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Neil Gaiman

Neil Richard Gaiman (November 10, 1960, Portchester, Hampshire) is an English Jewish author of numerous science fiction and fantasy works, including many comic books.

As of 2005, he lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He is married to Mary T. McGrath and has two daughters, Holly and Maddy, and a son, Michael.

As a child and a teenager, Gaiman grew up reading the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien 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, Harlan Ellison and especially Gene Wolfe.

Although Jewish, he was educated at several Church of England schools. There he studied both standard school topics as well as religion classes. At the same time, he trained to become Bar Mitzvah with an Orthodox Jewish cantor. This training gave him a wide background in both Jewish and Christian theology/apocrypha, which he incorporates heavily into his works, perhaps most notably in The Sandman. It is rumored that he was a Scientologist until some time in the 1980s, though these unconfirmed reports are speculative.

In the early 1980s Gaiman pursued journalism as a means to learn about the world and make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published, conducting interviews and writing book reviews. During this time he wrote his first book in 1984, a now sought-after biography of the band Duran Duran, Ghastly Beyond Belief with Kim Newman, a book of quotations, and interviews and articles for many English magazines including Knave magazine. In the late 1980s he wrote Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhikers 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.

After forming a friendship with famed comic book scribe 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 the collapse of publisher Eclipse Comics, leaving the series unfinished. He wrote two British graphic novels with his favorite collaborator and long time friend Dave McKean: Violent Cases and Signal To Noise. Afterwards, he landed a job with DC Comics, his first work being the limited series Black Orchid.

He has written a plethora of comics for several publishers, but his best-known work is the comics series The Sandman, which chronicles the tale of Morpheus, the personification of Dream. (See The Endless). The series started a small cultural sensation, gathering a devout following and making comic books respectable to many new audiences. The series began in 1987 and ended in 1996 when Gaiman ended the successful series as he had intended; a first for near-mainstream comics. All 75 issues of the regular series have been collected into 10 volumes that are still in print and selling well.

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 has a destiny as the world's greatest wizard. The miniseries was popular, and sired an ongoing series, also called The Books of Magic, written by John Ney Reiber. Many people have noted similarities between series protagonist Tim Hunter and the later and more famous Harry Potter; when referring to this similarity, Gaiman indicates that the young man as sorcerer has precedent in literature.

Gaiman also writes songs, poems and novels, and wrote the 1997 BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere, which he later adapted into a novel. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie Mirrormask with his old friend Dave McKean for McKean to direct. In addition, wrote the English language script to the anime movie Princess Mononoke, based on a translation of the Japanese script.

Gaiman is a Board Member as well as an active supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and he regularly participates in fundraisers for the group including creating materials such as the original Snow, Glass, Apples along with a book called "Gods and Tulips" of which the CBLDF owns the copyright.

In February 2001, when Gaiman had completed writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional web site featuring a weblog (some time before they became as popular as they are now) 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 Web Site, and as of 2006 Gaiman still regularly adds to the weblog, describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is. The original American Gods blog was extracted for publication in the New England Science Fiction Association Press collection of Gaiman miscellany, Adventures in the Dream Trade.

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

Gaiman forged an intense friendship with singer Tori Amos in the early nineties. Before she met stardom, she sent him a demo tape of her album Little Earthquakes, and they became fast friends. As such, he is constantly mentioned (often rather cryptically) in at least one of her songs on each of her albums. He also wrote the forewords to several of her tour programs as well as short Stories to accompany her album Strange Little Girls and Scarlet's Walk. (Excerpts appeared in the album booklet.) Some of her lyrical mentions:

* "If you need me, me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king / Neil said hi, by the way" ("Tear In Your Hand," 1992)
* "Where's Neil when you need him?" ("Space Dog," 1994)
* "Will you find me if Neil makes me a tree?" ("Horses," 1996)-Gaiman based the character of the talking tree in Stardust on Amos at her request after Neil stayed with her while beginning work on the novel
* "Where are the Velvets?" ("Hotel," 1998)-the Velvets being vampire-like characters from Gaiman's novel Neverwhere
* "Get me Neil on the line... / have him read Snow, Glass, Apples" ("Carbon," 2002)

Gaiman is also a friend of science fiction and comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the television series Babylon 5. As such there is a species of aliens on that series called the Gaim; their heads closely resemble the helmet worn by Gaiman's Sandman character. However Straczynski has stated the aliens' appearance was based more on gas masks than on the King of Dreams' helm (itself inspired by the gas mask worn by the original World-War-2-era Sandman), and that the name came after the resemblance was noted. Gaiman is also the only writer other than Straczynski to have contributed to the series' final three seasons; he wrote the season 5 episode "Day of the Dead".

In 2002, Neil Gaiman filed and won a lawsuit against Todd McFarlane involving three supporting Spawn characters: Cogliostro, Medieval Spawn, and Angela. In 1991 McFarlane had asked Gaiman (as well as other recognized authors like Frank Miller and Dave Sim) to write one issue of his Spawn series. While doing so, Gaiman introduced the three previously-mentioned characters. McFarlane had agreed that Gaiman was not signing away any rights 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. Gaiman won a sizeable judgement against McFarlane and against Image Comics.

As of 2005 he has completed a new novel, titled Anansi Boys which had a worldwide simultaneous release. The book deals with Anansi (Mr. Nancy), a character from American Gods, who dies at the beginning of the novel. Specifically it traces the relationship of his two sons, one semi-divine and the other an unaware Englishman, as they explore their common heritage. It hit the New York Times bestseller list at number one.

In 2006, he will return to Marvel to work on a remake of Jack Kirby's the Eternals.

Robert Zemeckis recently shot Beowulf, a motion capture film based on a script by Gaiman and Roger Avary, starring Ray Winstone and Angelina Jolie to be released in October 2007. Gaiman may also direct the film adaptation of Death: The High Cost of Living. Matthew Vaughn is also directing the film adaptation of Stardust. Henry Selick is directing a stop-motion version of Coraline.

Awards

Gaiman received a World Fantasy Award for short fiction in 1991 for the Sandman issue, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (see Dream Country). (Due to a subsequent rules change disqualifying comics for that category, Gaiman is the only writer to win that award for a comics script.)

He received the 2002 Hugo Award for outstanding novel for American Gods, which also won the 2002 Nebula Award.

In 2003 Coraline won the Hugo best novella award.

In 2004, his short story "A Study in Emerald" won another Hugo (in a ceremony the author presided over himself, having volunteered for the job before his story was nominated).

In addition, he has won 13 Eisner Awards for his comics work, two Nebula Awards and three World Horror Awards.

Stardust won the Mythopoeic Award.

He has also won the Comics' Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer in 1992 and 1993, and received nominations in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. His current website is www.NeilGaiman.com

Neil Gaiman and Shakespeare

Like Terry Pratchett (with whom he collaborated on Good Omens), Neil Gaiman draws on Shakespeare as a literary source. Allusions to the writings of the bard can be found in Anansi Boys, where several lines of Hamlet have a cameo appearance and where the situation the protagonist is in is compared to Macbeth more than once. In The Sandman Shakespeare himself appears in three stories in the series, in which he makes and fulfils a deal with Morpheus, who grants Shakespeare the gift of writing in exchange for two plays 'celebrating dreams': A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest.