Category Archives: neil gaiman
“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon
Greetings and welcome to another installment of The Ten Percent! Every two weeks (well, roughly), Ensley F. Guffey and I use this space to take a look at the inverse of Sturgeon’s Law; in other words, the small portion of everything which is not crud. Viewed as a whole, Sturgeon was, sadly, right – the vast majority of movies, television, writing, art, and so on really is crud (trust me on this, I just saw Baywatch for the movie show I co-host) – but there has always been that slim li’l piece of heaven. The Ten Percent crosses genre boundaries, mostly because these rare gems are high quality productions which demand more of their viewer than just passive reception.
In my last column, I discussed Neil Gaiman’s American Gods which, at the time, was just about to begin its run on the Starz network. I am currently caught up on episodes and am also avidly following the comic version. American Gods just makes me smile and the high quality of the work in multiple Media (hi, Gillian Anderson!) is a revelation of how magnificent storytelling can completely transcend genre. The show has already been renewed for a second season, which reassures me that they’ll take their time telling this convoluted tale.
Much of Gaiman’s work belongs in the Ten Percent.* The last column touched on his best-known work, Vertigo’s Sandman, and if you haven’t read that (slowly, thoughtfully, and with great deliberate intent), you have an amazing treat in store for you and I’m jealous that you get to experience the Endless for the first time. However, I wanted to bring your attention to several other works of Gaiman’s that you might not know about. Yes, he’s written for Babylon 5, Doctor Who, and several of his works have been adapted for the silver screen with more on the way. But why wait?
Under the pen of award-winning author, Neil Gaiman, you know that those seemingly disparate elements will make for a compelling story.
Heck, if you’ve read any of his comic book stories, let along his novels, it sounds a lot like the stuff you probably have in your long box collection: The Sandman, Stardust, Miracleman and Death: The High Cost of Living.
But this time, we’re talking about his Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy and Nebula Award-winning novel, American Gods – which, finally, gets adapted into the comic book forum in a new monthly series from Dark Horse Comics.
And the writer and artists behind that adaptation are as star-powered as the author who penned the original prose.
Today sees the release of American Gods: Shadows #1!
Has it been twenty years already?
I was already familiar with Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed work through his monthly Sandman series, published by DC Comics. Of course, the brilliant artist Dave McKean painted, sculpted, photographed, and photoshoped each of those covers, so I was quite familiar with his work as well.
But it was the hardcover graphic novel of Mr. Punch, first published in 1994, that opened my mind, even more broadly than it was, to the types of stories that sequential art – that comic book storytelling – could celebrate.
Follow me after the jump for a twenty-year continuation of that celebration.
It’s a tough job to break down the single best comic book issues of all-time when you’ve been regularly reading comics for over three decades. I know there are some of you out there that have been reading for far longer. That’s a lot of monthly reading!
Still, when I give it some hard thought, I find the stories that moved me the most, for various reasons, quickly come to mind. Actually, they always seem to stay there.
They are the stories that I go back to and read regularly, again and again. They provide excitement and heartache. They elicit an inquisitiveness with life, and they stimulate an enhanced love for the art form.
For me, then, the following five comic books are my favourite single-issue comics of all time.
In the world of comic books and pop culture, what would it take, to save from obscurity, an already derivative (some might even say blatantly copied) superhero character with over fifty years of name changes, publishing company liquidations, copyright challenges, head-scratching co-ownership decisions, legal proceedings, handshake deals, lawyerly purchases, a creator who wants his name removed from any and all future releases, and a long-awaited reproduction of the series with an aim to finishing an uncompleted tale by the writer of that story, over twenty years after it was first begun?
To rescue that character from obscurity, let alone audience indifference, it would take a miracle.
Lucky for us, that very word is in the characters name.
At the end of days, behold, Miracleman #1!
“You woke up.” That’s how the story ended in The Sandman, issue #72.
The fan favourite and critically acclaimed series would continue for three more, single-chapter issues outside the scope of the main storyline, of course, famously concluding with the William Shakespeare inspired story, The Tempest in issue #75.
But it’s how The Sandman began that is of interest today.
“Wake up,” are the first words you read when you open the pages to The Sandman #1.
But what happened before that? Well, today, begins that overture.
Before Harry Potter There Was Timothy Hunter And The Books Of Magic On The Wednesday Run – January 30, 2013
A bespeckled and awkward twelve year-old boy (with parental issues no less) discovers that he’s possibly the world’s most powerful practitioner of magic. Oh! And he has an owl for a pet.
Sound remotely familiar?
For all intensive purposes, it shouldn’t. You see, it’s January 1990 – seven years before the publication of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – and the first issue of the four-issue mini series, The Books of Magic, is being published by Vertigo Comics. And its black-haired, skateboarding, main protagonist, the kid that would be eclipsed the world over by the fictional lightning-shaped scarred forehead of Harry, is named Timothy Hunter.
It’s not like this is revisionist history. No, The Books of Magic was an absolutely beautiful series – and proved to be an enormous missed opportunity for Vertigo/DC Comics and their parent company, Warner Brothers.
Despite the recent chill across much of the northeast of this continent, spring is still upon us. There’s landscaping to be done in the backyard and those colourful impatiens are now showing through. Warmer weather, I’m sure, is just around the corner.
So is the local comic book shop.
And that’s where we should all find our green thumb today – as we hit up something exotic. Something, oh, I don’t know, in the form of the beautiful and delicate orchid?
A black orchid, to be precise.
Get Winter Term Essay Writing Help From Annotated Notes And The Sandman On The Wednesday Run – January 4, 2012
The groundbreaking, award winning, much loved The Sandman series from Vertigo Comics ended quite some time ago. Over fifteen years ago, actually. But that fact hasn’t gotten in the way of Vertigo Comics (an offshoot of DC Comics) publishing ancillary, off-shoot material this past decade and a half. The Sandman was an immensely popular series when its seventy-five issues were first circulated from 1989 through to 1996, pushing the boundaries – and some might even say creating them – of what a comic book could be.
And DC quickly realized that there’s money to be made in them ‘thar new boundaries!
Since the series debuted, the company has released a plethora of trade paperback collections, hardcover collections and reprints of the series; numerous Absolute (oversized hardcover) editions – my personal favourite – and various periodicals, all starring obscure characters from the original stories in order to cash in on The Sandman zeitgeist. Truth be said, most of that stuff was pretty well put together, too.
Neil Gaiman, the man who conceived and wrote The Sandman for the entirety of its monthly run, moved on to other challenges – namely becoming a world-renowned, best selling novelist. Maybe you’ve read Stardust, American Gods or The Graveyard Book? Well, The Sandman is where it all started.
Halloween is over, alas.
That means that as of 12:00:01 AM, November 1st, stores have already stocked their shelves with upcoming “holiday” goods. Actually, I’m hearing stories from shoppers that the seasonal winter stuff was readily available right after the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday in early October. It all sounds a little too neurotic for me. The world needs to take a collective chill pill.
That said, the comic book industry is no different than what goes on at your local retail mall.
Throughout November and early December, all the big gift-giving sort of books get published – and make no mistake, this week starts it all off! There’s lots of stuff available, all at different price points. If you’re looking for a quick read, I’d suggest Uncanny X-Men #1, a new, monthly series from Marvel Comics featuring the always amazing artwork of Carlos Pacheco. It’s only a few bucks. If you want to sit down with something for a while, pick up the deluxe hardcover collection of Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe the Barbarian mini series. It’s a bit steeper at $30 for 224 pages, but it’s well worth your money and, more importantly, your time. Stunning stuff.
Or, if you’re like me, you’ll go to the top of snowy Mount Everest: