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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: neil gaiman, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 233
1. Visit With Syrian Refugees Influenced Neil Gaiman’s Take On ‘Hansel & Gretel’

4231596_origAuthor Neil Gaiman took away many ideas from an emotional visit to Jordan where he met Syrian refugees.

In an interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour, Gaiman reveals that this experience affected how he wrote his re-telling of “Hansel and Gretel.” Gaiman sets this classic story of lost children in a world torn by war and famine; he feels this is highly reminiscent of the suffering endured by Syrian refugee children as well as the Grimm Brothers’ version of the tale.

Toon Books will release the finished graphic novel, which features illustrations by artist Lorenzo Mattotti, on October 28th. Click here to watch the entire interview. Follow this link to read Gaiman’s blog post recounting his trip.

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2. Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer Sign On as Indies First Spokespeople

Neil Gaiman & Amanda PalmerThe American Booksellers Association has recruited Newbery Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman and his rockstar wife Amanda Palmer (both pictured, via) to serve as spokespeople for this year’s Indies First campaign.

Gaiman and Palmer penned an open letter calling for fellow writers to participate. Those who answer the call will be serving as volunteer sellers at their favorite independent bookstores on Saturday, November 29th (aka “Small Business Saturday“).

National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie conceived of the idea and helped to launch this initiative last year. More than 1,100 authors participated in the 2013 event including Kelly Barson, Cheryl Strayed, and Jon Scieszka.

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3. Neil Gaiman On Terry Pratchett’s Angry Side

Terry Pratchett BookNeil Gaiman has written the foreword for Terry Pratchett’s forthcoming collection, A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected NonfictionThe Guardian published a section of Gaiman’s piece where he talks about Pratchett’s “angry” side. Here’s an excerpt:

“There is a fury to Terry Pratchett’s writing: it’s the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld. It’s also the anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11-plus; anger at pompous critics, and at those who think serious is the opposite of funny; anger at his early American publishers who could not bring his books out successfully.”

(more…)

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4. Malcolm Gladwell Speaks Out Against Amazon

amazon304Many members of the literary community have shown great concern about the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute. In an interview with the Financial Times weekend magazine, Malcolm Gladwell spoke out in disapproval of the online retail giant’s retaliatory actions.

While Gladwell did not voice an opinion about the actual feud, he objects to Amazon’s practice of making Hachette’s books unavailable for purchase and delaying order shipments. Gladwell “thought Amazon wanted to be nice to me. I thought their endgame was to woo authors. So, then why are they sabotaging us?”

(more…)

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5. “Young girl, I declare you are not like most men”: retranslating The Poetic Edda

Not every scholar of medieval English has the privilege of translating a major poetic text, and fewer still have the chance to do it all over again, eighteen years later. My first edition of the Poetic Edda was published in 1996 and about two years ago, I was invited to think about a second edition, one which would expand the number of poems and which could be brought up to date in other ways. But what could have changed as far as this classic work was concerned in the meantime?

Well, unlike a single poem, such as Beowulf or Piers Plowman, the Poetic Edda is a collection of poems. Most of these are to be found in a single manuscript, known as the Codex Regius, kept in the Árnar Magnússonar Manuscript Institute in Reykjavík, Iceland. But, preserved in other Icelandic manuscripts, are a good number of further poems in the same kind of metre, which relate more stories of Norse gods and heroes. Four or five of these poems have always been considered part of the Poetic Edda and I translated them in the first edition. But now there was room for some more.

Peter_Nicolai_Arbo-Hervors_død
“Hervors død” by Peter Nicolai Arbo (Hervor was a shieldmaiden in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing, presented in Hervarar saga and of which parts are found in the Poetic Edda). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve added three more eddic poems which I think are interesting in different ways. The first of them is traditionally known as “The Waking of Angantyr.” It tells the story of a warrior-maiden Hervör, who dares to go alone to an eerie island, haunted by her undead father and his eleven brothers. Hervör wants her father’s magical sword Tyrfing, but Angantyr is determined not to give it to her. He’s quite surprised that a girl should dare to come to the uncanny place:

Young girl, I declare you are not like most men,
hanging around by mounds at night
with an engraved spear and in metal of the Goths [armour],
a helmet and corslet before the hall-doors.

At first Angantyr pretends that he doesn’t have the sword, next, he warns (truthfully) that the sword bears a curse, but finally he hands it over to the triumphant Hervör. A bold and determined heroine and an undead corpse — this seemed like a good addition to the new translation. The other additions are “Groa’s Chant” and the “Sayings of Fiolsvinn,” two related poems. A young man called Svipdag has been cursed by his stepmother to go on a quest to find and woo the lovely Menglod, a task fraught with danger: “she has ordered me to go where she knows there’s no going,” Svipdag laments. Wisely, he first visits the grave of his dead mother for advice. Groa is indeed anxious to help and she sings a number of spells over Svipdag. If he crosses rivers or sea, if he’s chained up or assailed by frost, “may no corpse-cold come to ravage your flesh / nor bind your body in its joints.”

Groa chants spells for her son, from The Elder or Poetic Edda, translated by Olive Bray with illustrations by W. G. Collingwood (1908). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Groa’s last spell will help Svipdag if he must “bandy words with the spear-magnificent giant,” and this is exactly what happens. When the hero finally reaches Menglod’s hall, the watchman Fiolsvinn won’t let him in. Entrance is only permitted to the man who can fulfill a whole series of impossible tasks, set up in a circular fashion. Svipdag is about to despair, but wait! No man can come in unless he has carried out this task — or unless his name is Svipdag! And so when Svipdag reveals his name, he gains entry to the hall and is rapturously embraced by Menglod, who chides him lovingly, “A long time I’ve sat on Healing-rock / waiting day after day for you!”

What constitutes a medieval poem? One of the most important poems in the Poetic Edda, “The Seeress’s Prophecy” exists in three different versions in medieval Icelandic manuscripts. Very often editors have combined the texts of all three versions to try to recover what they think might have been the “original” form of the poem. But nowadays scholars tend to think that this is a pointless endeavor. After all, this poem probably existed in oral tradition for a hundred or more years before it was first written down and there was likely never a definitive version. Newer critical thinking argues that it is better to reproduce what actually appears in the medieval manuscripts than to try to find the lost original. And so I’ve provided two versions of this poem, one written down in 1270, and one which was written down about forty years later. In the earlier version, the death of Baldr the Beautiful ushers in the beginning of the end of the world: Ragnarök. Baldr’s mother Frigg had made everything on earth promise not to hurt him, but she did not bother with the mistletoe, for it was so little and frail. Wicked Loki shaped it into a dart and put it in the hands of Baldr’s blind brother Hod when all the gods were amusing themselves by throwing things at Baldr and watching them bounce harmlessly from him. Here Baldr lounges against a wall, while Loki guides the fumbling and hooded Hod:

The Death of Baldr, from The Elder or Poetic Edda, translated by Olive Bray with illustrations by W. G. Collingwood (1908). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In the later version, preserved in the Hauksbók manuscript, which was compiled in the first decade of the fourteenth century, Baldr isn’t even mentioned; that seems to be a difference worth recording, and it suggests that the death of Baldr wasn’t necessarily connected to Ragnarök.

And perhaps most importantly, eighteen years ago talking about the reception of the Poetic Edda meant talking about Wagner, William Morris, and Tolkien. Nowadays the influence of these wonderful poems is felt much more widely, in popular culture as well as in the opera house. Hollywood has its Thor films; novelists such as Neil Gaiman in American Gods (2001), young adult authors such as Melvin Burgess and Joanne Harris, even Game of Thrones, with its dragons, ravens, shield-maidens, its endless winter, wolves and giants, have seized on eddic themes and motifs to capture the imaginations of new generations. I hope that this new version of the Poetic Edda, with its additions, updates, and revisions will also find new readers to thrill to these poems, which speak to us in comic, tragic, grandiose, crude, witty, profound, and commonsense tones.

The post “Young girl, I declare you are not like most men”: retranslating The Poetic Edda appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Ursula LeGuin to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Ursula K. LeGuinSci-fi novelist Ursula K. Le Guin will received the National Book Awards 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Le Guin will be honored at the 65th  National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York on November 19th. Author Neil Gaiman will present her with the award.

“Ursula Le Guin has had an extraordinary impact on several generations of readers and, particularly, writers in the United States and around the world,” stated Harold Augenbraum, Executive Director of The National Book Foundation. “She has shown how great writing will obliterate the antiquated—and never really valid—line between popular and literary art. Her influence will be felt for decades to come.”

The award was created in 1988 and Le Guin will be the twenty-seventh author receive the honor. She joins Toni Morrison, E.L. Doctorow, John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Elmore Leonard, Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe among others.

As usual, GalleyCat will be reporting live from the awards event, check back in November for our live coverage.

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7. BBC Radio 4 to Air Dramatization of Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’s ‘Good Omens’

Good OmensBBC Radio 4 will be creating a six-part dramatization of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Both writers will be involved with this adaptation.

Actors Mark Heap and Peter Serafinowicz have been brought on to play the lead roles. The first installment is set to air in December 2014. Gaiman announced the project on his Facebook page; the post has received more than 21,000 “likes.”

Here’s more from BBC News: “The story, published in 1990, sees an angel and demon join forces to try and stop the end of the world coming about…The play will be broadcast in five parts across one week, culminating in an hour-long finale on Saturday. The precise transmission dates have yet to be announced.”

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8. Neil Gaiman Inks Movie Deal For Live Action Hansel and Gretel Adaptation

hanselandgretelNeil Gaiman‘s new graphic novel adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel hasn’t even hit bookshelves yet, and he’s already scored a book deal.

The book, which was illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti, will hit bookshelves next month, and in the meantime film producer Juliet blake development will begin development on the film.

Variety has the scoop: “Blake, through her Four Chickens for a Fiver banner, has acquired feature rights to Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel version of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale about a brother and sister threatened by a witch living in a candy house.”

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9. NYCC13: New York Super Week: Tickets On Sale Now!

new_york_super_week

Yes, it’s still August.  There are a few days left until Labor Day ends another Summer of Fun!

So that means it’s time for the Fall Season of (unofficial) comic cons!

Hey!  New York Comic Con is in October!  I wonder what’s up at their site?

Lots of guests being announced.

MAJOR guests!

Oh, and they are spreading the lurv out-and-about the greater metropolitan area, with the inaugural “New York Super Week“, held  October 3-12, 2014.

It’s a brilliant marketing move.  Javits can only hold so many people (I’m guessing 150K max during NYCC), and can only sell so many tickets.  This expands the geekery to the general populace, with many free events available!

What’s available, you ask?

Well… there’s Neil Gaiman teaming up with NPR at the Y!  (Buy now, before he announces it on his blog!)

Columbia University displaying comics treasures from their collections!  (Free!)

Thrilling Adventure Hour (already sold out! but there’s a workshop!)

Podcasts!

Cosplay!

Burlesque!

EVEN CAT VIDEOS!

Event Ticket Link
An Evening with Pat Rothfuss and Paul & Storm Purchase Your Ticket!
Arcade Breakfast Purchase Your Ticket!
Arcade Breakfast Purchase Your Ticket!
Ask Me Another Purchase Your Ticket!
BATSU! Monday October 6, 2014 Purchase Your Ticket!
BATSU! Saturday October 4, 2014 Purchase Your Ticket!
BATSU! Thursday October 9, 2014 Purchase Your Ticket!
Black Girl Nerds Podcast Purchase Your Ticket!
Comic Book Bears Podcast Free Event
Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future Free Event
Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future Opening Free Event
Cure You or Kill You: 19th Century Medical Science & Quackery Purchase Your Ticket!
DJ Fusion Free Event
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Sing-Along and Joss Whedon-Themed Party Purchase Your Ticket!
Dr. Who Trivia and Costume Contest Purchase Your Ticket!
ESL One New York 2014 – DOTA 2 Championship Purchase Your Ticket!
Geek Girl Brunch Presents: Fan Girls’ Night Out Purchase Your Ticket!
H.P. Lovecraft Fest Tickets Coming Soon
Hatsune Miku Purchase Your Ticket!
Hatsune Miku Purchase Your Ticket!
Hot Sauce Takedown Tickets Coming Soon
I Don’t Get It Purchase Your Ticket!
Improv Face Off Friday October 10, 2014 Purchase Your Ticket!
Improv Face Off Friday October 3, 2014 Purchase Your Ticket!
Juan Epstein (live podcast) Purchase Your Ticket!
Kevin Geeks Out Purchase Your Ticket!
Macmillan Audio Presents: Science Fiction Audiobook Narrators Live! Free Event
Macmillan Audio Presents: Science Fiction Audiobook Narrators Live! Free Event
Mad World Tickets Coming Soon
Meet the Lady: Bullets & Bracelets and DJ Accident Report Purchase Your Ticket!
Morning Musume Purchase Your Ticket!
MORTIFIED’s Salute to Sci-Fi & Fandom! Purchase Your Ticket!
Muppet Vault: Superheroes! Free Event
Mythos Tickets Coming Soon
Nads Purchase Your Ticket!
Nerd Comedy Hosted by Kevin Maher Purchase Your Ticket!
Nerd Nite Purchase Your Ticket!
Nerdist Writers Panel Tickets Coming Soon
New York Super Week Wrap-Up Party Presented by Sonicboombox Tickets Coming Soon
Punderdome 3000 Purchase Your Ticket!
Rave of Thrones: Kristian Nairn aka Hodor DJ set w/ Special Guests Purchase Your Ticket!
RAWR! Burlesque in conjunction with New York Super Week Presents: Comic Con Vixens! Purchase Your Ticket!
Rock Comic Con Purchase Your Ticket!
Rock Star Karaoke Purchase Your Ticket!
Run by the Gun Purchase Your Ticket!
Sci Fi Explosion Purchase Your Ticket!
Secret Identity Pub Quiz presented by Ghostery Free Event
Sega Of America Presents Sonic Boom 2014 Fan Event Purchase Your Ticket!
Sex Nerd Sandra Presents: Boning 101 Workshop Purchase Your Ticket!
Shipwreck with Welcome to Night Vale’s Cecil Baldwin Purchase Your Ticket!
Singularity & Co and Dances of Vice Present Cosplay After Dark: A NYCC Mirror Universe Purchase Your Ticket!
Slate’s Hang Up and Listen (Live Podcast) Purchase Your Ticket!
SLIMED! Presents a Nite of Nickelodeon Nostalgic Nonsense! Purchase Your Ticket!
The Art of Living Dead Dolls Book Party @ Ripley’s Times Square Purchase Your Ticket!
The Big Quiz Thing Purchase Your Ticket!
The First (and Probably Last) Annual New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans (Especially Kids)) (All Ages Show) Purchase Your Ticket!
The First (and Probably Last) Annual New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans: New York Super Week Spectacular Edition (21+ Show) Purchase Your Ticket!
The History of Music Video, Part One (the Dawn of Time until 1993) Purchase Your Ticket!
The Karate Kid 30th Anniversary Cast Conversation and Screening Purchase Your Ticket!
The Story Collider does Science Fiction! Purchase Your Ticket!
The Thrilling Adventure Hour Sold Out!
The Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents: WorkJuice Improv Show & Panel Purchase Your Ticket!
This Week in Marvel Podcast Free Event
Trivia AD Free Event
Writing & Producing for Genre Film and Television Workshop Tickets Coming Soon
Writing & Selling your Genre Television, Film, Comic Book and More…Workshop Purchase Your Ticket!
X Japan Concert Purchase Your Ticket!

.

Buy the Super Week Card, and you’ll get discounts all over the city!

What a wonderful world!

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10. New Neil Gaiman Short Story Collection to Be Released in 2015

Author Neil Gaiman has been working on an anthology called Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. William Morrow, a HarperCollins imprint, will release the book on February 03, 2015.

Gaiman revealed on his Tumblr page that he is “finishing the very last short story of the next collection RIGHT NOW. Everything else has been written: the stories, the introduction, all that…” What do you think?

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11. Fantasy Authors Take On the Ice Bucket Challenge

Coraline author Neil Gaiman was challenged by his wife, musician Amanda Palmer, to take on the #IceBucketChallenge. The video embedded above features Gaiman performing the act with assistance from a group of friends.

In addition to having a bucket of ocean water and ice thrown over his head, Gaiman names a new set of challengers that includes A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin. Gaiman calls Martin a “murderer of characters.”

(more…)

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12. Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

  • NDWilsonVid1 300x167 Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)As per usual there are some Wild Things links I’d love to share today.  Lemme see here . . . Well we got a real stunner of a review over at Chapter 16.  That’s some good and gorgeous stuff going down there. Phil Nel called us “Punchy, lively, and carefully researched.”   The blog The Boy Reader gave us some serious love.  And today on our blog tour we’re at There’s a Book.  And then there’s the video at the Wild Things blog.  N.D. Wilson sent us a vid of the true behind-the-scenes story of Boys of Blur.  It’s kicking off our video series “Wild Things: Sneaky Peeks” where authors reveal the stories behind their books.

Aw heck.  I’ll save you some time.  Here’s the video.  This guy is amazing:

Don’t forget to keep checking back on the site for a new author a day!

  • It’s one thing to notice a trend.  It’s another entirely to pick up on it, catalog the books that represent it, and post accordingly.  I’d noticed in a vague disjointed way that there was a definite uptick in the number of picture books illustrated with photographs this year.  Trust Travis Jonker to systematically go through and find every last livin’ lovin’ one in his The State of Photography Illustration in 2014 post.  In his comment section I’ve added a couple others I’ve seen.  Be sure to do the same!
  • Since I don’t have school age kids yet I’m not in the school loop at the moment.  So it was a BIG shock to me to see the child of a friend of mine having her First Day of Kindergarten picture taken this week.  Really?  In early August?  With that in mind, this may seem a bit late but I care not.  The melodic cadences of Jonathan Auxier can be heard here recommending truly fantastic summer children’s book fare.  The man has fine fabulous taste.
  • In other summer news I was pleased as punch to read about the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program.  You know summer slide?  Well it’s good to see someone doing something about it.  Check out the info.  Check out the stats.  Check out the folks trying to combat it.
  • It’s interesting to read the recent PW article Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line? which takes the issue from a bookseller P.O.V.  Naturally librarians have been struggling with this issue for years.  I even conducted a panel at NYPL a couple years ago called Middle Grade Fiction: Surviving the YA Onslaught in which MG authors Rebecca Stead, N.D. Wilson (he’s everywhere!), Jeanne Birdsall, and Adam Gidwitz discussed the industry’s attempts to brand them as YA (you can hear the full incredibly painful and scratchy audio of the talk here).  It’s a hot topic.
  • This.  This this this this this.  By the way, and completely off-topic, how long until someone writes a YA novel called “This”?  The sequel could be named “That”.  You’re welcome, publishing industry.
  • Harry Potter fan art is near and dear to my heart but in a pinch I’m happy to consider Harry Potter official cover art as well.  They just released the new British covers (and high bloody time, sayeth the masses).  They’re rather fabulous, with the sole flaw of never aging Harry.  What poor kid wants to look the same age at 10 as he does at 17?  Maybe it’s a wizard thing.  Here’s one of the new jackets to chew on:

HalfBloodPrinceBrit Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

That might be my favorite Dumbledore to date.

  • There are whole generations of children’s librarians that went through graduate school reading and learning about educator Kay E. Vandergrift.  I was one of them, so I was quite sad to read of her recent passing.  The PW obit for her is excellent, particularly the part that reads, “Vandergrift was one of the first professors to establish a significant Web presence, spearheading the use of the Internet as a teaching tool. Her website, a self-declared ‘means of sharing ideas and information with all those interested in literature for children and young adults,’ was considered an important resource for those working with children and linked to more than 500 other sites.”  If you need to know your online children’s literary history, the story isn’t complete without Kay.  I always hoped she’d get around to including a blog section, but what she had was impressive in its own right.  Go take a gander.
  • I don’t consider myself a chump but there are times when even I get so blinded by a seemingly odd fact on the internet that I eschew common sense and believe it to be correct.  Case in point: The Detroit Tigers Dugout Librarian. Oh, how I wanted this to be true.  Born in Kalamazoo, a town equidistant between Detroit and Chicago, my baseball loyalties have always been torn between the Tigers and the Cubs (clearly I love lost causes).  So the idea of the Tigers having their own librarian . . . well, can you blame me for wanting to believe?  I WANNA BEE-LIEVE!
  • I’ve a new pet peeve.  Wanna hear it?  Of course you do!  I just get a bit peeved when popular sites create these lists of children’s books and do absolutely no research whatsoever so that every book mentioned is something they themselves read as children.  That’s why it’s notable when you see something like the remarkable Buzzfeed list 25 Contemporary Picture Books to Help Parents, Teachers, and Kids Talk About Diversity.  They don’t lie!  There are September 2014 releases here as well as a couple things that are at least 10 years old.  It’s a nice mix, really, and a great selection of books.  Thanks to Alexandria LaFaye for the link.
  • So they’re called iPhone wallpapers?  I never knew that.  Neil Gaiman’s made a score of them based on his children’s books.
  • Daily Image:

Maybe it’s just me but after seeing the literary benches cropping up in England I can’t help but think they make a LOT of sense.  More so than painting a statue of a cow or a Peanuts character (can you tell I lived in Minneapolis once?).  Here are two beautiful examples:

Wind the in the Willows

WindWillowsBench Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

Alice Through the Looking Glass

AliceWonderlandBench Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link!

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13. Best New Kids Stories | August 2014

This month we're featuring a decidedly fantastical themed list of popular kids stories perfect for ages 8-12. Star Wars fans will be stoked to read Jeffrey Brown's Goodnight Darth Vader (an all ages funny read) and Tom Angleberger's latest Origami Yoda book.

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14. Writers Star in ‘The Magician’s Land’ Book Trailer

Writer Lev Grossman turned to crowdsourcing to create the book trailer for the third and final installment of the Magicians trilogy.

The video embedded above features American Gods writer Neil Gaiman, Wicked author Gregory MaguireFangirl novelist Rainbow Rowell, and many others reading the first chapter of the The Magician’s Land.

Which one of these authors would you choose as the narrator for the audiobook? (via BuzzFeed)

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15. Starz & Fremantle Media Team Up to Create An ‘American Gods’ TV Show

Starz and Fremantle Media are teaming up to create a television series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

According to the A.V. ClubHeroes screenwriter Bryan Fuller will pen the pilot script and Smallville producer Michael Green will take on the showrunner position. Both men along with Gaiman himself will serve as executive producers.

Gaiman had this statement in the press release: “When you create something like American Gods, which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it’s really important to pick your team carefully: you don’t want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team who I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that American Gods has attracted since the start. I haven’t actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them.”

(more…)

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16. Neil Gaiman Reads Two Stories & Sings at Carnegie Hall

Author Neil Gaiman treated his fans to not one, but two stories during his performance at Carnegie Hall.

Gaiman read his version of Hansel & Gretel during the first half of the show. Toon Books will release the finished graphic novel, which features illustrations by artist Lorenzo Mattotti, on October 28th.

After intermission, Gaiman recited his short story “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” while the FourPlay Quartet played music and paintings by illustrator Eddie Campbell were displayed. At the end of the night, Gaiman sang the song “Psycho.” Follow this link to watch hear Gaiman’s singing.

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17. Neil Gaiman & The ‘Tell Your Friends’ Podcast Show Get Booked

Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

Books of Wonder will host a panel on “Great Teen Reads” with six writers set to take part. Join in on Tuesday, June 24th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (New York, NY)
(more…)

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18. On the Shelf with Cindy Cardona, Tween Librarian

Cindy Cardona is the Tween Librarian at the South Brunswick Public Library, in South Brunswick, NJ. She spends most of her time trying to figure out how to incorporate food into her library programs, trying to make the Children’s Department a little more colorful, and fighting the good fight to convince people that audiobooks are real books too!

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19. Neil Gaiman On the Value of Ghost Stories

Newbery Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman headlined “a semi-secret late-night event” during the TED 2014 conference. Brain Pickings reports that Gaiman performed recitations of a ghost story and an essay entitled “Ghost in the Machine.”

Here’s an excerpt from Gaiman’s readings: “We have been telling each other tales of otherness, of life beyond the grave, for a long time; stories that prickle the flesh and make the shadows deeper and, most important, remind us that we live, and that there is something special, something unique and remarkable about the state of being alive. Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses.”

Press play in the Soundcloud player embedded above to listen. In his essay, Gaiman discusses human society’s history with terrifying tales and the value of ghost stories. During the event, Gaiman also talked about why he agrees with J.R.R. Tolkien and Maurice Sendak’s idea that “there is no such thing as ‘children’s’ books” and “the ghosts of today that terrify” him.

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20. Comics, anarchy, chaos magick and George Orwell - David Thorpe

The founding fathers would turn in their graves. The British Library is hosting an exhibition of publications in a medium once accused of undermining literacy, decency and the very establishment itself: comics.

I haven’t yet visited Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, which has been curated by Paul Gravett, author of Comic Art, which I reviewed last month, but I have a shrewd idea of much of its contents because of my own involvement in the industry from the 1980s and ‘90s.

Deadline 3 - which published Jamie Hewlett's Tank Girl
Previously I’ve been at pains to emphasise that comics are about much more than men in lycra, but we can’t ignore the lycra or the science fiction and fantasy, which is in strong evidence here. What deserves wide recognition, however, is the role of attitude in providing the energy of iconoclastic creativity that has seen so many writers and artists whose target audience was originally children become internationally hugely influential.

British comics and their creators have an anarchic spirit. In the late nineteenth century the 'Penny Dreadfuls' were sometimes considered so subversive and dangerous to the Establishment (in fomenting an industrial dispute) that at one point printing presses used for printing them were destroyed by the authorities, as documented in Martin Barker’s book Comics: Ideology, Power and the Critics.

There is a direct line from these through Fleetway’s Action comic to 2000AD, which in the late ‘70s and ‘80s saw the work of Pat Mills and John Wagner produce strips such as Nemesis the Warlock, which satirised corrupt organised religion, and Judge Dredd, which satirised just about everything including a corrupt totalitarian state (although sometimes Dredd seemed as though it was applauding the very summary dispensation of justice which it avowedly condemned).

Action was created in 1975 by Pat Mills for publishing house IPC. Soon banned for its violent content it nevertheless spawned 2000AD, the home of Judge Dredd.

Jamie's Tank Girl - whom he called a female Judge Dredd with bigger guns on speed.  
2000AD could have been deliberately designed to be the kind of left-wing comic imagined by George Orwell in this fascinating article he wrote about the heavily middle and upper class boys’ comics like Gem, Magnet, Hotspur, Wizard and so on.

These class-ridden, patriotic comics were produced by the ultra-conservative family-owned Scottish DC Thompson publishers, for much of the twentieth century - up until the days of punk rock as staple fare for boys, a deliberate antidote to the previous, anarchic Penny Dreadfuls. Orwell describes them in depth in the article and observes their propaganda value as follows:
“the stuff is read somewhere between the ages of twelve and eighteen by a very large proportion, perhaps an actual majority, of English boys, including many who will never read anything else except newspapers; and along with it they are absorbing a set of beliefs which would be regarded as hopelessly out of date in the Central Office of the Conservative Party.”
The cover of Revolver 1, which serialised Grant
Morrison's deconstruction of Dan Dare
That aside, there is another ideological gradation that has Leo Baxendale’s Bash Street Kids (also published by DC Thompson in the Beano) and 2000AD at one end - produced by angry, anti-authoritarian working class writers and artists - and the middle class Frank Hampton’s neo-Imperialistic Dan Dare at the other.

Common to both is the preoccupation with slapstick humour, fantasy and science fiction as a way of boggling minds and examining present-day trends taken to extremes.

Orwell himself notes the value of Sci-Fi (which he calls Scientifiction) in this fascinating sentence:
“Whereas the Gem and Magnet derive from Dickens and Kipling, the Wizard, Champion, Modern Boy, etc., owe a great deal to H. G. Wells, who, rather than Jules Verne, is the father of ‘Scientifiction’.”

You can even position later writers, influenced by these earlier names, on this spectrum, such as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison on the left, and Neil Gaiman more in centre-ground. Grant slyly subverted Dan Dare himself , imagining him as an older man sadly looking back on the glory days of space empire in the pages of Revolver in the late ‘80s.

The ‘80s was a key time, because it was then that the kids who had been brought up on the Beano and 2000AD hit adulthood and it became cool to continue reading comics. Inspired by Moore’s Watchmen and V for Vendetta, and the American Frank Miller’s Batman: Dark Knight Returns, younger artists and writers gave birth to an explosion of creativity.

The cover of Crisis issue 3 - probably the closest
ever to Orwell's dream of a left wing comic.
Pat Mills' and Carlos Ezquerra's Third World War deliberately made
very cool heroes out of disabled, black, gay or female characters. 
Eight years after my own story in Marvel's Captain Britain about the Northern Ireland Troubles was censored, Fleetway felt able to publish, in the overtly political Crisis comic, Garth Ennis' True Faith, (but even that graphic novel was scandalously withdrawn from sale, following complaints).

Crisis was largely Pat Mills' brainchild. Overtly political and radical it ran the amazing anti-American Imperialism strip Third World War, which attacked CIA involvement in central and south American countries, a topic already tackled in comics by Alan Moore's and Bill Sienkiewicz's documentary graphic novel, Brought to Light.

The cover of Doc Chaos 1 by me, Lawrence Gray and
Phil Elliott published by Escape


Independent creator-owned comics sprang up all over the place, from my own satirical Doc Chaos, published by Gravett's Escape imprint, to Deadline, from Brett Ewins and Steve Dillon, which came directly from a collision between comics and the new House music club culture, the true star of which was to become Jamie Hewlett's Tank Girl. And most of us know what happened when Hewlett met Blur's Damon Albarn: Gorillaz, the first band in history that was made up of comics characters.
Peter Stanbury's and Paul Gravett's Escape magazine
- beautifully designed, arty and hip. 


I must given a special mention to Don Melia and Lionel Gracey-Whitman for publishing Aargh!, Heartbreak Hotel magazine with the supplement BLAAM! Because the mere fact that this anti-homophobic publication could be a comic was testimony to how far the medium had come since the days of Wizard and Hotspur weekly comics in which homosexuality was a heavily suppressed element.  Here is Orwell describing a  cover image: “ a nearly naked man of terrific muscular development has just seized a lion by the tail and flung it thirty yards over the wall of an arena”.

Heartbreak Hotel issue 5 cover by Duncan Fegredo
The first comic explicitly for black people, Sphinx
Repossession Blues from the pages of Blaam!
A cover of chaos magick journal Chaos International 
which shows the use of comics iconography
- the exchange of ideas went both ways.
There was a huge amount of talent around in the ‘80s, much of which will be on evidence in the British Library show, but I find it fascinating that I, along with the far more successful Bryan Talbot, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, (particularly the first two) were also at the time heavily into chaos magick. We’d discuss this when we met occasionally at the bar that used to be at the foot of Centrepoint, near Titan Books’ offices where I worked, and Forbidden Planet bookshop, and at comics conventions.

Alan only went public on this more recently, but Grant overtly used his research in long-running strips such as the intensely surreal Doom Patrol and subsequently The Invisibles, both for DC.

It is not necessary to believe in any of the gods and forces invoked by magical ritual in chaos magick to utilise its effects. The point for all of us was that Nothing is Forbidden, Everything is Permitted, to use Aleister Crowley’s mantra. Chaos magick provided an almost limitless kit of tools to access the far reaches of the imagination. I learned my tricks from a group that met every week in Greenwich, above Bulldog’s café, from the legendary Charlie Brewster, aka Choronzon 666.

I used this massive wellspring of creativity when writing The Z-Men for Brendan McCarthy. Brendan was a maverick comics artist who started work in 2000AD, later becoming like many comics artists a film storyboarder, who was renowned for his psychedelic, mystical artwork.

All of us were also heavily influenced by Dada and Surrealism – this was the premier topic of my undergraduate degree.  It is very obvious in Grant’s Doom Patrol - just read my favourite story The Painting That Ate Paris; and how else could you come up with a superhero who is an entire street (named - of course - Danny)?

Pure anarcho-comics: Hooligna Press & Pete Mastin's
Faction File collected from the pages of
squatting magazine Crowbar -
back full circle to the aims of the Penny Dreadfuls
Arguably, the most successful comics writers working for American publishers in the ‘80s and ‘90s were Neil, Alan and Grant – Brits all. Frank Miller, also a giant, is American of course, and, while anarchic, is sympathetic to the other end of anarchism – right wing libertarian, which approves the right to bear arms and use them against Commie radicals.

I attribute all of their success not just to their supreme storytelling abilities but to their political views and their involvement in anything occult, arcane and extreme, because in these genres of comics, what readers demand is out-there imagination – and it takes some serious head-space distorting tricks to cultivate a mind that can repeatedly and frequently, on demand, to a punishing production schedule, come up with the mind-boggling concepts, characters and storylines required.

These lessons were not lost on the more recent wave of massively successful British writers, such as Warren Ellis and Brian Hitch, the creators of The Authority, (just read Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan for a taste of his brand of anarchy).

And I believe there are lessons here for all writers and artists who aim at children and teens, that most demanding of all audiences, to help them feed and stoke the furnaces of creativity and imagination.

I could even attempt to sum them up in the following seven guidelines. Bear in mind that these are methods I am suggesting, and in no way am I advocating tackling a particular kind of subject matter. These are ways of researching, preparing to write and draw, and of writing and drawing itself:


  • Feed your mind with stuff from the far reaches of experience; and apply that to the everyday.
  • You can’t be too extreme.
  • JG Ballard's maxim: follow your obsessions.
  • Never censor yourself – leave it to someone else.
  • Boggle minds.
  • Maximise drama.
  • Above all - don’t take it too seriously.

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21. This Is What Is Possible (Part 3)

This commencement speech by Neil Gaiman about carving out a life of creativity is one of those things I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time, but never seemed to get around to.

Which is why we need people who say, “Here! Look!” and send you the link. Thank you to author and illustrator Guy Porfirio for being that person for me today.

And now I get to be that person for all of you. Here! Look!

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22. Neil Gaiman Doodles in a Book For a Charity Auction

Neil Gaiman has donated a special tour book edition of The Ocean at the End of the Lane for a charity eBay auction. This particular copy features Gaiman's signature on the cover. The interior contains a doodle he drew called "The Clown-shoes of Cthulhu." Thus far, this item has drawn 30 bids and is currently priced at $610. Bidding will be closed on May 18th. The proceeds will be given to The Neurofibromatosis Network.

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23. How Garfield Got His Groove Back: The ‘Garfield’ Remix Phenomenon

Poor Garfield. In his heyday, he was amongst the most beloved characters on the funny pages, his plush likenesses fastened to car windows and his sarcastic barbs adorning office walls around the globe. Then, somewhere along the line, he underwent a pop-cultural re-evaluation. Jim Davis’ strip is now something of a pariah: just look at how "The Simpsons" paired it with "Love Is" as the kind of strip that Milhouse reads. What a comedown for a character once hip enough to be quoted in “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. But yet, the orange cat has been saved from cultural oblivion by a peculiar trend: the remixed "Garfield" strip.

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24. Neil Gaiman Speaks Out on the Dispute Between Amazon & Hachette

Many members of the literary community have been greatly concerned about the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute. Renowned writer Neil Gaiman sat for an interview with Salon and voiced his opinion on this hotly-debated subject. Gaiman revealed that he has many reasons to feel anger towards Amazon, but he is also trying to keep in mind "that what you’re seeing right now, is huge, giant-level dealings between huge corporations both under non-disclosure, and every time I try to actually read enough stuff to figure out what’s going on here, what I run into is lots of 'We can’t say anything, but he says,' and 'We can’t say anything, but she says.'" Like The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, Gaiman loves bookstores and wishes "to see is more and more healthy, independent bookshops." Where do you stand on this? What do you think the future holds for the relationship between publishers and Amazon?

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25. Stephen Colbert Challenges Fans to Make ‘California’ a ‘New York Times’ Bestseller

Due to the ongoing dispute between Amazon and Hachette, consumers cannot pre-order Edan Lepucki's debut novel, California, on Amazon. When comedian Stephen Colbert first launched his war against Amazon, he asked his followers to buy a copy from Powell's Books online shop. We've embedded a clip from The Colbert Report TV show where Colbert announced that 6,400 purchases have been made and Lepucki's book currently occupies the #1 spot on the Powell's bestseller list. Now, he has issued a new challenge for his fans; purchase California from your local bookstore and help it become a New York Times bestseller. In addition to Colbert, several members of the literary community have publicly shared their opinions about Amazon vs. Hachette feud including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian author Sherman Alexie, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green and The Ocean at the End of the Lane author Neil Gaiman. Where do you stand on this matter? (via Latin Post)

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