Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Gubbins and such

Spent the day mostly in bed reading C. S. Lewis's lovely "English Literature in the 16th Century", which is an excellent book to read if you're sick, and looking at the new Library of America H.P. Lovecraft collection -- I was fascinated by how much more disturbing and subtle the stories are in the original Lovecraft texts, shorn of the August Derleth exclamations and tendency to suddenly go into italics for the final half a sentence...!


There. Wrote that last night, then, rather to my surprise, fell asleep before finishing the post. Trying very hard to get over this fluey whatever-it-is before I have to leave for Sundance.

Very aware that there are too many open windows with things I meant to post, too many interesting/useful/heartfelt FAQ messages I meant to put up and answer. I'll try and get a start on them anyway.

I promised a friend I'd point people to this World Wildlife Fund site -- they're trying to preserve the Endangered Species Act, which is, I think, a sensible thing to do.

Enjoyed Chris Priest's Guardian review of a book on Rats (not an Endangered Species) filled with lines like "If you are in New York while you are reading this sentence," Sullivan says, "or even in any other major city... then you are in proximity to two or more rats having sex." In a major city, I suspect the same may be true of people, of course.

Interesting interviews with Los Bros Hernandez at the Onion: (It's weird for me to think that it's a decade since I interviewed them for The Comics Journal in a Hollywood hotel, an interview that began with me and Los Bros having lunch and watching the rather public final death-throes of the Paula Yates-Bob Geldof marriage.)

Interview with Terry Gilliam over at The Independent.

Lots of people writing in to ask about "lurghi/lurgi/lurgie", all of them convinced that it's a word that's only used in their family. I knew it was a word the Goons used, and it looks like it originated with them as well: for information.

Somehow I thought the US Government would be able to tell the difference between real academic qualifications, and the kind you buy from online places that send you Spam. It appears I was utterly wrong:

Agencies tasked with defending America from terrorism were among the top employers of workers with phony diplomas identified by the GAO. The Department of Defense employs 257 of them. Transportation has 17. Justice has 13; Homeland Security, 12; Treasury, eight.
The GAO also found that two diploma mills alone have received a total of nearly $170,000 in payments from a dozen federal agencies for tuition for 64 employees. [...] as a serial fake-diploma shopper, Callahan is one of the worst offenders among the senior officials identified from the eight federal agencies the GAO surveyed. At least 28 senior-level employees had degrees from diploma mills, the GAO found, while cautioning that �this number is believed to be an understatement.�

And I was saddened to discover the reason why British comics are in so parlous a state, at -- Britain's graphic narrative culture is now dwarfed by the US: they have no Crumb or Spiegelman, say, nor a Ware or a Clowes. I don't know of anything like a Fantagraphics there. (Weirdly enough, I thought that the UK was doing disproportionately well, until I read that entry, given that the US has no Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons, no Grant Morrison or Hunt Emerson, no Brian Bolland, no Dave McKean and no Leo Baxendale, no Bryan Talbot.... Given that Crumb lives in France these days, I daresay you could even stick me in on the UK list.) (And it's a really interesting blog, except for that nugget of dimness.)

Neil,I remember a while back you mentioned something about the some CBLDF perfume (proceeds go to CBLDF, not comic book flavoured perfume - though that would be cool). You said to let you know how it was if anyone bought it and well, I did. It is called Oisin and smells quite nice. Very light and clean. I quite enjoy it! Thanks for letting me know about it. I'm always glad to smell nice for a good cause.-Courtney in Arkansas

You're very welcome. There is something haunting about the smell of old comics, although I'm not sure that that smell of paper-and-time would be quite so appealing on a person.

Well you do certainly seem busy so I don't really know if you'll get the chance to reply. Unlike all good obsessive fans I will not claim to be your number one fan. I'm sure too many people will make announce and crown themselves "NUMBER ONE". Instead I would like to claim to be your "NUMBER TWO" fan. My question is simply this: I am having a hard time find your book called "Angels and Visitation" If you have any idea where I could find a copy either through mail or ordering online please let me know. As always I will be the next person in line to review your material.Signed your number TWO fan,aaron.

Angels and Visitations is currently back in print, because I wasn't comfortable with the eBay -book dealer prices being charged for the book. You can get it from DreamHaven, who are the publisher -- with the isbn number you may well be able to order it elsewhere, but I know that DreamHaven definitely have it. (Here's the search result -- they have sixth printings, a few first printings, and a very few of the signed-by-me-and-all-the-artists-limited-gold-edged-paper-in-the-slipcase edition left.)

And finally...

I'm sure it has already been brought to your attention, but a lovely webcast (if that is the right word for these things) of you reading excerpts from your novel at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress website. As of today, it is the featured webcast. At anyrate, it was a very enjoyable watch for someone who was not present at the live event and made the interminable wait for a ride home more enjoyable. Website available at

It has, by several people, and I meant to post it before. (It's me, at the National Book Festival, reading some early chunks of Anansi Boys.) And there's Peter Straub and Neal Stephenson and a host of other excellent writers up there too... (and if they vanish from the front page, you can find them at (And as a note, it's strange to see me with a beard. It went after Fiddler's Green, and I've dropped about a stone in weight since then, through the patented Neil Gaiman "Don't Snack So Damn Much And Would It Kill You To Go For A Walk Occasionally?" Diet, which means there are all sorts of things I can now wear that I haven't worn for, oh, about five years...)