Neil Gaiman: The writer who brought the Dream back into comics

Por Equipe UHQ
Data: 24 maio, 2001

Neil Gaiman, the british writer who gave the Sandman character a new life so he could soar from limbo to stardom, was in Brazil as a guest from Conrad Editora. Universo HQ caught him in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, were the author spoke about his projects, artists, future colaborations and much more! And if that wasn’t enough he also took a shot at Todd McFarlane

 

Neil GaimanMay 22nd of 2001. It’s a gray Tuesday in São Paulo. After weeks of anxiety, the editors of Universo HQ are ready to leave for the hotel where Neil Gaiman is staying to do an exclusive interview. However, a few minutes before we leave, we are told that it wont be possible to do the interview, due to an unforeseen change in his schedule and commitments to other members of press!

What now? What should we do? Give up and let down our reader’s? No way! We arrived at the hotel some time before the scheduled lunch, and since we had no other options, we didn’t hesitate: we interviewed him at his room, thanks to the support of the staff of Conrad Editora (Thanks, Cassius!). It was worth the effort, as you will see below.

Neil Richard Gaiman (that’s his full name) told us about his work on Sandman, about his work method, the research involved and more. He also spoke about the movie Death and why he is keeping his distance from the silver screen version of Sandman.

Gaiman shed light on what’s really happening between him and Marvel’s Joe Quesada, about the problems surrounding Miracleman and Angela’s ownership, and also, he wasn’t shy to tell us what he thinks about Todd McFarlane.

He spoke about his favorite artists, his next book (American Gods) he even told us what he’s expecting from Dark Knight Strikes Again, the sequel to Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Night Returns.

Universo HQ: What did you read as a child?

Neil Gaiman: The first book that I ever remember reading, which would not have been my first book, but the first one that I remember, was all about this little mermaids. Lonely little mermaids swimming around. I remember lot of strange comics, strange English comics filled with funny animals and for reasons that I forget were astonishing keen on jam. Fruit jam. There’s jam everywhere by the end of the story. You know when I was 3 or 4.

The first book I remember really having a huge crush on as book, as an author, was one when I was six, I discovered the Narnia series of books by C. S. Lewis. His story The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was, in 1955 or 1956, adapted to television, and very badly, but I watched one episode of this and went home and got my father to buy me The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and then for my 7th birthday, so that would have been 1967, I got the whole set, all seven books. I read them over and over again. So thast the first thing I remember reading and being addicted to as a child.

UHQ: Your first published work is Violent Cases?

Gaiman: My first published comic book would be Violent Cases.

UHQ: You have stuff before Violent Cases as a writer?

Gaiman: Yeah, yeah, I have Ghastly Beyond Belief, which is a book I did with a writer named Kim Newman and was a book of quotations from the worst science fiction books and movies and horror books and movies. And then there’s a Rock ‘n’ Roll biography that I do not talk about. Ok, Ok, it was Duran Duran Biography. I was paid 2000 pounds. I was very hungry. (Laughter)

They said do you want to write Barry Manilow, Def Lepard or Duran Duran? And I picked Duran Duran because they have done the least. So I figured it was the shortest book to write. (Laughter)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Violent Cases

UHQ: Sandman is a huge thing today. How do you feel as the creator?

Gaiman: It’s very hard to say. George Harrison once was asked a Beatles question. He just said: “look you have to remember that I am one of the only 4 people in the world who have no idea what the Beatles did or what happened to the Beatles because Never turn on the radio and went looking for new record. We never asked what’s the Beatles doing? What’s the cover of the new album? We were the only four people in the sixties for whom the Beatles didn’t happened”.

In many ways I’m got to be the only person in the whole world the comics for whom Sandman didn’t happened. Everybody else is like: What’s he doing? What’s he planning? Oh my god, What’s gonna happen next? And I’m the one going Ok…oh dear, they put the word balloon on that panel wrong, or where’s the cover?

So there was never any point during the creative run of Sandman were I ever sat down and said: “Look: I’m creating a myth for the end of the Twentieth Century. Instead I would go: “Oh my god, I have 4 issues worth of story and only three issues to get to Sandman #49 because 50 is the one that Craig Russell is already drawing. How do I get to the end of Brief Lives, What do I leave out?”

It was much more on a daily basis concerned with the mechanics. With American Gods, the new novel, which I think it has a scope and mythology like the Sandman did. If sandman was a mythology for the end of the twentieth century, American Gods tries to create a mythology for the twentieth first century. But I can say that in hindsight, now the book is finished, while I was writing it, all I wanted to do was figure out were my character went next, and how do I get to the end of that sentence and what happens here?

UHQ: In 1988, when Karen Berger invited you to write a character for DC, Sandman was not your first option. What character did you had in mind? And what were your plans? A radical rebirth like the one you did with Sandman?

Gaiman: Initially I was just looking in ways to do DC characters well, she asked me who do you like to do and I said my number one choice would be the Phantom Stranger.

I loved the idea of the Phantom Stranger, I loved the idea of the character. Somebody that has no story of his own but walks into other people stories. In many ways, emotionally, some of the things I would have done to Phantom Stranger went into Sandman.

UHQ: Do you still want to do it? Or did you lost interest?

Gaiman: It’s hard. It’s not that I lost interest. There is a draft script that was never acted upon of Sandman #24. The first five pages of Sandman 24, I originally wrote a version in which the Sandman is coming back from Hell, he’s flying back from Hell and he meets the Phantom Stranger. And they stand there and they have a conversation about what’s going to happen. And it didn’t work. They are both standing there saying meaningful mysterious things to each other. I had a page and a half of this and I went: this is just silly. And I threw it away. And the conversation didn’t happen because the Sandman and the Phantom Stranger were so similar.

So I suspect that I probably got everything out of my system with Sandman, that I probably would have done to Phantom Stranger over the years.

I think it’s funny looking back on it the reason DC gave me why I couldn’t do Phantom Stranger. The reason I was given for not being able to do him was: “He’s not heroic enough.” (Everybody laughing in disbelief)

They said, we can’t do a monthly comic with the Phantom Stranger and he’s not enough of a hero. Come up with somebody else.

Sandman Sandman # 1

UHQ: Wasn’t that strange?

Gaiman: Only in retrospect. From the point of view of 1987, 1988 it made a lot of sense. Then I suggest the Demon, they said no Matt Wagner is doing the Demon. Trying to recall if I suggested anybody else… maybe Green Arrow. I think I may have said how about Green Arrow? And they said “No,.no, Mike Grell is doing Green Arrow.”

UHQ: When you started writing Sandman, did you have the whole Endless family or you make them as you went along?

Gaiman: I think at least 3 of them are mentioned in Sandman number one. I think Desire, Destiny and Death.

UHQ: And the others are mention in # 9.

Gaiman: Yes, in issue # 9 everybody is mentioned and implied.

UHQ: Except Destruction.

Gaiman: Yeah, except Destruction. And I think Delirium is not named, she’s doesn’t get named until she appears in issue 21. But I didn’t know who they all were.

UHQ: You developed the concept as you went along?

Gaiman: It was always interesting when I met them. I thought Delirium was gonna be really punky and angry, and instead she turned out be much more sort of whimsical when she came on stage.

UHQ: During the Sandman story you would seed things to the reader that you would explain only 30 issues later. Did you had that planed all along?

Gaiman: There are things in issue 71 that don’t pay off until issue 75. That’s the joy of doing a monthly series. And bringing something up that’s gonna happen in time.

UHQ: But you don’t see many creators doing that.

Gaiman: Yes, but I don’t know why they don’t. Because it’s like what Joe Straczynski did in Babylon 5. You go:” here I am making a 5-year TV show, I’m gonna give it a story. And things will happen here and pay off here.” These days we still watch TV shows and every season they put a different committee on, a different bunch of writers, they’ve thrown away everything that happened last season, and all of a sudden people are waking up in showers…

There’s so many shows out there, were you wish somebody had known what there were doing all the way through.

Sandman # 50

UHQ: You did a lot of research on Sandman. Was that a problem for a monthly title?

Gaiman: What tended to happen is I would alternate stories where there was a lot of research was needed with stories that wasn’t.

Mostly the ones were I actually needed to do research was the historicals, because I got a bit obsessive about getting the details right. So, The Emperor Norton story (Sandman #29), the French Revolution story (Sandman #31), those are the kind of things that I made sure my details were right. Man of Good Fortune (Sandman #14), you know, the Shakespeare ones.

Shakespeare scholars and Shakespeare professors, those stories get taught in Universities now. And one of the reasons they are being taught in Universities is because the details are right.

UHQ: There were visual references in Sandman. Did you do that or the artists did them?

Gaiman: Most of them were in the script. Occasionally Mike Drindenberg would add something up, but most of the time it was in the script.

UHQ: Sandman creates a series of spin off, mini series and related works. What do you think about them? Do you read them?

Gaiman: These days I read them for pleasure. When they send me a Lucifer, I read it cuz its fun. I like what’s been done with it. The rest of the stuff, I’m mostly happy not to be a consultant anymore. Especially because being a consultant is a very thankless task, because they will consult you and they’ll ask: “what do you think of that?” I will say, “I wouldn’t do it like that”, and they’ll say, “Well we are doing it”.

UHQ: Once you said that you really liked the Brazilian editions Sandman. What do you think of the version of Sandman – The Dream Hunters, from Conrad Editora?

Gaiman: It’s amazing! Really amazing! Amano’s art is beautiful! I recall that I wanted one of his drawings from this album for myself, to put it in my room. And then he gave me one, and i said that I liked a lot. That’s exactly the one I got. (Laughter)

He gave us several illustration, and told us to choose which ones we wanted for Dream hunters. We had so many beautiful one’s that it was hard to choose from. So I said I wanted them all! And he would be surprised, and he told us that his Publisher in Japan never had done that. I didn’t tell him how to do the drawings; he just read the story and did what he wanted. Amano did everything very fast. One day we had nothing and the next we had a whole chapter.

He’s brilliant and I definitely would like to work with him again!

UHQ: What can be said about The Endless?

Gaiman: I don’t know. I don’t get to start writing it, until after I finish the signing tour. I do know that we want to have a really really cool group of artists. It’s a project I promised Karen (Berger). Karen, my editor, has been so patient. She’s waited at least two years for it. It’s possible that I will come off the signing tour for American Gods, and suddenly things go big and fast with the Death script, she may be waiting another six months. I hope her patience continues. In the mean time we are talking with lots of beautiful artists, people from all over the world.

Os Perpétuos Sandman - Os Caçadores de Sonhos

UHQ: Everybody is talking about Miracleman right now. About you and Joe Quesada and what’s he’s doing at Marvel. There are a lot of rumors that you might be thinking of giving Joe Quesada issue #25 of Miracleman. Do you want to shed light on this?

Gaiman: Joe and I finally got to speak. I mean what was weird is we knew more about this going on because it was being reported on the fan press before we got to talk to each other. Which is the great thing about the fan press, which is always ways ahead of what is actually happening in the real world.

The idea had occurred to me, but I’m not sure it had occurred to him until this stuff started coming up in the fan press. Then I spoke to him for two minutes before he left to England and I left for Brazil. We had a two minutes conversation where we said, “…let’s see what we can do.” When you come back from England and you come back from Brazil. I’m in Brazil and he’s in England.

UHQ: There are some rumors now that he’s been seen in London with you. (Laughter)

Gaiman: Cool! I’m delighted I was there. That’s what I mean about the Internet. There’s a level of truth, because it is written. People believe things that if a drunk told them in a bar or the fat kid who hangs around he front of the comic stores. He hangs around…

I don’t know if you have them in Brazil. But in America, every comic store comes with a fat kid. He doesn’t work there, but hangs around the front of the store and he says (Impersonating this imaginary kid):

“Jo Duffy, Oh, yeah! He’s a great guy. I know Jo”
“Actually, Jo Duffy is a woman.”
“Hey, what are you saying? I know Jo Duffy. He’s a good guy.”

These guys they sit there and they say … (impersonating again):

“You know the real reason why Alan Moore doesn’t work for Marvel anymore. Has nothing to do with anything they say. It’s all because, you know, the president of Marvel at the time was sleeping with Alan Moore sister.”
And you say: “Actually, Alan doesn’t have a sister.”
“Look, I know this man! I heard it from Jo Duffy, man. And he’s a good guy”.

You always get the idiot who talks very loudly in front of the comic book store. They’re not always fat. But many of them are. They hang there and they talk loudly as if they know everything, all the secrets.

These days those guys get to the Internet as well. You just see the words and you don’t know. It’s just one of those fat kids who hangs around the front of the comic store pretending to know everything.

Miracleman # 20 Spawn # 9

UHQ: How is the current situation about the rights of Miracleman? Can we hope to see it being published again?

Gaiman: It’s very very confusing. It’s very strange. Todd McFarlane is obviously not somebody who considers… Todd McFarlane is somebody who promises things and as soon as it’s convenient for him he does something else. And I think looking back on it, if I had my life over again, I would do pretty much everything the same but when Todd phone me up and said “Hey, let’s strike a big blow for creator’s rights. You’ll own everything. It will be so cool. Write a regular issue of Spawn for me, you can do whatever you want”.

I would say: “FUCK OFF, Todd.” and put down the phone.

Because I think it’s sad. You have this whole world now, in which.. McFarlane… people think of him as Todd, creator’s rights. Todd McFarlane’s company is the only company that doesn’t pay royalties to their creators. The writers and artist on Spawn and other comics they don’t get royalties. What they get is they get told, “We don’t pay royalties. That’s how the other guys do it. Because you are our friend and we love you every now and then Todd will send you a check. And it will be for cool money it will be better than royalties. Ok?” Which is fine, as long as Todd decides to send you a check. And one day Todd decides not to send you a check.

Me, I rather have royalties. I feel like that’s what writers and artists have been fighting for, the whole creator’s rights thing. That’s what it was all about. And these days you have people like Todd McFarlane, who gained power talking about creator’s rights, dragging the thing back to the 1930s, and people like Larry Marder who were actually there, at the creator’s rights summit in Northampton, signing the summit on what rights creators had. You know, right there along with him.

I think it’s sad. Truly sad.

UHQ: What do you think of Miracleman alter-ego been used on Hellspawn?

Gaiman: I just heard about it. I think it’s fascinating.

UHQ: In a good way or bad way?

Gaiman: I’m not sure it’s fascinating in good way. (Laughter).

It’s just another example of Todd breaking a promise. I still have the stuff from him in writing. He give me Miracleman. He sent me all the film from Miracleman and he says: good, you go and use it. Now he’s decided… he suddenly says: You know there’s money in this… Fuck my promise. If Gaiman wants trouble he can go and sue me. Look, I’m worth a $100 million dollars; I bought a $3 million dollars baseball.

It’s kinda weird. I’ve been talking to lawyers about it. And they reply: yeah you’re right. Yeah, you got all the stuff. Yeah, you may be able to win the case. He will appeal. If you win the case, you could also quite possibly win yourself all the way into bankruptcy. You could happily spend a million dollars on this legal case. Todd could spend a million dollars on it too. At the end of the legal case, Todd doesn’t care. He has lots of more millions dollars from where that came from. You could work for the rest of your life to pay for a case that you won. Because you won the rights back for Miracleman, well woopi-doo. Because they gonna pay you a million dollars.

UHQ: The fans are waiting anxiously for American Gods. What do you expect from it?

Gaiman: American Gods is the first novel were I felt that I did something as good as Sandman. This is the first book that I really sat down, from the start, to write it alone.

American Gods Death

UHQ: There’s a lot of talk about the Death movie and that you are going to direct it. Is that true?

Gaiman: Yes that’s true. If it happens it’s true

UHQ: Is the project green lighted?

Gaiman: Right now the light is amber, but we are moving ahead. I handed in a first draft script to Warner. And there is Warner and another production company. Warner read the script and loved it and the production company read the script and hated it. So they fired the production company and they are getting a new production company on board which is kinda cool.

Many many things could go wrong between here and shooting. For example, I could write a script that is too good. I could write a script that is good enough. That if it starts to float around Hollywood and somebody like Robert Zemeckis sees it, they could phone up Warner and say: “You know I really would like to direct that Death thing.”

All of a sudden I could find myself in an office in Hollywood with somebody saying, “you know it says in your contract that if you don’t direct it than we have to pay you all this money for the script.”

Because I’m writing the script for Death, at basic writer’s guild rights, which is way way way below what I charge to write a movie, I’m probably ¾ of a million dollars now for a script. I’m writing that for 25-50 thousand dollars.

They could say: “hey we have good news for you, here’s your check, somebody else is going to be directing.”

All these things could happen. But first it’s Hollywood, which means that nothing could happen. At any point in time I think the statistic is somewhere between 18 and 30 scripts that are developed, which means they go to draft after draft for every movie that gets made. So the chance for any movie to get made is 20 to 1.

UHQ: It’s also known that The Sandman project is so bad right now that you don’t want to have anything to do with it. What’s exactly is happening there?

Gaiman: I never wanted to be a part of it, which I think is such a good place to be, not being a part of it. They started off with a script from Elliot Rossio, which I thought it was ok, then they went with a Roger Avary script which I thought it was Ok..

UHQ: Wasn’t Peter Guber that got involved and it got really bad?

Gaiman: No, it was Jon Peters. Jon Peters decided to make the script more like the kind of things he likes to produce. You know, fighting and so on. And I just got sent another outline the other day, for another movie a lot like the really bad one. It’s always the same. They want a love interest now, for the Sandman. They want the Corinthian to be the big bad guy. He’s like the Sandman only more powerful. And they want them to fight and for the Corinthian to menace to kidnap his girlfriend. It’s just stupid.

Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman

UHQ: What happened to Neverwhere? Why it didn’t hit?

Gaiman: Didn’t hit in what way? The movie or?

UHQ: I mean the TV Series. It hasn’t been show here in Brazil.

Gaiman: Oh, it has not been shown in many places. Most of the reason why it hasn’t been shown in many places is that BBC filmed on video. I still don’t understand, to this day, why they did it like that, because they told us as we started: the only rule we have is that it has to be shot on video.

Which made everything look ugly. We shot everything ion location and it still looks like we shot on Dr. Who sets. Because it’s video.

But also meant that maybe three TV stations in the world will take it. Most TV stations look at it and they go it’s video we don’t want it. It’s looks like Dr. Who.

And I still don’t know why BBC did it, at the time when X-Files been shot on film, you know, why didn’t they shoot on film? It would have added 50 thousand dollars to the cost of each episode I think. But it also would have meant it would have been a bigger seller around the world, and make a lot of money back.

HBO said: “Hey we loved this, we would love to show it, but it’s on video we won’t show it.”

UHQ: Let’s get back to Comics… You once said you wanted to write Batman, why?

Gaiman: I would love to do a Batman’s story, because he’s so complex, and such a pliable character. The best thing about batman is that he has around 60 years. And all this time they did one hundred thousand, two hundred thousand or three hundred thousand bad stories with him and maybe only one hundred, two hundred or three hundred good ones.

I love the character. I would be very happy to do some work with him. I almost did it with Simon Bisley. I signed up with DC Comics years ago, but it never happened.

UHQ: What do you expect from Dark Knight strikes Again?

Gaiman: I expect it to be as good as what Frank (Miller) told me, the night on the ship a year ago. Frank started to tell me. We stayed up all night until 4 o’clock in the morning with him saying this is what I’m gonna do…

I gave him one idea for it, which we will see if he uses it.

UHQ: There’s a Preacher edition were Jesse Custer meets a character that’s has your face…

Gaiman: I’ve got pissed off about that. I phoned Steve Dillon. I said: “Steve friend, is that meant to be me? Are you making fun of me?” He said: “no, it doesn’t look like you”. He said: “I’ve known you for long enough that if I wanted to draw you it would look like you”. Then I think.. mmm you know, it doesn’t look like me.

I mean Steve has known me for along enough time that if Steve wanted to draw somebody he would not draw just somebody in dark glasses and dark hair. He would draw somebody who looked like me.

Scene from Preacher - Cassidy: Blood & Whiskey, suposedly showing Neil Gaiman

UHQ: And your relation to Garth Ennis?

Gaiman: It’s good.

UHQ: Two questions into one. What comics did you read recently? What artists and writers do you admire?

Gaiman: What am I reading? The last thing that I’ve read, just before I left the house, which I loved was Eddie Campell’s book How to be an artist. Which I think should be made compulsory reading to everybody. It’s not only a really good comic but it’s like the flip side to understanding comics. What it’s like on the ground. I think Eddie Campbell is a genius.

If Jack Kirby was the king of comics, and he was the muscle, then Will Eisner is still the heart.

I think Dave Sim, even though I sometimes have no idea why he’s doing what’s he’s doing, he is still an astonishing cartoonist. You just look at the latest issue and all these sheep. Have you seen the latest Cerebus?

UHQ: We’ve seen many, but not the latest one.

Gaiman: The new one has Cerebus working on a sheep farm. And he’s carrying the sheep around, and the expressions on the face of the sheep make the whole thing magic.

I think Jeff Smith is a genius. I love Charles Vess’s work. Still love the Hernandez.

UHQ: What you think o Mike Mignola?

Gaiman: He’s a very fine artist but I never got into his writing in the same way.

UHQ: You don’t like Hellboy?

Gaiman: Oh, I like Hellboy, but, it doesn’t do it for me like… You know, I tend, with Hellboy, to look at the pictures, rather than go oh my god, what beautiful writing, the writing is solid, but he’s not Alan Moore, he’s not Warren Ellis.

Samir Naliato and Neil Gaiman, during the Press Conference in Rio de Janeiro

UHQ: How would you fix the current market crisis?

Gaiman: Ooofff, that’s an easy one… (Laughter) Just fix this… (Laughter)

My only solution to the comics crisis is: I will write a good comic, that human beings, and not comic collectors, will like to read. That’s how I did it. It worked for me for seven years. By the time we got to Sandman 75, we were outselling Batman and Superman. We had 100 thousand readers. We had that when the top-selling comics were selling a million, because they were selling by the case to gullible children.

And then when the market crashed we had 100 thousand readers. You could actually watch us month by month go up the bestsellers list, with the same sales. We never sold on funny covers; we never sold on the promise of naked breasts. We sold because it was a good thing that people wanted to read. Now the last issue of Sandman came out 5 years ago. We sell as many sandman graphic novels every month as we did 5 years ago. They sell through bookstores as much as comic stores. But every year, over a 100 thousand graphic novels are sold. Year in, year out. The comic isn’t published anymore and people go out and buy it because it is good reading.

How would I fix this? I would try and get a diversity of good comics for people. I think it’s really good that DC is doing these Cartoon Network comics, because they are comics for little kids. You need to teach kids how to read comics; otherwise the audience will not appear from nowhere.

But I think you have to give people a reason to sticking around. The day after they realizes that it doest matter how many times Dr. Octopus gets killed he still gonna come back. Nothing is ever gonna change in a superhero comic. But that’s ‘fine when you are 13, you don’t need things to change. All you want is the power fantasy You wanna be stuck in traffic in São Paulo and go: If I was the Flash I would be back by now! That’s all you want when you are 13. By the time you are 17-18 you want something else. I figure the main thing in comics is the diversity.

UHQ: If you were watching the Harvey Awards this year and Frank Miller invited you to go up there and tore the Wizard magazine with him… what would you do?

Gaiman: Geeez, oh boy. I think that Wizard magazine has done an awful lot of harm to comics. I think chiefly because you have an art form. You have something that really is or could be an art form. And then you have something like Wizard magazine, which is trying to sell comics as big-breasted collectibles for stupid people. And you just wanna say: Ok, if you people only shut up!

UHQ: Why the British comics never happened? You export a lot of talent but you don’t have a thriving market?

Gaiman: I don’t know. I think it’s probably a good thing, because if we did, we would not be working for America. I still don’t know. When you looked at something and the best thing that has been produced in the last 30 years it’s 2000 AD and the worst thing that is produced is 2000 AD. 2000 AD got as good as The Ballad of Halo Jones book 3, that is the pinnacle, they never anything else that good. I don’t know. I wish I could give you an answer. I think that part of it is that the British don’t like, don’t trust and don’t really believe in super-heroes. So whenever British writers, writes super-heroes, we always do it from a perspective of a people that do not really believe.

Ballad of Halo Jones Neverwhere

UHQ: It seems you have similar problems than those we face here.

Gaiman: I think it’s very true anyway. The English comic tradition is of cheaply weekly comics. That is the tradition. That is why 2000AD still works. It’s a cheaply weekly. Getting the English to buy things that are different than that is difficult. I do know that Titan Books sold over a quarter of a million Sandman graphic novels (the trade paperbacks) in England. That’s quite a lot of books, and that doesn’t include any that came from DC. So obviously English people are buying the graphic novels.

I mean while this was going on, while I was writing Sandman, I was never particularly bothered when people said, “why aren’t you writing an English comic?” I would say I am writing an English comic. It gets printed in Canada. I’m writing a comic in England, that the publisher is an international multinational, Time-Warner, which exists everywhere, it’s printed in Canada and is shipped backed to England. In what way this is more important, or less valid than going up to Northampton, going up to somebody with offices on the east end of London and having it been printed in Scotland. The readers are still there, the readers are still reading it, and that’s the important thing for me.

UHQ: Who are your favorite European artists?

Gaiman: My favorite of all the European artists is Moebius. Because he can do more with less, than any other artists I know.

UHQ: Do you plan to work with him?

Gaiman: I would love to. I would work with him tomorrow if he wanted to.

UHQ: Do you have any intention to work with Milo Manara?

Gaiman: No. I was trying to give an example at the Rio press conference. I was trying to put it in context at the press conference. I was saying, we are looking at lots of European artists and lots of artists form around the world to do some of Endless stories. And they said could you give us an example. What kind of stories you will write. And I said I don’t know; right now we are trying to find the perfect artist for the stories. But I said as far as I’m concerned the perfect artist for Desire would be Milo Manara. Who else could you want? The great thing about Manara, everybody can keep their clothes on for 20 pages and still it would be the sexist thing you ever read.

So Manara would be far and away my first choice for desire. I think the odds aren’t too good that I’ll get Manara, because every time I spoke with his agent, Rafa, in Spain, he said Manara does what he wants to do, so you know I have no idea. But that would be my first choice.

UHQ: You have strong ties with the orient, works like Sandman: Dream Hunters and the adaptation of Princess Mononoke. What do you think of Manga?

Gaiman: I like some of them. Not as a whole. But I think they do the opposite of what I want to do. Most of them are trying to reproduce an almost cinematic experience with the speed of reading. As you watch somebody reads a manga, Flip, flip, flip, there’s a speed of reading that’s the opposite of what I am doing. I am creating something that I want you to spend 10 minutes on a page and then turn to the next one.

Scene from Princess Mononoke, feature lenght anime of Hayao Miyazaki, that was a huge success in Japan, adapted to english by Neil Gaiman.

UHQ: But you still enjoy them?

Gaiman: It depends on the artists. There are as many lazy manga artists as there are lazy super-hero artists. I think he shorthand’s of manga are shorthands of a super-heroes, the giant eyes and no noses, are as stupid as the huge muscles and the Rob Liefeld teeth with 40 teeth. Yoshitake Amano, Otomo and Miusake are artists.

UHQ: What’s your opinion about comics on the Internet?

Gaiman: I think comics on the Internet will only work when people don’t have to read a message saying, “loading page, this will take some time, you better make a coffee”. When that happens, then we can have comics on the Internet.

Comics are made so you sit and read. It’s not something you do when you have two hours available and nothing else to do, so you go to the computer and start downloading.

UHQ: This is your second trip tp Brazil. What are your opinions about the local fans?

Gaiman: I love Brazil! You’re more cheerful in everything (laughter). Soccer, comics… I received a phone call and they told me, “Mr. Gaiman, this is from Brazil, we love you. We want to make the Neil Gaiman day and bring you down to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other places. We will have a ceremony and everything else.” I listened to that and thought it was great! I asked when they had that planned, they told me: “Tuesday”!

And I said I couldn’t do it. Here everybody says:
“Hey, let’s do this?”
“Sure”! When?”
“Tomorrow”

I think that’s great!

UHQ: Neil Gaiman, in the name of our reader’s, thank you for the interview.

Gaiman: Thank you! It was nice seeing you again!

Sérgio Codespoti, Neil Gaiman, Marcelo Naranjo and Sidney Gusman

Signed by Neil Gaiman

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