Friday, June 03, 2005

A note from the braindead...

Bit braindead, so this is just to say

a) congratulations to Penn and Emily Jillette on the birth of their daughter, Moxie Crimefighter Jillette. Really this was just an excuse to type "Moxie Crimefighter Jillette". I hope more children get called "Moxie Crimefighter", so Miss Jillette will just be "Moxie Crimefighter #1" and there will be a whole legion of them...

b) Lots and lots of people wrote to ask what I thought of the article in the Times about comics at,,14931-1636789,00.html, and I honestly don't think much of it, or about it. It's not actually a news story, just a silly opinion piece from someone with an opinion without much to back it up (I'm not sure how comics fans manage to be both phallocentric and boob-obsessed, I would have thought it was one or the other, but there you go). The jokes aren't funny. The bit I thought oddest was...

�Women just don�t go into comic-book stores,� explains Trina Robbins, the author of The Great Women Cartoonists, speaking recently to the New York City Comic Book Museum. �A woman gets as far as the door, and after the cardboard life-size cut-out of a babe with giant breasts in a little thong bikini and spike-heel boots, the next thing that hits her is the smell. It smells like unwashed teenage boys, and it has this real porn-store atmosphere.�

...because over the years I've been in comics shops with Trina Robbins. I've chatted to her in Forbidden Planet, for example, and in Comix Experience, and I think in Golden Apple, and there were lots of women around each time, and she never complained about the smell once. She didn't even do that thing people do when they suspect possibly the cat has sprayed, where they sort of try and pretend that they aren't sniffing something unpleasant. So I doubt she intended her description (if she said this) to apply to all comic shops...

(You can read what I think about certain stores in the introduction to the Friends of Lulu "How to Get Girls Into Your Store" book, which you can read for free in PDF over at But the whole point of the Friends of Lulu handbook is that women DO go into comic shops these days. The boys clubs are in the extreme minority.)

There's not much point in arguing with the article, any more than there's much point in arguing with someone who's convinced that the Martians are stealing his toilet paper. But lots of people are enjoying pointing out that the article's sort of dim, including Tom Abba and the Metaquoters.

Hello Neil,

I find myself in a quandary of sorts and wonder if you have any advice or insights you may be able to offer a young-ish, aspiring writer of fiction for the screen. For at least two years now, my working practice has proceeded more or less as follows:

1. Get an idea.
2. Scrutinise the idea with unhealthy intensity for any traces of plagiarism, clich�, deus ex machina, etc.
3. Sit down to write the first draft
4. Write less than a page, delete the whole thing, convince myself the idea is worthless, and abandon it altogether.
5. Repeat.

Something about seeing the ideas in my head committed to paper makes me balk, no matter how I try to force myself to just finish something - anything. Does this sound familiar to you at all, perhaps from your earliest days as an artist? I wonder if it all boils down to something as obvious as the fear of being misunderstood. If so, what can I do to enable myself to Just Get On With It?

Thanks for anything you might be able to throw my way.

- David

Well, you have a couple of options. One of which -- the easiest -- is simply not to worry about writing and use the time to do something else instead: golf, for example, or macrame, or the breeding of prize gerbils. The other option is to write. What you're doing currently is Not Writing. If you do want to write, then what you have to do is Not Do That Stuff You're Talking About in 1-5 above, and write instead.

You might want to try handwriting, or even, if you can find a typewriter anywhere, typing. It's harder to delete stuff if you're making marks on paper as you go. And make a rule that you can't go back and change things or fix things until you've finished whatever you're on. You could try giving yourself a wordcount, too -- a thousand or so words a day is probably good to start off with. Finish it, even if it's crap (especially if it's crap). Then go onto the next.

Ted Hughes once said words to the effect that the progress of any writer is marked by those moments when he manages to outwit his own inner police system. Bear that in mind. And good luck.


Sixteen years ago the photo on the back of Good Omens was taken. Today the photo that'll be on the upcoming new edition of Good Omens was taken. I put on the dark glasses, for old time's sake, and I was in a black tuxedo and Terry was in white one, so people will think that he's the Good One. The pictures weren't in a graveyard, but we got sort of tired of graveyard photos on the Good Omens tour, long long ago, so we didn't mind at all.

And I ran into Miriam Berkley today, who is a wonderful photographer of authors, who told me that on her page, in addition to some marvellous thumbnails of people like Kathy Acker and Susanna Clarke, she has a shot of me she took in 1988. So on the far right on the top row at is me, aged 27, and in profile. She's a marvellous photographer.