Entering the world on November 10th, 1960, Neil Gaiman has been a hurricane force wind in the magical realms of writing and film, having won too many awards to mention. So many in fact that I must assume he has had to build a new wing in his home to contain all of them, that is, when he is not trying to contain his furry partner in crime, Cabal, a beautiful white ghost of a dog.
In 1984 Neil wrote his first book, interestingly enough a biography of the popular ’80’s band Duran Duran, which he readily admits was crap, but the book sold out anyway. Unfortunately for Neil, the publishing company went bankrupt and he was unable to collect any money due to him from sales. Penthouse quickly offered him a position (no pun intended) but that offer was refused.
After befriending comic book writer powerhouse Alan Moore, Neil entered what would become his gateway to superstardom as he began writing for the comic book Miracleman with popular artist Mark Buckingham. At this time he and artist Dave McKean collaborated on the graphic novels Violent Cases, Signal To Noise and, Mr. Punch. DC Comics was impressed enough to sign him up for a three issue limited series titled Black Orchid, which was the best selling comic of 1987, leading to him to be hired to rewrite the story of the Sandman, a staple from the Golden Age of comics. Whereas the old Sandman was a superhero with a secret identity, a cape and a kind of dream ray gun, Gaiman’s character was the God of Dreams Morpheus, one of the Endless (including Desire, Delirium, and the very popular Gaiman creation, Death) who had been captured and imprisoned by a dark spell, awaiting his escape to make right the wrongs committed in the dream world. This series quickly became the most popular DC comic of all time, being added to the DC/Vertigo line of books more suited to a mature audience. Numerous awards followed and Neil was the most famous comic book writer in the world.
Riding the highs and fame afforded him by Sandman, Neil moved into books and novels for both children and adults. Working again with Dave McKean, The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, and The Wolves In The Walls made him a force in the landscape of children’s books. Mirrormask was made into a film with characters created by the Jim Henson company. His adult novels such as Anansi Boys and American Gods catapulted him to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list and his novel Neverwhere became a popular BBC TV series and more awards followed, joining alongside his Edgar and Bram Stoker awards.
Coraline and Stardust were also made into films, with Claire Danes and even Robert DiNero agreeing to appear in adaptions of books they both loved. Though none of these films were blockbusters, they cemented Neil’s place as a writer and screenwriter to be reckoned with. As I write this, I am surprised that there seem to be no more films in the tube as his work seems so well deserved to be transposed onto the silver screen. But as is my experience, films usually seem to ruin a good book.
Neil has also written and contributed to recordings by Tori Amos and his wife Amanda Palmer, singer and writer of the band Dresden Dolls.
In my humble opinion, Gaiman is quite possibly the greatest writer of my generation. He finds the magic in the mundane and everyday life of so called normal folk. He believes in magic and the power of love and dreams; the want and need to believe that there is more to the universe, and us, than what we see and experience everyday. And we all want to believe, don’t we?
Visit Neil’s website www.neilgaiman.com.