Monday, February 06, 2006

deadline doom

Writing away on about three different deadlines right now, so the blogging is probably going to suffer for a week or so. (Traditionally I either follow a post like that by disappearing completely or by posting twice as much.)

Hello, Neil. Thought you'd like to know that has posted the winners of our annual Puddly Awards ( -- and "Anansi Boys" came in second (after "The Kite Runner").
What's more, "American Gods" and "Good Omens" both made the list, making you the only author with three simultaneous titles. (The only *other* author with more than one title is Terry Pratchett, for "Thud!" and, of course, "Good Omens.") In addition, both "American Gods" and "Anansi Boys" were in the top fifty employee votes. I've suggested adding an "Author of the Year" Award, but the Powers That Be haven't made a final decision yet. At any rate, congratulations!

And one for, at the least, librarians...

Hi Neil,I was at ALA's YALSA website, and I discovered something great! YALSA is adding a new booklist, called "Great Graphic Novels for Teens." YALSA is currently accepting nominations for the first list, which will be released during the ALA Midwinter 2007 conference. You can see the titles that have been nominated at It looks like only librarians can submit nominations, but I thought you and your readers would still be interested. :-)~Amanda in Charleston, SC

Hi Neil,
You may or may not have heard about the controversial issue on the publication of a comic by Danish newspapers portraying the prophet Muhammad. Now i know you dont usually talk about any political or religous issues on your site for obvious reasons, and my question doesnt aim at getting an opinion. What i wanted to ask is what do you think about this issue in a more general sense, as in a comic sparking riots and protests. How do you, as a leading figure in the comic business, feel about the power of comics, now that you've heard or seen what they can do at a global level. And do you think more people will start taking comics, in general, more seriously after these events, or am I just being too optimistic. All the while i'm not trying to undermind the issues that have taken place. I live in Lebanon, and was in a close proximity of the riot as it was happening.

Okay, for those who haven't been watching the news (or for those reading this blog long after these events have been forgotten), a Danish paper, on discovering that depicting the prophet Mohammed in pictoral form was considered blasphemous by Moslems, decided to challenge that idea and commission local cartoonists to draw cartoons with Mohammed in them. The cartoons, at least the ones I've seen reproduced, were fairly sophomoric. Then a Danish Islamic group, considering this blasphemous (see above), took the pictures, along with some more that they apparently made up, through the Middle East, in order to get people upset. (Here's an article --,,1698394,00.html)

It was demanded that the Danish government apologise -- which, as I understand, after initially declining to, they eventually did, while making it clear that they didn't own or control the newspaper in question.

Around this point, several newspapers in Europe decided to demonstrate their right to Freedom of Speech by reprinting the cartoons. Different European countries seem to have had various attitudes to the cartoons -- some of them viewing it as a freedom of speech issue (which it is) and others regarding it as a being sensitive to the feelings of others and not getting bombed and torched by a dangerous minority issue (which it also is).

What do I think? I think a bunch of things, many of them contradictory and some of them fuzzy (which is the main reason I don't do much on politics in this blog). I think the main thing I think is that doing something purely calculated to offend people, a small minority of whom have shown no compunction previously about killing and harming people who've done similar things, is something that you had only better do if you are prepared for all of the consequences. That doesn't have anything to do with freedom of speech, that has to do with cause and effect, in a post-Satanic Verses world.

(In Beirut, the leader of Hizbullah said the row would never had occurred if a 17-year-old death edict against British writer Salman Rushdie been carried out.
"Had a Muslim carried out Imam Khomeini's fatwa against the apostate Salman Rushdie, then they would not have dared discredit the prophet, not in Denmark, Norway or France," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told Reuters last night.)

I don't really think this is about the power of comics, other than the power that images have to transcend language. (It's worth noting that the three of the images that upset people the most were apparently created by the people who were showing them.)

Do I support the ability of a free press to print whatever it likes? Hell, yes. Do I think it was wise, sensible, or even sane to print or to reprint those particular cartoons? Not particularly, no.

Do I think reacting to the cartoons by burning down embassies, killing people, or, in the case of the UK, threatening more suicide bombers, is an even vaguely sane reaction? Of course not.

(Most of the placards appeared on Friday, running through permutations on several themes. They read: "Butcher those who mock Islam", "Slay those who insult Islam", "Behead those who insult Islam", and "Kill those who insult Islam". Some evoked previous al-Qaida suicide bombings: "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 is on the way", or "7/7 is on its way", "Europe you will pay, fantastic 4 are on their way", and "Europe you will pay, Bin Laden is on his way". As well as the rhyming "Europe you'll come crawling, when the Mujahideen come roaring", there were splenetic varieties: "Freedom go to hell", "Liberalism go to hell", and "Freedom of expression go to hell".)

(The Fantastic Four are on their way?)

I keep wondering what would happen if, hypothetically, Dave Sim decided to turn the life of Muhammed that he wrote in the back of Cerebus (in Islam My Islam -- into a comic, and he drew it with pictorial representation of Muhammed in it, and around the world Death Threats Were Issued, and Canadian embassies were torched...

Probably best not to think about it. Be a good comic, though.


You probably already know this, but MirrorMask will be showing in Ireland on Saturday the 18th Feb as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film

I didn't, but I do now.


Hi Neil,I think the new format's spiffy, though if it were my blog, the sight of me smiling up at me from the margins of every post would be a bit disconcerting.Since you've posted about Peter S. Beagle before, could you *please* include this public service announcement in your next entry?**TO PETER S. BEAGLE FANS IN THE CHICAGO AREA**Mr. Beagle has offered some time out of his packed schedule this coming week to meet with some fans for dinner in a Chicago suburb on *Saturday the 11th*, with the possibility of a reading afterwards. If you're interested in being in that group - and can commit to attending! - please e-mail me at ASAP.Thanks a lot!Mae

You're welcome.

Hi Neil!Seeing as a certain Mr Mckean has no site of his own and seems to be more difficult to track down than yourself, I hoped you would see fit to put me out of my misery.Being one of the few who still live in England, my hopes of ever seeing Mirrormask seem to be rapidly depleting... is it EVER going to emerge over here, either on DVD or through theaters? Also is there any word on Mr Mckean finally releasing his short films???I need answers dammit! I was made to sit through pearl harbour, don't you think I've been through enough?... the world owes me at least 2 hours.P.s. congratulations on a wonderful library of brilliant work! I'm a huge fan.Kindest regards Dave.

I spoke to Dave McKean yesterday, and he's working on completing his short film DVD currently. He's finishing a number of old films -- he just completed THWACK!, a Mr Punch-inspired film he shot in about 1997 -- and thinks it will be done soon.

MirrorMask should be released in the UK within the next six weeks, I believe.

Hi Neil,I was wondering, have you ever considered doing an audio blog or a podcast for your site? Thanks,~Anna/llama

I've never wanted to do an audio blog, but am toying with the idea of doing a podcast of old readings -- it might be fun if I can find recordings of reasonably decent quality. I know I don't have any, but there are people who do.

Until I do...

RE: Your Attack of the Show appearance. For those readers who missed your interview on Attack of the Show, the video of the segment is hosted right here:

And finally,

Why aren't there ever any pictures of you in glasses?

I think there are lots of them around, aren't there? I'll try and find a recent bespectacled photo...

(This one was taken by Kelli Bickman recently when she came out this way to paint a mural.)