Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Neil Gaiman appreciating Wednesday

As you can see by the title Today I´m taking a page out of sadly defunct blog COMICS MAKE NO SENSE. Okay, it´s still online but there are no new entries.

Which means that if I start right now and read all the posts I still have to read I´d be like finished in two or three years. I really tried to stay current but it was like I didn´t go to the blog for a week or two and there were already 20 new posts. But enough about that. Wednesday is sometimes called Mittloch in Germany ( Wednesday = Mittwoch in german, Loch = hole ) because it´s this hole in the middle of the week where your performance curve reaches it´s lowest point. Especially if you have such shitty weather like in Germany where it has been raining the last two days.

So, I just watched the DR. WHO episode from the sixth season THE DOCTOR´S WIFE written by none other than Neil Gaiman and I have to say it´s bloody brilliant. As always they got Neil to write the episode because he´s a huge Dr. Who fan. This really seems to be part of the british DNA. You´re born, you´re british, you love Dr. Who. That´s how they get such big stars like Timothy Dalton on the show. And by writing some of the best stuff on television - period.

Now my readers from the United Kingdom have of course already seen it and some of my readers in America may have. To my readers in Germany I say : don´t wait till they show it on tv. They are already 3 seasons behind and seem to have no intention of following up on it.

If you can understand english movies - get it somewhere. Even if it´s only the episode written by Neil Gaiman. I´m not putting any download links for this on the blog - because that can be tricky - but I found them and I´m like a monkey trying to get a Motherbox working by peeing on it when it comes to computer stuff. So you should have no problem with that.

What I want to put on the blog are some other links I have collected Today and I guess at this point I should mention that I´m sure I don´t have to explain who Neil Gaiman is - to most people. If you read comics you know him of course from his groundbreaking SANDMAN series that cemented DC´s Vertigo line as one of THE foremost addresses for intelligent comics for adults or ( if you have only recently begun reading comics ) from his WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER ? story.

If you are more of a book reader you might know one of his bestsellers like AMERICAN GODS, ANANSI BOYS, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK or GOOD OMENS. And if you more of a moviegoer you might know the adaptions of his works like MIRRORMASK, STARDUST, CORALINE or his work on such films like the CGI BEOWOLF where he wrote the screenplay or PRINCESS MONONOKE which he adapted to the english language.

His complete list of work is really much to large to put into this post but whatever he does, he has thousands of fans around the world. Because he´s one of the coolest people on the planet. Period.

I had the distinctive honor of meeting him in person during one of the first International Comic Salons of Erlangen where I first decided to get original sketches from artists. Two years before I had done the rounds for a friend who worked at the Sammlerecke in Nürtingen ( and I think who now is the manager at the Sammlerecke in Koblenz ) and I wanted to get some for myself. To that extend I had bought a little red book with really good paper and I had already gotten a number of sketches.

In hindsight I might have gone for a bigger sketchbook because some artists just don´t put so much effort into small sketches but at that time I didn´t care. I have to say I didn´t know what to expect when I got in line for Neil Gaiman because I didn´t have anything to sign. I guess I halfway expected to just get his autograph but I didn´t care. This was Neil Gaiman we were talking about.

I think I have already told the story of my first visit to a REAL comicstore when ( during my military service with the Deutsche Bundeswehr ) I was stationed in Munich right before Christmas.

We were supposed to get to our new homebase, say hello, put our uniforms in the closet and get back home to celebrate the holidays. Well, I also had a second mission. Back then U - COMIX was still published by the Alpha Verlag and in each issue they had ads from comicshops all over Germany.

So as soon as I knew I was heading to Munich I digged for some old issues of U - COMIX and looked for the direction of comicshops in Munich. I found the address to JÜRGEN´S COMIC SHOP and while most young recruits headed home as fast as possible I went in the exact opposite direction - the city of Munich, through the Victualienmarkt, changing subways at the Münchener Freiheit and asking people on the street till I had finally found the comicshop.

There I bought an entire bag of comics which cost me about 100 Deutsche Mark which was real money. And I don´t only mean a lot but also real money not like the EUROS we have now. So, in the shop I grabbed everything I didn´t know that looked interesting like DOOM PATROL, HELLBLAZER, JUSTICE LEAGUE, ANIMAL MAN, SANDMAN or DR. FATE.

There were actually two SANDMAN issues I considered buying, one was part two or three of THE DOLL HOUSE and the other seemed to be a standalone issue.

Since I didn´t know what THE DOLL HOUSE was and I didn´t want to start in the middle of a storyarc I bought the other issue, which incidentially was issue 8, THE SOUND OF HER WINGS which may be one of the best SANDMAN stories ( or comic stories ) ever written. It´s one of the top stories for comic fans and it was number 2 on Wizard Magazine's " 100 Best Single Issue Comics Since You Were Born " list. In the story Dream´s little sister Death is introduced to the series - as I was to the land of the Dreaming. To say it blew my mind would be an understatement. You can sample some of the pages right here

I had never read something like that and let´s just say that when I got back to Munich after the holidays I spent many hours ( sometimes a bit longer than the official opening hours ) at JÜRGEN´S COMIC SHOP, the comic shop at the subway station or the international press section at the train station at Munich Central scavenging for all issues of SANDMAN I could find.

So, coming back to Erlangen, I was standing in line to get an autograph or just exchange a few words with this brilliant guy who had written this comic I absolutely loved and I probably should mention that this was long before the internet. At that time information about comic creators were very rare and mostly you had no idea how they looked like. So suddenly it was my turn and I stood before a guy who was wearing black leather and looked like a freaking rockstar.

Before I could react he took my little book and asked me who my favorite character from the book was. Of course it was Death and before I realized he began to draw her. Which wouldn´t surprise me Today but at that time I thought artists would only draw and writers would only write. I´m not the only one who was surprised because suddenly the person from the german publisher said : " Oh, Mr. Gaiman, you are not allowed to do drawings, just sign the books we sell here. "

Which is completely in their rights since they have to pay for the artists but it seemed to be news to Neil. He just calmly replied : " Well, I´ve already started so I´m going to finish it. "

Since I hadn´t bought a comic at the table I had to buy something which wasn´t a problem since they were a big publisher and they always have at least one book that´s missing in your collection ( which is one of the perks if you stop buying german comics 3 months before going to Erlangen so you can get all the newest releases there ) but when I got my book back I could just say Thanks and tell Neil how much I liked his comic.

I was so flabbergasted by his coolness and so overwhelmed by the Death picture he did for me that I totally forgot the question I had about the series. There´s one question I have had about the series and it possibly has been answered in the book itself and I just didn´t realize but I still don´t know.

Maybe he would have just told me in which issue this was told or maybe that´s one of the big unanswered questions and I totally blew my chanche to ever find out. And his chance to correct a mistake in SANDMAN lore. In any case from that moment on Neil Gaiman was one of the coolest people on the planet in my book. I fanatically got each issue of SANDMAN, suffering immensly each time an issue was delayed living in constant fear of the series end. If you were reading the series as it came out you might recall that Neil Gaiman first wanted to end it after the storyline that followed THE DOLL HOUSE ( or the one after that ) but then he always came up with another story he had to tell first. This happened a few times till the inevitable wrap - up finally happened in issue 75 and after that I tried to keep up with the further exploits of Mr. Gaiman in tv, movies, comics or novels.

Apart from getting both the graphic novel and the DVD of Coraline for my sister last Christmas I have to say I have been a bit lax in that departement in the last years but thanks to the Doctor Who episode my flame has been re - ignited.

I already ordered two of his novels I have been missing and I´m thinking about doing a post on the various adaptions of his original novel Coraline. I hope I can get my readers also excited ( if they are not already big fans ) and maybe one of the following links help.

First up is episode 106 of the Nerdist podcast in which Neil talks about " American Gods, describes scenes that were cut from his Doctor Who episode and doles out PHENOMENAL advice for aspiring writers. Also, an intense spiritual discussion reveals that we are all Hodgman. " Do not, I repeat - DO NOT !!! - listen to this before you´ve watched the Dr. Who episode unless you like to be spoilered.

The episode is also the topic of episode 4 of the Doctor Who Cast as well as GEEKS OF DOOM´s TARDISblend episode 21 that features an interview with Neil Gaiman and sadly has no download links. Listening only here, folks.

Neil Gaiman also made a rare tv appearance on the Craig Ferguson Show and if you don´t live in Germany you have probably seen it. I had a link for downloading but since it was deleted here is the clip from YouTube.

To make up for the missing links ( at least you didn´t have to suffer through the part with Paris Hilton who was on the show before Neil ) here´s Neil´s encore visit on the show :

AUTHORS ON TOUR has a 57 minutes podcast with Neil Gaiman from January the 23rd 2006 where he does a reading from Anansi Boys and does a quick questions and answers. There are also some excerpts from his audiobook Fragile Things in this short review by Susan Dunman from SF Site. And if you still have a craving for hearing the master himself reading his own work here is a link to videos of him reading the COMPLETE Graveyard Book !

i´m ready for my podcast has another interview with Neil Gaiman from October 27th 2007 about adapting his works to film - I think. I´m not sure, because you almost can´t hear it. Sorry.

THE SCOTTISH BOOK TRUST has an interview with Neil Gaiman about The Graveyard Book from 2008 and the differences between writing for adults and children, how he first came up with the idea of The Graveyard Book and which type of undead he would most like to be.

JUST ONE MORE BOOK has a 12 minute podcast interview with Neil Gaiman fresh of winning the Newbery award for The Graveyard Book from January 27th 2009 in which he talks about about blogging, giving his books away for free on the internet and twittering.

He also talks about The Graveyard Book and the Coraline movie on this interview on SFFaudio.

national public radio´s TALK OF THE NATION has various shows with Mr. Gaiman : one about his SANDMAN series , one about his recent BATMAN story " Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader ? " and one about Children´s Fantasy Literature in the modern world where he´s joined by Christopher Paolini ( 22 year old author of the Eragon series, who got his first book published at the age of 15 ) and Tamora Pierce ( author of a series of fantasy books for teenagers, including the Circle of Magic Quartet - her latest book is Trickster's Queen ). I may have already posted his interview about The Best American Comics 2010 a book he edited, but I´m pretty sure I haven´t posted the show where he asks : heard any good books lately ? which is all about the future of audiobooks that comes with a full transcript. There´s also a show about Neil Gaiman winning the Newberry Award for The Graveyard Book that has excerpts from the book and one about the movie adaption of STARDUST that has no download link and is audio only.

And speaking about ( once again ) audio only that´s also true for his 12 minute interview with Earl Merkel on RED ROOM and his 3 part interview together with Amanda Palmer on Kevin Smith´s SMODCAST.

And of course I couldn´t finish this post without adding the direction for Neil Gaiman´s blog just in case I might have forgotten it. I´m putting it in the permanent blog roll as well as the link for Comic Zone Radio , a link I have been looking for a while but I somehow always forgot. There are no download links and I´m not sure if there are new episodes but it´s worth it for the archive alone that features such big names like Adam Hughes, Bryan Singer, Carmine Infantino, David Carradine, Denny O´Neil, Dwayne McDuffie, Frank Miller, Gene Colan, Harlan Ellison, Jim Shooter, both John Romitas, Mike Grell, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Paul Levitz, Sal Buscema, Stan Lee, Walt Simonson and Will Eisner .

And it was really hard to narrow it down to those 20 names because there are just so many I wanted to mention, like a Who´s Who of comics with writers, editors, artists, inker, collectors, shopowners etc., etc., etc. Back when I started with the whole comic blogging thing and reading about comics on the internet I was often frustrated about all the hating going on but whenever I listened to one or two episodes from COMIC ZONE RADIO I instantly remembered why I fell in love with comics in the first place. And I bet you will do too.

As for Today´s video it can´t be any other as the trailer for Neil Gaiman´s Dr. Who episode THE DOCTOR´S WIFE.

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