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Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman (November 14, 2004) Born November 10, 1960(1960-11-10) (age 47)
Portchester, Hampshire, EnglandOccupationNovelist, comicswriter, screenwriterNationalityEnglishEthnicityJewishWriting period 1980s–present GenresComic books, Fantasy, Horror, Science fictionNotable work(s) The Sandman, Stardust, American GodsInfluences
Douglas Adams, Jorge Luis Borges, Ray Bradbury, James Branch Cabell, Lord Dunsany, G. K. Chesterton, Harlan Ellison, C. S. Lewis, H. P. Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny[1]
Susanna Clarke
Official website

Neil Richard Gaiman (IPA: /ˈgeɪmən/)[2] (born November 10, 1960[3]) is an English author of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels, graphic novels, comics, and films. His notable works include The Sandman comic series, Stardust, and American Gods.

He lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States,[4][5][6] in an "Addams Family house".[7] He is married to Mary T. McGrath and has two daughters, Holly and Maddy, and a son, Michael.



Early life

Gaiman's family is of Polish Jewish origins; after emigrating from the Netherlands in 1916, his grandfather eventually settled in the Hampshire city of Portsmouth on the south coast of England and established a chain of grocery stores.[8] His father, David Bernard Gaiman,[9] [10] worked in the same chain of stores;[8] his mother, Sheila Gaiman (née Goldman), was a pharmacist. He has two younger sisters.[5] After living for a period in the nearby town of Portchester, where Neil Gaiman was born in 1960, the family settled in 1965 in the West Sussex town of East Grinstead when his parents moved there to work for the Church of Scientology, of which his father was a prominent member. Gaiman lived in East Grinstead for many years, from 1965-1980 and again from 1984-1987.[11] Gaiman was educated at several Church of England schools, including Fonthill School (East Grinstead),[11] Ardingly College (1970-74), and Whitgift School (Croydon) (1974-77).[12]

Journalism, early writings, and literary influences

As a child and a teenager, Gaiman grew up reading the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord Dunsany 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, Robert A. Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, H. P. Lovecraft, Thorne Smith, and Gene Wolfe.

In the early 1980s, Gaiman pursued journalism, conducting interviews and writing book reviews, as a means to learn about the world and to make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published. He wrote and reviewed extensively for the British Fantasy Society. [13] His first professional short story publication was "Featherquest", a fantasy story, in Imagine Magazine in May 1984, when he was 23.[14]

In 1984, he wrote his first book, a biography of the band Duran Duran, as well as Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book of quotations, with Kim Newman. He also wrote interviews and articles for many British magazines, including Knave. In the late 1980s, he wrote Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's 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.[15]

After forming a friendship with comic book writer Alan Moore, Gaiman started writing comics, picking up Miracleman after Moore finished his run on the series. Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham collaborated on several issues of the series before its publisher, Eclipse Comics, collapsed, leaving the series unfinished. His first published comic strips were four short Future Shocks for 2000 AD in 1986-7. He wrote three graphic novels with his favorite collaborator and long-time friend Dave McKean, Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. In between, he landed a job with DC Comics, his first work being the limited series Black Orchid.


Gaiman has written numerous comics for several publishers. His award-winning series The Sandman tells the tale of Morpheus, the anthropomorphic personification of Dream. The series began in 1989 and concluded in 1996: the 75 issues of the regular series, along with a special and a seven issue coda, have been collected into 11 volumes that remain in print.

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 is destined to be the world's greatest wizard. The miniseries was popular, and sired an ongoing series written by John Ney Rieber.

In the mid-90's, he also created a number of new characters and a setting that was to be featured in a title published by Tekno Comix. The concepts were then altered and split between three titles set in the same continuity: Lady Justice, Mr. Hero the Newmatic Man, and Teknophage.[16] They were later featured in Phage: Shadow Death and Wheel of Worlds. Although Neil Gaiman's name appeared prominently on all titles, he was not involved in writing of any of the above-mentioned books (though he helped plot the zero issue of Wheel of Worlds).

Gaiman wrote a semi-autobiographical story about a boy's fascination with Michael Moorcock's anti-hero Elric for Ed Kramer's anthology Tales of the White Wolf. In 1996, Gaiman and Ed Kramer co-edited The Sandman: Book of Dreams. Nominated for the British Fantasy Award, the original fiction anthology featured stories and contributions by Tori Amos, Clive Barker, Gene Wolfe, Tad Williams, and others.

Asked why he likes comics more than other forms of storytelling Gaiman said “One of the joys of comics has always been the knowledge that it was, in many ways, untouched ground. It was virgin territory. When I was working on Sandman, I felt a lot of the time that I was actually picking up a machete and heading out into the jungle. I got to write in places and do things that nobody had ever done before. When I’m writing novels I’m painfully aware that I’m working in a medium that people have been writing absolutely jaw-droppingly brilliant things for, you know, three-four thousand years now. You know, you can go back. We have things like The Golden Ass. And you go, well, I don’t know that I’m as good as that and that’s two and a half thousand years old. But with comics I felt like — I can do stuff nobody has ever done. I can do stuff nobody has ever thought of. And I could and it was enormously fun.”[17]

Novels and film

Gaiman also writes songs, poems, short stories, novels, novellas, and screenplays. He wrote the 1996 BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere, which he later adapted into a novel, and cowrote the screenplay for the movie MirrorMask with his old friend Dave McKean for McKean to direct. In addition, he wrote the localised English language script to the anime movie Princess Mononoke, based on a translation of the Japanese script.

He cowrote the script for Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf with Roger Avary, a collaboration that has proved productive for both writers.[18] Gaiman has expressed interest in collaborating on a film adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.[19]

He was the only person other than J. Michael Straczynski to write a Babylon 5 script in the last 3 seasons, contributing the season 5 episode "Day of the Dead".

In 2005, his novel Anansi Boys was released worldwide. The book deals with Anansi ('Mr. Nancy'), a supporting character in American Gods. Specifically it traces the relationship of his two sons, one semi-divine and the other an unaware Englishman of American origin, as they explore their common heritage. It hit the New York Times bestseller list at number one.[20]

See List of works by Neil Gaiman.


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 was stalled while Zemeckis made The Polar Express and the Gaiman-Roger Avary written Beowulf film.

Several of Gaiman's original works have been optioned or greenlighted for film adaptation, most notably Stardust, which premiered in August of 2007 and stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes, directed by Matthew Vaughn. A stop-motion version of Coraline is slated for a 2009 release, with Henry Selick directing and Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher in the leading roles.

In 2007 Gaiman announced that after ten years in development the feature film of Death: The High Cost of Living would finally begin production with a screenplay by Gaiman that he would direct for Warner Independent. Don Murphy and Susan Montford are the producers, and Guillermo del Toro is the film's executive producer.[21][22]

Seeing Ear Theatre performed an audio play of "Snow, Glass, Apples," Gaiman's retelling of Snow White, which was published in the collection Smoke and Mirrors in 1998.


In February 2001, when Gaiman had completed writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional web site featuring a weblog 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 Website.[23]

Gaiman generally posts to the blog several times a week, describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is. He also posts reader emails and answers questions, which gives him unusually direct and immediate interaction with fans. One of his answers on why he writes the blog is "because writing is, like death, a lonely business."[24]

The original American Gods blog was extracted for publication in the NESFA Press collection of Gaiman miscellany, Adventures in the Dream Trade.

To celebrate the 7th anniversary of the blog, the novel American Gods was provided free of charge online for a month.


Gaiman maintains friendships with several celebrities outside the comic book and science fiction fields, including:

  • author Terry Pratchett, with whom he collaborated on the novel Good Omens (It is not uncommon to see Terry Pratchett in the acknowledgements in Gaiman's books, and Gaiman in Pratchett's.)
  • singer / songwriter/ keyboardist Tori Amos (A Sandman fan who became fast friends with Gaiman after making reference to "Neil and the Dream King" on her 1991 demo tape, and whom he included as a character (a talking tree) in 'Stardust'.)[25] also mentions him in her songs, "Tear in Your Hand" ("If you need me, me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king. Neil says hi by the way.") "Space Dog" ("Where's Neil when you need him?) and "Carbon" ("Get me Neil on the line, no I can't hold. Have him read, 'Snow, Glass,Apples' where nothing is what it seems")He also wrote stories for the tour book of Boys for Pele and the stories behind each girl in her album Strange Little Girls.
  • singer Thea Gilmore.
  • actor/comedian Lenny Henry (A fan of Black Orchid who pitched the idea that eventually became Neverwhere to Gaiman.)[26]
  • Jonathan Ross and his wife Jane Goldman (Who appear as 'themselves' in Gaiman's short story "The Mysterious Disappearance of Miss Finch" which was included in his Fragile Things collection, having initially appeared in the English/UK edition of Smoke and Mirrors)
  • illusionist Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller (Who has mentioned Gaiman on his Free FM radio show, and appeared in the Gaiman-written "Day of the Dead" episode of Babylon 5.)
  • director Terry Gilliam (whom Pratchett and Gaiman teased by agreeing to sell him a film option for Good Omens for one groat)[27]
  • author Kim Newman, helping develop the outline for (and originally planning to coauthor) his Anno Dracula series[28]


In 1993, Gaiman was contracted by Todd McFarlane to write a single issue of Spawn, a popular title at the newly created Image Comics company. McFarlane was promoting his new title by having guest authors Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Dave Sim each write a single issue.

In issue #9 of the series, Gaiman introduced the characters Angela, Cogliostro, and Medieval Spawn. Prior to this issue, Spawn was an assassin who worked for the government and came back as a reluctant agent of Hell but had no direction. In Angela, a cruel and malicious angel, Gaiman introduced a character who threatened Spawn's existence, as well as providing a moral opposite. Cogliostro was introduced as a mentor character for exposition and instruction, providing guidance. Medieval Spawn introduced a history and precedent that not all Spawns were self-serving or evil, giving additional character development to Malebolgia, the demon that creates Hellspawn.

All three characters were used repeatedly through the next decade by Todd McFarlane. Gaiman claimed that the characters were owned by their creator, not by the creator of the series. Ironically, disagreement over who owned the rights to a character was the motivation for McFarlane and other artists to form Image Comics (although that argument related more towards disagreements between writers and artists as character creators). As McFarlane used the characters without Gaiman's permission or royalty payments, Gaiman believed his copyrighted work was being infringed upon, which violated their original agreement. McFarlane initially agreed that Gaiman had not signed away any rights to the characters but later claimed that Gaiman's work had been work-for-hire and that McFarlane owned all of Gaiman's creations entirely. McFarlane had also refused to pay Gaiman for the volumes of Gaiman's work he republished and kept in print.

In 2002, Neil Gaiman filed a lawsuit against Todd McFarlane and Image Comics and won a sizable judgment. The characters are now owned 50/50 by both men.

This legal battle was in part funded by Marvels and Miracles, LLC, which Gaiman created in order to help sort out the legal copyrights surrounding Miracleman (see the ownership of Miracleman sub-section of the Miracleman article). Gaiman wrote Marvel 1602 in 2003 to help fund this project. All of Marvel Comics' profits for the original issues of the series go to Marvels and Miracles.

Gaiman is a director and major supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.


Gaiman at the 2007 Scream Awards

References in popular culture

  • Where's Neil When You Need Him? is a tribute CD to Gaiman consisting of seventeen tracks performed by various artists who are fans of his work. The album's title was taken from the song "Space Dog," by Tori Amos. Tori became a long-time friend and collaborator of Neil Gaiman after she first made a reference to him in the 1991 song "Tear in Your Hand" from her album "Little Earthquakes." She continues the tradition, mentioning Gaiman in her song "Horses" on the album "Boys for Pele."
  • On Babylon 5, the alien species, the Gaim, were named after Gaiman[citation needed] by their creator, J. Michael Straczynski.

Shakespeare references

  • Neil Gaiman draws on Shakespeare as a literary source. Allusions to Shakespeare's writings can be found in Anansi Boys, in which several lines of Hamlet appear, and the protagonist is compared to Macbeth more than once.
  • In The Sandman series, Shakespeare himself appears in three stories. In these appearances he makes and fulfills a deal with Morpheus, who grants Shakespeare the gift of inspiration in exchange for two plays celebrating dreams: A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. (Sandman #13, "Men of Good Fortune"; "Midsummer Night's Dream"; and "The Tempest.")
  • In Neverwhere the protagonist, Richard Mayhew, misquotes the line "Lead on, Macduff" from Macbeth, to which a character, the Black Friar, reacts: "It's 'Lay on, Macduff' actually, but I didn't have the heart to correct him. Seemed such a nice young man."
  • In the film Stardust Robert Deniro's character is named after the Bard. (However, this character was created by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman and replaces Gaiman's original character of Captain Alberic from the Stardust novel.)


Main article: List of works by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has written many comics and graphic novels, as well as numerous books and short stories. He has also created a number of audio books, a TV miniseries, and the scripts for several movies.

v • d • eWorksby Neil Gaiman NovelsAmerican Gods · Anansi Boys · Angels and Visitations · Coraline · Fragile Things · Good Omens · The Graveyard Book · InterWorld · M is for Magic · Neverwhere · Odd and the Frost Giants · The Sandman: Book of Dreams · Smoke and Mirrors · Stardust · A Walking Tour of the ShamblesShort fiction"Murder Mysteries" · "Snow, Glass, Apples" (adapted as Two Plays for Voices) · "We Can Get Them for You Wholesale" · "A Study in Emerald" Comics and
graphic novels
Angela · Black Orchid · The Books of Magic · Creatures of the Night · Mr. Hero the Newmatic Man · Death: The High Cost of Living · Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame · Harlequin Valentine · The Last Temptation · Death: The Time of Your Life · Eternals · Marvel 1602 · Midnight Days · Miracleman · Neil Gaiman's Only the End of the World Again · The Sandman · The Sandman: Endless Nights · The Sandman: The Dream Hunters · Signal to Noise · Tekno Comix · The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch · Violent CasesScreenplaysBabylon 5: "Day of the Dead" · Beowulf · Princess Mononoke · Neverwhere · MirrorMask · A Short Film About John Bolton · Death and Me · Coraline · The Fermata Non-fictionDon't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion

See also



  1. ^ "Gaiman Interrupted: An Interview with Neil Gaiman (Part 2)" conducted by Lawrence Person, Nova Express, Volume 5, Number 4, Fall/Winter 2000, page 5.
  2. ^ Author Name Pronunciation Guide - Neil Gaiman
  3. ^ Comics Buyers Guide #1636 (December 2007); Page 135
  4. ^ McGinty, Stephen. "Dream weaver", The Scotsman, February 25, 2006
  5. ^ a b "A writer's life: Neil Gaiman", The Telegraph, December 12, 2005
  6. ^ Neil Gaiman - Biography. Biography. Retrieved on 2006-06-21.
  7. ^ Richards, Linda (August 2001). "Interview - Neil Gaiman". January Magazine.  "I thought," says Gaiman, "you know, if I'm going to leave England and go to America, I want one of those things that only America can provide and one of those things is Addams Family houses."
  8. ^ a b Lancaster, James. "Everyone has the potential to be great", The Argus (Brighton), 2005-10-11, pp. 10-11. 
  9. ^ Lancaster, James. "Everyone has the potential to be great", The Argus (Brighton), 2005-10-11, pp. 10-11.  David Gaiman quote: "It's not me you should be interviewing. It's my son. Neil Gaiman. He's in the New York Times Bestsellers list. Fantasy. He's flavour of the month, very famous."
  10. ^ "Head Bars Son Of Cult Man.", The Times, London, England, 13 August 1968, p.2 col. c. (convenience link), Alternate.
    A headmaster has refused the son of a scientologist entry to a preparatory school until, he says, the cult "clears its name". The boy, Neil Gaiman, aged 7, (...) Mr. David Gaiman, the father, aged 35, former South Coast businessman, has become in recent weeks a prominent spokesman in Britain for scientology, which has its headquarters at East Grinstead.
  11. ^ a b "East Grinstead Hall of Fame - Neil Gaiman", East Grinstead Community Web Site.
  12. ^ "Neil Gaiman". Exclusive Books.
  13. ^ Neil Gaiman - About Neil
  14. ^ Neil Gaiman - About Neil
  15. ^ Science Fiction Weekly Interview
  16. ^ ref?
  17. ^ Ogline, Tim E.; "Myth, Magic and the Mind of Neil Gaiman", Wild River Review, November 20, 2007.
  18. ^ Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary: Shaping Beowulf's story, video interview with
  19. ^ Tom Ambrose. "He Is Legend", Empire, December 2007, pp. 142. 
  20. ^ "There's a first time for everything", Neil Gaiman's journal, 28 September 2005
  21. ^ Sanchez, Robert (2006-08-02). Neil Gaiman on Stardust and Death: High Cost of Living!. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  22. ^ Gaiman, Neil (2007-01-09). The best film of 2006 was.... Neil Gaiman's Journal. Neil Gaiman. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  23. ^ Official Neil Gaiman Website
  24. ^ Neil Gaiman's journal, 2/11/2008
  25. ^ Tori Amos, "Tear in Your Hand," Little Earthquakes
  26. ^ "Gaiman Interrupted: An Interview with Neil Gaiman (Part 2)" conducted by Lawrence Person, Nova Express, Volume 5, Number 4, Fall/Winter 2000, page 2.
  27. ^ Neil Gaiman has lost his clothes. Retrieved on 2008-02-05.
  28. ^ Anno Dracula: The Background
  29. ^ Honor roll:Fiction books. Award Annals (2007-08-14). Retrieved on 2007-08-14.
  30. ^ Quills Foundation (2005). The Quill Awards: The 2005 Awards. TheQuills.Org. Retrieved on 2008-02-12.
    • Anansi Boys won him a second Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 2006. The book was also nominated for a Hugo Award, but Gaiman asked for it to be withdrawn from the list of nominations, stating that he wanted to give other writers a chance, and it was really more fantasy than science fiction.<ref>{{cite web | url= | title= Hugo words... | date=2006-08-27 | accessdate=2007-04-17 | work=Neil Gaiman's homepage }}</li>
    <li id="cite_note-30">'''[[#cite_ref-30|^]]''' [ The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award<!-- Bot generated title -->]</li></ol></ref>

External links

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PersondataNAME Gaiman, Neil Richard ALTERNATIVE NAMES SHORT DESCRIPTION English fantasywriterDATE OF BIRTH November 10, 1960PLACE OF BIRTH Portchester, Hampshire, EnglandDATE OF DEATH PLACE OF DEATH
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