Neil Gaiman (November 2004)

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Neil Gaiman

Neil Richard Gaiman (/'geɪmən/) (born November 10, 1960 in Portchester, England) is an English Jewish author of numerous science fiction and fantasy works, including many comic books. more...

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As of 2005, he lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


As a child and a teenager, Gaiman grew up reading the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton. He later became a fan of science fiction, reading the works of authors as diverse as Samuel R. Delany, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison and especially Gene Wolfe.

Although Jewish, he was educated at several Church of England schools. There he studied both standard school topics as well as religion classes. At the same time, he trained to become Bar Mitzvah with an Orthodox Jewish cantor. This training gave him a wide background in both Jewish and Christian theology, which he incorporates heavily into his works, perhaps most notably in Sandman.

Gaiman's father is a Scientologist.

In the early 1980s Gaiman pursued journalism as a means to learn about the world and make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published, conducting interviews and writing book reviews. During this time he wrote his first book in 1984, a now sought-after biography of the band Duran Duran, Ghastly Beyond Belief with Kim Newman, a book of quotations, and interviews and articles for many English magazines including Knave magazine. In the late 1980s he wrote Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Companion in what he calls a "classic English humour" style; following on from that he wrote the opening of what would become his collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the comic novel Good Omens, about the impending apocalypse.

After forming a friendship with famed comic book scribe Alan Moore, Gaiman started writing comics. He wrote two British graphic novels with his favorite collaborator and long time friend Dave McKean: Violent Cases and Signal to Noise. Afterwards, he landed a job with DC Comics;his first work being the limited series Black Orchid.

He has written a plethora of comics for several publishers, but his best-known work is the comics series The Sandman, which chronicles the tale of Morpheus, the personification of Dream. (See The Endless). The series started a small cultural sensation, gathering a devout following and making comic books respectable to many new audiences. The series began in 1987 and ended in 1996 when Gaiman ended the successful series as he had intended; a first for near-mainstream comics. All 75 issues of the regular series have been collected into 10 volumes that are still in print and selling well.

In 1989, Gaiman published The Books of Magic (collected in 1991), a four-part mini-series that provided a tour of the mythological and magical parts of the DC Universe through a frame story about an English teenager who discovers that he has a destiny as the world's greatest wizard. The miniseries was popular, and sired an ongoing series, also called The Books of Magic, written by John Ney Reiber. Many people have noted similarities between series protagonist Tim Hunter and the later and more famous Harry Potter; when referring to this similarity, Gaiman indicates that the young man as sorcerer has precedent in literature.

Gaiman also writes songs, poems and novels, and wrote the 1997 BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere, which he later adapted into a novel. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie MirrorMask with his old friend Dave McKean for McKean to direct. In addition, he wrote the English language script to the anime movie Princess Mononoke.

Gaiman is a Board Member as well as an active supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and he regularly participates in fundraisers for the group including creating materials such as the original Snow, Glass, Apples along with a book called "Gods and Tulips" of which the CBLDF owns the copyright.

In February 2001, when Gaiman had completed writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional web site featuring a weblog (some time before they became as popular as they are now) in which Gaiman described the day-to-day process of revising, publishing, and promoting the novel. After the novel was published, the web site evolved into a more general Official Neil Gaiman Web Site, and as of 2005 Gaiman still regularly adds to the weblog, describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is. The original American Gods blog was extracted for publication in the New England Science Fiction Association Press collection of Gaiman miscellany, Adventures in the Dream Trade.

Gaiman received a World Fantasy Award for short fiction in 1991 for the Sandman issue, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (see Dream Country). (Due to a subsequent rules change disqualifying comics for that category, Gaiman is the only writer to win that award for a comics script.) He received the 2002 Hugo Award for outstanding novel for American Gods, which also won the 2002 Nebula Award. In 2003 Coraline won the best novella award. In 2004, his short story "A Study in Emerald" won another Hugo (in a ceremony the author presided over himself, having volunteered for the job before his story was nominated). In addition, he has won 13 Eisner Awards for his comics work, two Nebula Awards and three World Horror Awards. Stardust won the Mythopoeic Award.

Gaiman has also written at least three drafts of a screenplay adaptation of Nicholson Baker's novel The Fermata for director Robert Zemeckis, although the project remains stalled while Zemeckis made Polar Express and the Gaiman- Roger Avary written Beowulf film.

Gaiman forged an intense friendship with singer Tori Amos in the early nineties. Before she met stardom, she sent him a demo tape of her album Little Earthquakes, and they became fast friends. As such, he is constantly mentioned (often rather cryptically) in at least one of her songs on each of her albums. He also wrote the forewords to several of her tour programs as well as short stories to accompany her album Strange Little Girls and .


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