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A Gathering For Gaiman (Part Two)

The prolific author talks about animating goldfish, the approach of Death, and Miracleman

By Steve Fritz     June 28, 2001


Author Neil Gaiman
© N/A
"CORALINE is about a little girl who lives in one of those mansions that have been converted into flats," says Gaiman. "One day, she discovers a door she never knew was there. Inside she finds a flat very similar to hers. This includes people who look very much like her parents, except their hair is always wet, their eyes are like black buttons, their skin seems too white and their fingers seem extremely long. They don't want Coraline to ever leave them again."

If that weren't enough, Gaiman's next children's book is already in progress. Much like THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD..., the concept for this story sprung from a comment made by one of the author's children.

"[My daughter] thought there were wolves inside the walls of our house," says Gaiman. "From there it made me think what would happen if they got out."

Entitled WOLVES ON THE WALL, Gaiman sees the story as much in the same spirit of GOLDFISH. Interestingly enough, both CORALINE and WOLVES will be illustrated by longtime collaborator Dave McKean.

However, that isn't where the new Gaiman and McKean collaboration will end. The two are hard at work turning GOLDFISH into an animated series produced by the Sony Wonder/Sony Sunbow animation team.

Death as conceived by Neil Gaiman



"I'm pleased to say production is going full bore on this one," says Gaiman. "For a while, I wasn't sure what was going to happen as Sony Sunbow had been sold. The series is now being called ME AND MY BIG IDEAS, with art direction by Dave. They even hired a story editor who has ideas that are stranger than mine."

According to Gaiman, ME AND MY BIG IDEAS will feature a lead character named Kirby who constantly winds up on adventures very similar to the ones he narrated in GOLDFISH.

"When it comes to a character having big ideas, I couldn't think of a better name to give him than Kirby," says Gaiman, obviously referring to the late Jack Kirby.

And if that weren't enough, Gaiman is ushering the "trapped in production hell" DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING feature to the next level.

"I handed in the first script treatment last April," he says. "It was rather rushed because there was the possibility of a writer's strike. As such, I felt I really handed in not so much a first treatment as a seven-eighths treatment. After reading it over, I noticed the character of Sexton whines through the entire film. If I was in the audience, within 20 minutes I would want to kill him."

It seems Sexton wasn't the only one Hollywood's 'powers that be' wanted to kill. DEATH's deal originally involved three parties: Gaiman, Warner Bros., and a production company that shall remain nameless.

"They are a company that loves to produce summer blockbusters with lots of shooting and action," Gaiman notes. "When they were originally brought in, they said it was because they thought it would be nice to do a small film that wasn't like what they were known for. When I handed in the script, Warners was very pleased with what they got and offered me the director's position. Then the production company saw the script and found there were no shooting or action scenes in it. They immediately wanted to do it all over. Normally, when something like this happens, Warners would call a person like me up and say, 'Thank you for your efforts,' and let me go. This time they shocked me by turning around and telling the production company, 'Thank you for your efforts' and telling them to go."

Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman



Proving that the project is truly moving along, Warners and Gaiman quickly came to terms on a second production company. However, the writer will not reveal the company's name, stating that Warner Bros. would like to make that announcement. Regardless, Gaiman is pleased with the outcome.

"I get to work the script over, and do something about Sexton," he says.

With his hands in so many pies, only one obvious area remains absent from Gaiman's work roster: that of comics. While much has been made about the Todd McFarlane/Gaiman/MIRACLEMAN rights issue, the author states that sooner or later he will give a publishing company the right to reprint the long out-of-print and much-desired comics. However, he hasn't settled on any one particular company as of yet. Nor has the fact that McFarlane has announced his intentions of publishing a comic with MIRACLEMAN been worked out.

Miracleman as published by Eclipse Comics



"I hope we'll actually be able to untangle this," says Gaiman. "Meanwhile, I find it fascinating, in a sad sort of way, that McFarlane's attitude to all this seems to be, 'I know I'm in the wrong. I'm doing it anyway. Sue me or shut up.'"

On a more positive note, Gaiman states that he will be returning to DC to start a new series revolving around the Endless. At present, he's being particularly mum on the project; however, he attributes his involvement to the fact that Karen Berger, DC's executive editor of the Vertigo line, asked him "very nicely."

Otherwise, Gaiman found it amusing when he learned that his comic book work was starting to become the source of academic study.

The bookstore has now reached its closing time and there is still no sign of the line getting any smaller. Much to the employee's chagrin, Gaiman reveals a major lesson he learned while doing a recent signing in Brazil.

"Over 1,200 people showed up for the signing," recalls Gaiman. "When the store tried to cut the line short, the people stated, 'We're Brazilian, and if we don't get our autograph, our way of handling this will be to tear the store down to the ground."

Wisely, the Borders employees decide to keep the store open until the 600-plus fans all get their autographs.

However, don't think that Gaiman will be able to keep this book signing pace up forever. He openly admits that he started these reading tours to emulate his idol, Charles Dickens. But eventually, Dickens (and equally famous author Mark Twain) started charging for participation in such events.

"Neither of them did signing tours," says Gaiman. "They did paying reading tours, and sometimes made more money from their reading tours than they did from their books. More likely [I will] just stop signing, but still do occasional reading tours to support books. It's a path I could see myself following, as the signings just get bigger and bigger maybe for CORALINE."

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