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Gaiman, Neil 1960-

Gaiman, Neil 1960-

Personal

Born November 10, 1960, in Portchester, England; son of David Bernard (a company director) and Sheila (a pharmacist) Gaiman; married Mary Therese McGrath, March 14, 1985; children: Michael Richard, Holly Miranda, Madeleine Rose Elvira. Education: Attended Ardingly College, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77. Politics: "Wooly." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: "Finding more bookshelf space."

Addresses

Home—MN. Agent—(literary) Merilee Heifetz, Writer's House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010; (film) Jon Levin, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212-1825.

Career

Fiction writer, screenwriter, poet, essayist, and journalist. Freelance journalist, 1983-87; full-time writer, 1987—. Director of A Short Film about John Bolton, Ska Films, 2004. Songwriter for bands The Flash Girls and One Ring Zero.

Member

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (member of board of directors), International Museum of Cartoon Art (member of advisory board), Science Fiction Foundation (committee member), Society of Strip Illustrators (chair, 1988-90), British Fantasy Society.

Awards, Honors

Mekon Award, Society of Strip Illustrators, and Eagle Award for Best Graphic Novel, both 1988, both for Violent Cases; Eagle Award for Best Writer of American Comics, 1990; Harvey Award for Best Writer, 1990, 1991; Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Writer and Best Graphic Album (Reprint), 1991; World Fan-

tasy Award for Best Short Story, 1991, for "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for Best Writer, 1992; Harvey Award for Best Continuing Series, 1992; Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for Best Writer and Best Graphic Album (New), 1993; Gem Award, Diamond Distributors, 1993; Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for Best Writer, 1994; Guild Award, International Horror Critics, and World Fantasy Award nomination, both 1994, both for Angels and Visitations and short story "Troll Bridge"; SONY Radio Award, for script Signal to Noise; GLAAD Award for Best Comic, 1996, for Death: The Time of Your Life; Eagle Award for Best Comic, 1996; Lucca Best Writer Prize, 1997; Newsweek Best Children's Books listee, 1997, for The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish; Defender of Liberty Award, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, 1997; MacMillan Silver Pen Award, 1999, for Smoke and Mirrors; Hugo Award nomination, 1999, for Sandman: The Dream Hunters; Mythopoeic Award for Best Novel for Adults, 1999, for Stardust; Nebula Award nomination, 1999, for screenplay Princess Mononoke; Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel, Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, Horror Writers Association, and British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award nomination, all 2002, all for American Gods; BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction, Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award, Bram Stoker Award, Hugo Award for Best Novella, and Prix Tam Tam Award, all 2003, all for Coraline; World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, 2003, for "October in the Chair"; BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction, 2004, for The Wolves in the Walls; Hugo Award for Best Short Story, 2004, for "A Study in Emerald"; Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrative Narrative, 2004, for The Sandman: Endless Nights; Geffen Award, 2004, for Smoke and Mirrors; Locus Award for Best Short Story, 2004, for "Closing Time"; August Derleth Award, and Best Books for Young Adults selection, American Library Association (ALA), both 2006, both for Anansi Boys; Locus Award for Best Short Story, 2007, for "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"; Locus Award for Best Collection, 2007, for Fragile Things; John Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children's literature, ALA, 2009, for The Graveyard Book; international awards from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Writings

JUVENILE FICTION

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, illustrated by Dave McKean, Borealis/White Wolf (Clarkson, GA), 1997.

Coraline (also see below), illustrated by Dave McKean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

The Wolves in the Walls, illustrated by Dave McKean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Mirrormask (special children's edition; based on the film of the same title; also see below), illustrated by Dave McKean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Michael Reaves) Interworld, Eos (New York, NY), 2005.

M Is for Magic, illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

The Graveyard Book, illustrated by Dave McKean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

The Dangerous Alphabet, illustrated by Gris Grimly, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Blueberry Girl, illustrated by Charles Vess, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Crazy Hair, illustrated by Dave McKean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2009.

Also author of Odd and the Frost Giants.

GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMIC BOOKS

(With others) Jael and Sisera: Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament, illustrated by Julie Hollings, Knock-about (London, England), 1987.

Violent Cases (originally published in comic-book format, 1987), illustrated by Dave McKean, Titan (London, England), 1987, Tundra (Northampton, MA), 1991, third edition, Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton, MA), 1997.

Black Orchid (originally published in comic-book form, 1989), illustrated by Dave McKean, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1991.

Miracleman, Book 4: The Golden Age, illustrated by Mark Buckingham, Eclipse (Forestville, CA), 1992.

Signal to Noise (also see below), illustrated by Dave McKean, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 1992.

The Books of Magic (originally published in comic-book form), four volumes, illustrated by John Bolton and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1993.

The Tragical Comedy, or Comical Tragedy, of Mr. Punch: A Romance, illustrated by Dave McKean, VG Graphics (London, England), 1994, Vertigo/DC Comics (New York, NY), 1995.

(Author of text, with Alice Cooper) The Compleat Alice Cooper: Incorporating the Three Acts of Alice Cooper's The Last Temptation, illustrated by Michael Zulli, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1995, published as The Last Temptation, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2000.

Angela, illustrated by Greg Capullo and Mark Pennington, Image (Anaheim, CA), 1995, published as Spawn: Angela's Hunt, 2000.

Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of Faerie, illustrated by Charles Vess, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1998, text published as Stardust, Spike (New York, NY), 1999.

(Author of text, with Matt Wagner) Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1999.

Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.

Harlequin Valentine, illustrated by John Bolton, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2001.

Murder Mysteries (based on play of the same title, also see below), illustrated by P. Craig Russell, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2002.

1602 (originally published comic-book form as 1602, volumes 1-8), Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 2004.

The Eternals, illustrated by John Romita, Jr., Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 2007.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, illustrated by Michael Zulli, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2008.

Coraline (graphic novel; based on the children's book of the same title), illustrated by P. Craig Russell, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Also author of Creatures of the Night, illustrated by Michael Zulli. Contributor of comics, including Babycakes and The Wheel, to anthologies. Creator of characters for comic books, including Lady Justice, Wheel of Worlds, Mr. Hero, Newmatic Man, Teknophage, and Lucifer. Co-editor of The Utterly Comic Relief Comic, UK Comic Relief Charity, 1991.

"SANDMAN" GRAPHIC-NOVEL SERIES

Sandman: The Doll's House (originally published in comic-book form), illustrated by Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1990.

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 1-8), illustrated by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1991.

Sandman: Dream Country (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 17-20; contains "A Midsummer's Night's Dream"), illustrated by Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, and Malcolm Jones III, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1991.

Sandman: Season of Mists (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 21-28), illustrated by Kelley Jones, Malcolm Jones III, Mike Dringenberg, and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1992.

Sandman: A Game of You (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 32-37), illustrated by Shawn McManus and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1993.

Sandman: Fables and Reflections (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 29-31, 38-40, 50), illustrated by Bryan Talbot, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1994.

Death: The High Cost of Living (originally published in comic-book form in three volumes), illustrated by Dave McKean, Mark Buckingham, and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1994.

Sandman: Brief Lives (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 41-49), illustrated by Jill Thompson, Dick Giordano, and Vince Locke, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1994.

Sandman: World's End (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 51-56), illustrated by Dave McKean, Mark Buckingham, Dick Giordano, and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1994.

(Author of text, with Matt Wagner) Sandman: Midnight Theatre, illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor, with Edward E. Kramer) The Sandman: Book of Dreams, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1996.

Sandman: The Kindly Ones (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 57-69), illustrated by Marc Hempel, Richard Case, and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1996.

Death: The Time of Your Life, illustrated by Mark Buckingham and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997.

(Author of commentary and a story) Dustcovers: The Collected Sandman Covers, 1989-1997, illustrated by Dave McKean, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997, published as The Collected Sandman Covers, 1989-1997, Watson-Guptill (New York, NY), 1997.

Sandman: The Wake, (originally published in comic-book form as Sandman, volumes 70-75), illustrated by Michael Zulli, Charles Vess, and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997.

(Reteller) Sandman: The Dream Hunters, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1999.

The Quotable Sandman: Memorable Lines from the Acclaimed Series, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.

The Sandman: Endless Nights, illustrated by P. Craig Russell, Milo Manara, and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003.

The Absolute Sandman, Volume One, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2006.

The Absolute Sandman, Volume Two, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2007.

The Absolute Sandman, Volume Three, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to The Sandman Companion, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1999.

FICTION

(With Terry Pratchett) Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (novel), Gollancz (London, England), 1990, revised edition, Workman (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Mary Gentle) Villains! (short stories), edited by Mary Gentle and Roz Kaveney, ROC (London, England), 1992.

(With Mary Gentle and Roz Kaveney) The Weerde: Book One (short stories), ROC (London, England), 1992.

(With Mary Gentle and Roz Kaveney) The Weerde: Book Two: The Book of the Ancients (short stories), ROC (London, England), 1992.

Angels and Visitations: A Miscellany (short stories), illustrated by Steve Bissette and others, DreamHaven Books and Art (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.

Neverwhere (novel), BBC Books (London, England), 1996, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions (short stories), Avon (New York, NY), 1998.

American Gods (novel), William Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.

(Reteller) Snow Glass Apples, illustrated by George Walker, Biting Dog Press (Duluth, GA), 2003.

Anansi Boys, Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.

Mirrormask (illustrated film script; based on the film of the same title; also see below), illustrated by Dave McKean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.

EDITOR

(With Kim Newman) Ghastly beyond Belief, Arrow (London, England), 1985.

(With Stephen Jones) Now We Are Sick: A Sampler, privately published, 1986, published as Now We Are Sick: An Anthology of Nasty Verse, DreamHaven (Minneapolis, MN), 1991.

(With Alex Stewart) Temps, ROC (London, England), 1991.

(With Alex Stewart) Euro Temps, ROC (London, England), 1992.

SCREENPLAYS

(With Lenny Henry) Neverwhere, BBC2 (London, England), 1996.

Signal to Noise, BBC Radio 3 (London, England), 1996.

Day of the Dead: An Annotated Babylon 5 Script (episode of television series Babylon 5, 1998), DreamHaven (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.

Princess Mononoke (English translation of Japanese-language screenplay by Hayao Miyazak), Miramax (New York, NY), 1999.

(And director) A Short Film about John Bolton, Ska Films, 2002.

MirrorMask (based on the children's book of the same title), Samuel Goldwyn, 2005.

(With Roger Avary) Beowulf, Paramount Pictures, 2007.

Author of scripts for films Avalon, The Confessions of William Henry Ireland, The Fermata, Modesty Blaise, and others.

OTHER

Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five (biography), Proteus (New York, NY), 1984.

Don't Panic: The Official Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1988, revised edition with additional material by David K. Dickson as Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Titan (London, England), 1993.

Warning: Contains Language (readings; compact disc), music by Dave McKean and the Flash Girls, DreamHaven (Minneapolis, MN), 1995.

(Co-illustrator) The Dreaming: Beyond the Shores of Night, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997.

(Co-illustrator) The Dreaming: Through the Gates of Horn and Ivory, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1998.

Neil Gaiman: Live at the Aladdin (videotape), Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (Northampton, MA), 2001.

(With Gene Wolfe) A Walking Tour of the Shambles (nonfiction), American Fantasy Press (Woodstock, IL), 2001.

Murder Mysteries (play), illustrated by George Walker, Biting Dog Press (Duluth, GA), 2001.

Adventures in the Dream Trade (nonfiction and fiction), edited by Tony Lewis and Priscilla Olson, NESFA Press (Framingham, MA), 2002.

Gaiman's works, including the short story "Troll Bridge," have been represented in numerous anthologies. Contributor of prefaces and introductions to several books. Contributor to newspapers and magazines, including Knave, Punch, London Observer, London Sunday Times, Wired, New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and Time Out.

Gaiman's books have been translated into other languages, including Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.

Adaptations

The Books of Magic was adapted into novel form by Carla Jablonski and others, individual titles include The Invitation, The Blindings, and The Children's Crusade, HarperCollins (New York, NY). Several of Gaiman's works have been released as audiobooks, including Neverwhere, HighBridge Audio, 1997, American Gods, Harper Audio, 2001, Coraline (read by the author), HarperAudio, 2002, and Two Plays for Voices (includes Snow Glass Apples and Murder Mysteries), Harper Audio, 2003. Signal to Noise was adapted as a stage play by NOWtheater (Chicago, IL). Stardust was adapted as a major motion picture, Paramount, 2007; Coraline was adapted as a major motion picture, Focus Features, 2009. Several of Gaiman's works have been optioned for film, including Sandman, The Books of Magic, Death: The High Cost of Living, Good Omens, and Chivalry.

Sidelights

An author of comic books, graphic novels, prose novels, children's books, short fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays, Neil Gaiman is a best-selling writer who is considered perhaps the most accomplished and influential figure in modern comics as well as one of the most gifted of contemporary fantasists. Characteristically drawing from mythology, history, literature, and popular culture to create his works, Gaiman blends the everyday, the fantastic, the frightening, and the humorous to present his stories. His writing reveals the mysteries that lie just outside of reality as well as the insights that come from experiencing these mysteries. In the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, a contributor noted that when Gaiman "is on form (which is most of the time), he is without peer…. His blending of poetic prose, marvelous inventions, and artistic vision has assured him of his place in the vanguard of modern-day dark fantasists."

Gaiman refers to the plots and characters of classical literature and myth—most notably fairy tales, horror stories, science fiction, and traditional romances—while adding fresh, modern dimensions. In fact, he is credited with developing a new mythology with his works, which address themes such as what it means to be human; the importance of the relationship between humanity and art; humanity's desire for dreams and for attaining what they show; and the passage from childish ways of thinking to more mature understanding. Al-

though most of the author's works are not addressed to children, Gaiman has written a number of titles for young readers, including Coraline, an international bestseller, and The Graveyard Book, winner of the 2009 John Newbery Medal.

Gaiman, who has developed a huge cult-like following as well as celebrity status, is perhaps best known as the creator of the comic-book and graphic-novel series about the Sandman. This character, which is based loosely on a crime-fighting superhero that first appeared in DC Comics in the 1930s and 1940s, is the protagonist of an epic series of dark fantasies that spanned several years and ran for seventy-five monthly issues. Among his other works, Gaiman has co-written a satiric fantasy about the end of the world with English novelist Terry Pratchett; comic books about Todd MacFarlane's popular character Spawn; and screenplays for film, television, and radio, both original scripts and adaptations of his own works. Throughout his career, he has worked with a number of talented artists in the field of comic books and fantasy, including John Bolton, Michael Zulli, Yoshitaka Amaro, Charles Vess, and longtime collaborator Dave McKean.

As a prose stylist, Gaiman is known for writing clearly and strongly, using memorable characters and striking images to build his dreamlike worlds. Although his books and screenplays can range from somber to creepy to horrifying, he is commended for underscoring them with optimism and sensitivity and for balancing their darkness with humor and wit. Reviewers have praised Gaiman for setting new standards for comic books as literature and for helping to bring increased popularity to graphic fiction. Although the author occasionally has been accused of being ponderous and self-indulgent, he generally is considered a phenomenon, a brilliant writer and storyteller whose works reflect his inventiveness, originality, and wisdom. According to London Times contributor Amanda Craig, "his richly imaginative, dark fantasies have the classic element of appealing to the adult in children and the child in adults." Referring to Gaiman's graphic novels, Frank McConnell stated in Commonweal that the author "may just be the most gifted and important storyteller in English" and called him "our best and most bound-to-be-remembered writer of fantasy."

Born in Portchester, England, Gaiman was brought up in an upper-middle-class home. A voracious reader, he recalled in an interview with Ray Olson of Booklist that he first read Alice in Wonderland "when I was five, maybe, and always kept it around as default reading between the ages of five and twelve, and occasionally picked up and reread since. There are things Lewis Carroll did in Alice that are etched onto my circuitry." When he was about fourteen years old, Gaiman began his secondary education at Whitgift School, and by 1977, he felt that he was ready to become a professional writer. That same year, Gaiman left Whitgift School.

After receiving a number of rejections for short stories that he had written, Gaiman decided to become a freelance journalist so that he could learn about the world of publishing from the inside. In 1983, he discovered the work of English comic-strip writer Alan Moore, whose Swamp Thing quickly became a special favorite. As Gaiman told an interviewer in Authors and Artists for Young Adults, "Moore's work convinced me that you really could do work in comics that had the same amount of intelligence, the same amount of passion, the same amount of quality that you could put in any other medium." In 1984 Gaiman produced his first book, Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five. Once he had established his credibility as a writer, Gaiman was able to sell the short stories that he had completed earlier in his career, and he decided that he was ready to concentrate on fiction. In addition, the comics industry was experiencing a new influx of talent, which inspired Gaiman to consider becoming a contributor to that medium.

In 1986 Gaiman met art student McKean; their first collaboration was the comic book Violent Cases. Around the same time, Gaiman contributed to Jael and Sisera:Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament, which is credited with giving him almost instant notoriety in the comic-book community. Gaiman teamed with McKean again to do a limited-run comic series, Black Orchid, the first of the author's works to be released by DC Comics. Gaiman then was offered his choice of inactive DC characters to rework from the Golden Age of Comics (the 1930s and 1940s); he chose the Sandman. As originally presented, millionaire Wesley Dodds, a.k.a. the Sandman, hunted criminals by night wearing a fedora, cape, and a gas mask. When Gaiman began the series in 1988, he changed the whole scope of the character. The Sandman, who is also called Dream, Morpheus, Oneiros, Lord Shaper, Master of Story, and God of Sleep, became a thin, enigmatic figure with a pale face, dark eyes, and a shock of black hair. The Sandman is one of the Endless, immortals in charge of individual realms of the human psyche. The Sandman's brothers and sisters in the Endless are (in birth order) Destiny, Death, Destruction, the twins Desire and Despair, and Delirium (formerly Delight). Dream (the Sandman) falls between Death and Destruction.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

In Preludes and Nocturnes, Gaiman introduces the Sandman, the ageless lord of dreams, who has just returned home after being captured by a coven of wizards and held in an asylum for the criminally insane for seventy-two years. Dream finds that his home is in ruins, that his powers are diminished, and that his three tools—a helmet, a pouch of sand, and a ruby stone—have been stolen. Dream comes to realize that his captivity has affected him: he has become humanized, and he understands that he eventually will have to die.

In The Doll's House, Dream travels across the United States searching for the Arcana, the stray dreams and nightmares of the twentieth century that have taken on human form. Dream Country centers on Calliope, a muse and the mother of Dream's son, Orpheus. (In 1991, "A Midsummer's Night's Dream," a tale from Dream Country, won the World Fantasy Award for best short story, the first time that a comic book had won a prize that was not related to its own medium.) In Season of Mists, Dream meets Lucifer, who has stepped down from his position as ruler of Hell and has left the choice of his successor to Dream.

A Game of You features Barbara (nicknamed Barbie), a character who had appeared in The Doll's House. Barbie is drawn back into the dream realm that she ruled as a child in order to save it from the evil Cuckoo, who plans to destroy it. Fables and Reflections, a collection of stories featuring the characters from the series, includes Gaiman's retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus. Brief Lives finds Dream and Delirium on a quest to find Destruction, who exiled himself on Earth over three hundred years ago. World's End includes a collection of tales told by a group of travelers who are waiting out a storm in an inn. In The Kindly Ones Hippolyta takes revenge upon Dream for the disappearance of her son with the assistance of the title characters, mythological beings also known as the Furies. In the final chapter of the series, The Wake, the Endless attend a ceremony to mark the passing of Dream.

Assessing the "Sandman" series, McConnell stated that what Gaiman has done "is to establish the fact that a comic book can be a work of high and very serious art—a story that other storytellers, in whatever medium they work, will have to take into account as an exploration of what stories can do and what stories are for." The critic concluded, "I know of nothing quite like it, and I don't expect there will be anything like it for some time." In the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Joe Sanders noted: "The Sandman is an example of how a serious writer can utilize the comics medium. Gaiman used the delay between issues to control his readers' absorption of details, especially in the long, methodically paced series of catastrophes leading to Morpheus's death in The Kindly Ones." In addition to using different artists to vary the mood of his works, Sanders wrote that Gaiman "utilized the cheeky looseness of comics to bring together an astonishing range of images; The Sandman considers, with equal sympathy and assurance, the personal and professional life of Shakespeare and the interpersonal dynamics of a convention of serial killers."

Although the "Sandman" series ended in 1996, DC Comics has since re-released the comics in a series of deluxe editions. The "Sandman" stories have also inspired related volumes, such as a book of quotations from the series, and merchandise such as action figures, stuffed toys, trading cards, jewelry, and watches. Discussing the success of his franchise in an interview on the Powell's Books Web site, Gaiman told John Bolton: "What I feel proudest of, honestly, is the fact that you're looking at a series of comics that I began to write seventeen years ago, that finished a decade ago, that is still in print right now, and selling more than it ever has."

Throughout his career, Gaiman has frequently featured young people as main characters in his works. The Books of Magic a collection of four comics that predates J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, features a thirteen-year-old boy, Tim Hunter, who is told that he has the capabilities to be the greatest wizard in the world. Tim, a boy from urban London who wears oversized glasses, is taken by the Trenchcoat Brigade—sorcerers with names like The Mysterious Phantom Stranger, the Incorrigible Hellblazer, and the Enigmatic Dr. Occult—on a tour of the universe to learn its magical history. Tim travels to Hell, to the land of Faerie, and to America, among other places, each of them showing him a different aspect of the world of magic. He also searches for his girlfriend Molly, who has been abducted into the fantasy realms; after he finds her, the two of them face a series of dangers as they struggle to return to their own world. At the end of the story, Tim must make a decision to embrace or reject his talents as a wizard. The Books of Magic also includes cameos by the Sandman and his sister Death. Writing in Locus, Carolyn Cushman said, "It's a fascinating look at magic, its benefits and burdens, all dramatically illustrated [by John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson], and with a healthy helping of humor."

Stardust tells a love story of seventeen-year-old Tristran Thorn who journeys to the fanciful land of Faerie on a quest to fetch a fallen star far from his village of Wall. He has promised his love, Victoria, this star, and on his journey he has to deal with others more powerful and ruthless who also seek the fallen star. Finally, Tristran's journey brings him back to a faerie market near his village where all secrets about his parentage are revealed. Set in nineteenth-century England, the tale "evokes the crisp style of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales," according to Kurt Lancaster writing in the Christian Science Monitor. Susan Salpini, reviewing Stardust for School Library Journal, called it an "old-fashioned fairy tale of mythic images, magic, and lyrical passages." Salpini further commented, "While the bones of the story—the hero, the quest, the maiden—are traditional, Gaiman offers a role that is fresh and original." A contributor to Publishers Weekly noted that the author "employs exquisitely rich language, natural wisdom, good humor and a dash of darkness to conjure up a fairy tale in the grand tradition."

In 1996 Gaiman and McKean produced their first work for children: the picture book The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. In this tale, a little boy trades his father for two of his neighbor's goldfish while his little sister stares, horrified. When their mother finds out what has happened, she is furious. She makes the children go and get back their father who, unfortunately, has already been traded for an electric guitar. While on their quest to find him, the siblings decide that their father is a very good daddy after all. The children finally retrieve their father, who has been reading a newspaper all during his adventure. At home, their mother makes the children promise not to swap their dad any more. Writing in Bloomsbury Review, Anji Keating called The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish "fabulously funny" and dubbed the protagonists' journey to fetch their father "delightful." Malcolm Jones, writing in Newsweek, predicted that Gaiman and McKean "may shock a few grandparents … but in fact the most shocking thing they've done in this droll story is to take the illegible look of cutting-edge magazines like Raygun and somehow make it readable."

In 2003 Gaiman and McKean completed a second picture book, The Wolves in the Walls. In this work, young Lucy hears wolves living in the walls of the old house where she and her family live; of course, no one believes her. When the wolves emerge to take over the house, Lucy and her family flee. However, Lucy wants her house back, and she also wants the beloved pig-puppet that she left behind. She talks her family into going back into the house, where they move into the walls that had been vacated by the wolves. Lucy and her family then frighten the sharp-clawed usurpers, who are wearing their clothes and eating their food. The wolves scatter, and everything seems to go back to normal until Lucy hears another noise in the walls; this time, it sounds like elephants. In her Booklist review of The Wolves in the Walls, Francisca Goldsmith found the book "visually and emotionally sophisticated, accessible, and inspired by both literary and popular themes and imagery." Writing in School Library Journal, Marian Creamer commented that "Gaiman and McKean deftly pair text and illustration to convey a strange, vivid story," and predicted that "children will delight in the ‘scary, creepy tone.’"

Gaiman's first story for middle-graders, Coraline, outlines how the title character, a young girl who feels that she is being ignored by her preoccupied parents, enters a terrifying, malevolent alternate reality to save them after they are kidnapped. The story begins when Coraline and her parents move into their new house, which is divided into apartments. Left to her own devices, the bored girl explores the house and finds a door in the empty flat next door that leads her to a world that is a twisted version of her own. There, Coraline meets two odd-looking individuals who call themselves her "other mother" and "other father." The Other Mother, a woman who looks like Coraline's mom except for her blackbutton eyes and stiletto fingernails, wants Coraline to stay with her and her husband. Tempted by good food and interesting toys, Coraline considers the offer. However, when the girl returns home, she finds that her parents have disappeared. Coraline discovers that they are trapped in the other world, and she sets out to save them. The Other Mother, who turns out to be a soul-sucking harpy, enters into a deadly game of hide-and-seek with Coraline, and the girl ultimately discovers new qualities of bravery and resolve within herself.

After its publication, Coraline became a subject of dispute. Some adult observers saw it as too frightening for young readers. However, other observers noted that children of their acquaintance considered it exciting rather than overly frightening. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly wrote that Gaiman and illustrator McKean "spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons…. Gaiman twines his tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery …, yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying." Writing in School Library Journal, Bruce Anne Shook commented that "the story is odd, strange, even slightly bizarre, but kids will hang on every word…. This is just right for all those requests for a scary book." A critic in Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book that, "for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister, Coraline is spot on." Coraline has won several major fantasy awards and was adapted as a graphic novel and a major motion picture.

M Is for Magic, a collection of stories aimed at a young adult audience, features a number of tales from Gaiman's hard-to-find Angels and Visitations: A Miscellany. According to a critic in Publishers Weekly, the "volume is an excellent reminder of his considerable talent for short-form prose." Interworld, a science-fiction novel coauthored by Gaiman and Michael Reaves, centers on Joey Harker, an ordinary youngster who discovers that he has the ability to travel between dimensions. Once inside the Altiverse, which contains an infinite series of alternate Earths, Joey learns that he is at the center of an epic confrontation pitting the forces of science against the forces of magic. "Filled with bizarre imagery, innovative world-building, and breathless action, Interworld is equal parts survival escapade and David-and-Goliath epic," noted Kliatt reviewer Claire E. Gross, and John Peters, writing in Booklist, described the novel as a "fast-paced, compulsively readable tale."

Illustrated by Gris Grimly, The Dangerous Alphabet is Gaiman's take on the familiar alphabet book, with an eerie twist. In the work, a pair of Victorian children sneaks away from their father and, accompanied by their pet gazelle, journeys to an underworld where hidden treasure awaits. Along the way, however, the girl is captured by evil-doers and her brother must battle pirates, monsters, and trolls to rescue her. The children's story is told through thirteen rhyming couplets which incorporate the twenty-six letters. "Skillful narrative and visual storytelling combine to present a complex adventure that unravels through multilayered text and illustrations," Susannah Richards observed in School Library Journal, and Booklist contributor Thom Barthelmess reported that the author and illustrator of The Dangerous Alphabet "have combined forces to produce an acrid, gothic confection that bubbles with vitriol and wit."

The Graveyard Book, a reimagining of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, was inspired by Gaiman's trips to the cemetery with his then two-year-old son and took more than two decades to write. While his family is being murdered, a toddler slips away and finds refuge in a nearby graveyard, where he is cared for by the ghoulish inhabitants. Renamed Nobody Owens, or "Bod" for short, the youngster eventually rejoins the human world, where he encounters the mysterious killer from his past. The Graveyard Book earned rave reviews; Patrick Ness, writing in the London Guardian, praised "the outrageous riches of Gaiman's imagination." In the Scotsman, Charlie Fletcher called the work "a robust, big-hearted fantasy, tinged with darkness and lit with humour and surprise, and deeper than its genre surface might hint at." As Fletcher added, "the novel certainly has depth, along with its wide-ranging playfulness, and it has a sureness of tone in terms of precisely what aspects of the dark and macabre to omit, and what to leave in." According to Gross, "Gaiman's assured plotting is as bittersweet as it is action-filled … and makes this ghost-story-cum-coming-of-age-novel as readable as it is accomplished."

The mainstream success of Stardust, as well as the book and film versions of Coraline, and The Graveyard Book, "has changed Gaiman's place in the world from cult comic writer to respected author and highly sought-after creator of film, television and radio content," a contributor observed in the London Independent. As Gaiman stated in the same article, "I'm being taken seriously on a level that would have been inconceivable for someone who wrote comics, children's stories and fantasies to have been taken seriously 15 years ago." That kind of recognition is long overdue, Fletcher declared, adding his hopes that one day Gaiman will "no longer merely be seen as one of the brightest lights of the fantasy section in the increasingly ghettoised bookstores of the world. People will be saying he's one of the great British writers. Period."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 19, 1996, Volume 42, 2002.

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Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 261: British Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers since 1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Kwitney, Alisa, The Sandman: King of Dreams, introduction by Neil Gaiman, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Neil Gaiman on His Work and Career: A Conversation with Bill Baker, Rosen (New York, NY), 2008.

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.

PERIODICALS

Bloomsbury Review, July-August, 1997, Anji Keating, review of The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, p. 21.

Booklist, August, 2002, Ray Olson, interview with Gaiman, p. 19, and Stephanie Zvirin, review of Coraline, p. 1948; August, 2003, Francisca Goldsmith, review of The Wolves in the Walls, p. 1989; August, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Anansi Boys, p. 1952; September 1, 2007, John Peters, review of InterWorld, p. 114; March 1, 2008, Thom Barthelmess, review of The Dangerous Alphabet, p. 72; May 15, 2008, Ray Olson, review of The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, p. 27.

Christian Science Monitor, February 18, 1999, Kurt Lancaster, review of Stardust, p. 19.

Commonweal, December 2, 1994, Frank McConnell, review of Mister Punch, p. 27; October 20, 1995, Frank McConnell, review of Sandman, p. 21; June 19, 1998, Frank McConnell, review of Neverwhere, p. 21.

Entertainment Weekly, June 24, 1994, Ken Tucker, review of Sandman, pp. 228-229; September 23, 2005, Jennifer Reese, "Lost ‘Boys’: Neil Gaiman Goes on a Madcap, Tangential Whirl in Anansi Boys," p. 93.

Guardian (London, England), July 14, 1999, Nick Hasted, "The Illustrated Man," p. 12; October 25, 2008, Patrick Ness, review of The Graveyard Book, p. 11.

Hollywood Reporter, September 14, 2005, Gina McIntyre, "Cheap Thrills: Fantasy Author Neil Gaiman Finds Reality a Special Effect, p. 57; July 24, 2007, Noel Murray, "Dialogue with Neil Gaiman," p. 1.

Horn Book, September-October, 2007, Claire E. Gross, review of InterWorld, p. 575; November-December, 2008, Claire E. Gross, review of The Graveyard Book, p. 703.

Independent (London, England), October 22, 2007, interview with Gaiman, p. 10.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of Coraline, p. 88; July 15, 2006, review of Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, p. 691; April 1, 2008, review of The Dangerous Alphabet; January 15, 2009, review of Blueberry Girl.

Kliatt, July, 2008, George Galuschak, review of The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, p. 32; September, 2008, Paula Rohrlick, review of The Graveyard Book, p. 10, and George Galuschak, review of Coraline, p. 32.

Library Journal, September 15, 1990, Keith R.A. DeCandido, review of The Golden Age, p. 104.

Locus, April, 1993, Carolyn Cushman, review of The Books of Magic, p. 29.

Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2008, Geoff Boucher, interview with Gaiman.

Newsweek, December 1, 1997, Malcolm Jones, review of The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, p. 77.

New York Times, January 27, 2009, Motoko Rich, "The Graveyard Book Wins Newbery Medal," p. C1.

New York Times Book Review, November 9, 2008, Becca Zerkin, review of The Dangerous Alphabet, p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, November 23, 1998, review of Stardust, p. 63; June 24, 2002, review of Coraline, p. 57; July 18, 2005, review of Anansi Boys, p. 180; July 17, 2006, review of Fragile Things, p. 131; July 9, 2007, review of M Is for Magic, p. 54; December 15, 2008, review of Blueberry Girl, p. 52.

School Library Journal, February, 1999, Susan Salpini, review of Stardust, p. 142; August, 2002, Bruce Anne Shook, review of Coraline, p. 184; September, 2003, Marian Creamer, review of The Wolves in the Walls, p. 178; August, 2007, Beth Wright, review of M Is for Magic, p. 116; May, 2008, Susannah Richards, review of The Dangerous Alphabet, p. 98; October, 2008, Megan Honig, review of The Graveyard Book, p. 144.

Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), November 8, 2008, Charlie Fletcher, interview with Gaiman.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), November 16, 2007, Colin Covert, "Gaiman's Take on Beowulf: Beyond Heroics," p. 13F.

Sunday Times (London, England), July 15, 1990, Nicolette Jones, review of Violent Cases; November 2, 2008, Nicolette Jones, review of The Graveyard Book, p. 57.

Times (London, England), November 1, 2008, Amanda Craig, interview with Gaiman, p. 8.

USA Today, July 31, 2007), Anthony Breznican, "Storyteller Gaiman Wishes upon a Star," p. 1D.

Washington Post Book World, April 7, 2002, Michael Swanwick, "Reel Worlds," p. 3.

ONLINE

Neil Gaiman Home Page,http://www.neilgaiman.com (February 15, 2009).

Neil Gaiman Web log,http://journal.neilgaiman.com (February 15, 2009).

Powell's Books Web site,http://www.powells.com/ (August, 2005), Chris Bolton, interview with Gaiman.

Time Online,http://www.time.com/ (September 25, 2005), Lev Grossman, "Interview: Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon."

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"Gaiman, Neil 1960-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Gaiman, Neil 1960-." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/gaiman-neil-1960

Gaiman, Neil

Gaiman, Neil

November 10, 1960 Portchester, England

Writer

Neil Gaiman is an extraordinarily imaginative writer who works in a variety of formats, writing graphic novels (or, book-length comics), short stories, novels, children's books, and scripts for television and films. His works are classified in a number of different genres, from horror to fantasy to science fiction, and often he jumps from one genre to another within a single work. Gaiman understands the conventional rules of writing fiction, particularly comic books, but he rarely follows such rules, choosing instead to pursue the winding paths of his imagination. Gaiman has achieved rock-star status among his millions of fans, and is best known for his Sandman series of comic books. He began writing Sandman installments in the late 1980s, developing a passionate following along the way. After a break of several years from Sandman, he published the graphic novel Sandman: Endless Nights in 2003. In October of that year, Endless Nights reached number twenty on the New York Times bestseller list, a rare feat for a comic book. Gaiman has also achieved success with a novella, or short novel, for young adults, titled Coraline. The novel earned a number of prestigious awards, including the Hugo and Nebula awards for outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy, and the Bram Stoker award, which is given to exceptional works of horror.

"All my life, I've felt that I was getting away with something because I was just making things up and writing them down, and that one day there would be a knock, and a man with a clipboard would be standing there and say, 'It says here you've just been making things up all these years. Now it's time to go off and work in a bank.'"

A reader becomes a writer

Gaiman was born in Portchester, England, in 1960. His mother, a pharmacist, and his father, the director of a company, encouraged their young son's reading habits, although even without such encouragement Gaiman would probably have been an avid reader. He devoured every book he could get his hands on as a child, working his way through the entire local children's library and partway through the adult collection as well. In an interview on the KAOS2000 Magazine Web site, Gaiman explained that he carried a book with him wherever he went: "Before weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and anything else where you're actually meant to not be reading, my family would frisk me and take the book away." He read books in a number of different genres, especially comics, and he was particularly drawn to science fiction and fantasy works. While preparing for his own bar mitzvah, a Jewish ceremony marking a young man's transition to the world of adulthood, Gaiman became entranced by religious and mystical Jewish writings.

As a teenager Gaiman began to outgrow the comic books he had loved as a child. Faced with a lack of comic books aimed at a more mature audience, Gaiman decided to fill that need himself. He wanted to write comic books when he grew up, although at the time he had no idea how to accomplish that goal. After graduating from high school in 1977, Gaiman became a journalist. He wrote articles for a number of British newspapers and magazines, including the Sunday Times, the Observer, and Time Out. In 1983 he and partner Mary McGrath had their first child, named Michael. In March of 1985 Gaiman wed McGrath, and that same year their daughter, Holly, was born. During that time Gaiman began writing short stories, including such titles as "How to Be a Barbarian," "How to Spot a Psycho," and "Jokers through History."

In the early 1980s Gaiman began reading the works of esteemed British comic book writer Alan Moore, author of such landmark works as Swamp Thing and Watchmen. He told Authors and Artist for Young Adults (AAYA) : "Moore's work convinced me that you really could do work in comics that had the same amount of intelligence, the same amount of passion, the same amount of quality that you could put in any other medium," such as novels, short stories, or films. While comic books had been around since the 1930s, the development of the graphic novel as a serious form of literature was relatively recent, and the rules for the genre were still being written. Gaiman was drawn to the experimental nature of adult-oriented comic books and graphic novels, and in the mid-1980s he began writing comics. He wrote several issues of a series called 2000AD before publishing the graphic novel Violent Cases in 1987. Violent Cases depicts a grown man's childhood recollections, with a visit to an elderly doctor as the starting point of those memories. While treating the four-year-old child for a broken arm, the doctor shares vivid stories from decades earlier, when the infamous gangster Al Capone was his patient.

After publishing Violent Cases, which was illustrated by his frequent collaborator Dave McKean, Gaiman came to the attention of celebrated publisher DC Comics, home of Batman and Superman. His next work, a three-part series called Black Orchid, was published by DC Comics, the first of Gaiman's many works to find a home there. The series revisits a character from DC's history, the crime-fighting heroine named in the title. Black Orchid is quite different from the typical female characters in comic books; Gaiman described her to AAYA as "vaguely feminist, ecological, essentially nonviolent. I liked the fact that at the end she doesn't get mad and start hitting people." For his next venture, DC asked Gaiman to revive another old character, and Gaiman chose the little-known Sandman, a character that originated in the 1940s. DC hired Gaiman to write a monthly serial featuring the Sandman, a career move intended to build the writer's reputation. Much to the surprise of both Gaiman and DC Comics, the Sandman series was an immediate hit.

Not Comic Books: The Stories and Novels of Neil Gaiman

While Neil Gaiman initially and enduringly captured the imaginations of millions of readers with his Sandman comics and other graphic novels, he has also applied his seemingly endless energy to works of prose, namely novels and short stories.

Gaiman began writing short stories before ever penning a comic book, and some of his stories and story-poems have been collected into the volumes Angels and Visitations (1993) and Smoke and Mirrors (1998). As with his other writings, these collections range across many genres, from fantasy, science fiction, and horror, to comedy and mystery.

Gaiman's first novel was a comedic collaboration with English writer Terry Pratchett. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990) was written over a period of several weeks in 1989, with Gaiman and Pratchett sharing their contributions over the phone, each working hard to make the other laugh hysterically. The novel uses slapstick comedy to address the most serious of subjects: the end of humankind. In 2003 Good Omens was named one of England's one hundred "best-loved novels" in a poll conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

In 1996 Gaiman published Neverwhere, a novel that came about after he had written the script for a six-part BBC series with the same title. Dissatisfied with the many compromises made during the filming of the series, Gaiman opted to regain control of his ideas by issuing the work as a novel. In an interview on the Writers Write Web site, Gaiman related that every time a major alteration was made to his script during the production of the series, he would think to himself, "It's OK, I'll put it back in the novel." The book explores the adventures of Londoner Richard Mayhew, who encounters a girl named Door, a visitor from an otherworldly place called London Below. Door has the ability to travel between the two worlds, the real London and the fantastical underground London, and Mayhew accompanies her, helping her flee a pair of brutal assassins. Attempting once again to bring his vision of Neverwhere to the screen, Gaiman sold the rights to his novel to Jim Henson Productions, the company best known as the home of the Muppets.

For Stardust, Gaiman collaborated with artist Charles Vess to produce a short, richly illustrated fantasy novel. Described by many as an adult fairy story, Stardust tells the romantic tale of a young man battling powerful foes to retrieve a fallen star promised to his beloved. Stardust was initially released as a four-part illustrated series by DC Comics in 1997 and 1998; one year later, Spike Books issued a one-volume version without illustrations. Critics raved, fans went wild, and plans were soon underway to make a Stardust movie.

In 2001 Gaiman released American Gods, perhaps his best-known work outside of his graphic novels. A typical Gaiman hodge-podge of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mythology, American Gods tells the story of ancient European gods who accompanied waves of immigrants to the shores of the United States, only to be discarded and ignored in modern society. They have been replaced by American-bred gods such as Media and Technology, and the old-time gods are fed up and looking for a fight with their newer counterparts. American Gods connected with Gaiman's many fans and earned new fans as well, all of whom propelled the book to a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. The novel won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, SFX (for outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy), and the Bram Stoker award for distinguished works of horror. While Gaiman established his reputation with his groundbreaking work in comics, he has cemented his legacy by applying his creativity to every existing genre and by inventing a few new ones as well.

The Lord of Dreams

Gaiman's first Sandman installment came out in 1989, and over the next eight years a total of seventy-five issues were released. With each new comic, Gaiman elaborated on the complex universe surrounding the Sandman, complete with myths explaining the origin of that universe. Myths are stories handed down through the ages, often used to explain a culture's practices or beliefs. In the world of the Sandman, a family of seven immortal, godlike creatures, known as the Endless, engage in cosmic struggles. Each of the Endless represents a different element of human emotions and experienceDream, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Delirium (formerly Delight), Destruction, and Death. Known by a variety of names, including Sandman, Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming, and Master of Story, Dream wanders through places both earthbound and otherworldly. Tall, thin, and pale, with spiky black hair, Dream is the ruler of the Dreaming, a sort of parallel universe that exists alongside earthly reality. Humans can enter the Dreaming only while sleeping. Dream is a mysterious figure, unknowable even to the most devoted readers. AAYA quoted Gaiman as saying, "He's definitely not human. I mean, he is the personification of dreams. He's the king of the dreaming place where you close your eyes each night and go. And whether he's [good or evil] depends an awful lot on where you're standing. From his own standards, he is always acting for the best, but his moral code and his point of view are not human."

Gaiman approached the Sandman stories in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink frame of mind, incorporating mythologies of his own invention as well as ancient Greek myths. He also found inspiration in the mystical Jewish writings he had studied as a youth. He didn't stop there, however, as he explained to Scott Brown in Entertainment Weekly: "I just kept adding things, seeing if it would hold. I thought, Let's put Shakespeare in there. Okay, that worked. Well, surely I won't be able to add the Norse gods.... No, that worked too. But I certainly won't get away with angels." As Brown pointed out, "He got away with angels, and more." The Sandman stories are complicated, sophisticated works written on a grand scale. Gaiman's rich, multilayered universe presents a challenge to readers; these are not simple stories that can be grasped immediately. Gaiman's Sandman comics broke new ground in many ways. They brought female fans to the world of comics, a genre typically read mostly by men, and in addition they converted legions of readers who had never before considered comics to be serious literature. Gaiman's comics have won numerous awards, many of which are usually reserved for traditional prose worksshort stories, novels, and the likerather than comic books. In Entertainment Weekly, Brown quoted comics writer Moore, the object of Gaiman's admiration from early on, who said of Gaiman's Sandman creation: "It's a perfect legend. It's so good that it shouldn't really even have a writer. It should be one of those stories that's just always been there."

Throughout the initial eight-year run of the Sandman serials, DC Comics periodically collected several issues for publication as a graphic novel. The first such collection, Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, introduces the reader to Sandman's universe. Sandman: The Wake includes the final installment of the series that concluded in 1996. Gaiman's many devoted fans felt crushed when the series ended, but the author revisited the character in several later works. In 1999 he released Sandman: The Dream Hunters, a collaboration with illustrator Yoshitaka Amano that retells a Japanese story titled "The Fox, the Monk, and the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming." A long-awaited continuation of the series appeared in 2003, with Sandman: Endless Nights garnering rave reviews, earning a number of awards, and securing a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Endless Nights is a collection of seven separate stories, each devoted to one of the Endless and each illustrated by a different artist. Gaiman told Jeff Zaleski of Publishers Weekly that he takes pride in the variety of genres explored in Endless Nights: "Do you know what the coolest thing about Endless Nights is?... Not one of those stories is even in the same genre as any of the other stories."

"Warping young minds"

The Sandman also made an appearance in works Gaiman wrote for a young adult audience, showing up in a small role in Books of Magic, a collection of four comic books concerning the world of illusion and trickery. Sandman's sister, Death, played a prominent role in the Sandman spinoff Death: The High Cost of Living. In a once-per-century visit to Earth, Death helps a suicidal teenager discover new reasons for living.

In 2003 Gaiman released another work for young adult readers, the novel Coraline. In this work the title character, a young child, discovers a doorway in her new house that leads to a matching home in a different world. In that other world, a set of parents with pale skin and black button eyes ask Coraline to stay with them and be their daughter. Realizing that her own mother and father are in need of rescuing, Coraline then engages in a dangerous struggle with the "other mother" to retrieve her parents. Gaiman has also written books for young children, including the picture book The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, published in 1997. In that story, young Nathan trades his father for a bowl of goldfish. His mother, unhappy with the outcome of the trade, forces Nathan to retrieve his father, and the boy must engage in a series of exchanges to get his parent back. During 2003 Gaiman published another children's story, The Wolves in the Walls, in which the young heroine Lucy must convince her family that their home is being taken over by wolves. "I love writing children's books," Gaiman told Phil Anderson of KAOS2000. "I think I will always write children's books. I love warping young minds."

Gaiman is an extremely prolific writer who has created a long list of works in an impressive variety of genres. In addition to his comic books, graphic novels, and works for young people, he has also written several successful novels, including Neverwhere, which began as the script for a six-part series for British television, and American Gods, a bestseller in the United States that depicts a struggle between the European gods of ancient origin and the newer, more arrogant American gods. Gaiman has written numerous scripts for television and moviesin some cases working on film adaptations of his own workswith his best-known work being the English-language script for the highly praised Japanese animated film Princess Mononoke. During the summer of 2003 Gaiman returned to the comic book genre with the series 1602. Set in seventeenth-century England, this series is published by Marvel, a major rival of DC Comics.

At any given time Gaiman juggles several projects, and he also makes time for extensive book tours. His public appearances draw record numbers of fans, more than most authors, and he inspires in his followers the kind of adoration generally not experienced by authors. Fans have been known to faint at his book signings, and at least two have asked Gaiman to draw on a portion of their body, so they can then have his writing tattooed onto their skin. When not traveling the world to promote his works, Gaiman spends much of his time writing at his large Victorian home located near Minneapolis, a home he shares with McGrath and their youngest child, Maddy.

For More Information

Books

Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 42. Detroit: Gale, 2002.

Periodicals

Brown, Scott. "The Best Comic Book Ever Returns." Entertainment Weekly (October 3, 2003): p. 36.

Zaleski, Jeff. "Comics! Books! Film! The Arts and Ambitions of Neil Gaiman." Publishers Weekly (July 28, 2003): p. 46.

Web Sites

Anderson, Phil. "Interview with: Neil Gaiman." KAOS2000 Magazine. http://www.kaos2000.net/interviews/neilgaiman99.html (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Krewson, John. "Neil Gaiman." The Onion A.V. Club. http://www.theonionavclub.com/feature/index.php?issue=3504&f=1 (accessed on July 3, 2004).

Neil Gaiman Official Web site. http://www.neilgaiman.com/index.asp (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Richards, Linda. "Neil Gaiman." January Magazine. http://www.januarymagazine.com/profiles/gaiman.html (accessed on July 3, 2004).

White, Claire E. "A Conversation with Neil Gaiman." Writers Write. http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/mar99/gaiman.htm (accessed on July 3, 2004).

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