Neil Gaiman's Journal
March 9, 2001 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Neil Gaiman's Journal - powered by Blogger no less. Most well known for his Sandman series, and as screenwriter for the english release of Princess Mononoke, Gaiman is now finishing a novel titled American Gods. It's an interesting, candid look into his daily life. Now I feel the urge to re-read some of those old Sandman books I have tucked away in my closet. via [cold][wet][durham]
posted by kokogiak (42 comments total)
One of my favorite stories about the early internet was a cool "AHA!" moment I had with Neil Gaiman in early 1994. I was using Compuserve then I think (briefly), and remember finding a link to Gaiman's email address. I just had to give in to the fanboy urge, and sent him an email of thanks and praise, fully expecting no reply. To my amazement (and joy), he happened to have been online at that moment (in London), and sent me mail within 10 minutes thanking me. We shot back a few short pleasantries, and that was that. But I remember being so stoked (apologies to Derek) about the whole thing. How that sort of thing could never have happened before, and how cool it felt in general.
posted by kokogiak at 3:09 PM on March 9, 2001

a writer as a blogger?

posted by will at 3:34 PM on March 9, 2001

Hey what about our own Lileks?
posted by rodii at 3:54 PM on March 9, 2001

While it is one of my favorite movies, and I'm sure he did work hard on the translation, does he really deserve a nebula award for the script of Princess Mononoke? Thankfully, he asks the same question.

What are his books about? I haven't run across them. From his site, I gathered that the Sandmas series is a collection of short stories. I'll be needing something to fill up all my spare time once tax season is over, and a new author is as good a way as any.
posted by OneBallJay at 4:09 PM on March 9, 2001

Sandman is a comic book (or graphic novel if you prefer), but one of the most well-written and involving storylines I've encountered in years. It's hard to synopsize, but involves a dysfunctinal family of godlike beings (Dream, Death, Despair, Delirium, many others), and their interactions with each other and us lesser humans. It's really fun reading, IMHO.
posted by kokogiak at 4:14 PM on March 9, 2001

"Sandman" is actually a comic book series. 75 issues, all collected in trade paperback format.
His previous novels were "Neverwhere" and "Stardust."

It's all wonderful stuff, although "Sandman" can be a bit intimidating by it's sheer volume.
More on Gaiman here.
posted by hanqduong at 4:17 PM on March 9, 2001

NeverWhere also has appeared as a BBC series. Neil got to write the scripts so I am curious how it turned out.

I've read that and 'Stardust'. He seems comfortable in any medium.
posted by john at 4:37 PM on March 9, 2001

he also wrote a book with terry pratchett called good omens. it's in the same vein as hitchikers guide to the galaxy, and abso-freakin-lutely hilarious.
posted by sugarfish at 4:53 PM on March 9, 2001

Although I love Gaiman's work dearly-- Sandman is a minor miracle in its breadth and depth, and many of his short stories are perfect gems-- I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be disappointed by NeverWhere. The book is rather thin, and I was sort of hoping that the TV version would have some nice visuals to compensate for the weak storyline. Alas, the production values are in the basement, the actors are hammy, and the series isn't well-lensed; some scenes so poorly lit and blocked it's hard to even follow what's going on. IMO it's eminently skippable, except for the die-hardest of Gaiman fans.

(And here's hoping Gaiman is one wired author who doesn't read online reviews.) :-/
posted by wiremommy at 5:41 PM on March 9, 2001

Wiremommy: I'm glad I'm not alone in my opinion of Neverwhere. Though I'm a fan of his comics, that was his first book I'd read, and it stopped me dead from buying any more. Is it an anomaly?

PS--if he checks his stats at all, I'm betting he's already in here perusing.
posted by frykitty at 6:04 PM on March 9, 2001

Frykitty, Good Omens is an extremely funny book that I would heartily recommend. I haven't read Stardust. (And I really hope he doesn't check his stats at all. I admire the guy a lot, and would hate to even think of him reading this and seeing my smidgen of criticism.)
posted by wiremommy at 6:25 PM on March 9, 2001

I'm a big Good Omens fan, but I think that Gaiman's best (and most representative of him at his best) work for people unfamiliar with him is his graphic novel Signal to Noise.

posted by snarkout at 6:35 PM on March 9, 2001

Snark: Signal to Noise was stunning. It is in the graphic novel where he seems to shine most brightly.

As far as online reviews, I'm afraid I've been toast for a while on this one.
posted by frykitty at 8:04 PM on March 9, 2001

I'm a big fan of Gaiman in general, and the 'Sandman' series especially, but I've been getting into other Brit comix authors recently - Warren Ellis and Alan Moore, especially.. Has anybody been reading "Transmetropolitan"? Good stuff; funnier and meaner than almost anything else going in comics. For a comic most easily described as "Hunter S. Thompson in the 23rd Century", it's more thoughtful and and has more heart than you'd think.
posted by GriffX at 8:38 PM on March 9, 2001

GriffX, I haven't read Transmetropolitan so I'll take your word for it-- but I have a hard time believing there's anything funnier and meaner out there than Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan or Evan Dorkin's Dork.
posted by wiremommy at 8:58 PM on March 9, 2001

Evan Dorkin, that is. Sorry, I suck.
posted by wiremommy at 9:00 PM on March 9, 2001

I'm pretty turned off to comic books in general, but a friend of mine introduced me to Neil Gaiman's graphic novels, Transmet, and Preacher (not mentioned so far), all of which I liked to varying degrees. Since I have absolutely no interest in the spandex franchises of mainstream comics, I'm interested in hearing what people in the know think of these preferences by a comic Philistine... are they representative (I hope) of some of the more interesting and provocative comics out there?
posted by DaShiv at 9:43 PM on March 9, 2001

griffx, I heart alan moore and warren ellis.

DaShiv, here's me gushing about various alan moore projects (plenty of links and such). if you liked gaiman's graphic novels, the chances that you'd like moore's output are pretty darn high.
posted by lia at 9:54 PM on March 9, 2001

Finally, something I know enough about to actually post. COMICS! :)

Last year I got to see Gaiman and hear him read a chapter from American Gods. It was about a djinn cab driver who picks up a homesick salesman and ends trading places with him. Unfortunately, my lame description doesn't do it justice.

He and several other comic pros (including Dorkin and Ware) were on the 2000 CBLDF Making Waves cruise. It was a hell of a lot of fun. :) Something I pray will continue in the future, since there has been some controversy over the cancelled 2001 cruise.

DaShiv, you might also like Arsenic Lullaby (heh), Barry Ween, Boy Genius (heh heh), 100 Bullets, Murder Me Dead, Stray Bullets, Powers, The Coffin and Hellblazer. These are in no particular order, I just pulled a stack of comics off the shelf. Any other suggestions out there?
posted by the biscuit man at 1:50 AM on March 10, 2001

I did read Neverwhere in a couple of days. I liked the 'feel' of the story. Stardust is a bit more interesting, but still light.

Some things not mentioned (as long as we are talking about must reads) are Moonshadow, Outlaw Nation, Watchman (Classic), Sin City, Book of Magic, and The Book of Ballads and Sagas (hard to find).
posted by john at 3:21 AM on March 10, 2001

Sorry, but you can't ever get cooler than Grant Morrison. Neil Gaiman is wonderful, but perhaps even gods have gods of their own...
posted by barbelith at 4:26 AM on March 10, 2001

I left out Morrison, just so you would chime in. Yes, The Invisibles is in a place all by itself.

The bastard will even get me to buy my first X-men title in years.
posted by john at 5:02 AM on March 10, 2001

john: The bastard will even get me to buy my first X-men title in years.

me too! me too! all my comics-reading friends are going to buy X-Men just for Grant Morrison. (well, actually, I've never even bought a copy of X-Men myself; I used to just borrow my neighbor's issues)
posted by lia at 8:30 AM on March 10, 2001

Ewww. Is Grant going to write X-Men? On a regular basis? Is Marvel going to let Grant be Grant?
posted by rodii at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2001

I feel that the whole Sandman/Gaiman phenomena is emblematic of the problems of the comic medium. Sandman brought a number of new readers, including women, to the fetid world of comics in the early '90s. I'd bet that most of those new readers never saw anything else that captured their attention like Sandman did, and never looked at another comic book after #75.

That said, is there any reason why people who read and liked Sandman wouldn't like Alan Moore's Promethea? Sample issueone,ten, or eleven and find out why I like this book. If that doesn't get you, look here for more Alan Moore.
posted by JDC8 at 9:24 AM on March 10, 2001

Actually, look here for more Alan Moore. And did I mention that I love the book so much that I read a section of Promethea #1 at a poetry reading? Then passed out free copies afterward?
posted by JDC8 at 9:30 AM on March 10, 2001

thank you, thank you, thank you!

Neil Gaiman is my all-time favorite writer--I would even consider chopping off my right hand if it meant writing like he does.

BTW, I have read *all* his works (including The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) and rumor has it that Stardust is going to be made into a motion picture!


Only bad news is I hear they are looking at Gwyneth "needs-to-eat-a-sandwich" Paltrow to play the fallen star.
posted by brittney at 10:39 AM on March 10, 2001

I've been an avid comics fan for eleven years, and my highest recommendations right now would be Promethea, Eightball, Acme Novelty Library, Dork, and-- most of all-- Finder. I'd highly recommend Finder not just to comic book fans, but to any science fiction and/or fantasy fans who enjoy detailed world-building. Finder actually has footnotes which explain the finer details of its future environment.

Another big recommendation for people who aren't necessarily big on comics: Kabuki, a stunning painted comic that just keeps getting better and better (and slower and slower to come out, unfortunately).

Other current luminaries: Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey, Castle Waiting, Kyle Baker's hilarious You Are Here and I Die at Midnight, James Kochalka's various works, Brian Ralph's Fireball, Jordan Crane's Non anthology...

Considering what a slump there is in the comics market right now, it's amazing how much exemplary work is being created.
posted by wiremommy at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2001

I like Sandman, but Promethea #1 was the very first Alan Moore-penned comic book I've read that I found disappointing. Did it get better? Moore's run on Wildcats should be used along with Warren Ellis' Stormwatch as a textbook for how to write a superhero comic book, play within the highly constrained bounds of the genre, and have it come out interesting anyway. (Powers and Planetary are not playing within said bounds, and are better for it. See Doom Patrol.)

Has Jeff Smith's Bone been mentioned? It's Castle Waiting's spiritual cousin (with a good dose of genes from Carl Barks' Scrooge McDuck days tossed in). Oh, and I dig on Richard Sala's Evil Eye, along with the usual Clowes-Ware-Dorkin-Lapham suspects.

Not that any of these are particularly Gaiman-like. Which is a good thing, because efforts to be Gaiman-like are almost certainly doomed to tweeness and failure.

I think I'll go reread From Hell now. Mmmm.
posted by snarkout at 3:07 PM on March 10, 2001

Rodii: Is Marvel going to let Grant be Grant?

Do you honestly think Marvel could edit out the "Grant-ness" of Grant Morrison? I don't think they have a choice. If he's not happy he'll walk. He could be making a packet in any medium... he works in comics because he can't them get them out of his system.
posted by LMG at 3:39 PM on March 10, 2001

Given that Gaimen's Sandman was partly inspired by it, perhaps someone should mention Cerebus the Aardvark?
I've recently been spending less money on comics than I would like to. I find myself less willing to pay the huge sums of money some of the Trades cost. I don't regret for a second the UKP18.99 I paid for Jimmy Corrigan but I am starting to think that UKP24.99 for From hell was a bit steep.
posted by davidgentle at 6:06 PM on March 10, 2001

I can't believe no-one's mentioned Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen yet! Fantastic stuff. Like everything else he's done, it's so thoroughly researched and detailed that it requires annotation.

david, regrettably, I don't have my own copy of From Hell, and am currently too broke to go looking for on, but it's on my list; I've been interested in the Ripper case since I was a wee girl, and I just found From Hell so compelling.
posted by lia at 9:45 PM on March 10, 2001

Lia: I didn't. Maybe because I respond more to art and design than narative in comics. But my point was that even though I thought it was okay I didn't think that it was "UKP24.99 okay". And the first volume of the Akira trades cost UKP 22.99. For 360 pages. That's way too much.
posted by davidgentle at 10:59 PM on March 10, 2001

While I must confess to a monthly diet of Superman (all 4!), if you're more of an "indie rock" comic fan go grab Next Men (John Byrne rox!), Kingdom Come (Alex Ross art - drool...) and Preacher
posted by owillis at 1:24 AM on March 11, 2001

It seems that almost anything by Morrison, Moore, Ellis, Campbell, Delano, Sim, etc. is gonna be worth a read.
posted by john at 4:27 AM on March 11, 2001

I loved the art in From Hell, David, to the point where I was considering buying original art. Different strokes for different folks. (Me, I'm wondering how the movie is going to look.)
posted by snarkout at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2001


I think Promethea is one of the finest comics currently being published. Why were you disappionted with the first issue? I believe that the book does get better over time; the first issue has a gradual pace and is somewhat heavy with expository dialogue. If you read the complete story over issues #1-3, that might give you a better feel for the series' direction.

To be honest, Promethea doesn't give out its rewards easily, or all at once. In rereading the series, I'd estimate that Promethea really hits her stride artound issue #8, having completed a detailed origin and explanation of the world and her place in it.

The art also improves with each issue. My two favorites are #11, featuring a sideways "widescreen" giant monster battle and #12, featuring a history of the universe illustrated by tarot cards. The pages can be rearranged into one 10-foot long scroll of artwork that forms a continuous loop (I have done this).

I really like this comic, and I've given free copies of it to complete strangers at poetry readings, film clubs, anime clubs and gender studies classes.

This sort of quixotic behavior is motivated by three things: Promethea sells about 25,000 copies each issue (with a slight downward trend), the vast untapped potential for comics like this and many others to reach an audience other than the "fanboys" and the availability of multiple copies for 25 cents each.

posted by JDC8 at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2001

Dang, JDC8, move over here and give me some free comics.
posted by lia at 5:54 PM on March 11, 2001

As long as they are not Jack Chick Tracts, free comics sound good to me too.
posted by john at 12:33 AM on March 12, 2001

I'm surprised no one's mentioned "Thieves and Kings"--maybe it's not as widely available in the US as in Canada. I bought it last month as my first North American comic book since I was 10, after deciding that "Sandman" was too expensive, and I wasn't disappointed.
Neil Gaiman is great, though. "Stardust" and "Good Omens" were two of the handful of books I brought with me when I went to college.
posted by Jeanne at 4:48 AM on March 12, 2001

lia and john,

Here is a free PDF copy of Whiteout and a free online copy of Finder #15.

My quest to expand the comic reader base is most effectrive when I give free comics to those who don't
already read them. Enjoy the online samples.
posted by JDC8 at 6:00 PM on March 12, 2001

JDC8, you cheapskate. LOL
posted by lia at 8:21 PM on March 12, 2001

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