Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman (November 2004)

Neil Richard Gaiman (/'geɪmən/) (born November 10, 1960 in Portchester, England) is an English Jewish author of numerous science fiction and fantasy works, including many comic books. As of 2005, he lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Biography

As a child and a teenager, Gaiman grew up reading the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton. He later became a fan of science fiction, reading the works of authors as diverse as Samuel R. Delany, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison and especially Gene Wolfe.

Although Jewish, he was schooled at a school run by the Church of England. There he studied both standard school topics as well as religion classes. At the same time, he trained to become Bar Mitzvah with an Orthodox Jewish cantor. This training gave him a wide background in both Jewish and Christian theology, which he incorporates heavily into his works, perhaps most notably in Sandman.

After being rejected many times by publishers, Gaiman pursued journalism as a means to learn about the world and make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published, conducting interviews and writing book reviews. During this time he wrote his first book, a now sought-after throwaway biography of the band Duran Duran, and a large number of articles for Knave magazine. In the late 1980s he wrote Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Companion in what he calls a "classic English humorist" style; in his opinion the book is what led to his collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the comic novel Good Omens, about an impending apocalypse. [1]

After forming a friendship with famed comic book scribe Alan Moore, Gaiman started writing comics. He wrote two British graphic novels with his favorite collaborator and long time friend Dave McKean: Violent Cases and Signal to Noise. Afterwards, he landed a job with DC Comics, which resulted in the limited series Black Orchid.

He has written a multitude of comics for several publishers, but his best-known work is the comics series The Sandman, which chronicles the adventures of Morpheus, the personification of Dream. (See The Endless). The series started a small cultural sensation, gathering a devout following and making comic books respectable to many new audiences. The series began in 1988 and ended in 1996 when Gaiman simply announced that the story he began in the first issue had run its natural course. All 75 issues of the regular series have been collected into 10 volumes that are still in print and selling well.

In 1991, Gaiman published The Books of Magic, a four-part mini-series that provided a tour of the mythological and magical parts of the DC Universe through a frame story about an English teenager who discovers that he has a destiny as the world's greatest wizard. The miniseries was popular, and spun off an ongoing series, also called The Books of Magic, written by John Ney Reiber. Many people have noted similarities between series protagonist Tim Hunter and the later and more famous Harry Potter; when referring to this similarity, Gaiman indicates that the young man as sorcerer has precedent in literature.

Gaiman also writes songs, poems and novels, and wrote the BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere, which he later adapted into a novel. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie MirrorMask with his old friend Dave McKean. In addition, he wrote the English language script to the anime movie Princess Mononoke.

Gaiman is a Board Member as well as an active supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and he regularly participates in fundraisers for the group including creating materials such as the original Snow, Glass, Apples (the CBLDF owns the copyright).

While Gaiman was writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional web site featuring a weblog (some time before they became as popular as they are now) in which Gaiman described the day-to-day process of writing (and then revising, publishing, promoting) the novel. After the novel was published, the web site evolved into a more general Official Neil Gaiman Web Site, and as of 2005 Gaiman still regularly adds to the weblog, describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is. Parts of the blog were extracted for publication in the New England Science Fiction Association Press collection of Gaiman miscellany, Adventures in the Dream Trade.

Gaiman received a World Fantasy Award for short fiction in 1991 for the Sandman issue, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (see Dream Country). (Due to a subsequent rules change disqualifying comics for that category, Gaiman is the only writer to win that award for a comics script.) He received the 2002 Hugo Award for outstanding novel for American Gods, which also won the 2002 Nebula Award. In 2003 Coraline won the best novella award. In 2004, his short story "A Study in Emerald" won another Hugo (in a ceremony the author presided over himself, having volunteered for the job before his story was nominated). In addition, he has won 13 Eisner Awards for his comics work.

Gaiman has also written at least three drafts of a screenplay adaptation of Nicholson Baker's novel The Fermata for director Robert Zemeckis, although the project remains stalled in "development hell".

Gaiman forged an intense friendship with singer Tori Amos in the early nineties. Before she met stardom, she sent him a demo tape of her album Little Earthquakes, and they became fast friends. As such, he is constantly mentioned (often rather cryptically) in at least one of her songs on each of her albums. He also wrote the forewords to several of her tour programs as well as short stories to accompany her album Strange Little Girls. (Excerpts appeared in the album booklet.) Some of her lyrical mentions:

  • "If you need me, me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king/Neil said hi, by the way" ("Tear In Your Hand," 1992)
  • "Where's Neil when you need him?" ("Space Dog," 1994)
  • "Will you find me if Neil makes me a tree?" ("Horses," 1996)—Gaiman based a character of a talking tree on Amos
  • "Where are the Velvets?" ("Hotel," 1998)—the Velvets being vampire-like characters from Gaiman's novel Neverwhere
  • "Get me Neil on the line,.../have him read Snow, Glass, Apples" ("Carbon," 2002)

Gaiman is also a friend of science fiction and comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the television series Babylon 5. As such there is a species of aliens on that series called the Gaim; their heads closely resemble the helmet worn by Gaiman's Sandman character. However Straczynski has stated the aliens' appearance was based more on gas masks than on the King of Dreams' helm (itself inspired by the gas mask worn by the original World-War-2-era Sandman), and that the name came after the resemblance was noted. Gaiman is also the only writer other than Straczynski to have contributed to the series' final three seasons; he wrote the season 5 episode "Day of the Dead".

In 2002, Neil Gaiman filed and won a lawsuit against Todd McFarlane involving three supporting Spawn characters: Cogliostro, Medieval Spawn, and Angela. McFarlane asked Gaiman (as well as other recognized authors like Frank Miller and Dave Sim) to write one issue of his Spawn series. While doing so, Gaiman introduced the three previously-mentioned characters. McFarlane had agreed that Gaiman's creations would be Gaiman's, but he nevertheless still used the three characters in further plots (Cogliostro even appears in the Spawn movie).

As of 2005 he has completed a new novel, titled Anansi Boys which had a worldwide simultaneous release. The book deals with Anansi ('Mr. Nancy'), a character from American Gods, who dies at the beginning of the novel. Specifically it traces the relationship of his two sons, one semi-divine and the other an unaware Englishman, as they explore their common heritage. It hit the New York Times bestseller list at number one [2].

Robert Zemeckis intends to make a film of Beowulf, based on a script by Gaiman and Roger Avary.

Bibliography

Comics & graphic novels

  • Violent Cases (1987) - Gaiman, Neil; McKean, Dave (ill.) (1987). Violent Cases, London: Titan. ISBN 1-85-286372-2.
  • Black Orchid #1-3 (1988) - Gaiman, Neil; McKean, Dave (ill.) (1988). Black Orchid, New York: DC Comics. ISSN Unknown.
  • Light Brigade-Trident Comics-(1988)
  • The Sandman #1-75 (1991-1997) - Ten-volume collection: Gaiman, Neil (1991-1997). The Sandman, New York, NY : DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389011-9 (v. 1); 0-93-028959-5 (v. 2); 1-56-389016-X (v. 3); 1-56-389041-0 (v. 4); 1-56-389089-5 (v. 5); 1-56-389105-0 (v. 6); 1-56-389138-7 (v. 7); 1-56-389171-9 (v. 8); 1-56-389205-7 (v. 9); 1-56-389279-0 (v. 10).
  • Miracleman #17-24 - Reprinted as: Gaiman, Neil; Buckingham, Mark (ill.); Truman, Wayne (let.) (1992). Miracleman Book 4: The Golden Age, Forestville, Calif. : Eclipse Books. ISBN 1-56-060168-X (pbk.); 1-56-060169-8 (Hardcover).
  • Books of Magic #1-4 (1991) - Reprinted as: Gaiman, Neil, et. al. (1993). Books of Magic, New York: DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389082-8.
  • Being an Account of the Life and Death of the Emperor Heliogabolus (1991) (a self-illustrated 14-page 24-hour comic published in Cerebus #147) - Also republished in McCloud, Scott (ed.) (2004). 24 Hour Comics, Thousand Oaks, Calif.: About Comics. ISBN 0-97-163384-3 (pbk.).
  • Signal to Noise (Dark Horse Comics, 1992) - Gaiman, Neil and McKean, Dave (1992). Signal to Noise, London: VG Graphics. ISBN 0-57-505140-X (hardcover); 0-57-505284-8 (pbk).
  • Death: The High Cost of Living #1-3 (with Chris Bachalo) - Gaiman, Neil, et. al. (1994). Death: The High Cost of Living, New York: DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389132-8; 1-56-389133-6 (pbk.).
  • The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch - Gaiman, Neil and McKean, Dave (1994). The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, New York: Vertigo/DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389181-6.
  • The Last Temptation - Gaiman, Neil; Zuli, Michael, and Cooper, Alice (1994). The Last Temptation, New York: Marvel Comics. ISBN 1-56-971455-X.
    • storyline based on Alice Cooper's album The Last Temptation, co-plotted and written by Mr Gaiman and Alice Cooper
  • Angela #1-3 - Gaiman, Neil and Capullo, Greg (1994/1995). Angela, Anaheim, CA: Image Comics. ISBN 1-88-727909-1.
  • Death: The Time Of Your Life #1-3 (with Chris Bachalo) - Gaiman, Neil et. al. (1997). Death: The Time of Your Life, New York: DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389319-3; 1-56-389333-9 (trade pbk.).
  • Stardust (Being A Romance Within The Realm of Faerie) #1-4 - Gaiman, Neil and Vess, Charles (1997-1998). Stardust (Being a Romance Withing the Realm of Faerie), New York: Vertigo/DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389431-9; 1-56-389470-X (pbk.).
  • Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days (collection of early work with various artists) - Gaiman, Neil and Wagner, Matt (1999). Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days, New York: Vertigo/DC Comics. ISBN 1-56-389517-X.
  • Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame (previously unpublished script with various artists) - Gaiman, Neil et. al. (2000). Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, New York: DC Comics. ISBN Unknown.
  • Harlequin Valentine - Gaiman, Neil and Bolton, John (2001). Harlequin Valentine, Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics. ISBN 1-56-971620-X.
  • Murder Mysteries - Russell, P. Craig and Gaiman, Neil (2002). Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries, Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics. ISBN 1-56-971634-X.
  • 1602 #1-8 - Gaiman, Neil and Kubert, Andy (2003). Marvel 1602, New York: Marvel Comics. ISBN 0-78-511070-4.
  • Endless Nights - Gaiman, Neil; Klein, Todd; and Fabry, Glenn (2003). Endless Nights, New York: Vertigo Comics. ISBN 1-40-120089-3 ; 1-40-120113-X (pbk.).

Prose

(includes works consisting of illustrated text as opposed to comic-book form)

Audio

  • Warning Contains Language (stories read by Gaiman, music by McKean) - Gaiman, Neil (1995). Warning: Contains Language [sound recording], DreamHaven Inc.. ISBN 0-96-309447-5.
  • Signal to Noise (2000) (audio drama with full cast and music)
  • American Gods (read by George Guidall) - Gaiman, Neil and Guidall, George, voice (2001). American Gods [sound recording], Prince Frederick, Md.: Recorded Books. ISBN 0-78-879473-6.
  • Coraline (2002) (US ed. read by Gaiman, UK ed. by Dawn French) - American edition: Gaiman, Neil (2002). Coraline [sound recording], New York: Harper Children's Audio. ISBN 0-06-051048-X.
  • Two Plays for Voices (Snow, Glass, Apples and Murder Mysteries with full cast & music) - Gaiman, Neil and voice cast (2002). Two Plays for Voices [sound recording], New York: Harper Audio. ISBN 0-06-001256-0.
  • Telling Tales (2003) (Neil tells us stories: A Writer's Prayer; Harlequin Valentine; Boys and Girls Together; The Wedding Present, and In The End. Percussion by Robin Adnan Anders)
  • Speaking in Tongues (2005) (contains "Daughter of Owls," "Instructions," "The Price," "The Sea Change," and "The Case in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch."
  • Mr Gaiman's song-writing and collaboration is also featured on:
  • Gaiman has also been mentioned in albums by Tori Amos

(Citation information taken from WorldCat.)

External links

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