To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season
Neil Gaiman once said that his favorite smell was 'November evenings -- frost and leaf-mould and woodsmoke. The smell of coming winter.' Now I'll bet you, like I, can now smell frost and leaf-mould and woodsmoke as that's what a truly great storyteller can do and Gaiman's among the best storytellers that have ever graced this culture. To his credit, he is also, as one fellow writer put it, 'a truly nice fellow'. Having encountered in my day some writers who were, to put it mildly, far less nice than one would hope they would be, Gaiman is one of the better blokes in the writing business these days! Once upon a time, we made him Oak King for a year -- an honor reserved for the best storytellers!
And he's certainly a prolific writer/scriptwriter/poet/lyricist as well -- we've reviewed more works by him than anyone else by far! So we honour him with a special edition that looks at him as a person, has suggestions on where to start reading his works, and has a whole slew of fellow writers saying what they like best by him. So let's get an Imperial pint of cider and take a look-see at Gaiman and his works!
Every once in a while, someone starts out an interview with me with the most irritating question anyone can ask -- What's your writing process?
There is nothing I can be asked that makes me crankier, or more fretful. Seriously. Even where do you get your ideas? can't compete. It's insanely squirm-inducing.
If you're a writer yourself, aspiring or otherwise, what works for me can't be your spur -- you need your own road. Besides, the question has no answer, because I don't have a process. I have characters, I set them on the road, I travel until the sun goes down or comes up at the end of the road. That's how I write a novel. See? No process.
So, if you were expecting an insightful look at Neil Gaiman's methods, sorry, but it's not going to happen. I don't care about his processes. I care about what comes out the other side of those processes, and I care about the man himself, because he is a corking good writer, a phenomenon, an absolute Scorpio and oh, by the way, a superb human being. He's also someone I consider a friend, and I'm damned glad of it.
This is about my first actual introduction to Neil. It's a very fond look at Neil, and my own 'get naked and roll in it' take on my own particular favourite book of Neil's, because it hits me where I live.
But a bit later on for that. First, let me take you back to 2 October 2006, a chilly sunny autumn morning in San Francisco, when my phone rang, and I picked it up to find buddy and dark poet Rain Graves at the other end, with an invitation -- Neil Gaiman was in town. He was touring Fragile Things. He was doing an event for Cody's Books in Berkeley that night, and he'd put us both on the guest list, for seats for what was an already sold-out event. Was I up for it?
Um - not enough oh hell yes in the world. At that point, Neil and I had several very good mutual friends. I actually read very little these days - I've been writing nonstop for several years now, and when I do that, I don't read. But I'd read one of his not long before, and it had pressed every visceral button I had.
So I made wheeeeeee! noises, and told Rain to come over early, I'd cook a lasagne and I'd drive us. I then went online and frankly gloated. I got a lot of envious comments (there were a couple of die, bitch! die! responses that made me blink), and a request, from one of those mutual friends mentioned above, to send love to Neil, by way of a hug.
We headed over the Bay Bridge, parked, and headed into the theatre. At that point, I found myself wondering. I've spent an inordinate amount of time in my life around rock stars, and what I was seeing on the pavement outside the theatre had the vibe of genuine star power to it -- people looking for scalper tickets, waving money and sounding desperate. To the Rolling Stones, okay - that, I could see. But to a book reading/question and answer? Really? Quois?
Neil had indeed reserved seats for us, very good ones -- third row, centre. As we settled in, Rain - who'd been out for late-night sushi with Neil the evening before - let me know that there was a high probability Neil would appear in black velvet trousers and a very particular teeshirt. (Yes, there's a backstory and no, I don't dare share it. Sorry.)
The nice gent from Cody's came out, did some shtick, and got massive laughs from the clearly anticipatory crowd. He finally dropped the shtick and introduced Neil, to fever-pitch delight. Neil was, in fact, wearing the black velvet trousers and very particular teeshirt, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
He opened by reading 'The Day The Saucers Came' (a brilliant poem, first published in Rain's own Spiderwords). Ten words in, I was lost, totally into it, enraptured, and at that point, I realised I was going to have to completely reshape my assumptions about Neil Gaiman.
We weren't talking rock star. We were talking Rock Star. Believe me, there's a difference.
Neil, onstage, is a revelation. Yes, the crowd walks in adoring him, and yes, that makes his job up there easier. But this is something different -- he walks onstage, there's an almost audible click and he's on. And Neil, in on mode, is astonishing. As an appreciative member of the audience, I was loving every minute of it. As a damned good writer myself, I was rocking and reeling at every visceral hit of language and light and shadow and dark he was putting out there. And -- oh hell, sorry Neil, not to squick you, but there you go -- as a middle-aged woman, I was impressed in, um, other ways. I suspect he's well aware of that particular reaction-induction sequence -- after all, the man shaves. He looks in a mirror every morning. Besides, there was that whole black velvet trousers/very particular teeshirt thing happening.
Rain and I were part of a capacity crowd, having a brilliant time as Neil rocked the house. When the event was over, we threaded our way out into the lobby and were escorted upstairs to the green room. At that point, I'll confess to some emotional itchies. It was all a bit too much 'backstage déja vu' for me -- shades of the Who at Winterland, or the Stones at the Cow Palace, back in the seventies.
But the green room turned out to be a funky little cave, crowded with people and folding chairs. This was definitely not the Stones' dressing room at Madison Square Garden, or even the Dead's band room at the old Fillmore East. And my own comfort level went to a nice happy place when I walked through the door, because the first person I saw was my friend Amacker Bullwinkle, and any time I can be around Amacker, I'm in a place of comfort.
(Seven months later, I would be the bringer of very bad news. Amacker was involved in a catastrophic motorcycle accident, and had been so severely injured that no one was sure she would make it through the surgery or even the night. I took a deep breath and e-mailed Neil -- I'm not sure if anyone's thought to tell you. . . . -- and got back, first stunned disbelief, and then a flurry of 'how can we help, how do we find out, I have to know, we can't just do nothing, tell me what's needed' e-mails. My husband and I drove down to Stanford Medical Center that night and camped in the Intensive Care waiting area, holding a letter I'd written, to be given to the first member of her family to walk through the door, begging, on behalf of Neil and myself, that we be kept in the loop. That letter contained, among other points of contact, Neil's private cell phone number. A rock star and a damned good friend, you know? Admirable. By the way, Amacker survived the accident, the night, the surgery, and nearly two months in an induced coma. But that's another story.)
Back to Berkeley -- Rain and Amacker formally introduced me to Neil, and I was able to pass along the hug request given to me earlier that day, from Jillian Venters whose book, Gothic Charm School -- An Essential Guide For Goths And Those Who Love Them, will be released on June 2, 2009 from HarperCollins. Jilli is a wonder, in the true sense of the word -- Seattle's Goth community's leading lady, she's also acted as Neil's 'minder' when he did Seattle -- making sure he ate, making sure he slept, bossing him and taking care of business, above all trying to ensure that he was less exhausted than usual at the end of it all. I'm delighted that she and husband Pete Venters are friends of mine, as well.
So, on being introduced to Neil, the first thing I got to do was hug him, on behalf of Pete and Jilli. Since I'm the least huggy human on earth, I was surprised at how good it felt, but after all, it was really Jilli's hug. Neil's face softened up a moment, at the mention of the Venters. 'Ah,' he said, 'two people I love.' And I got a good hard hug in return, or rather, Jilli and Pete did.
As it happened, I'd brought along my one pre-release copy of my own latest book, the fourth Haunted Ballad, Cruel Sister. I held it out, and he made a very pleased-sounding noise. 'Is that for me?' Yes, of course, and did he want me to sign it? That got me a precisely articulated 'YES PLEASE', with a hint of 'well, DUH' to it. It also led to my first exposure to Neil's version of The Look.
The Look is a very Scorpio thing. Rain, another Scorpio, does an almost identical look, albeit with slightly different teeth; estrogen has a different flavour than testosterone, after all. Come to think of it, Jilli, also a Scorpio, has that look down to an art form, and she tells me she doesn't even know she's doing it. It's indecently effective.
I wasn't the only visiting author back there that night; Ellen Klages, whose beautiful YA novel The Green Glass Sea was about to be released as well, was showing off her own pre-release copy. Amacker had melted away, and the theatre management was making shooing gestures at the rest of us. It was clear that they wanted their green room back, and besides, it was after ten and Neil hadn't eaten. Food was clearly called for.
A ride back into the City, a two-car caravan -- me with Rain beside me and Ellen Klages in the back seat, following Neil in the town car provided by his publishers, who, as it happened, had also provided him with some lovely posh digs at the Four Seasons. There was a lot of thumb action going on, as Rain and Neil texted feverishly about dinner. Since I'd been working on my own JP Kinkaid Chronicles, five-star hotels were fresh in my mind, and I pointed out that that's what the concierge at the Four Seasons was for. That suggestion led us to Scala, as upscale a restaurant as you'd want in San Francisco. They kept the restaurant and the kitchen open for us, until well past one in the morning.
So - okay. What have we got? A lovely memory of meeting Neil Gaiman. That, in and of itself, should matter to anyone who isn't me just about as much as my writing processes should matter -- not at all. But it illuminates Neil for me and enables me to write about him, specifically about two distinct moments where the Rock Star suddenly relaxed into a very tired man who'd been on the road a bit too long at concert pitch, and who was feeling it.
Moment One -- Conversation around the table, ordering, dealing with the waitress, dealing in general, and the waitress went off to the kitchens and there was no one there but our group; we were alone in the restaurant. And Neil suddenly grokked that, just visibly got it. I was directly across the table and I watched it hit -- crikey, I don't need to be ON just now, I can let it down. And he did. The Rock Star was still there, but human, and exhausted, and the show was over and he was safe among friends. And suddenly there was a tired man, mellowing toward the end of yet one more long evening that had demanded everything he had, full on mode.
Moment Two -- his phone rang. One look at the caller ID, and his face went warm, just joyful, in a way I recognised, because I'm a parent and I know that trigger. And yes, of course, it was one of his children, his son Michael, on his way from university to visit, giving a flight update in bad weather, and for a moment there, Neil was less terrifyingly exhausted and was just a happy man who was going to see his son. A few feet across the table, I could hear the distant clack of Michael's voice, asking something. And Neil replied, 'Oh, just having a nice evening out, carousing with a few of my disreputable friends.'
So that was my introduction, my evening out on the tiles, once again a Rock Star's disreputable friend. That was my world for awhile, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy getting back into it. And that was my first look at Neil, tired and brilliant and human and sensationally real. No downside anywhere that I could see.
Ah, but Neil's a writer. I should say something about the books, yes?
Yes, indeed. At least -- one book, in particular.
I have a peculiar relationship with London. My love for San Francisco is uncomplicated and joyous -- this is where I live, heart and soul and spirit, in every sense my town. But London, well, that's complicated. It took me in, gave me what I wanted, pushed me away, expelled me, demanded me back, and finally shrugged me off. London, to me, is like the lover who calls you the moon, cries because he wants you so badly, and then, having attained his heart's desire, devalues you. I got a bit of that conflict down when I wrote Plainsong -- Max, the Wandering Jew, walking away from a post-plague London in which packs of happy children dance in the streets, and old washing, left flapping on the lines of tower blocks when the inhabitants all died of the plague called the Big One, moves like ghosts seen from the corner of the eye. I wrote that in 1989, and back then, it was as close as I could get to capturing my sense of failure -- the London I might have known better, had it only let me.
Neil's Neverwhere hit me in both ventricles of the heart, in a way that almost defies language. London Above, London Under, doors that lead nowhere and everywhere and bridges of night, into night, into lordly chambers and corners holding mystery. This was my sense of London, perfectly articulated, the sense I hadn't been able to write myself. When I finished reading it, I put my head on my arms and sobbed for about ten minutes, a crying jag I couldn't stop, weeping for a city I loved and which never loved me back.
I'll close this with a very recent Neil moment,
one for which I'm simply thankful. Back in November, my friend
Michelle McFee, a forty-plus year fixture in the tightly knit Bay
Area rock and roll community, underwent eleven hours of
radical cancer surgery. My husband Nicholas and I organised a
benefit concert for her, Words & Music.
I was expecting a signed something -- I left the choice up to him, and to his amazing assistant Lorraine. What I got was a hardback copy of Coraline, and yes, of course, he'd signed it. But he'd added something more -- on the title page, he'd drawn a sleepytime rat in a nightshirt, looking groggy and a bit put out, with the words 'Sweet Dreams!'
So that's my look at Neil Gaiman -- no earnest questions about writing processes, no earnest ponderings about whether his present work is lighter or darker than his earlier work. Just a night on the tiles with a marvelous writer, a sensational and very generous man, a doting parent, and -- most fun from my perspective - a disreputable friend.
Green Man recommendations
Editor-in-Chief Cat Eldridge has two recommendations. Neverwhere is one of the earliest urban fantasies and still one of the most perfect ones done, with a truly memorable setting in London Below and too many well-crafted characters to list here. Hill House was going to release a definitive edition before they went tits up and rumors swirl that it will get released someday. American Gods is a nightmarish road trip through America with a protagonist that isn't who he appears to be and a cast of supporting gods, monsters, and mortals that has to be read to be believed. Gaiman would revisit the themes here in Anansi Boys.
Similarly, Book Editor April Gutierrez, who guest edited this edition, has two recommendations, though entirely different. The Sandman, as a series entire, is a must-read for anyone who loves a good story and superb storytelling. Not only is the over-arching plot engaging and satisfying, but the stories within a story are also little gems. The Sandman, along with other Vertigo titles, convinced me that comics were something an adult could enjoy. While The Sandman was my gateway to Gaiman's comic work, the short story "Chivalry" -- as read aloud by Gaiman at Dragon*Con 2002 -- was my introduction to his prose. It neatly encapsulates what's so marvelous about his short stories -- the blending of fantasy elements with the every-day, whimsy without falling into a twee trap and a masterful command of the language.
And What Should You Read First?
Green Man, like The Dreaming in Gaiman's Sandman series, collects lots of interesting folk. So we asked those folk which Gaiman works they would recommend to someone who has not yet had the delight of reading his works. (I know that sounds nigh unto impossible for readers of Green Man who I swear know everything he's done, so let's just pretend it's so.) Needless to say, their answers are fun to read. . . .
Leading off is Summer Queen to be Terri Windling who says 'Smoke and Mirrors, his wonderful 2005 collection of stories and poems.'
Next up is Deborah Grabien who says 'Starting with Neil? My own love is for Neverwhere. But it really depends on the age, taste and inclination of the first-time reader, perhaps more so for Neil's stuff than for most. If they're into graphic novels, you can't go wrong with Sandman. Thoughtful nonstraight genre, I think American Gods may be a bit overwhelming. There's always Coraline. Fragile Things is a nice mouthful of different nibbles for a first-timer. But for novels? I'm all about Neverwhere.'
A Winter Queen, Jane Yolen, says that 'The easiest to start with would be Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and the complete Sandman. In that order, I think. Then you get everything that will come out in the bigger books as well.'
Gwyneth Jones has a trio of choices -- 'The Sandman series, all or any. Good Omens. Outstanding, the Antichrist story better than Monty Python on Jesus, but it's really just an excuse for wit and wisdom. Does it matter if it's a collaboration? Proving Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett were made for each other. Coraline. First and best of his juveniles, fantastique. A star turn at 'Gaiman knowing you don't always need to explain the extraordinary', as someone on Amazon puts it, & I couldn't agree more.'
Vera Nazarian has good choices as well -- 'I would say Stardust, followed by American Gods and Anansi Boys. Then catch up with the other graphic novels.
Holly Black has a detailed answer -- 'Hmmm. A fine question. I think I would advise them to start with the graphic novel, Volume 2 -- A Doll's House, which I think stands on its own enough to work and will make them buy the rest of Sandman almost immediately. Oh, and The Books of Magic, which is just fantastic. . . . the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors, which has one of my favorites, 'Murder Mysteries.' . . . and finally, either The Graveyard Book or Neverwhere, both of which I think are great introductions to the novels.
Summer Queen to be Kage Baker sips her tea and says after a pause, 'Hmmm. I'm partial to the one he did with Pratchett, Good Omens. Obviously Coraline would be on any list, and Sandman. American Gods should probably be included on any list of Gaiman essentials as well.
For Sharyn November it's the the original Sandman books and Coraline.
Steven Brust says simply 'Start with the Sandman comic, then Good Omens, then American Gods.'
Josepha Sherman agrees that 'The Sandman series is terrific...' and adds 'So is The Graveyard Book and Coraline.'
Tim Pratt has a long answer he thinks is unhelpful which is not true '-- 'This is an incredibly tricky question, because Neil does so much varied work in so many varied genres. I still think Sandman, as a whole, is his most impressive work. But since telling people to read thousands of pages of comics is perhaps a bit daunting, I'd probably point them at The Graveyard Book -- it's smart, it's funny, it's Gaimanesque in that hard-to-define way, and it's short. My own favorite of his books -- the one I think is the most fun -- is Anansi Boys. Sort of a spectacularly unhelpful answer, wasn't it?'
Delia Sherman says 'If they're not big graphic-novel fans, I'd say Coraline and The Graveyard Book, just to get them warmed up and introduce them to Neil's style. And then I'd send them to Sandman. Because no matter what else Neil writes or how good it may be as a novel, Sandman will remain his magnum opus, the thing he's done that isn't like what anybody had done in any genre -- and still haven't and probably never will because we don't live in the world that gave birth to it any more. If they like graphic novels already, of course, I'd send them straight to Sandman.'
Christopher Golden who will one day be an Oak King here, has these picks -- 'Firstly, of course, The Sandman -- Preludes and Nocturnes. Then, Neverwhere, followed by The Graveyard Book. And, finally, the beautiful Blueberry Girl, which is a children's picture book.'
Winter Queen to be Elizabeth Hand says The Sandman series, and Anansi Boys, whereas another Elizabeth and past Winter Queen, Ms. Bear to precise, says simply Sandman. Sarah Monette, who has collaborated with the latter Elizabeth on a novel, has her choices -- 'I think Sandman is Neil's masterpiece, and it showcases what makes him brilliant. So either A Game of You or The Doll's House. For someone who finds graphic novels intimidating or offputting, though, I'd start with Stardust.'
Oak King Charles de Lint picks The first Death mini-series, The High Cost of Living. Another Oak King, Peter S. Beagle, says 'Cat, if I had to pick one book, I'd go with Neverwhere. That, and probably American Gods.'
Jennifer Stevenson picks The Doll's House, one of his Sandman graphic novels, and 'The Troll Bridge' a short story, whereas Cherie Priest says she 'prefers his YA stuff to his adult stuff. Coraline and The Graveyard Book are probably my favorites.'
Ellen Datlow is also fond of Sandman -- 'The Absolute Sandman starting with Volume One, Smoke and Mirrors (collection of short stories); Mr. Punch -- The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy (with Dave McKean), and Coraline (novel). '
Oak King Paul Brandon opines 'I guess I'd have to say start with The Sandman to give yourself a grounding, but from a novel point of view, I'd ease into his writing through Good Omens (with Pratchett) and followed that up with something short and tasty like Neverwhere or Stardust. When your confidence builds, hit American Gods followed immediately by Anansi Boys, interspersed with the Smoke & Mirrors short stories and a little light Coraline> reading just before bed.'
Yet another Oak King, James Hetley, says 'I haven't read much of his work, although our boys had numerous Sandman volumes and other graphic novels. I read and much enjoyed both American Gods and Good Omens (the latter a collaboration with Pratchett, of course).'
Summer Queen Emma Bull went for mostly lots of graphic novels, to wit Violent Cases, Sandman -- A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sandman -- The Dream of a Thousand Cats, the Good Omens bevel written with Terry Pratchett, and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. Emma's husband, Will Shetterly, picks 'Sandman -- The Sound of Her Wings. If you like it, go to the beginning of the series and read them all.'
Cheryl Morgan says 'American Gods and Coraline, because they are Hugo winners. Having just read The Graveyard Book, I think I might need to add that. It is wonderfully accessible, and very clever in many ways as well. It may well become a Hugo winner, of course.'
A Reader's Guide to All Things Neil Gaiman
There's much to read, but we've helpfully broken it down by genre so you can wade in anywhere and enjoy!
In Anansi Boys, Gaiman again explores the idea of gods among us, and what it's like being a god's son. (It isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be.)
Gaiman and Terry Pratchett collaborated in the '80s on the very funny Good Omens.
The Mirrormask novella is a nice adjunct to the movie (see below for our review of that), giving readers more insight to heroine Helena's frame of mind as she sets things aright, and a bit more of a wrap-up back in the waking world. Those who have seen the movie will relish these added tidbits.
Gaiman's first novel, Neverwhere, is a particular fan favourite. This story of a English Everyman who gets pulled into a secret London world he never knew existed is filled with memorable characters and charm.
Stardust is a delightful fairy tale of a half-fairy, half-mortal and his encounter with a fallen star beyond the walls of his country village.
Few authors seem equally at ease writing for adults and children. Neil Gaiman is one such author. His children's books don't underestimate his young readers, and so can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
revisits the jumbled surreality of childhood, matching Dave McKean's art to Gaiman's offbeat story about a little boy who trades his dad away for two goldfish . . . and then must quest to get his dad back.
Interworld, a collaboration between Gaiman and Michael Reaves, started life as a television concept about a multitude of worlds and those gifted enough to walk between them. Alas, that didn't pan out, so the two reworked the text into a YA novel.
In his whimsical offering for World Book Day 2008, Odd and the Frost Giants, Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham tackle Norse mythology.
has a similar feel to The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, with its surreal flavor, plucky child hero and charming wit.
M is for Magic is a repackaging of a few of Gaiman's short stories with a couple of new ones added into the mix, along with a chapter from The Graveyard Book.
The Graveyard Book, a charming tale of a young boy raised by ghosts -- yes, in a graveyard -- netted Gaiman his first Newbery Medal. And deservedly so!
The 75 issue comic series The Sandman is arguably the most popular gateway to all things Gaiman. Running in the DC/Vertigo imprint from 1989 to 1996, this series not only breathed life into characters long forgotten, it opened doorways to a universe of stories and demonstrated Gaiman's mastery of story-telling.
All ten volumes are represented here -- Preludes and Nocturnes, A Doll's House, Season of Mists, A Game of You, Brief Lives, Dream Country, Fables & Reflections, World's End, The Kindly Ones, and The Wake.
Starting in 2006, DC started re-releasing The Sandman in an "absolute" omni edition of four volumes. Over-sized, hardbound and high quality, they're gorgeous versions. GMR has reviewed all four volumes -- Absolute Sandman -- Volume One, Absolute Sandman -- Volume Two, Absolute Sandman -- Volume Three, and Absolute Sandman -- Volume Four.
As an adjunct to the main series, Gaiman also produced two three-volume mini-series about one of the most popular characters in Sandman, Dream's gothy older sister, Death, Death -- The High Cost of Living, and Death -- The Time of Your Life
In 2003's The Sandman Endless Nights, Gaiman returns to the characters and setting of The Sandman for a series of short stories illustrated by such artistic talents as Glen Fabry, P. Craig Russell and, of course, Dave McKean.
The Quotable Sandman is precisely what it claims to be, a collection of quotes drawn from the 75-issue run of Sandman, illustrated by many of the artists who lent their talents to the series. A nice addition to any Sandman collection.
Another must-have for Sandman fans is The Collected Sandman Dustcovers, which is an exquisite hardback collection of all Dave McKean's Sandman covers, complete with background info.
The 1602 mini-series takes the Marvel universe and sets it on its head by rolling the clock back 500 years.
If you like your comic book heroines statuesque, intelligent, and capable of kicking ass and taking names, then Angela's Hunt, Gaiman's mini-series devoted to this side character from Spawn is right up your alley.
Black Orchid was Gaiman and McKean's first work for DC/Vertigo, beautifully reviving a superhero character so obscure, editor Karen Berger thought Gaiman meant a different one altogether!
Books of Magic features Timothy Hunter, an English lad who may or may not be the Queen of Faerie's son, and who may also become the greatest magician of his age.
Coraline is a brilliant adaptation of Gaiman's novel into the graphic novel format. P. Craig Russell has distilled Gaiman's prose down to its essence, adding to it his top-notch illustrations to provide his own solid take on the story.
Creatures of the Night is the first of two collaborations between Gaiman and artist Michael Zulli that we've reviewed. This one contains two animal-related tales.
The Facts in the Case of Miss Finch is another Gaiman-Zulli collaboration, this time about a most unique circus in underground London.
Harlequin Valentine is a collaboration between Gaiman and John Bolton, deftly turning Gaiman's short story about Harlequin and Columbine into graphic novel form.
Gaiman joined forces with Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano (early Final Fantasy game character designer, original Vampire Hunter D movie character designer) to recast Dream into a Japanese setting. The Dream Hunters is a beautiful showcase for both.
In the first volume of the Eternals, Gaiman takes aim at reviving a 1970s Marvel property. In doing so, he breathes new life into some of Jack Kirby's old characters.
Gaiman crafted The Last Temptation around Alice Cooper's (yes, that Alice Cooper) concept CD of the same same. The result is this three issue modern -- and oh-so-slightly sinister -- coming-of-age story.
Midnight Days is home to several Gaiman shorts, including three Swamp Thing-related stories and and a beautifully bleak Hellblazer one (plus the titular collaboration with Matt Wagner).
Mr. Punch, an early collaboration between Gaiman and McKean, toys with perception and memory, this time through the lens of the always violent Punch and Judy puppet show.
Another early collaboration between Gaiman and McKean, Signal to Noise explores the distortion that occurs when thoughts become external.
You actually get two reviews for the price of one in our look at the Stardust -- Illustrated Version, for ten years after the initial release, Vertigo produced a hardcover edition to coincide with the movie.
Violent Cases is yet another early collaboration between Gaiman and McKean. Like Signal to Noise, it reflects upon distortions, this time in the lens of memory.
In the two issues of What Ever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, Gaiman kills off Bruce Wayne and Batman. No, really -- and it's done with style!
Short Story Collections
Angels & Visitations is a collection of Gaiman's earlier works, including short stories and non-fiction pieces.
Murder Mysteries and Snow Glass Apples are a pair of rare chapbooks that GMR is fortunate to have. Murder Mysteries reveals the very first murder ever, while Snow Glass Apples is a quite unique take on the Snow White story.
Smoke and Mirrors comes chronologically after Angels & Visitations and contains some of the same short stories, to which have been added more stories and poetry.
Fragile Things -- Short Fictions and Wonders is Gaiman's most recent collection, filled with wonders indeed!
Blueberry Girl, a poem he wrote for friend Tori Amos and her then unborn daughter, illustrated by the always marvelous Charles Vess, is a joyful celebration of girls and women and life's journey between the two.
Crazy Hair pairs Gaiman's verse with Dave McKean's surreal art to tell the story of a young girl, a guy and his rather chaotic coif.
The Dangerous Alphabet uses clever rhyming couplets to lay out the grand adventures of a very wee threesome (two kids and a gazelle) in the big, bad world.
Gaiman's only collaboration to date with Polish illustrator Dagmara Matuzak, Melinda, relates the tough life of seven-year-old Melinda, alone in a post-apocalyptic world. The stark, beautiful poem 'hints at a rich story of hardships survived and future dangers to overcome.'
In his Babylon 5 -- Day of the Dead Script, Gaiman blends technology and mysticism for one of the more unforgettable Babylon 5 episodes ever.
The Beowulf -- The Script Book provides two drafts of the Gaiman-Avary script, plus concept illustrations and comments from both. And then there's the final product based on that script, the actual movie Beowulf.
Directed by Harry Selick of A Nightmare Before Christmas fame, the animated version of Coraline is sure to please fans of the book, despite a few tweaks.
Although it's never been produced as a movie, A Screenplay represents kind of an alternate take on the Gaiman-Pratchett Good Omens.
Mirrormask -- The Illustrated Film Script of the Motion Picture from the Jim Henson Company includes Dave McKean's storyboards and Gaiman's script for their original animated feature, Mirrormask, which is a dark yet whimsical take on the traditional hero's quest,featuring circus-girl Helena's coming of age. Not content to just review the movie and the script, we also have a review of The Alchemy of Mirrormask, which provides an in-depth look at the making of the movie.
Back in the '90s, there was a six-part mini-series that the BBC made of Gaiman's first novel, Neverwhere, which finally made it to DVD nearly a decade later.
Gaiman worked with both Disney and Studio Ghibli to adapt the Japanese script of Princess Mononoke (Script) for its English-language release. You can read about the trials and tribulations of doing so in one of the interviews we have below.
Although the humor in Stardust the movie is broader perhaps than its source novel, it still retains a ready charm.
To crib from the actual review, Adventures in the Dream Trade 'consists of a hodgepodge of previously published writing', introductions, poems, short stories and even eight months' worth of Gaiman's blog.
Neil Gaiman -- Live at MIT -- The Julius Schwartz Lecture is a live DVD featuring Gaiman eulogizing the late Julius Schwartz and giving a talk about a wide variety of subjects.
A Walking Tour of the Shambles is a tongue-in-cheek collaboration between Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, purportedly a guide to a fictional place called the 'Shambles'.
The audiobook version of The Graveyard Book has just garnered an Audie for top audio book of the year.
The Neil Gaiman Audio collection contains not only Gaiman reading The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, but also Wolves in the Walls, a short story, a poem and a short interview.
The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch isn't an audio book, but was a BBC Radio broadcast of the play version of this graphic novel.
Two Plays for Voices pairs together audio versions of Snow Glass Apples and Murder Mysteries,
Warning -- Contains Language contains, actually, Gaiman reading aloud some of the stories from Angels and Visitations and Smoke and Mirrors.
Gaiman's personal assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine, was once in a band of sorts with author Emma Bull -- the difficult to describe Flash Girls. In addition to having some fabulous guests on their three CDs (Maurice & I, Play Each Morning Wild Queen and The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones (Postmortem on Our Love, Tea and Corpses and more)), the duo were also graced with some Gaiman-penned lyrics.
And to wrap up, we have a few otherwise uncategorizable items either about Gaiman and/or his works that fans might enjoy taking a look at.
Book of Dreams a collection of short stories set in the Sandman universe by a diverse set of authors -- Steven Brust, Nancy A. Collins, George Alec Effinger, John M. Ford, Barbara Hambly, Delia Sherman, Will Shetterly, Tad Williams, Gene Wolf and more!
The Neil Gaiman Reader is a critical examination of Gaiman's body of work.
Although the script isn't by Gaiman, the text in Mike Carey's graphic novel adaptation of Neverwhere manages to capture the feel of the original.
In Prince of Stories, collaborators Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden and Steve Bissette have compiled more information about Neil Gaiman and his works than you can shake a stick at. It's a valuable bibliography and chronology and helpfully provided the format for this GMR issue.
Sandman Companion serves as a thorough concordance to The Sandman series.
Fans of Neverwhere (the movie, in particular), will find What I Thought I Saw of definite interest. Photographer Kelli Bickman joined Gaiman for two weeks on the set, resulting in this quirky collection of black and white photos.
Where's Neil When you Need Him?, with its Gaiman-inspired songs, is a mixed bag, but still an interesting listen.
We should remind you about our special editions which are our way of looking at specific writers and other subjects worthy of exploring in-depth. Of course, we've done several editions on master storyteller Peter S. Beagle which you can find thisaway and over 'ere. Needless to say, we're very proud of the great edition on Charles de Lint we did.
We did one on the ever fascinating trio of Brian, Toby, and Wendy Froud; naturally we did one on master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien who is much loved by our staff; not to mention ones on Catherynne M. Valente, Patricia McKillip, and Elizabeth Bear
Oh, our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology.
We also decided to have our reviewers pick the single best music recording that they reviewed for us. We think you'll find their choices rather interesting!
Lastly, we have put together a recommended series reading list covering many genres from fantasy to mystery and (of course) sf for your reading pleasure. You can find that list thisaway.
For our main page, please go here; to search the roots, branches, and leaves of This Tree, use the Google search engine; every past edition of our fortnightly What's New can be found here; for a detailed look at Green Man Review, go thisaway; and lastly, you report errors over here. Still have questions? Email our Editor here. Provided he's not in the Green Man Pub savouring a properly poured pint of Guinness while listening to de Lint tell a tale or play a tune with the Neverending Session, he'll try to answer your question!
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