Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Photographic evidence

Several people have written in accusing me of making things up. Books and stories and so on are fine, it seems, but mice who hide spaghetti in Mini engines was obviously going too far.

Luckily, while I removed the greater part of the spaghetti yesterday, I did not remove all of it, so I was able to nip out with my little Nokia phone and snap a picture of the remains of the engine spag:

...and the immediate subsequent arrival of Fred The Unlucky Black cat in the engine, because, I suspect, it all smelled rather mousy in there, was also then documented, for a sense of scale and so that this blog can finally, after four and a half years, be a proper one with a photo of a cat on it. Spaghetti remains can be seen just beneath him...

For those who have any doubt, I'm afraid this journal is still non-fictional. (And my guess is the spaghetti came from the compost heap, just behind the garage.)

Ok, in this thead on the Rue Morgue discussion forum - - on emotional response to comics, the following claim was made.

"So, a friend of mine( an EXTREMELY reputable source and my best friend) met with Neil Gaiman once and got to discussing his relationship with Clive Barker.

"Neil was quoted as saying that his "friend Clive" never considered comic books a relevant artform, because they couldn't make you cry.

"Take this as you will, obviously I'm not looking for attacks on him."

This struck me as rather dubious and out of character. Can you please confirm or deny this? Thank you very much.

Well, it's more or less true, except for the fact that Clive's being misquoted and the context is omitted, and context is, of course, everything.

I'm pretty sure that's actually someone talking about me discussing an interview I did with Clive from November 1988, at World Fantasy Con in London (and the bar conversation afterwards) for Steve Jones's excellent book on Clive Barker Shadows In Eden, where we were talking about the strengths and limitations of comics, because Clive, who loves comics and knows his comics well, had already had a number of comics adapted from his work, so we were talking about the various Books of Blood adaptations, and the way Bernie Wrightson drew werewolf legs, and why Clive wanted to be the Human Torch when he was younger. And one thing that Clive said -- and I think it's in the book -- was that he felt that, for all their strengths, comics didn't connect in the same way that books and movies did, because he would cry in some books and movies, but had never cried even while reading comics he adored. But obviously Clive felt and thought, even seventeen years ago when the view was that of a minority, that comics were a "relevant art form" or we wouldn't have been doing the interview in the first place.

At the time I was just starting out as a comics writer -- the first issues of Sandman and Black Orchid were a month away from being published -- but it definitely left me wondering whether or not I could write a comic that might be able to get people to cry, to make that emotional connection -- which is yet another debt that I owe the inestimable Mr Barker (actually the best thing I learned in that conversation was when he pointed out that if you're in an argument with lots of people and you want to make them listen, it's much better to get quieter than to get louder. And it's very true).

I don't remember seeing you mention the International Edible Book Festival ( in your blog, but it seems like the sort of thing you would like. Cheers!

And by jove, it is.

Here's some information about the Chicago ANANSI BOYS event:

Dear Neil,

As a Napervillain, I visited my local Anderson's Booksellers to find out about your visit. This is what I was told:
1) Tickets are required only if one wishes to get something
1a) Tickets will be handed out at the door on a
first-come-first-served basis.
1b) Priority tickets will be given to those who
purchase Anansi Boys from Anderson's. Pre-
orders being taken now.
2) if one just wishes to be at the reading and not get
anything signed you won't need a ticket.

Apparently I was the first person who asked (2 mos. away, go figure) and there was a modicum of calling on phones and whispered discussions before they were able to answer me so let's hope the above is correct. I did pre-order my book but they wouldn't take money until the books physically came in. So much for being No. 1.

- mike lee

Napervillian, surely? And finally, this came in,

Hi Neil,
I saw you at Continuum 3, and you mentioned a book on crime in the Gods and Monsters panel that said that the common conception is, "35 years ago, the streets were safe, 60 years ago was the golden age". I was interested in the book and wondered whether you knew the title and/or author's name so I could hunt it down.

and, with no memory of the book's title other than if it didn't have the word Hooligan in it ought to have done, but with a good memory of the book jacket and where the book ought to be, and a perfect memory of the blurb, I just went downstairs and spent a good half hour failing to find it. Having said that, I did find all the books I've failed to find the last few times I've gone looking for books and failed, like the bird books for the official bird lady of, and a bunch of archy and mehitabel related stuff I need to send to H. Campbell in Australia, which I discovered sitting bizarrely and coincidentally next to a mis-shelved copy of her ancestor E. Campbell's Alec: The King Canute Crowd.

So either someone will write to me and let me know what book I was talking about, or more likely I'll bump into the book in question the next time I go looking for something totally different. And then I'll be unable to remember who it was wanted it or why....