inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #26 of 1905: -N. (streak) Sun 30 Apr 00 20:39
    
Which in turn belongs to Time-Warner, not known for a sense of humor
when it comes to ownership issues.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #27 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Sun 30 Apr 00 22:01
    
There's a one-shot called "Gods and Tulips," which benefits the Comic Book
Legal Defense Fund (a fine topic in its own right, and one for which you
have done lots of helpful stuff)... anyhow, in it, you said, of SANDMAN,
"And I stopped doing comics because I wanted it to continue being fun, I
wanted to continue to love and care for comics, and I wanted to leave while
I was still in love."  One of the things I have admired about you is how you
do respect the medium -- whichever one it is you happen to be working in at
the moment -- and you treat the medium well.

And when I tried to count up how many different media you've worked in, I
got tangled like the centipede and had to sit down.   So.... let's see:
there are the comics.... and the radio plays.... and novels.... and....
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #28 of 1905: Ron Hogan (grifter) Sun 30 Apr 00 22:35
    

<madman>, your best bet would be to get your band signed to a Warner label.
*grin*

One of the things I loved about Sandman from day one, Neil, is the way that
you treated the assembled DC stories as a mythology, one that treated with
great respect even as you transformed it...and many of its demigods. Can
you talk about what it was like to reinvent characters, some of whom I
assume you grew up reading?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #29 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 30 Apr 00 23:34
    
Elise... and short stories, and occasional songs, and I'm very very
VERY lazily working on a stage play in the background. And movie
scripts. And then there was whatever it was I did to Princess Mononoke
-- I think that we called it "adaptation". And, of course, I used to be
journalist....

Oh, and there are the reading tours for the CBLDF, which I've been
doing for 6 or 7 years now, and the last of which will be this october.
(If memory serves it will be LA, Chicago, POrtland and LA.)


Ron, argh. I suppose you must want a answer to 
"Can
you talk about what it was like to reinvent characters, some of whom I
assume you grew up reading?"

that's more than 
"it was fun"
but I'm not sure that I can provide one. It was fun. It was a game. It
got enormously fun when I'd polish up characters that people had not
only forgotten about but dismissed out of hand, like Prez, or Element
Girl, and make people go "what a cool character!" and completely forget
that up until then Prez had been a bad joke.

I tend to make things into patterns and sets, or I used to -- I
remember that when I first sat down to write Black Orchid I wrote a
paper called NOTES TOWARD A VEGETABLE THEOLOGY that built a coherent
picture -- a sort of unified field theory == out of all DC's
plant-powered characters.

And I did it, I'm afraid, because it was fun, and for no other reason.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #30 of 1905: cranky (gorey) Sun 30 Apr 00 23:47
    
I can't imagine a better reason.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #31 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Mon 1 May 00 00:21
    
Songs, yes....

A cursory check of the nearest pile of discs reveals "Riding 
the Flame," "Tea and Corpses," and co-written with Lorraine 
Garland, "Postmortem on Our Love," "Sonnet in the Dark," and 
"The Herring Song," all from the recording "The Return of 
Pansy Smith and Violet Jones," from the Flash Girls. This
recording also has an indescribably, um... evocative 
afterword that you wrote. (It catches the spirit of the band 
quite nicely, too.)  The lines from "The Herring Song,"

        "The birds were sweet, had sugary feet,
         And the herrings sang where they lay."

...do stay with a person. In a good way, I mean. I think.

And then there's "Banshee," "A Girl Needs a Knife," and that 
other song you wrote when you were seventeen, which once 
mentioned will not go out of my head again, all on the disc 
"Maurice and I," also from the Flash Girls. (Said recording 
also contains work by Jane Yolen ("Prince Charming Comes")
and Alan Moore ("Me & Dorothy Parker"), and of course Emma 
Bull and Lorraine Garland; quite the lineup.)

Do the songs occur to you between other things, or do you 
start out intending to be song-building that day?

And That Song (all right, all right, it's called "Yeti" and 
now it will be in my head all week!) was also in one of the 
collections, wasn't it?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #32 of 1905: Ron Hogan (grifter) Mon 1 May 00 00:56
    

"It was fun" works for me.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #33 of 1905: Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 1 May 00 01:38
    
We should all only hope to get it to work for us.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #34 of 1905: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 1 May 00 13:34
    
Really!  How wonderful to do something purely because it was fun.

And let me just interject a note to those of you who are reading this
interview with Neil Gaimon from off-WELL - if you would like to
participate with your own comments, suggestions, etc, please send e-mail
to inkwell-hosts@well.com and we will see that your words get posted.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #35 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 1 May 00 19:21
    
As far as I know, Maurice and I, which is where Yeti can be found,  is
still in print, whereas The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones is
a bit of history and is no longer available. (Some of the songs from it
may crop up on the Flash Girls new album.)

I tend to write bits of songs in my head and normally leave them, once
they are written.  While I had the Flash Girls as an entity to give
songs to, I'd take an hour every now and again and write a song,
normally when I was meant to be doing something else. (I actually wrote
the "All Purpose Folk Song" at the Ren Fest, after hearing the FLash
Girls and feeling they needed a song that skewered the folk songs
everyone else was doing.) When Emma moved to LA and the Flash Girls
stopped being somewhere that actually used songs, I stopped writing
them down, and mostly they stay virtual in my head. Now that the FGs're
coming back together to record once more I'm starting to think about
writing songs again.

The best songs -- like A Girl Needs a Knife -- are like the best poems
for me, in that you think of the first line and suddenly the whole
thing is there.

My Christmas Card Poem this year, the Writer's Prayer, was one of
those. I was thinking about G.K Chesterton and how it would have been
better if he'd written less and I thought "Lord, let me not be one of
those who writes too much..." and realised it was the first line of
prayer, and knew what all the rest of it had to be.

On Princess Mononoke, the hardest bit of it was translating/building
the english lyrics to the songs to fit the sense and sound of the
japanese tunes, finding mid-line half-rhymes and beats that would work.
(The saddest bit is that you can't hear the english lyrics of the
Tatara women's song on the movie -- it's way back in the mix -- and
they left it off the CD in favour of the original japanese version.)

(The Herring Song was something I wrote to show Lorraine how to open
and save a document on a computer. It was a little bit of Mad Hettyish
nonsense I typed, then saved, and forgot about. She didn't.)
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #36 of 1905: Laurel Krahn (lakrahn) Mon 1 May 00 20:04
    

Cool!  I didn't know that about "The Herring Song."

_Maurice and I_ is still in print and is available from Fabulous Records
(http://members.aol.com/hatfield13/fabrecords/) from amazon (www.amazon.com)
and elsewhere.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #37 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Mon 1 May 00 23:11
    
Waaaay back there, gorey asked a question about movies.... what's up in the
film world, Neil?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #38 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Tue 2 May 00 13:38
    
(And also I note in passing that your comments about making english lyrics
for the songs in the film Princess Mononoke that "fit the sense and sound of
the japanese tunes" reminds me of issues about poetry and translation
explored by Jane Hirshfield, whose interview here in Inkwell is topic 55.
Especially the part about "finding mid-line half-rhymes and beats that would
work" makes me think about the instructive rigors of translating poetry --
so instructive that just hearing about it after the fact is a learning
experience!)
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #39 of 1905: Valerie (valerie-m) Tue 2 May 00 19:34
    
They're making a movie of _Good Omens_ ?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #40 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Tue 2 May 00 20:01
    
I hesitate to answer the movie question, because for reasons I don't
understand they seem to tower over things and overpower them...

Let's see:

1) SANDMAN is nothing to do with me. I hear they're about to do
another draft of the script, going back to the earlier drafts of the
script and losing the dire 'all-action' version that was floating
around last year. (You'll find a description of it on Ain't It Cool
News.)

2) Death: The High Cost of living. With warners/village roadshow. I'm
contracted to write and direct, and am currently writing.


2) Neverwhere -- with Hensons/Dimension. Richard Loncraine is
directing, and, after about 8 drafts of script in the last 4 years, not
to mention two versions of the novel and a tv series, I've stepped
aside, and the next draft is being done by Andrew Birkin. And the best
of luck to him.

3)Stardust -- with Miramax, to be co-produced by Cruise-Wagner.
Currently we're looking for a director, then I start writing it.

4) Chivalry -- bought by Miramax.

5) Books of Magic -- I'm an 'executive producer' on this. Last thing I
heard we were still waiting for a script -- it's about 6 months late,
I think.

6)Good Omens -- The Samuelsons are producing it. Not sure which studio
it's with. Terry Gilliam is signed to direct it, Tony Grisoni is
signed to cowrite. 

There may be a few other things floating around. But that's most of
them.

....

Currently watching the BBC Gormenghast adaptation. Sometimes it works,
sometimes it doesn't. As a general comment, everything seems too
colourful, too clean, too pretty. 
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #41 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Tue 2 May 00 20:34
    
>I hesitate to answer the movie question, because
>for reasons I don't understand they seem to
>tower over things and overpower them...

Excellent point. We shall thus deftly hop back over to the written word,
with or without only the kind of pictures that don't move.  (And do
allow me to say again that I love the genre-confounding that practitioners
of the fantastic do so well. I remember seeing you at a Fourth Street
Fantasy Convention once, quite a number of years back, answering a question
from one of the panelists -- you were in the audience, house left, midway
up the aisle, I believe -- about form and fantasy. Damned if I can remember
a word of it, but it made perfect sense at the time -- it was like one of
moments where Gene Wolfe says something and you nod in slow motion as
your brain does an outside loop and resettles in new configuration....)

So. Writing. Yes. You said of Tori Amos, "what i like  about her work 
is the honesty combined with melody." This seems to me to be true of 
your work as well. And whatever particular thing you are writing, you
don't seem to either flinch from the difficult (the horrible, at times)
or run over to poke your finger in it and make faces. You don't duck
the beautiful stuff, either. 

Where did you learn that? 
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #42 of 1905: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 3 May 00 13:48
    

And I, being regrettably ignorant of your considerable talents, would like
to know more about how you are involved with Tori?  My SO is completely
smitten with her...
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #43 of 1905: Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 3 May 00 13:59
    
I thought Neil mentioned that?  They first became acquainted with each
other's work (hers before it was first released), met & liked each other,
are friends.

Neil once got me passes from Tori to a sold-out show, but I've never met her
myself--I was thankful to her of course, but it was her favor to him not me
& I'm shy.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #44 of 1905: Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Wed 3 May 00 14:10
    
 See response 22.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #45 of 1905: I should have taken the blue pill. (jet) Wed 3 May 00 18:23
    
As a relatively recent convert to Sandman (around issue 50 or so), I'm
glad to see Mr. Gaiman here.  I'd given up on comics entirely around
the time Sandman started, but my friends tried to get me to read it
anyways.  I insisted that "all comics suck now" and ignored them and
Sandman.  How wrong I was...

Since Sandman ended, I've been following the various comics that sprung
up in its wake and was wondering what you thought of The Dreaming in
particular.

Do you give permissions on storylines, scripts, et al, or do you find
out what happens when you pick up your copy?

I like the storylines based on Cain and Abel, Eve, the Corinthian,
Lucien, Matthew, Mervyn, et al.  However, I just can't imagine that
having created such characters ever lettting anyone else write about
them.

Having created a franchise as important to some folks as Star Trek is
to others, how do you personally let go of the characters and world
you've created and allow others to run with them?

(Now, having typed this, I remembered that I'm really bad about
 reading the author/artist credits, and it's possible that
 Mr. Gaiman has personally written every issue of The Dreaming.)
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #46 of 1905: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 3 May 00 19:09
    

Ah, thanks for the pointer.  It didn't mention Tori's name, so I missed it
when I searched.

What a very cool thing to have happened.  And Little Earthquakes is an
amazing intro to Tori...
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #47 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 3 May 00 21:15
    
Elise, I think the most interesting thing about real life is that it
doesn't fall into easy genre patterns. In the course of a week (hell,
in the course of half an hour) you can stumble from tragedy to
slapstick to soap opera to pornography to horror to courtroom drama to
love story. There's sweet and sour in there. 

That's part of it.

If you duck the horrible, then the beautiful means nothing. If you
duck the beauty then the darkness is meaningless. And if there's no
humour in the mix it's like a dish without salt.

Good Omens was the last time I wrote anything that was nothing but
humour, and, although it was fun to write, and working with Terry
Pratchett was terrific (I felt like a journeyman getting to work with a
master craftsman) I don't think I'll ever write another book that's
just funny.

Coraline (which it's very bad manners to talk about as no-one except
me has read it) is a very strange book. It's like an Angela Carter book
for little girls. Scary and funny and, in the end, I think, kind of
beautiful.

Where did I learn that?

I don't know. I do know I love writers who do it though, from Harlan
and Roger Zelazny and Lafferty to Alan Moore, Jonathan Carroll, Hope
Mirrlees... I like writers who use a lot of different seasonings.

Linda -- i think everyone else has come in and answered that for me.


Jet, no I haven't written anything Sandman since it ended, except for
Sandman: The Dream Hunters (buy it, read it, vote it for a Hugo).


There are a few characters -- Rose Walker, Sexton Furnival, the
younger six members of the Endless  -- who are very "please leave them
alone". There are other people who, if well handled, I rather enjoy
seeing other people write. it's not how I;d do it, but the new LUCIFER
comic which Mike Carey is writing is terrific, and I think The Dreaming
has certainly had its moments.

I'm a 'consultant' -- which means I get to give an opinion, and
sometimes people listen to it.

Linda -- the first time I ever saw Tori live, it was at a little place
called the Canal Brasserie in Notting Hill. There was no-one there to
see her but me. A couple of people at the bar, the owner having a
birthday dinner (she stopped halfway through and played him Happy
Birthday) there. And me.

Some years later I went to see her at the Royal Albert hall in London.
5,000+ people there to see her. I got one of the royal boxes, and
watched her play and glowed with pride and happiness.

And afterward she asked me what I thought. "It was pretty good," I
told her. "But of course, it's not the Canal Brasserie."
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #48 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Thu 4 May 00 08:31
    
"And if there's no humour in the mix 
it's like a dish without salt."

This reminds me of the fairy tale, where the king's
youngest daughter says only that she loves her
father as she loves salt on her meat.

On an entirely other note, how did you become a
journalist, and (when) did you stop? I recall
the instance we talked about once involving
manuscript style and editorial/typesetting goofs;
has your journalist past cropped up in other
ways in your fiction-writer present?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #49 of 1905: (jeffk) O o . o O (jeffk) Thu 4 May 00 12:50
    
Neil, I don't have any questions, since the only thing I've read of yours
was Good Omens, and a short story about a lady who had the Holy Grail on her
mantlepiece that you read for scifi.com, I believe.  I just wanted to say
that I'm really glad to see you here, and that I have several friends who
are in love with your work, and I hope that maybe you'll carve out some time
to stay on the WELL.  Oh, and I'll try to pick up a copy of something you
wrote the next time I find myself in a bookstore, promise.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #50 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Thu 4 May 00 20:28
    

(Also, thinking about life -- and writing -- not falling into easy patterns,
genre or otherwise, and about what the sweet and the sour might need from each
other, this is perhaps a good place to put in a Martha Soukup quote, taken
from *her* Inkwell topic, which is #16:

"Never to forget the subtlety while you're cranking the hell out of your
 metaphors though.  Over-the-top subtle, that's what I'm after.")
  

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