Friday, August 12, 2005

"any stick to beat a dog with..."

Neil,I don't know if you've heard about the flap at the Denver Public Library, which started over Spanish-language fotonovelas (comic books) and has now seemingly extended to English-language graphic novels and more. One of your works is mentioned.... Is there a convenient way to let the CBLDF know (except that now you know, I assume the CBLDF will, too)? I looked on their site, but I must've overlooked it.

Good lord. So let's get this straight...

An anti-immigration, anti-Spanish language group discovered that there were some possibly racy Spanish language photonovels in the Denver Library. By complaining, they got the books taken off the shelves, although they are quite upfront about the fact they aren't complaining about the content, they just don't want any icky Spanish things in their nice English-speaking library, and the fotonovels are a useful stick to beat that particular dog with. They also discovered inadvertently, or perhaps the newspaper reporters did, that there were graphic novels containing breasts and/or references to matters sexual in the same library. And that it was perfectly possible for children to see these things if they went to the shelves they were on and took them down (much as, I suppose, in my childhood, it was possible for me to wander into the adult library sections and read Portnoy's Complaint or thumb through the library National Geographic and discover a photo spread on a tribe that had not yet discovered the bikini top).

And the newspaper has decided to play along and expose this non-story. (I particularly like the photo showing the five year old and the baby in front of the now-empty shelves in the Spanish section, implying that the five year old has somehow been rescued from being forced to read adult photonovels, and that the Spanish section is where children are found. I liked it almost as much as I like the photo of a rather tame page of Transmet (and beneath that a Sin City) captioned A page from an English-language comic book, "Transmetropolitan," which includes explicit sexual content, which merely serves to demonstrate that this Denver newspaper has a remarkably low "explicit sexual content" threshhold. )

Most libraries are smart enough to keep the graphic novels for kids in the children's sections, while putting the ones that aren't for kids, like Sandman or Transmet, in with Graphic Novels, which is Not In the Children's shelves. This is because most librarians are sane. You have to get a long way down the article before you notice there actually people (oddly enough, librarians) saying sane things...

"We are not circulating them as children's material; we're circulating them as adult materials," said Beckie Brazell, head librarian at the Ford Warren branch in the Whittier neighborhood. "It's the place of the parent to decide what their children read and check out."

I've forwarded the article to Charles at the CBLDF, who wrote back to say he'll get in touch with the ALA and see if they need help or information. (The CBLDF website is and the contact information is at the bottom of the page.)

It's been twenty years, and newspaper headlines still oscillate between "Wham! Bam ! Pow! Comics Have Grown Up!" and "OH MY GAAAD THIS COMIC NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN HAS CONTENT NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN IN IT!" articles. Bizarre.


Jenny Davidson cunningly managed to worm a copy of the ANANSI BOYS proof out of my agent's assistant, and has now written about it (and Blackadder) on her blog.

And another early ANANSI review at (it contains some spoilers).

I've been listening to Lenny Henry's reading of ANANSI BOYS over the last few days, and loving it. His choices are mostly really good and sharp -- I was particularly impressed with his Mr Nancy and his Spider and the unctuous awfulness of his Grahame Coats, and also the minor characters like taxi drivers and police who really come alive. Occasionally I found myself wishing I'd been there when Lenny was taping it, thinking No, he should just be tetchy there, not actually angry, but no more than half a dozen times in the whole book. Mostly I just revelled in the voices and the pace of the thing. It's magic. He's really good.

(And Chef! is coming out on DVD. About time. Lovely stuff -- well, at least, the first two seasons are.)

And I loved receiving it on two MP3 CDs, which I copied onto the computer and shoved onto the iPod. But then, I would, wouldn't I?

(Incidentally -- I was fascinated to learn, when I ordered my new Mini last week, that I had to choose between all the clever Mini-running-your-integrated-iPod bit, and having bluetooth for the phone in the car. I chose bluetooth in the end.) (The new Mini arrives in December, when Holly gets back from studying abroad, and she gets my old one. This will be the worst time of the year to take delivery of a Mini convertible but what the hell.)


I'm now two and a half weeks into trying to get into shape for the signing tour. (I don't want to look buff; I simply want to survive it.) So three times a week a nice man who looks like a golden age superhero shows up at ten a.m., bringing with him an assortment of oddly-shaped things, and then I work out with weights and with giant coloured rubber bands and an enormous red beach ball, stretching and lifting and grumbling. And I spend the days that I don't work out vaguely aching in my muscles from the day before's workout. It seems so far to be working though -- I've got a flatter tummy and my posture seems better.

We're planning some kind of exercise routine that I keep doing on the road, using the multicoloured giant rubber bands. (Yes, I know hotels have gyms. But I normally only get to be in the hotel between the end of the signing -- say 1.00 am -- and the point I crawl out of bed to get on the plane to the next city -- around 7.00 am if I'm lucky and the airport is nearby.) I am, as a rule, crap at exercising on the road. I hope that the multicoloured rubber bands in the luggage will make me feel guilty enough to do something about it.


Hey Neil! Thought you might want to know, as of this morning, the "August 17th" CB's 313 event has been "cancelled" and TicketWeb is refunding tickets that have been purchased for it. As of right now, there hasn't yet been an update with the correct date, but I'd imagine they'll be getting one up soon.Thanks!Nick

Oh good. As soon as there are details (and I think it'll be the 18th of Sept. now) I'll put them up here.

Can you further explain what you meant on "Meanwhile Jaime, Erwin and I are plotting a cool thing for the Philippines, and trying to figure out exactly what sort of shape it'll take." Thanks.Ryan Ambrosio

No. Be patient.

Barnes & Noble #267533 E. 17th Street..? NYC (near union square) wasn't that the place where most of your fans were turned away last time?i remember, it was horrible and you told me that you were pretty pissed. why is the signing
happening there again? -dena

Didn't I answer this one already? Anyway, yes, that was the store in question, and I was really upset. B&N have since apologised, and asked for a chance to get it right, and I agreed to give them the chance. Let's keep our fingers crossed. It should start a little earlier and go much, much later than the last one.

Meanwhile, it looks like around the country some stores are working on ways to subsidise the fact that in order for the event to work, given the numbers, they're having to hold it offsite in rented premises. Some of them may be charging for tickets; others are putting in rules on needing to buy books to get tickets. In these cases, there's nothing I can do -- my preference is for signings that let everyone in for nothing and where you don't have to buy anything (and in my experience, the bookshops are never out of pocket on those), but I can see the bookshops' point of view, and it's their call. Anyway, I'll do my best to give value for money (perhaps by doing a reading that will be 20% funnier than the free readings, and by answering 17% more questions.) (Or by talking a bit longer anyway.)

Anyway, here's the news on the Cody's signing. You can't pick up your tickets until the 20th of September, but you can pre-order them now:


I seem to have accumulated a foot-high stack of CDs people have given me or sent me, and I'm listening to them as I get a chance, mostly while working. My favourite from the last few days is definitely Ist's ( King Martha, which you can hear bits of at Smart lyrics, catchy tunes, and a nice, friendly website into the bargain.