Thursday, July 12, 2012

on Stardust and Chu and 5 books, three of which are already written

Had a magical handful of days at home, the high point of which was having Paul Cornell and his wife Caroline out to be introduced to the beehives. (Caroline got stung, standing near one of the hives, from a wandering bee who was caught in her hair, but nothing else odd happened.) 

It's berry time, and I've picked blueberries and whitecurrants by the handful, and every night I'd count fireflies as I walked the dogs.

Now I'm in San Francisco for Amanda's art opening. I'm writing this in the hotel cafe, and then I will go back to the script I'm writing. More news of which may be floating around later tonight.

I just signed a book deal with Harper Collins Childrens books, for five books. (I am telling you this here because it is being reported as news.)

One book I've mentioned here already a few times is Chu's Day, illustrated by Adam Rex, is a book for very small children. Here's a picture from it. (Click on it to see it larger. There is a snail in the picture. Can you spot him?) Chu is over on the right and he has his back to us (you can't see him in the version on my blog - click and you will). It'll be published on January the 8th 2013. And there will be another Chu book (already written), and Fortunately, the Milk (already written), and the next Odd novel (started and plotted) and a mysterious book that I think I know what it is (not even started, won't be for quite a while, and I think I know the setting but not the story)...

None of these books is the novel that has the working title of Lettie Hempstock's Ocean, which should be out in 2013 some time, although contracts aren't signed. That's a novel for adults and is lurching further toward the end of its second draft every day. (mostly I'm just listening to comments from friends who have read it, and fixing things, or thinking about them and letting them stay the same...)

(I came up with a brilliant new title for it today. I told Amanda the brilliant new title. She agreed it was brilliant. It bounced off the tongue. I started a delighted letter to my agent and my editors...I wrote the new title in the email. Then I looked at it. I shook my head. I called Amanda over. She read the email. "It doesn't look very good, written down, does it?" she said. That was what I'd been afraid of. It really didn't. I will keep pondering.)


Does the new edition of Stardust include the original illustrations by Charles Vess? I know Neil mentioned that a full color front piece by Vess will be used. And that chapter headings, presumably in black and white will also be included.

I find it odd that nowhere on the web can I find this information. Also, it has not been 13 years since Stardust has seen a hardcover edition. I have in my hands an edition published by Vertigo in 2007. It measures nearly 8 X 12, and includes the Vess illustrations, these illustrations are considered so integral to the text that Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess are listed as co-authors on the cover.

I believe this needs to be addressed as it appears that Neil considers his text-block with a few illustrations to be the official version of Stardust. And the version with the original Vess illustrations to be a hybrid, unofficial variant of Stardust. In other words, Neil claims sole authorship of the official version of Stardust.


Lawrence Carlin

The illustrations that Charles Vess did for the original DC Comics version of Stardust are so integral to the text that that version of the book isn't actually even called Stardust. It's called Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust, because when we asked DC if they could try and make sure they mentioned our names when they talked about it they said they were worried they might forget, so we put our names in the title instead. That edition has almost 200 full colour illustrations by Charles, and some slight textual differences (sometimes where text had to be trimmed to fit, sometimes where Charles had drawn something slightly different to what I'd written, and I'd then change the words to fit).

I don't consider any version to be the "official version of Stardust". I'm not even sure what an official version would be. 

And yes, the DC Comics version had a brief second hardcover edition in 2007.

Contractually, the prose-only edition of Stardust has had to be unillustrated until now, and I'm delighted that DC Comics gave their permission to have Charles do the two illustrations and the chapter heading for the new edition. I couldn't imagine even asking any other artist to do it.

Charles was saying on Facebook that he now has a bunch more pictures, done over the years since our Stardust was first published that he'd love to see published: perhaps we can persuade DC Comics to do a new, Deluxe Edition of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust. I'd love that.

The above is a (click to embiggen) beautiful fairy market painting Charles did for the endpapers of the 2007 edition, because the proportions of the oversized hardback meant that details and characters were lost from the double page spread of the fairy market inside the book...

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