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inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #51 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Thu 4 May 00 21:20
    
How did I become a journalist? I wasn't selling any fiction, and I got
up one morning and said to myself "I think I need to figure out how
the world of publishing works. As of today, I shall be a journalist."
So I was. I started that day and finished about five years later, when
I'd met all the people I'd wanted to interview, and had slipped and
slithered from the world of magazine journalism through to the world of
newspaper journalism.

Quit newspaper journalism for good some time in 1987, when I was asked
to do a hatchet job on, of all things, Dungeons and Dragons. 

And, with a couple of minor lapses (an interview with Lou Reed in
1991) I haven't done any since.

I think the best and the biggest thing I learned from journalism was
economy. And to say what I meant. And not to trust anything written by
journalists,of course: Journalism, like the law and sausages, is
something you shouldn't watch being made.

Jeffk -- thank you. SMOKE AND MIRRORS, the short story collection, is
a very good place to start. There will probably be things in there that
you don't like, and other things you do. That's the fun of it.

Elise  -- I like subtle, but I worry about celery and calories. 

There's an urban legendy thing that you expend more calories in
chewing the celery than you gain in the digesting of it.

I don't mind subtle when -- as with Gene Wolfe,  or Diana Wynne Jones
-- any calories you put into reading something will be repaid.

But sometimes you can put a lot of calories into the reading of
things, and you don't get the calories back. I remember a story by an
author who had a whole relationship occur between paragraphs. It took a
lot of work and figuring out to realise that these two people had met,
made love, and split up between paragraphs -- and figuring it out
added nothing to the story. So subtlety has its limitations.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #52 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Fri 5 May 00 00:08
    
You've said that it is important for writers to trust their obsessions.
Any obsessions, current or past, that you'd care to tell us about? (I agree
with you, by the way, that obsessions tend to turn out to have been Very
Useful Research....)
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #53 of 1905: gone (scraps) Fri 5 May 00 14:40
    

Hey, Neil, good to see you in phosphors again.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #54 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 5 May 00 20:20
    
I think the thing about trusting your obsessions is that it's not
about (or not exactly about) researching or about planning. It's about
suddenly needing desperately to know everything about something in an
odd kind of way... I've been reading the 5 volume NEWGATE CALENDAR as
bedroom reading for the last 8 months or more, from mythical criminals
like Sawney Bean and the highwayman who upturned the chamber pot on
Oliver Cromwell's head to sad strange, and somehow ever more trivial
and detailed crimes and deaths (last night's told the story of some
people who were hanged, and how the crush of the crowd turned it into a
disaster, killing hundreds of spectators -- the pieman whose cart
overturned and who was crushed to death as he bent to pick up the pies,
the woman who was being crushed to death, so who took her babe from
her breast and threw it to a man who, himself being crushed threw it to
another, and then another, who placed it under the wheels of the
gallows cart).

And why I'm reading this stuff I have no idea.


But it's already come in useful in American Gods for one section (the
story of Essie Tregowan) and hanging seems a fine theme for anything
with Odin in (he was after all the gallows god and that must not be
forgotten). And it'll compost down, and one day I'll do something else
with it, or something else will grow out of it.

Alan Moore's obsession with Jack the Ripper came first. From Hell came
second. Trust your obsessions.


...

Hi formerlyknownas-- you too.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #55 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 5 May 00 20:22
    
In the case of Dream Hunters -- I think the obsession with Japanese
Fox stories came first (a book of Japanese Fairy tales I was given as a
kid and have never seen again), and then Mononoke heaped coals on it,
and the research I had to do for it. Seeing Amano's artwork made me
decide to write my own fox tale, which was easy and fun -- but it was
easy and fun because it had 30 years of obsession to draw on.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #56 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Fri 5 May 00 23:37
    
By the way, while you were researching Japanese Fox stories, did you run
across any Tanuki stories?  I've got the glimmers of a beginning obsession
with that one myself, is why I ask....

And I meant to ask how the CBLDF cruise went; could you fill us in a bit on
the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and what's going on now?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #57 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sat 6 May 00 21:09
    
Elise -- I have to admit that I really didn't research Japanese fox
stories even a little bit. I just remembered the flavour of the stories
I'd liked as a kid and tried to write something that tasted like that.

(Just found a nice Tanuki website though:

http://www.canismajor.demon.co.uk/tanukigarden/tanuki.htm

you might like).


In New York currently and today I went to the japanese bookstore and
bought a few books on the Japanese Internment camps in WW2. I think
there will be American Gods short story set there: according to Richard
Dorson, there was a revival in traditional japanese folk beliefs in
the camps, and even some strange sightings of badgers and white foxes
and ghosts. But the revival of folk beliefs did not survive the camps.

(Richard Dorson's presence seems to be all the way through this book,
and I didn't even notice him until I mentioned a line in one of his
books I'd liked very much (BLOODSTOPPERS AND BEARWALKERS) to Mike Ford,
who said something about Dorson -- and I returned home to discover
that all the folklore books on the USEFUL pile were by Dorson. You'd
have thought I've've noticed, but I hadn't.

The CBLDF cruise was enormously enjoyable. My parasailing accident
seems now to have become the stuff of legend, I am told.

The CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) whose website is at
CBLDF.org is the organisation which defends the first amendment for
comics publishers, retailers, writers and artists (and thus, readers).

They've fought some fine battles, such as helping Paul Mavrides beat
the California Tax authorities when they tried to reclassify comics
from literature to sign painting, and they've saved a number of
retailers from going to prison. (And there was the case last year of a
West Virginia man accused of selling an pbscene comic -- Elfquest -- to
his own son: the guy spent the night in jail, and if the case had come
to court, he would have lost his job as a youth counsellor, even if
found not guilty... The CBLDF had the case stricken from the record.)

They've also lost a few battles -- such as the time a 22 year old
artist named Mike Diana was prosecuted by the state of Florida for
publishing an obscene 'zine. (His conviction carried with it -- along
with the 3 days Mike had spent in jail, the 3 year suspended sentence,
3000 hours of community service, not being allowed within ten feet of
anyone under the age of 18, journalism ethics courses at his own
expense and psychiatric treatment -- at his own expense -- the
condition that he was not allowed to draw anything else that the court
might find obscene: the local police were ordered to make 24 hour
random spotchecks on his house to ensure that he was not drawing.
Hurrah for Florida.)

Things have been quiet for a few years but recently -- it's an
election year -- there have been a number of strange things the CBLDF
has been called in to help with. Many of them in Texas (which does not
fill me with confidence about the Governor thereof).

And every courtcase costs around $30,000 for starters, even with a lot
of pro bono work....

I think that you can subscribe to BUSTED the CBLDF journal online. You
may even be able to take out an annual membership. 

End of public service announcement.

n
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #58 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Sat 6 May 00 22:44
    

Dorson, eh? Must ask Mike to go book-hunting with me.
(BLOODSTOPPERS AND BEARWALKERS is Yooper folklore,
then?  Cool!)

Which reminds me: seeing as how you're Not From Around
Here, and all that, what *do* you think of American
folklore, and particularly Midwestern American folklore?

And have the folklore beasties and haints of your
childhood land followed you over here? (*Can* one get
a green card for a Jack-in-the-Green, or whatever?)

(And by the way, Rachel Pollack is in town, and says
to say hi.  She'll be at the Powderhorn May Day
Festival tomorrow, to watch the boats row the Sun
back across the lake, and the raising of the Tree
of Life.  I love community ritual....)

Thanks for CBLDF info, too.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #59 of 1905: laurel (lakrahn) Sun 7 May 00 08:05
    

CBLDF website is at http://www.cbldf.org/ and yeah, you can sign up as a
member there or just for the newsletter.  And, of course, there's all sorts
of useful information there.

(This URL brought to you by a web geek and the letters Y and L).
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #60 of 1905: FROM A READER ON THE WEB (tnf) Sun 7 May 00 09:42
    


From: "Michael Lane" <archai@eisa.net.au>
To: <inkwell-hosts@well.com>
Subject: Neil Gaimen
Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 16:52:36 +1000


My name is Amanda and I am currently completing a Masters in Australia
focusing on comics.  As an artist I am looking at the viability of
combining comics and interactive media on the web.  (if this all sounds
rather officious please excuse me - I just finished the offical
proposal for the higher degrees comittee).

A few questions....:)

How do you feel about comics being put on the web?  Do you think it might be
a viable industry?  This aside how do you feel about theJuse of computers in
the creation of the comic book images, text, etc?

And finally where do you see the comic industry heading?

There are heaps more questions but that kind of gets the biggies!

PS.  I don't supose you have ever thought about being a Masters supervisor /
consultant?  I am desperately looking for someone who could answer questions
and give general guidance. (nothing like starting at the top!)  If you are
not interested is there anyone that you could recommend?

Groovy_cat_au@yahoo.com or
archai@eisa.net.au
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #61 of 1905: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 7 May 00 10:58
    

Please do tell us about the parasailing incident!  

And my mind is still boggling at the thought of California Tax authorities
even thinking of reclassifying comics from literature to sign painting.  
The only explanation I can see for that is heavy-duty psychedelics in the
drinking water in Sacramento.

I wonder, too, what's in the drinking water in Florida - it's got to be
whatever is the opposite of psychedelics.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #62 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 7 May 00 22:26
    
argh. Just got back to the hotel room from a wedding in
Philadelphia... this is by way of an apology -- answers and comments
will be forthcoming tomorrow. Probably typed on the plane home...)
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #63 of 1905: Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 7 May 00 23:51
    
Will remember: the way to get Neil to visit is to have a wedding.  Check.

By the way, tomorrow I expect to finally catch up on my reading, now the
film festival is safely over.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #64 of 1905: Richard Evans (rje) Mon 8 May 00 01:27
    

Two interelated questions for Mr Gaiman:

What do you fins more difficult: coming up with new ideas or finding the
right form for the umpteen squillion ideas that will not die?

And how do you manage the business aspects of being a multi-genre artist
type, especially given that you not only work in mutliple genres but in
mutliple commerfcial arenas. Profit mostive aside, comics and films are
still driven by different drivers, which is probably why so may adaptations
are abominations, but that is another question entireley. OK- I give in- why
do you think so many comic adaptations result in terminally bad films?

And I was going to open up with the obligatory fan speil but decided you can
take the fact i like your work as as a given by my mere virtual presence but
then, on reflection, thought that some things are better explicit,
expecially things like compliments, so I just thought I'd make a formal
statement to the effect that I really like your work. And in publicity
photos you always remind me of a cross between Withnail and Dr Who.

This is not a bad thing, BTW.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #65 of 1905: Sam Sanford (joram) Mon 8 May 00 11:51
    <scribbled by joram Mon 8 May 00 15:13>
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #66 of 1905: The Ugliest Troll (joram) Mon 8 May 00 15:14
    
Hello...

I just wondered if Neil plans to stay at the WELL after the interview
is over, I beleive that he would make a remarkable member of the
community.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #67 of 1905: -N. (streak) Mon 8 May 00 19:32
    
        I'd just like to direct the young lady from #60, and anyone else
who's interested in webcomics, to my web-published comic book at
http://www.rogue-star.com
        Okay, plug over, back to the guy whose comics people actually _want_
to read...
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #68 of 1905: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 8 May 00 19:37
    
wow, noah, what an ambitiouos and beautiful site you are creating there.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #69 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 8 May 00 20:13
    
Elisa says....


>>Which reminds me: seeing as how you're Not From Around
Here, and all that, what *do* you think of American
folklore, and particularly Midwestern American folklore?<<

I like it, especially things like WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP. Mostly I like
the inchoate quality it has. The only stuff I dislike is things like
Paul Bunyan -- invented by an Ad agency in the 1920s, with not a trace
of real logger camp legendry about it. What Dorson calls 'fakelore'.

I like the folklore, and the tall tales...

>>And have the folklore beasties and haints of your
childhood land followed you over here? (*Can* one get
a green card for a Jack-in-the-Green, or whatever?)<<


Ah. (Rubs nose thoughtfully.) Funny you should ask me that. That's
what American Gods is about.


>>(And by the way, Rachel Pollack is in town, and says
to say hi.  She'll be at the Powderhorn May Day
Festival tomorrow, to watch the boats row the Sun
back across the lake, and the raising of the Tree
of Life.  I love community ritual....)<<

I wish I could have been there. But I was in Philadelphia.

And Amanda says....

>>How do you feel about comics being put on the web?<<

I think that there are some places like Scott McCloud's site at
Scottmccloud.com, where comics are being reinvented for the web and he
does things he couldn't do on paper (well, not without 16 foot long
sheets of paper). On the other hand, mostly websites with comics on are
just places where you wait for pages to load... and wait.... and
wait....

>> Do you think it might be
a viable industry?  This aside how do you feel about theJuse of
computers in
the creation of the comic book images, text, etc?<<


I think it might become a viable industry if micropayments ever become
the norm, and one could get paid a real royalty without the thing
having to see paper.


I think the use of computers has become the norm in creating comics
--certainly in colouring, lettering, word processing and so on. So far
writers are still writing comics, and even computer created art needs
someone to do the drawing. 


Scott McCloud has just written a book called REINVENTING COMICS, which
will be out soon, which is a sort of a hymn to the web and the
computer.

As far as I'm concerned a computer is a tool. A few years ago I bought
a fountain pen and some bound blank paper notebooks and started
writing in them. I found I think about sentences differently, writing
in longhand, and I enjoy that.


>>And finally where do you see the comic industry heading?<<


Depends whether people continue making comics people want to read. As
long as they do, it'll be fine; even so it still hasn't recovered from
the attempt to turn comics into investment items of the early 1990s.

>>PS.  I don't supose you have ever thought about being a Masters
supervisor /
consultant?  I am desperately looking for someone who could answer
questions
and give general guidance. (nothing like starting at the top!)  If you
are
not interested is there anyone that you could recommend?<<

Scott McCloud. He's unquestionably the expert in the area you seem to
be looking at, and he's thought about it more than any of us. I'm not
sure I agree with everything he says in REINVENTING COMICS (he doesn't
really mention the value of stories per se, and as far as I'm concerned
the story is far superior to the distribution medium), but when it
comes out I think it will prove to be more of a manifesto than
UNDERSTANDING COMICS ever was.

If memory serves he's scottmccloud@scottmccloud.com -- a trip to
Scottmccloud.com will tell you if he is or not.

My #2 suggestion would be Eddie Campbell, one of the greatest living
comics creators, currently to be found in Brisbane, so you can probably
buy him a drink.

And Linda says...

>>Please do tell us about the parasailing incident!<<


I went up. The boat's engine died. I landed in the sea. I thought" I'm
going to die!" I trod water, I shouted help, I resigned myself to a
lonely death in the sea far from my loved ones... I noticed that I was
bobbing like a cork, what with wearing a life jacket, and that I was
just fine, and relaxed until, what seemed like several weeks later,
people swam out from the shore and pulled me in.  

>>And my mind is still boggling at the thought of California Tax
authorities
even thinking of reclassifying comics from literature to sign
painting.  
The only explanation I can see for that is heavy-duty psychedelics in
the
drinking water in Sacramento.<<


Nope. Smart decision. An author doesn't have to charge sales tax on a
manuscript. A sign artist has to charge sales tax on his sign.

If they'd been successful every comics artist and cartoonist in
California would have had to have charged sales tax on their art when
they handed it over to a publisher -- even though the art was not owned
by the publisher. They would have got Charles Schulz and a host of
others.

Their test case was Paul mavrides, who drew FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROS
with Gilbert Shelton, and who, they assumed, would simply pay up. he
didn't -- it was a five year battle, but he fought, and the CBLDF
fought. And right prevailed -- which is always nice to see.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #70 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 8 May 00 21:07
    
& thelovelymarthaSoukup says...

>>Will remember: the way to get Neil to visit is to have a wedding. 
Check.

By the way, tomorrow I expect to finally catch up on my reading, now
the
film festival is safely over.<<

...


Hi Martha -- actually this wedding was special. I turned down trips to
Naples, and to a literary festival in Brittany in order to go. The
last thing I went to in New York was the memorial service for my
friend's last boyfriend: it seemed right to go to her wedding, two
years on.
 
...

& Richard Evans says,

>>Two interelated questions for Mr Gaiman:

What do you fins more difficult: coming up with new ideas or finding
the
right form for the umpteen squillion ideas that will not die?<<

Ideas are easy. Writing is hard.

Figuring out the form for ideas is sometimes straightforward,
sometimes deeply problematic.

>>And how do you manage the business aspects of being a multi-genre
artist
type, especially given that you not only work in mutliple genres but
in
mutliple commerfcial arenas. Profit mostive aside, comics and films
are
still driven by different drivers, which is probably why so may
adaptations
are abominations, but that is another question entireley. OK- I give
in- why
do you think so many comic adaptations result in terminally bad
films?<<

I'm not very good at the business stuff, chiefly because I'm not very
interested in it. So I have agents and lawyers and a nice lady in LA
who runs my corporate existence and occasionally sends me forms to fill
in, and I have a wife who talks to accountants and banks and tax
people.


I think that mostly good things make bad films. Mediocre things often
make really good films. When people make successful films out of comics
(eg Men in Black) most people don't even know it was a comic to begin
with.

But then, good novels mostly make bad films. I can think of a few
decent Stephen King novellas that made good movies, but very few of his
novels, for example.


Watchmen would never make a good movie because, as Terry Gilliam once
told me, once you'd taken out enough to make it a two hour movie, you'd
taken out all the things that made it Watchmen...

>>And in publicity
photos you always remind me of a cross between Withnail and Dr Who.<<


Tom Baker,  I suppose, and not Jon Pertwee or William Hartnell...

and Joram asks,

>>I just wondered if Neil plans to stay at the WELL after the
interview
is over, I beleive that he would make a remarkable member of the
community.<<

Dunno. I haven't yet had a chance to explore the Well, yet. My spare
time has gone on answering this topic... We'll see.

 
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #71 of 1905: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Mon 8 May 00 21:12
    
I did not know that about Paul Bunyan so I did a web search. 
Appropriately enough, there's nothing definitive.  Some sites say the
story was invented by W.B. Laughead in ads for Red River Lumber, while
a couple others refer to earlier stories by James MacGillivray in the
Detroit News Tribune.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #72 of 1905: Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 8 May 00 21:59
    
Neil, I saw the Wisconsin Death Trip movie last week at the film festival.
It's tremendously beautiful, worthy of the source material.  But perhaps,
with your sources, you've already seen it?

If you have a chance to see it on a big screen (they struck a film print for
the film festivals, though it was made for, I think, Cinemax), it's worth
it.  Gorgeous b&w photography.
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #73 of 1905: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Mon 8 May 00 23:40
    
Neil, I think I told you that my neighbor 
when I was a little kid was the first 
person into Ed Gein's place, didn't
I?

He only talked about it once, and I don't 
think he knew I was still awake and 
sitting under the table on the patio
where he and my dad were drinking beer.

Whenever another book about Ed Gein would 
come out, I would pick it up and check 
whether they had spelled Shadow's name 
right. That was my litmus test for 
whether the book was full of crap or not. 
(Shadow's name was Lloyd Schoephoester, 
and he was a hero to me.)

Am happily looking forward to American Gods.

Mike, by the way, has been reading this over 
my shoulder tonight, and when we got to the 
bit about the parasailing mishap, when you 
were bobbing about in the ocean in that last 
sentence, he said it was a good thing they 
came out to rescue you, before you had to 
decide which part of yourself to eat first. 
(He's an odd man, Dr. Mike is.)

Regarding ideas being easy and writing 
being hard, are there any ideas that you 
know you *won't* do, but you're still fond 
of?
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #74 of 1905: Laurel Krahn (lakrahn) Tue 9 May 00 12:18
    
Now I'm just curious which part Neil would . . . ohnevermind.  I'll
behave.
 
  
inkwell.vue.73 : Neil Gaiman - SANDMAN:THE DREAM HUNTERS
permalink #75 of 1905: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Tue 9 May 00 20:27
    
Brian -- and it's quite possible there WERE Paul Bunyan stories told.
Dorson records one about how Bunyan cheated his crew out of a year's
salary which has the feel of real folklore about it and implies that if
there were Paul Bunyan stories told they were closer to the stories
told about lumber camp bosses -- like the guy who promised to pay the
men's wages to their wives, and then went to the wives and offered them
each $100 to sleep with them -- the money he owed the husbands...


Martha -- no, I haven't. I'd love to see it though.

Elise, no, I don't think you ever did tell me that.

Oddly, the name of the protagonist of American Gods is Shadow.

So... I've handed in CORALINE to Harper-Collins-Avon. Now we have to
find an illustrator and figure out how to market something that's a
really really scary book which some adults seem to worry is too scary
for kids, but which no kids have complained about so far.

(Diana Wynne Jones, on the other hand, thought it was splendidly
scary, but too slow and not scary enough in the first few chapters.)

Part Two of American Gods seems to be underway.
  

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