Tuesday, February 10, 2009

by way of preamble...

A couple of days ago the front page at CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) website announced that it had interviews and reviews about Tim Burton's Coraline. Which I saw moments before I saw a piece on the Chicago Tribune print edition front page announcing its reviews of Tim Burton's Coraline. And my hackles started rising.

The hackles were, I should point out, not on my behalf, but for Henry Selick, who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas: he worked on the story with the screenwriter, Caroline Thompson (another person whose contribution tends to be forgotten), and the songwriter, Danny Elfman, to turn Tim's character sketches and poem into a film script, then he spent years in a warehouse in San Francisco overseeing people moving dolls around a frame at a time, with Tim off making fine movies; and, then, a couple of weeks before the film came out, the title was changed to Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Which tends to mean that people assume that Tim made the film and if they even notice Henry was involved as director, they assume it was in some strange kind of junior role. (Nope, he was the director. He grew Tim's poem and character sketches into a movie. Tim produced it.)  

It was irritating when people started asking me why the advertising said "From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas", and wasn't it some kind of a sneaky attempt to make people think that it was by Tim Burton?, and I would sigh, and say no, it was a sneaky attempt to make people think it was directed by the person who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas. (And given that people were saying this about trailers that made a point of saying Henry's name, I had little patience with it.)

So I was already not impressed with the CBC website or the Chicago Tribune, and then someone sent me a link to an online newspaper in which the reviewer's first paragraph explained Tim Burton's career and then went on to explain, in an extremely dim sort of way, why Coraline was a Tim Burton film, and I twittered about it. And then watched the delighted twitterverse pile onto the poor gentleman in the comments page with surprise, realising that this power must only be used for good. 

(There are a lot more people reading this blog than are following me on Twitter at But still, deploying 22,000 people at once is an amazing thing.) (Not as good as Stephen Fry, of course. For he is the awesome god-emperor of Twitter. Also he sent me a direct message to say how much he liked Coraline.)

Some people thought I was grumpy about me not getting credit for Coraline. I'm not grumpy -- and believe me, I am getting more credit than authors of original books ever usually get. I was grumpy on Henry's behalf.

Which is mostly a preamble to give context to Randy Milholland's lovely cartoon at

Lots of emails saying things like

Hi Neil,

Just wanted to know if you'd seen this:

Does it still freak you out to be such a public... object sometimes? I imagine it must be like those Serious Shakespearean Actors in Holywood with Star Wars, Star Trek or X-Men action figures made out of their image... Or is it just flattering?! :)


If Bill Hader ever does his impression of me on SNL, as opposed to doing it at NY Comic Con, I will worry about having become a public object. Something like Randy's cartoon, or getting a namecheck in Dog Eat Doug is more like being waved at by those in our clan.

Dear Neil,

My name is Gabriel Miranda.I love your work, and am really excited for Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? which I'll be picking up Wednesday.I saw Coraline opening day and loved it, even though there were slight differences with the film and your novel.I'm 18 and an aspiring writer myself.You are one of my biggest influences and I hope one day I can achieve your level of success.I was wondering if you could send me a prop from Coraline.I know that probably sounds really bad, but I would just like to have a piece of that film for the rest of my life.If you could send me something or have Laika send me something it would be greatly appreciated and I would be very humbled.Thank you for your time Neil and I wish you the best of luck.Please get back to me soon.

Best wishes,
Gabriel Miranda

I'm sorry guys. I can't get you props from the film, or Coraline boxes, or, well, anything. I only have a Coraline puppet, and she is mine. Right now there's an eBay auction going on to benefit the Starlight Foundation -- you can see everything up at and go to the auction at EBay's Starlight Foundation store.

I just came across this amazing video of Amanda Palmer covering Radiohead's 'Creep' in the back of a London cab. With a broken ankle. And thought you and your fans might enjoy it.

That's delightful, and when I get some time I will waste some of it on the rest of the Black Cab videos they have up. Which reminded me of

Dear Neil,

My friends and I want to come up to Dublin for either the screening of 'Coraline' or your book signing next week. Can you please help make our decision easier?! Will you be doing a signing after the film screening?


Rebecca and Co.

No signing after the Dublin Film Festival CORALINE screening, although I will be doing a Q&A. As much signing as possible at the Chapters signing-and-singing on the 17th. (I will be signing. Not singing.)


I'm enjoying twitter, probably too much, but it doesn't do nuance very well. I wanted to let people know that they have another 2 weeks to watch Coraline in 3D before the Jonas Bros 3D movie comes out and takes over the screens (you do know that? If you want to see it in 3D or see again, you need to do it fast), and people thought I was plugging the Jonas Bros. I tried to let people know that copies of Batman 686 may go fast, and they should get stores to set it aside if they wanted it, and people thought I was pushing it (no, just trying to make sure I didn't get people asking why I didn't let them know it was coming out and might sell fast). (It's out today.[Edit to add, I mean tomorrow. I thought today was Wednesday.] It may go fast. You have been warned.)

And a final note --
Just a tip for readers: Searching "Coraline" and your zip code on Google only gives theaters showing the 2D version. You have to specifically search for "Coraline 3D" and the zip code to find it. I went many miles away to see what I thought was the only version available to me in my city before I figured this out. I hope to see it in 3D tonight.

And sure enough, he's right.

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