-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.
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....
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?
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.
cranky (gorey) Sun 30 Apr 00 23:47
I can't imagine a better reason.
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?
Ron Hogan (grifter) Mon 1 May 00 00:56
"It was fun" works for me.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 1 May 00 01:38
We should all only hope to get it to work for us.
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 email@example.com and we will see that your words get posted.
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.)
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.
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?
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!)
Valerie (valerie-m) Tue 2 May 00 19:34
They're making a movie of _Good Omens_ ?
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.
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?
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...
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.
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Wed 3 May 00 14:10
See response 22.
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.)
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...
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."
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?
(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.
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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