Friday, February 03, 2006

stuff. you know, things.

The mail's coming in on the new look website -- it seems to be divided about 70-30 on the love it-hate it scales.

The decision to not have our nice old cluttered look was mine, because I was the one who got tired of people asking on a daily basis how to find the search function or the FAQs or something else that was sort of obvious if you were able to find your way through the clutter, and eventually decided I wanted something that would at least cut out that section of my mailbox.

I was relieved that the people who liked it, like it. Then again, the 30% who don't like it, REALLY don't like it....

Dear Neil,

After looking over the redesigned website, I am left wondering if you are going through some sort of midlife crisis of banality.

The new site reflects none of your creativity and charm. The bland design could just as easily be one for an accounting firm.

While this site does seem better organized, I miss the old one. The color, the whimsy, with you behind the desk so it felt like we were just dropping by to look over your shoulder while you were busy writing.

Oh well, all things change.

I'm sure we'll noodle with it a lot more in the months to come -- my main request of the designers was to make it easy on people and make things easier to find. I didn't design it, just as I didn't design the last one. I don't know if we have to keep that photo on every page, or if, like the old one, we can change the design depending on where on the site you are, as frankly, after a couple of days, I'm getting very tired of that photo staring up at me, and would love to vary things a bit.

But not everything looks the same -- for example, there's which is, admittedly a PDF file, and was designed by Jouni Koponen.


After reading all your journal entries lately about the Beowulf and Stardust movies you're working on, something is puzzling me. I admit I know nothing about the politics of movies, so please pardon my ignorance. But I don't understand how Mirrormask got so little attention, with it's small budget, no advertising, and one theater in each of the states that had it, despite the huge amount of work that went into it. Yet with Beowulf you're throwing out names like Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, who I imagine can't be too easy or cheap to get ahold of. And with all your Stardust auditions, you sound like you have some real power in the movie industry. So what happened with Mirrormask that it didn't even make it outside your fanbase? I find it hard to believe that a movie with both Jolie and Hopkins will go unadvertised and unknown, so something must have changed?

It's apples and oranges. MirrorMask was a VERY low-budget film (we made it for 2 million UK pounds) that the small division of Sony that funded it never planned to release widely cinematically. It has no star actors, and we knew that we were making it for an audience of people who would have to discover it... (The joy of making a film at that level of budget is that you're not making a film that everyone's meant to like.) If it hadn't been accepted for Sundance and raved about in the early reviews, the cinematic release it got would probably have been even smaller. Sony did some prints of it, but dozens, not thousands. It had an ad and promotion budget, but not a very big one. It's meant to make its money back for Sony on DVD sales, and I'm sure it will. (Lisa Henson told me that Sony are a bit puzzled that it's already one of the most bootlegged and downloaded films they have. I pointed out that, in all probability, a lot of the people downloading it are going to want to own a crisp, watchable version, and to enjoy all the extras...)

(Which reminds me -- here are some reviews of the MirrorMask DVD, which also list the various extras:

Beowulf and Stardust are what they used to call "Major Motion Pictures", with Hollywood A-list talents, budgeted at twenty to thirty times what Mirrormask had. That doesn't have anything to do with my influence in Hollywood (which is miniscule) and has everything to do with them being big, commercial films with big budgets. They will be in a cinema near you; you will open your paper or turn on the TV and see adverts for them. Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie and co. aren't in Beowulf because of me (except insofar as they liked the script), they're in it for Robert Zemeckis and because it's something new. On Stardust I'm certainly helping Matthew Vaughn wherever I can, but it's his film and he's directing it. (I didn't write the script.)

when you were writing your sandman series, how did you choose the artists? Did they have to be personal friends or well know?

Very few of them were friends when I began (except for Dave McKean and, much later, Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham) although many of them became friends as we worked. Some of them were known as artists already. A few of them -- Chris Bachalo for example -- were beginning artists who had sent their portfolios to DC. Mostly my editors and I just kept our eyes open.


The poem I read at Temple is up at, along with another on nudity that was actually inspired by the event I commented on and ideas I had on this blog at

Anthony Hopkins' imaginary nudity has now made it into the UK tabloid press --,,2004580002-2006050022,00.html, where it keeps company with an even sillier story about Angelina Jolie's tattoos.

Meanwhile, THE TOURNAMENT OF BOOKS has started. Details at Which book shall it be? Whose literature shall reign supreme?

I would have mentioned that I've become the Patron of the Open Rights Group, but it happened when everything was down. But look, I have:
("I have no idea what a patron does, but I plan to do it all over the place for years to come," I said, in my email to Suw, but she sensibly removed my attempts at humour from the press release. Very wise.)

Now I must go. A small girl needs to watch CARNIVAL OF MONSTERS, and you know how it is...