I just learned that you can order the paperback of ANANSI BOYS, out in the US in the Autumn, on Amazon and suchlike places, but no-one seems to have the cover up. So... The Harper mass-market paperback cover will be a lot like (although possible not exactly the same for type and text) as this:
Are you aware that there's a Japanese artist who has created a "love couch", based on the principle of the theremin, that sounds a tone when people sitting on it touch?
I'd read about the emotional tree over at http://www.fabulist.org/ but the rest of the inventions look rather wonderful too. I want the mercury fountain. No, honestly. I really, really want the mercury fountain.
Ummm...this isn't a Neil question at all, but since you've so nicely answered many other questions relating to books and publishing, I thought you might help.
I'm living in Japan, and a friend of mine likes to use the books of a certain bestselling American author (unfortunately, not you) to study English. He reads them in Japanese, and then listens to the English audiobooks. However, he has had a difficult time locating a few of them, because the Japanese translation titles differ from the American titles. Do you know of a way to find bibliographies with titles of both translated editions and English editions? I Googled every which way I could think of, but had no luck.
By the way, thanks for being a nice guy to your fans, and thanks for, well, being yourself :)
And of course, thanks for the help!
You're welcome. I don't know of any bibliographies that will do it -- but the easiest thing is probably for your friend to go to Amazon.co.jp and look at the English language editions of the books listed there and see if he recognises the plots.
An Amazon.co.jp search gives this link for me only in Japanese, Which is a different set of results to what you'd get if you went to the Amazon.co.jp front page and typed "gaiman". You could work out what was what from covers and plot descriptions, even without the titles.
You know, just for the record, and I hate to spoil anyone's fun, but no, http://www.myspace.com/neilgaiman has absolutely nothing to do with me. I'm not writing the blog there either. (And a note to any future would-be me-impersonators: Please work on your spelling. "hygene?" "deticated?" "assumtion?" And, for obvious reasons, I can't ever imagine describing myself as a red-blooded American...)
[Edit to add that it seems to have vanished now. Oh well. Thanks to everyone who wrote to let me know that it wasn't me, and to Amy and Maure who got there first.]
The script for BLACK HOLE is starting to feel like a real movie script, I think. Roger and I bought a bunch of CDs with names like "CHARTBUSTERS From 1974!" and have them playing in the background a lot of the time. Oddly enough, the intervening 32 years hadn't erased how much I didn't ever want to hear "Billy Don't Be A Hero" again. One verse in and it all came crashing back...
There hasn't been a lot of time to read recently, but I found myself on a plane last week with a proof of Rick Veitch's new book CAN'T GET NO. I've been a friend of Rick's for the best part of 20 years, and fan before that, so I've read a lot of his work, but this book still surprised me. CAN'T GET NO was odd, which is mostly why I'm writing about it here, to try and figure out what I think about it, and it's not just slightly odd – it's supremely, magnificently strange, and like nothing else I've read. It's a (physically roughly the shape and size of a pocket paperback on its side) graphic novel that's a direct descendent of the wordless "novels in pictures" of the early 20th century, books by Masareel, by Ward, by Milt Gross. The story itself, the dark Odyssey of a young executive whose life falls apart in the days before September the 11th, is told clearly in sequential panels, without word balloons. The captions are a sort of abstract soundtrack – a surrealist prose poem that counterpoints the story, intersecting with it, reflecting it, deepening it. The combination of image and text has a weird, cumulative effect, a sort of literary synesthesia that gave me the same kind of oneiric reading sensation I normally only associate with novels by, say, Thomas Pynchon or Steve Erickson. I don't think that CAN'T GET NO reinvents the graphic novel – it feels more like Rick is rediscovering the power of the "story in pictures" as he goes, taking everything he knows about comics, everything he learned about dreams doing the Rarebit Fiend comics, and making something new and moving and, as I said, utterly strange.
Hi Neil, not a\ question, but just though you (and maybe your blog readers) would like to know that Dark Horse comics and Adidas have teamed up to produce a limited edition of shoes and track jackets to raise funds for the CBLDF. The link to the article is:
I feel very out of the loop -- I'd not heard about this at all. Looks really cool, too. Good for Dark Horse.
Have you announced yet if you plan to attend the 2006 Comic-Con in San Diego? I searched the archives and checked Where's Neil and didn't see it mentioned one way or the other.
I'll be going for the first time, having been invited by my new publisher. After writing screenplays for several years (including working with Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who wrote one of the better adaptations of Sandman), I've been hired to write my very first comic.
I'm enjoying the new medium immensely, but it leads me to my second question...
After writing screenplays for so long, I'm having some difficulty transitioning into writing for comics. I tend to think in terms of shots rather than panels, so I find that I regularly try to cram 8 or 9 panels on to every page.
It's driving my artist batty. Usually he can come up with good ideas for conveying the necessary information and emotional context in fewer panels per page, but it's forcing him to do work that should be my responsibility.
Do you have any tricks or techniques that allow you to easily switch from one medium to the other? I know I'll develop my own analytical tools and "gut feeling" after a certain amount of time, but I'd like to make my learning curve as steep as possible.
Steve Barr Los Angeles
I find that drawing it yourself -- doodling it out as thumbnails -- always helps. And -- to take an analogy from movies -- remember that you're the director and editor as well. It's easy in a film script to say "Jack is watching TV when the doorbell rings. He sighs and throws down his copy of TV guide, gets up and answers the door, where Admiral Nelson and a small furry alien named RODNEY are waiting, sipping Pepsis." And the director and the cameraman are going to block that out, and then shoot it in several set-ups, and then the editor will assemble it into a couple of shots from the choices s/he has. In comics, you've got one panel, maybe two to do that, so you just have to grit your teeth and pick two panels tell it in...
It's also useful to set yourself formal problems. Tell an entire story wherever possible with three panels on the top tier, three on the bottom and one thinner one across the middle, say, or (something I want to try in an issue of Eternals) use the classic Jack Kirby four equal panels to a page thing.
When I was writing THE KINDLY ONES I decided that I wanted it, wherever possible, to be six equal-sized panels to a page, arranged 2/2/2, because that's an arrangement that the eye loses -- you see it and then you forget it.
The other thing that you might want to try is writing a looser script and let the artist break it down into panels. You can learn a lot from that, too.
Mostly, experience and experimentation will sort this stuff out for you. Have a great time at San Diego. I don't currently have any plans to be there, but you never know.
Those nice people at LOCUS have a special offer for readers of this blog.
If you want a copy of their February 2006 edition, with interviews with me and Terry Pratchett fifteen years after their first Neil and Terry Good Omens interview, postpaid (so it's $2 cheaper than it would otherwise be) or as a free gift with a 12 month subscription to the newspaper of the SF field, go to
Another thing I'd forgotten to mention is that the web elves have been having far too much fun with the photos on the new ever-changing front page and innards of www.neilgaiman.com (and when I groused about having a photo up there of me with Chthulhu on my head I was told that I was lucky they hadn't put up the supremely odd Matrix-baddie-style Entertainment Weekly photo from 2003). If you have any pictures you think ought to be on the front page of Neilgaiman.com, you could try sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. As long as they don't have me with any kind of stuffed elder god on my head.
(Just load in in the front page and refresh to see what other images they have up there.)
Will Tori be doing the voice of the tree in the Stardust movie?
I don't know. I very much hope they'll ask her, and I hope she'd do it if she was asked, but neither of these things are under my control. Still, it's not something that anyone making the movie has to worry about or think about until the point in the production where off-screen voices would need to be recorded, so I doubt we'll know until very late summer, or later.
But you DO have a stalker! You gave me permission (via a friend who asked on my behalf, at a signing in Pittsburgh) to stalk you! Should I be offended now?By the way, I'm likely to be in the Twin Cities anyway in early August, so I figure that's a promising time for the actual stalking to take place. Is this convenient for you?
Not a problem.
Hi Neil A new comics/censorship issue with a new twist has emerged, this time featuring your old publisher Paul Gravett and his recent book "Manga! 60 years of Japanese Comics", being removed from libraries in the US after a 16 year-old boy's mother complained about it containing pornographic content. You can read up on it at Paul's website www.paulgravett.com, as it's kicking up something of a stink in some areas, and is straying into debates about what is appropriate to put in a library, etc. What are your thoughts?
I think that removing reference books from libraries is a very silly thing to do.I've not read it, but I've read a lot of Paul Gravett's writing over the last 25 years and it's always been well-reasoned, well-researched, inclusive, and never sensationalistic.
"To remove a book about the history of the genre of Japanese comics just because it contains a section on erotic comics is comparable to removing an encyclopedia because of an entry on erotic practices," NCAC Director of Arts Svetlana Mintcheva said.
The American Civil Liberties Union is one of the lead members of this coalition. The book Manga: Sixty years of Japanese Comics, became the subject of controversy after 16-year-old Matt Jones of Victorville told his mother the book contained illustrations of graphic sexual acts and sex with animals. The book was found to also be available in branches located in Hesperia, Apple Valley and Barstow.
Along with the order for removal of the book, Postmus also called for officials with the county library to draft a plan to protect children from similar books.
Monday, the supervisor said the book will remain off the shelves of the county library. "A cartoon depicting a person engaged in a sex act with a giant hamster doesn't belong in a San Bernardino County library. And our tax dollars shouldn't be used to pay for it either," he said. "That's simply what this is about," Postmus said.
(I find myself imagining a short checklist for books that they want to put on the shelves of San Bernadino County Library, saying only "Does this book contain a cartoon depicting someone having sex with a giant hamster?" and "Was it paid for by our tax dollars?" and if the answer to both is yes, it gets thrown away.)
Roger Avary and I are working on the Black Hole adaptation right now, Charles Burns' story about (among other things) a sexually transmitted teen plague in 1974. Roger just went looking to see if there were any films up on the web about Venereal Disease of the kind they might have shown in schools back then. Instead he found this, and I, bemused, amused, and amazed, am passing it on to you, and I suspect that, like VD, you'll be passing it on to all the happy smiling people that you know. The "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" school of venereal disease warning...
And I've just noticed that you can read my introduction to Martin Millar's novel THE GOOD FAIRIES OF NEW YORK up at the Soft Skull Press site, here. (It was originally written for the Italian edition -- I'm very happy the book will once more be available in English.)
Here is the LA County Bar Association's report of the case, along with a link to the decision:
Where terms of plaintiff's employment required her to transcribe sexually oriented jokes and discussions related to the creation of a television situation comedy featuring sexual themes, and where such jokes and discussions included sexually coarse and vulgar language that included discussion of the writers' own sexual experiences but, for the most part, did not involve and was not aimed at plaintiff or other women in the workplace, no reasonable trier of fact could conclude such language constituted harassment directed at plaintiff because of her sex within the meaning of the Fair Employment and Housing Act or that the comments were severe enough or sufficiently pervasive to create a work environment that was hostile or abusive to plaintiff in violation of the FEHA. Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions - filed April 20, 2006 Cite as 2006 SOS 1999 Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0406%2FS125171
It's a pdf file -- towards the end is a remakably sensible concurring judgement from Judge Chin, that people should actually read.
The finallists for the Locus Awards have been announced at https://www.locusmag.com/About/LocusAwardsAd.html and I'll be there, as it's also the day that I'm MCing the Science Fiection Hall of Fame Awards, helping out in some capacity. Still, I found myself blinking when I read, at https://www.locusmag.com/2006/News/04_LocusFinalists.html that the day starts at 10:30 am to noon: Breakfast Buffet and Omelet Station at the Courtyard Marriott with Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman, and others. Which left me rather worried that I'll find myself spending the morning manning the Omelette station while Connie Willis makes waffles for people, and that it will all end in tears.
So, in an article about James Cameron's opinion that digital filmmaking, especially the ease of 3-d in that medium, will save Hollywood, I saw this quote: "Robert Zemeckis' 'Beowulf,'...is employing 3-D-animated performance capture...."
Is that accurate? I couldn't find anything about it in the journal archives, and journalism on Beowulf has been reliably unreliable.
Also, didn't they come up with 3-d, smell-o-vision and suchlike to combat rampant TV watching in the 50s? Do you suppose James Cameron is claiming that it worked really well? Not to naysay; I think 3-d is good times.
It's simpler than that. As I understand it any performance capture/motion capture system is potentially 3D because it's recording the performances in three dimensions. So, according to Bob Zemeckis, it's very easy to simply output the information in 3D, which was why Polar Express was the first Imax full length 3D film (according to this, anyway -- http://www.imax.com/minnesota/films/polarexpress.htm). I expect that the IMAX screenings of Beowulf will be in 3D as well.
You can't tease us and get away with it. Please tell us what are Scott McCloud's recommended reads for webcomics. Thanks in advance.
Rammer Martínez myspace.com/smokymirrors
I can do better than that. I can point you at the very website where Ivy McCloud's husband has spent years pointing people at the best that online comics have to offer, while occasionally making some of them himself. It's http://www.scottmccloud.com/comics/mi/mi.html
I am very excited over the Stardust movie. I do have a couple of curiosities though. Why was the name Lilim replaced for Lamia? Also, why was the choice made to replace Captain Johannes Alberic with a Captain Shakespeare? And how did this Captain Shakespeare become an opposition? As far as I knew from the book the Captain helped out Tristran and Yvaine and was not in opposition of them. If you can't answer these questions I won't mind, but I'll still be curious. Thanks.
Well, the name of the witch queen in Stardust isn't Lilim, that's the name of the three of them. Lilim is a plural noun, and the witch queen's name is never given ("her true name was long since drowned and lost beneath the cold ocean".) Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman felt that the three witches needed individual names, so collected them together from classical sources (which made me smile, as one of them is also in Neverwhere and another name is found in the original Books of Magic).
As for Captain Shakespeare and the flying pirates, it's fair to say that anyone who has read the book will have a better idea of what to expect there than anyone who hasn't, and it's also fair to say it has a few surprises for anyone who has read the book. It isn't the book, after all.
I tried adapting Stardust into film form myself, for Miramax, about seven years ago, for a film that never happened, and I rapidly discovered as I wrote the treatment that things that are fun in books sometimes need you to find equivalents that are the same kind of fun, but completely different, in order to make them into hundred minute films, and Stardust's end, as plot-strands miss each other in a satisfying way, just wasn't a film. I tried fixing things in my own way, and there are places that Jane and Matthew wound up doing the similar things to what I did and places where they picked very different solutions to things. (And some scenes, like the Lion and the Unicorn battle, went, to everyone's sorrow, because it would have cost about 1.5 million to film and the money had to be spread where it would do the most good.)
I've only just finished reading the book and the scene in the pictures looks quite like the same scene in the book I think. I'm sure the film will turn out great (at least I hope so, because they definitely have great source material to work with) and I can't wait to watch it.
Good luck with all your current projects! Michelle Scerri
No, you were the first and only one so far to find those photos -- but they must be from today's shoot in the Fairy Glen. I can't work out whether they're from a set photographer or from someone sneaking around with a telephoto lens.
That's from the scene where the Witch meets Ditchwater Sal, and they divide the hare and have an unfortunate incident with some Limbus Grass. And you can see the goats. (I was told that the goats are actually lady goats in drag, goat-merkins and all. This may be true, or it may just have been a film crew pulling the leg of a credulous writer...)
This might seem like a weird question. But do authors of your fame and stature ever have to deal with stalkers/paparazzi and their ilk. Or is that something solely reserved for the more visible celebrities? Just curious, as an aspiring writer/novelist/beat weirdo guy. Thanks.
So far, whenever I've encountered the papparazzi, they've always wanted to take photos of whoever I was with, and I was just the bloke standing beside the famous person. Which is a nice place to be, if you ask me.
I've never had a stalker, I'm glad to say, and am very happy for it to stay like that. I know a handful of authors who have had stalkers or unhinged fans hiding in their attics or whatever, though, so I think I'm either very lucky, or more likely, that I just have very nice fans.
Department of you can't argue with that, exactly...
Roger Avary (on the phone to someone): Listen to me, I know exactly what I'm talking about. My film is, after all, Number One.
(Roger wrote Silent Hill, and seems delighted by the critical drubbing combined with the huge commercial success, having previously always got it the other way around.)
Over at The Dreaming website Lucy Anne has tracked down dozens of articles and reviews and suchlike, many of which I'd not seen before -- http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/ is the place to go to read the Time Out interview or lots more Wolves Reviews and articles, or even longer Stardust cast lists, or all sorts of things I should have mentioned here but forgot (like this http://www.orbital2008.org/).
Another quick post-- I've got to keep typing things people are waiting for, I'm afraid.
I just got sent the Dave McKean cover of the CD of songs inspired by stuff I wrote, "Where's Neil When You Need Him?", and it looks most wonderful, and very Dave McKeany. I'll put it up here next time...
There are many things I keep meaning to write about here as soon as I get a moment -- Gene Wolfe's Soldier of Sidon (and the whole Soldier series), for example, or the new Rick Veitch graphic novel Can't Get No -- but something I promised myself I would talk about, and which instead I am simply going to point to Cheryl Morgan's excellent description of, is Polder -- http://www.emcit.com/emcit128.php#Learning. It's a book celebrating John and Judith Clute, who are two people worth celebrating.
(Also, I keep meaning to mention that I read The Year's Best Comics and Graphic Novels -- it reprints part of a speech I gave at the Harvey Awards as its introduction -- and I couldn't understand why anyone would reprint apparently random chunks of comics stories, without any explanation of what you're reading, where you are in the story and what comes next, as a "Best of the Year". Lots of pages of comics in there, but no context for anything, which made what should have been a Year's Best feel instead like a sort of random and contextless sampler. Very odd. If they ever do any more, I hope they explain what they're printing. Or print whole things.)
I've been actually at home for the last day or so, and I need to leave almost immediately to go and work on Black Hole, so have spent the last two days Not Blogging, but instead doing things like going and buying lots of small samples of blue paint for Maddy's wall, and putting them on so that she could decide what colour it's going to be (and let her use up the excess sample paint writing MADDY WAS HERE on her wall in leftover Ocean Mist), sorting out the firefly lights so they're now working, checking out the plum trees and the grapevines and getting songs onto Maddy's iPod Nano (a gift from Paramount for Stardust's first day of shooting; I already had one from Beowulf's first day of shooting). Also took Maddy to Dairy Queen.
I was going to link to the Quotable Neil website as a way of avoiding posting, and I realised on reading http://quotableneil.blogspot.com/2006/04/random-quotes-of-arbitrary-sort.html that one of the good things about having a blog for years and years is that your opinions change -- my opinion of webcomics, for example, has gone way up since that early 2002 post, mostly because that Scott McCloud would insist on pointing me at good ones...
Meanwhile the STARDUST army seems to have invaded the Highlands and Islands. I don't know what it says about me, but the bit in this article that made me smile widest was where the B and B owner said ""All the crew members are really polite". I thought, oh good. That's a relief. I can go back to Scotland, then.
Neil- I am planning on making the trip to Balticon to hear you speak. However, the people from Balticon have not yet published any kind of schedule. They are only saying that the guest of honor will have his choice of which events to attend. So my question to you is, will you be there for the whole convention or is there a specific day I should plan on being there to hear you speak?
My other question to you is, is it ok to photograph while you speak? No flash.
best, kim bush (shotbykim
I'm there for the whole convention (although I suppose that if the plane from Australia is delayed I might be slightly late on Friday). I don't know my schedule I'm afraid, but I'll be around for the whole thing.
Hi Neil. This isn't so much a question as much as it is a statement. I took it upon myself to be one of the first people to get a tattoo from MirrorMask. I have adorned my leg with some of the sage-like advice from the Very Useful Book:
I'm a bit behind on everything right now. But I thought the world should know that, in support of Lestat the Musical, Dave McKean is doing a signing in New York on April 24th at 7.00pm -- details at this press release (which also details the other fun things happening in New York related to Lestat ). For example, The public space overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle will be filled with anexceptional array of Elton John's fabulously unique feathered, sequined,and bejeweled stage wardrobe that has been the signature style statement of this pop music icon's illustrious career. From the look of the New York Times public reviews, Lestat may not be around very long, so you may want to catch it if you can...
So today the cast and crew of STARDUST flew up to Inverness. They start principal photography tomorrow, on the Scottish mainland and then on Skye. I want to wish them all the very best of luck. (I think the only main actor to be added since my last note is Rupert Everett as Secundus.)
I forgot to mention that there were real wolves at the Lyric Hammersmith today -- one of the things I've really liked about the Wolves in the Walls is that the programme and the educational materials talk about real wolves, and the Wolf Conservation Trust --http://www.ukwolf.org/-- were in teaching kids (and adults) about wolves.
And I'm just holed up and writing right now, so instead of me, here's a lecture on Cargo Cult Science by Richard Feynman -- http://www.physics.brocku.ca/etc/cargo_cult_science.html. (Has anyone noticed how much cargo cult comedy there is on TV? People say things that are joke-shaped but contain nothing anybody could ever find funny, and the canned laughter goes into hysterics...)
And finally... Neil;
FYI to your readers:
Just thought I would let you know that coming up this summer are the 2006 auctions for Lisa Spodak's "Project Teddy Bear". To raise monies for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, Lisa has found celebrities in the NYC and beyond area to pose with an Avon Breast Cancer Teddy Bear, sign a little card to accompany it, and then she auctions off these little treasures online to help in combatting this horrific disease. This summer you can pick up Sean Astin, Julia Roberts, or even...Neil Gaiman? That's right, the bear, image, and signed card are going on the auction block this summer. Head over to http://www.lisawalks.com/ptb2006 to see all the summer auction bears and to get on the mailing list for when this lovely little piece goes up. And remember, this is for cancer research, so bid often and bid generously!
Edited to add, nothing beats the Scotsman's take on the story "Half of Young Goths have tried Suicide" ("Yeah. Well, I tried it, yeah. We were young. Suicide was just how we got our kicks. I mean, it was all right. But I, you know, I gave it up when everybody started doing it...")
The run of Wolves in the Walls at the Lyric Hammersmith is selling out extremely fast, and some days have completely gone. If you were thinking about trying to see it between now and the 29th, getting your ticket soon would be wise. (Here's the calendar: http://www.lyric.co.uk/p176.html)
The wall of people-who-have-been-cast in Stardust at Pinewood now includes on it Mr Peter O'Toole, Miss Billie Whitelaw and Mr Ricky Gervais.
It starts shooting on location in Skye next week. I don't know if having the multitudinous readers of a blog concentrate on making sure the weather in Skye is as unseasonably clear, warm and sunny as possible starting next Wednesday will do any good, but it couldn't hurt. (I won't be there, alas, although Skye is possibly my favourite place in the world, whatever the weather.)
I see from this morning's papers that the world of extremely short tribute bands has been plunged into conflict as MiniKiss takes on TinyKiss. For some reason I like the idea of a battle between extremely short Abba tribute bands better, but that's probably just me.
It's a lovely hotel. I knew last night that the only thing that would wake me, short of a nuclear explosion, would be someone knocking on the door bringing a hot room service breakfast, because then you have to get out of bed, open a door, talk to someone, perform a small act of arithmetic, sign your name, and then, because hot breakfasts get cold and unpleasant fast, eat something. And once you've done all that, like it or not, you're awake.
(The room service breakfast alarm clock is the main reason why I'm always fatter at the end of a book-signing tour than I was when it started.)
Last night, before bed, as I filled out the breakfast form they'd left on the pillow, because it's a lovely hotel, and because everything I've eaten here has been nice, in the "fruit juice" slot, I ticked "juice of the day". I thought, they will surprise me. It will be fun.
So this morning I stumbled out of bed, I opened the door, I spoke to the nice lady who brought the breakfast, and, as I performed a simple act of addition and signed my name, she said, "Juice of the day is avocado with lime and skimmed milk," and then seeing the expression on my face, she added, "Don't worry. It's not as bad as it sounds. It's really nice, really."
It was not really nice really.
It was actually significantly worse than it sounds.
What kind of chef looks gloomily around the kitchen and goes "Nothing here to juice. Nothing whatsoever. Nothing but the leftover guacamole ingredients from last night... and we have too much skimmed milk.... AHA!"
Still, one mouthful of it woke me up. And that's the main thing.
When I was 13 I had my very own cassette player, and I bought my music on cassette. It felt, to use a wonderfully old-fashioned word, modern. And back then one of my favourite albums was Bowie's DIAMOND DOGS.
I bought it again on CD a few years ago, when it was re-released, and while it sounded the same, there was something wrong, and I couldn't figure out what it was.
I played it again last night, as part of my personal background soundtrack to working on Charles Burns' BLACK HOLE, and suddenly I knew. The tracks were in the wrong order -- that is, they were in the right order for the LP, but the cassette release had reordered them to use equal amounts of tape on each side, and that was what I'd played over and over as a boy. Diamond Dogs had to be followed by Rock and Roll With Me, for example, not with Sweet Thing. After all these years, I still remembered the cassette song-sequence, and expected it.
A few minutes of iPod fiddling, and I found myself listening to Diamond Dogs just as I did when I was 13. The creaking sound in the background was the hinges of the world turning back thirty years, comfortably and well.
Hello, As I am sure you know, the new "Dr.Who" episodes have just started to air in the US on the sci fi channel. (i'm 20 so I missed the days when Dr. Who was on PBS here) It's a great show and i've been educating myself in it's history. I would love to read your introduction to Eye of the Tyger (and the whole novella) but I can't find it in print in the US. Do you have any suggestions where I can get it? Also will Wolves in the Walls still be in Scotland in August. I'm attending the Fringe Festival with my college's theatre department.Thanks for your time,Ellie Plymouth, MN
You know, all the introductions I've done since 2002 are uncollected, and I really ought to think about doing something with them. I'll find out if anyone would mind if I put that one and a few others up on line here at http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/
Just in case you are tempted into doing a little light shopping in Hammersmith Farmer's Market on Thursday (you'll have to walk through it on your way into the Lyric, but it will have closed by the time you leave, I imagine), here are my recommendations:
* The sad-looking unroofed veg stall directly facing on to the fountains often has gorgeous (and cheap) Egremont Russet apples. * The "rainforest cuisine" stall does a nice big takeout Carribean salad box for about a fiver - looks like multicoloured hay but tastes great, except for the falafel. * the "Dark Sugars" chocolate stall is ruinously expensive, but really goooood. * avoid at all cost the buffalo sausages - impeccably sourced, no doubt, but they are pure CMOT Dibbler, as full of gristle and wobbly bits.
I'll miss your signing - can't get a ticket, dammit, which is frustrating as I live about 7 minutes' walk away - but I do hope you have a lovely time on my home patch.
How extremely helpful.
It's worth checking again -- I heard from Nick Sweeting that the Lyric has just opened up the previously not-for-sale upper circle so there may be more seats available. (And if you live or work in Hammersmith or Fulham you can get in free to the 4.00 pm performance on Saturday -- see their website for details -- http://www.lyric.co.uk/p181.html)
Hi Neil I was in Pulp Fiction in Brisbane last week with my 3 year old daughter. I had to smile when she picked up a copy of The wolves in the walls and stated "I want this", so as every proud parent does, we bought it. Now having read the book six times out loud I have to ask. Did you make up the word 'squossucks' simply to trick up tired Mummys? Because each night as I sleepily read the favourite book I get stuck every time.I love the book, as does my wide eyed little girl. In testimony to this the glue has already given way and the cover fallen off. Thanks Amanda
I just thought it was a fun word to say. It sounds faintly rude, for a start... Hi Neil,
Sorry about not posting – life’s currently turned into a mad game of ping pong with me as the ball. Scribble scribble scribble type type type.
On Thursday the 13th of April I’ll be interviewed if anyone wants to stick around and listen at the end of the 2:30 matinee of WOLVES IN THE WALLS at the Lyric Hammersmith. (I just checked the Lyric website, and there is apparently only one ticket left for that performance.)
( I would like to go on record here as saying that I miss Concorde. I only flew it once, and that was only because of some stuff falling apart which meant I discovered I was going to have to use an obscene amount of air miles to cross the Atlantic, and when the lady on the other end of the phone said "Wow. For that many miles you might as well do it on Concorde" I took her up on it. And I know how wasteful of fuel it was, and was very aware while riding in it that I was in a thirty year old plane. But right now I could really do with a 3 hour trip across the Atlantic.)
Hi neil. I like what you've done with the place.
I've read a couple reviews that like to slap a little Paradise Lost into their thoughts on "Murder Mysteries". I know that you sent something in for "Milton and Popular Culture", which is coming out this fall (not an advertisement, BTW) but I'm wondering if you're willing to type anything about Milton's influence on you in the meanwhile for us impatient psuedo-academics.
Er... I don't think I did send anything in for "Milton and Popular Culture", did I? If I did I don't remember it. I suppose that we'll both have to wait until it comes out to find out what I think about Milton.
Dear Neil, I finally got around to getting myself to the theatre on Thursday to see Wolves. First, a confession: I've never read the book... But this meant I could take the pandemonium as a piece of theatre, rather than grumbling about how it's not how I see it in my head.
So, the opening is a little slow, but the tuba/chair duet, and the brother's song upped the tempo (sorry), and set us up nicely for the wolves, which I cannot praise highly enough. The physicality of the puppeteers really brings out the essential wolfy-ness and the glee of having somewhere new to play and something new to play with. I was laughing and in horror simultaneously when they captured pig, but it was the hip hop that really did for me...
Though the humans deserved their applause, it was the wolves who deserved - and got - the biggest cheers of the night. And they are why I shall be buying the book, though Dave McKean's wolves will always turn into sackcloth puppets with humans attached I fear.
Many congrats (and many thank to Maddy for her dream). Hope you're readjusting to whatever passes for normal life these days after rushing across the atlantic and around the UK.
Which I post mostly because it shows me how much things change with a live show. I remember the first previews, when the wolves weren't funny. And I'd think "I suppose that could be funny..." but it wasn't. And then the wolf-actors got more comfortable and at ease with what they were doing, and as I was leaving they were getting funnier and funnier in each show with the same script they'd had since the beginning.
If it's not too much to ask, is it possible to mention that Mike Carey's very FIRST novel "The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel" was just published this week in the U.K.? (I'm NOT a paid shill, just a friend and fan who would like to get the word out and help support his creative efforts...).
Some MirrorMask around the world news -- In SingaporeMIRRORMASK will open exclusively at Golden Village Cinemas on 20th April.
While coincidentally, Hi Neil, MirrorMask is the big opening film of my beloved Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival (www.afff.nl) on April 19th, and I can't wait to see it. I heard that Dave McKean is going to be a special guest on the night. Any chance that you will be there as well?Hopefully,Marjan
I don't think it's going to possible, unless I manage to master the art of trilocation -- there are at least two other places I already need to be at the same time on April 19th.
It's like magic. I post here that the CBLDF needs your support, and almost before I can blink an email comes in from Lisa Snellings (http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/) with a Special Unique Neil Rat (with added iPod and spider) that she's put up on eBay for the CBLDF. (Here's the link.)
It also comes with now! new! grey in the hair and stubble.
So when people have asked me about the Beowulf movie I've said, honestly, that I really don't have any idea what to expect.
As of today I have the beginnings of some idea what to expect, and it's rather significantly cooler and stranger and more like a Real Movie than I ever dreamed. And what I've seen is just the early stages...
There will be a trailer in May 2007. I cannot wait.
The best aspect of this co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and Improbable is that it creates an air of convincing wonderment and menace. Such perfect pitching alone marks the play as a winner. Younger theatregoers gasp at the macabre frights and slapstick humour, while grown-ups can enjoy a convergence of fine performances, the subtle ingenuity of the set design and a lightheartedly evocative live musical score [....]
The wolves themselves are expertly brought to life by three puppeteers, who threaten to steal the show. Yet Cora Bissett is magnetic as the jolly Mum, moving between speech and song as she prepares her jam, while Ryan Fletcher gives a grandstanding turn as Lucy’s show-off Brother. Iain Johnstone’s tuba- playing Dad and Frances Thorburn’s measured Lucy add quality to the show.
This flagship first full production of the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone co-directs) is a rich piece of storytelling for all ages. ★★★★☆
and another four star review in the Independent --
http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/reviews/article355909.ece ...just the kind of high-risk venture which the new National Theatre for Scotland is looking for. Their "Musical Pandemonium", co-produced with the ever-inventive Improbable Theatre, has all the hallmarks of a bold statement of intent that strikes just the right note between edginess and populism.
Co-directors Vicky Featherstone and Julian Crouch tap into the surreal waking dream of Gaiman's novel, building it into a nightmare of terrifying, irrational proportions.
The first 20 minutes are perhaps a little stilted, but as soon as the hessian puppet wolves emerge snarling and howling from their wallpapered confinement, the dreamscape suddenly becomes utterly convincing.
The lupine comedy, brilliantly realised by skilful puppeteers, heightens as the rampant wild wolves of the walls become domesticated, from middle-class lair-makers to breakdancing teen wolves. And beneath it all is a dark undertow of family dislocation, fear of the unknown and protection of one's own. As the wolves cower back into the walls, there is an uncomfortable suggestion that we, like Lucy, will always be able to conjure up new "threats". What's the time, Mr Wolf? It's always dinner time.
Do you really have no dates yet for signings, readings etc. in 2006, or is just everyone too busy to add them to the "Where's Neil" section?
Can't believe you could actually be staying at home for a while ... ;)
It's not everybody who's too busy to add them, alas. It's just me. And I mostly need ten minutes with a computer and the wall calendar...
And finally, this just came in from Ivy McCloud, wife of Scott McCloud and mother to my fairy goddaughters Sky and Winter McCloud, and someone who has known me much too well for too long, taking issue with something in a recent post:
So, on your blog the other day you listed your answers to all those questions and one in particular struck me as amusing:
28. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Lovely. Puzzling. Delightful. Finally.
You see, the two words that I most associate with you were not on your list. I wonder, does that mean you don't use them as much anymore or are you unaware you use them or am I just wrong?
The two words I would have said you overuse are "brilliant" and "thingy"
(In fact I just called Scott to make sure I wasn't making a fool of myself, I asked him, "what words do you associate with Neil?" and he said, "oh, that's easy 'brilliant' and..." and before he could get it out, Sky, who had no idea what he was talking about said, "thingy.")
So there. I told Scott I was going to make fun of you, and he said you deserved it.
If I lived in Rome, Georgia, I would be wondering why and how the prosecutors there keep their jobs. Given how much the CBLDF has spent so far defending Gordon Lee, they must have spent a great deal more than that of the taxpayer's money in trying to prosecute him. And now things have got even stranger...
Lead counsel Alan Begner says, “I have never -- as a criminal trial lawyer for thirty years -- seen a complete changing of the facts like this. Throughout the last year and a half, through written statements, the investigation, and the presentation of evidence before the grand jury, as well as the written accusation and indictment, the State had steadfastly asserted that the comic book had been handed to the nine-year-old. The dismissal of the charges today reflects the prosecution’s admission that everything that was presented as evidence before was untrue, and that they had stuck to the false facts through procedure after procedure in the case. We now intend to investigate how a year and a half of statements based on one set of facts has now been changed at the last minute to another set of facts.”
Cadle adds, “To find out about this significant factual change in the allegations against Gordon at 3 PM on a Sunday when we were supposed to be going to trial at 9 AM on a Monday is disconcerting. It unfortunately has the result of costing Mr. Lee and the Fund tons more time, effort, and money. As attorneys, we’ve done what we’re supposed to do and we’re going to keep doing that. Alan and I were ready, willing, and able to go to trial this week, but unfortunately we now need to incur more legal time and expense to move forward.”
It's definitely time to say thank you to any of you who have contributed to the fund recently. And it's time for me to do several of the fundraising things I keep meaning to do but have been putting off. (For example, about a decade ago I grabbed a few dozen of my older black tee shirts, signed them in fabric paint and gave them to the CBLDF who sold them at conventions for about $50 a shirt. I think it's time to go and buy some new pots of fabric paint, and time to go and look in the basement for cool rare things that would sell on eBay. And I have to investigate what happened to Scott McCloud's WHY I AM NOT NEIL GAIMAN print, which we were both going to sign...)
Several people let me know that the CBLDF website wasn't accepting donations or memberships -- I think it's now all fixed. http://www.cbldf.com/ is the place to go -- some really cool stuff up there, although it's time to overhaul the section of my stuff and remove the things that we've run out of.
Not yet back onto US time -- asleep by 9.30 every night, back working by 6.00am. The FRAGILE THINGS introduction, all 6,000 words of it, finally went off to Jennifer Brehl this morning, along with a suggested order for the stories. Now it's onto the Superman article for WIRED and another batch of Eternals pages for Mr Romita.
(Incidentally, someone wrote in querying my use of the name "Ike Harris" for the Ikaris character in the Eternals solicitation -- that's pure Kirby, from Eternals #1. One of those things you never forget and would win trivia competitions with if only anyone bothered to ask you about them.)
Then I went and gave a talk at Maddy's school, which was fun, and, she admitted afterwards, possibly somewhat less embarrassing than she had feared.
Over at the Laika site (http://www.laika.com/entertainment/) if you click on projects then on Coraline, there are a couple of images promoting the Coraline film. One image is on Coraline, and the other on the Dakota Fanning news item on the right. You now know what I do, pretty much.
http://www.ghostzilla.com/ is the kind of browser that makes me wish that I had a real job where people could look over my shoulder and I needed a ghostly vanishing webbrowser to pretend I was working.
They call it a "musical pandemonium," which is stretching a point. But if this through-composed adaptation of the children's picture book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, "The Wolves in the Walls," doesn't have quite the anarchic spirit of helmer-designer Julian Crouch's best-known creation, "Shockheaded Peter," it does have a fertile energy of its own. As a junior introduction to the dark side of musical theater, it's a lot of grisly fun and will be welcomed by younger Stateside audiences when it crosses the pond to tour in 2007.
(Not sure why it keeps comparing it to Shockheaded Peter -- they're not the same kind of thing at all. And of course it has its own energy.)
THE GUARDIAN Q&A Please answer a minimum of thirty-five questions, including the first two and last two. Where the question demands a yes or no answer, perhaps you would be kind enough to expand on your response. 1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Reading a book I enjoy under a tree on a perfect Summer's day.
2. What is your greatest fear? Something dreadful but unspecified happening to my children.
3. Which living person do you most admire and why? Alan Moore, I think, the Sage of Northampton. He taught me that a writer should be able to write anything well, and he ploughs his own furrow.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I'm utterly disorganised and I wish I wasn't.
5. What is the trait you most deplore in others? The conviction that they're right - and the way that justifies their treatment of others.
6. What has been your most embarrassing moment? School. It was a long moment, but an embarrassing one.
7. What vehicles do you own? A small grey Mini convertible that I drive, and a Toyota Prius that my assistant drives.
8. What is your greatest extravagance? Buying books I'll never read, in the vague hope that if ever I'm stranded on a desert island I'll have remembered to have packed a steamer trunk filled with unread books.
9. What is your most treasured possession? My iPod -- the idea of it, having all my music when I need it, rather than the rather battered object.
10. Where would you like to live? Somewhere near the sea. Currently I'm living about a thousand miles from the sea in any direction.
11. What makes you depressed? Not writing. I get moody and broody and irritable if I'm not making stuff up.
12. What do you most dislike about your appearance? My hair. It doesn't behave.
13. Who would play you in a movie of your life? Dylan Moran. He has messy hair too.
14. What is your most unappealing habit? According to my kids, it's trailing off in the middle of a...
15. What is your favourite smell? November evenings -- frost and leaf-mould and woodsmoke. The smell of coming winter.
16. What is your favourite word? "Claptrap" -- ever since I discovered that it didn't just mean Nonsense, but the things that politicians and others say that mean little or nothing but get automatic, unthinking applause.
17. What is your favourite book? A huge leather-bound 150 year old accounts book, with 500 numbered pages all perfectly blank. I keep promising myself I'll write a story in it one day.
18. What is your fancy dress costume of choice? Pirate.
19. Radiator or air conditioning? I'd rather be too warm than too cold.
20. Cat or dog? Cats. They turn up and I take them in. I'd love a dog, but I travel too much, signing books or doing film things, and it wouldn't be fair. 21. Is it better to give or to receive? Giving, any time. I never know what to do with all the things I've received.
22. What is your guiltiest pleasure? Wasting time.
24. To whom would you most like to say sorry and why? I doubt she'd even remember my name.
25. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Imaginary things and people.
26. Which living person do you most despise and why? I've never made it as far as despising anyone. It takes work for me to get as far as "dislike".
27. Have you ever said "I love you" without meaning it? Occasionally at the end of long business phone calls, I'll put down the phone and realise that I just said "I love you" to my agent or someone. It's like the moment where you realise you just called a schoolteacher "Mum".
28. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Lovely. Puzzling. Delightful. Finally.
29. What has been your biggest disappointment? Getting a book published with my name on the spine. I'd assumed that I would live thereafter in a state of perfect bliss, but it doesn't quite work like that.
30. What is your greatest regret? I wish I'd enjoyed the journey more, rather than worried about it.
31. When and where were you happiest? Writing a book called AMERICAN GODS in Florida in 2000. I was alternately at my happiest (when it worked) and at my most despondent (when it didn't), but there was very little room in my head for anything else.
32. When did you last cry, and why? Almost twenty years ago, a week after my grandmother died, was the last time I cried like a child. I'm sure I've cried since, but that's the one I remember.
33. How do you relax? I go somewhere quiet and make stuff up and write it down. It's very relaxing as long as it's working.
36. What single thing would improve the quality of your life? Time. I'd like lots and lot more time. Ten day weeks. Six week months. Twenty month years. Things like that.
37. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children.
38. What keeps you awake at night? Silence.
39. What song would you like played at your funeral? Wreckless Eric's "The Final Taxi"
40. How would you like to be remembered? As someone who made things up that people are still reading.
41. What is the most important lesson life has taught you? That the whole "following your dreams" thing may be a cliche but it's also an excellent way to live a life.
(A review of an earlier preview than the press night). 'If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over.' Not in Glasgow. When the wolves hit the stage at the Tramway, a good show becomes its glorious best. The National Theatre of Scotland and Improbable have collaborated in this adaptation of the scary children's book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The Wolves in the Walls is ingeniously billed as 'a musical pandemonium' - a description that carefully avoids the cultural weight of 'opera' and takes the mumsy merriment out of 'musical' - suitable for all those 'over seven who aren't easily scared'.
(I wonder if we pulled back a little on the fear factor in WOLVES following the second of the previews, when it seemed like kids were getting slightly hysterical and the sound of treble screaming punctuated the first half of the show.) I like the vaguely divided reviews, with some of them feeling the show gets good when the wolves come on, and some feeling that the other stuff is better....
and this review now has a photograph of the wolves doing their wolfish things (in this case, Hoovering).
(The London run is the 12th to the 29th of April 2006. )
Just woke up in my own bed back in America (which was a good thing after three weeks in hotel rooms), following a night of strange and exhausted dreams, which was, if nothing else, entertaining -- in one of them I dreamed that I died (in a tiny, suburban front garden), one of them was about working with Lenny Henry on a new TV series while he explained his theory of finding a producer to me, and how we didn't want someone competent and unflappable, what we wanted was someone who really didn't want the job and would go "omigodwhymewhymeargh!!!" when we told him he was now the producer. And then, just before waking there was the extremely odd dream in which I was given the job of carrying the late Queen Mother to a charity function, and I got the wrong house (it belonged to some mafia people, who were all obsessed with electric typewriters), and staggered around it looking for the charity dinner while trying to make interesting conversation with the very old dead lady I was carrying who only wanted to talk about long forgotten elderly palace servants...
Hi Neil,Just googled STONKER, a word I'd never heard before. And you may want to may want to clear up the difference between the Australian version and the British one. I'm sure you didn't mean "to baffle completely" as part of your review of Wolves. But...stonker [Austral] 1) to hit hard: knock unconcious2) to baffle completely: outwit, foil Noun: stonker Usage: Brit Something very large, powerful or severe "I lost 3 days of my holiday due to a real stonker of a hangover" Something very good" a real stonker... bloody great" Derived forms: stonkers Thanks, Ned Reid
Today, of course, is Edible Books Day -- see http://books2eat.com/ for details. What is Books2Eat? The International Edible Book Festival is a yearly event that takes place on April 1 throughout the world. This event unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. Participants create edible books that are exhibited, documented then consumed.
At http://books2eat.com/books2eat2006.html they list the various festivals and parties taking place around the world celebrating this, today and tomorrow. Which is something I was reminded of by all the messages over the last week saying, for example,
Hi Neil.I realize your fans can be a little eccentric (and ok, maybe I could be lumped into that category, myself), but have you seen this guy's blog? http://glassman.typepad.com/ His goal is a little, um, odd. From the first post:"Hello, the Internet. My name is Howard Glassman. I am fifty-eight years old, soon to be fifty-nine, and I am going to digest the compleat works of Neil Gaiman. By "compleat works," I mean "everything the man has ever published, be it comics, essays, poetry, or prose." By "digest," I mean "pass through my alimentary canal." I will start eating tomorrow morning at breakfast, with Coraline." How do you feel about this? Also, do you have any favorite recipe suggestions?-Anson
I just worry vaguely about someone needing to eat the things that are currently only on the hard disk, that I'll come downstairs one day to see my laptop broken open and stuffed with fennel and herring.
And a favourite recipe suggestion? Not sure. But I do think that Anansi Boys should be prepared Caribbean style...
Neil,Very sorry to bother you with a very odd question, but someone recently asked me, as a bit of an Avengers buff, what the Marvel character Sersi was up to. I replied that I hadn't seen her in a comic since the early days of Kurt Busiek's Avengers, but that she might possibly turn up in some capacity in your Eternals thingie. So, um, does she?
Well, somebody with her name does. But she's a party organiser in New York, who apparently knows nothing about the Avengers or about living forever...
I answered many questions for the Guardian a few months ago, and a selection of them are up here: