on a novel) and am wrestling with this particular issue. I'm looking for any input that can help me decide where to fo with it.



Why? Because fan fiction is fan fiction. I don't believe I'll lose my rights to my characters and books if I allow/fail to prevent/turn a blind eye to people writing say Neverwhere fiction, as long as those people aren't, say, trying to sell books with my characters in. I don't read it (and that way no-one has to wonder whether I stole the plot of something from their fanfic).

I don't think my attitude on this is particularly uncommon among authors -- I noticed the other day that JK Rowling doesn't mind Harry Potter fan fiction. Except for the x-rated kind. (I'm sure there are people out there writing Harry Potter fan fiction that isn't x-rated). On the other hand I consider it an author's right to not want fan fiction and do everything the author can to stamp it out, if that's what he or she wants. It's one of those "your mileage may vary" things.

As a fledgling writer, I really wouldn't spend too much time worrying that people will write fan fiction with your characters in. If they ever do, take it as a sign that you probably did something right and made some characters that people liked and believed in and wanted to write about. Or wanted to imagine in the nude. Or something.

First, my apologies if you've answered this a bajillion times before, but while you've answered questions before regarding publishing and have recommended using the web to get your stuff out there, but I don't remember if you've recently talked more specifically about online publishing.

You see, aside from university or community publications I'm not sure what places to try, so I considered the internet. It seems a logical option in this day and age, but finding a reputable e-zine is tricky. Some "accept" anything, which doesn't mean a thing to me. If I am selected I want to feel I've earned it. Other sites, meanwhile, charge a fee or have some other strings attached, and while I understand that a submission fee keeps some sites from being flooded and pays the judges, editors, etc., I'm also wary of any place that asks for money. Lastly, if the site or journal is too obscure, I may as well go post on some random message board.

What is your opinion and suggestions on such online zines and contests, and do you have any sites you'd recommend? I'm not really interested in prize money, mine you; I'd just like to see how my writings compare and test the waters a bit, so to speak. (Insert more clich�s, HERE.)

Thank you for your time.

- K

Always be wary of sites that ask for money. (Remember: money flows towards the author, not away. Yog's Law.)

Beyond that, I'm a rotten person to ask about this stuff. I'm not a beginning author here and now, I was a beginning author twenty-one years ago, and all the rules were different then. (My own theory about the net is that, if you write good stories, you could just put them up on the web and tell people to go and read them. I don't tend to read much fiction online -- places I do go to read it would include, but I'm sure you can find others yourself. A good test is whether the stuff on the site is readable.)

So my suggestion would be this. Go to the Making Light site. It's run by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, an editor at Tor Books, and one of the most level-headed and sensible people, when it comes to books, I've ever encountered. If it's to do with books or publishing or SF and Teresa says it's so, then it's so. Simple as that. (You may disagree with her on anything else you wish to, as long as you're very certain of your facts. But when it comes to copyediting, publishing, all that stuff... hush, grasshopper and learn.) Read the entries on publishing. Then read the comments attached to the entries. For example, if you want to know about literary agents, here are the different kinds. Here's a recent post about vanity publishing. Read her words, follow her links, and learn.


Things I meant to post earlier but forgot:

Over at the latest Emerald City, Anne Murphy, who was my guest liaison (minder) at Penguicon writes about what she saw of the con and about making sure I was moved from place to place and how I was still standing at the end -- it's a sort of companion piece to the Marsdust interview, which Anne mentions at the end.

Meanwhile over at her website, Malena, the extremely beautiful, silent (when the cameras were on) sort of vampiric assistant in the "Thirteen Nights of Fright" writes about our TV shoot and how much fun it was to get into that coffin. (It really was an incredibly comfortable coffin, and it was really only when they lowered the lid on you that you started to scent the formaldehyde, and you realised that it had definitely had some use as a show-coffin for people who were going on to be cremated, or just buried in cheaper and more uncomfortable coffins, before it started getting rented out to TV shows.)


Right -- this just in, a profile of Will Eisner at the Washington Post. I think it's now time for the world at large to notice Will, and this feels like a sensible place to start. Attention must be paid...

I don't have many heroes. Will Eisner is several of them.


Some small ones: these people are idiots. (via the ever-fascinating Museum of Hoaxes site.)

This one is amusing and fascinating. I wonder if he did send the message to the woman in Bristol, or if some central supercomputer is scanning text messages for significant words.


And I should plug a couple of things that have come out recently. ONE RING ZERO's CD 'As Smart as We Are" is now out. It's a book! It's a CD! It's a creamy dessert topping! Lyrics by such luminaries as Daniel Handler and Dave Eggers, Paul Auster, Rick Moody and Margaret Atwood. And me. It's fun. The "We" in the title are the cockroaches in the Jonathan Lethem song.

I understand my short story "The Problem Of Susan" is out, in the Al Sarrantonio anthology "extreme fantasy" anthology FLIGHTS. I've not seen a copy of the finished book yet -- here's a thumbnail review at Jonathan Strahan's blog, and a longer review at SF Weekly here (I think that last link may be a bit transient).

(And here's a listing for Gothic!, which contains "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nightmare House of the Night of Dread Desire" (I think I got that right), a story that people who've heard it read aloud seem to be waiting for, possibly because they can't quite believe they heard it correctly the first time.)