A Biography of Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

During the course of almost twenty years as a writer, Neil Gaiman has been one of the top writers in modern comics, and is now a best-selling novelist.

He was the creator/writer of monthly cult DC Comics horror-weird series, Sandman, which won Neil the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for best writer (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994), best continuing series (1991, 1992 and 1993), best graphic album-- reprint (1991), and the Best Graphic Album -- New (1993); the Harvey Award for best writer (1990, 1991) and best continuing series (1992); and Sandman #19 took the 1991 World Fantasy Award for best short story (making it the first comic ever to be awarded a literary award). He has won many other awards including the 1993 Diamond Distributors 'Gem' award, voted on by comics retailers internationally, for expanding the marketplace of people who read comics.

Norman Mailer said of Sandman "Along with all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it's about time". Ten Sandman collections have appeared to date: Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll's House, Dream Country, Season of Mists, A Game of You, Fables and Reflections, Brief Lives, Worlds' End, The Kindly Ones and The Wake. Sandman the comic sold over a million copies a year. The collections have sold several million copies in paperback and hardback, and remain in print to this day. Warner Brothers have optioned Sandman for a movie, and the LA Times described it as "The greatest epic in the history of comic books" and "the best monthly comic book in the world".

Gaiman and Sandman made headlines when, at Sandman #75, Gaiman announced that the story that began in Sandman #1 was over, and DC Comics cancelled the title: at the time it was their best-selling monthly comic.

Gaiman's three-part series Death: The High Cost of Living was released by DC in February 1993, and was the single best-selling title for 'mature readers' ever, with the first issue alone selling over 300,000 copies. The three parts of the story were collected in late 1993 to widespread acclaim. Warner Brothers has optioned Death: The High Cost of Living as a movie, and contracted Gaiman to write the screenplay.

Death: The Time of Your Life, released in March 1997 in hardcover, won the GLAAD award for Best Comic of 1996.

Neil wrote Signal to Noise (illustrated by Dave McKean) a graphic novella about a dying film director serialised in The Face (June 1989 - Jan 1990), reprinted by Gollancz in July 1992, winner of an Eisner award as best graphic album, and broadcast in October 1996 as a radio play by BBC Radio Three, with a script by Gaiman, starring Warren Mitchell, and nominated for a SONY Radio Award; more recently it was adapted into theatrical form by the NOWtheatre group of Chicago. Other books with Dave McKean include Violent Cases (1987), and Black Orchid (1988). Violent Cases, a meditation on memory, evil, and kids' birthday parties, won the Eagle Award as Best Graphic Novel [1988], and Gaiman won the Eagle as Best Writer of American Comics [1990].

The first collection of Neil's SF series Miracleman, 'The Golden Age', appeared in 1992 from Eclipse (USA) and Harper Collins (UK).

Angels and Visitations (DreamHaven 1993), a hardcover small press collection of his short fiction, prose and journalism, issued to celebrate ten years as a professional writer, sold out its first printing of 10,000 almost immediately, and went back to press five times, before Gaiman and the publishers put it out of print. Copies now go on eBay for hundreds of dollars. One of the stories from the collection, 'Troll Bridge', and the collection itself, were nominated for World Fantasy Awards for 1994, and the book was awarded the 1994 International Horror Critics' Guild Award as Best Collection. His short stories, in prose and poetry, have been reprinted for the last six years running in the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror collection, and have also been picked up by the British Best New Horror collection.

Other comics work includes Mr Punch, from Victor Gollancz and DC Vertigo (November 1994), with art by Dave McKean, a dark tale of childhood and puppets; and Alice Cooper's The Last Temptation, an adaptation, by Gaiman, of the story he created around which Alice Cooper wrote his album of the same title.

Gaiman was co-originator, co-plotter and co-editor of the Utterly Comic Comic Relief Comic, which raised £45,000 for the UK Comic Relief charity in 1991.

Co-author, with Terry Pratchett, of Good Omens, a very funny novel about how the world is going to end and we're all going to die, which spent 17 consecutive weeks on the Sunday Times best-seller lists in 1990 and has gone on to become an international bestseller. It is under movie option to the Samuelson Brothers (Wilde; Carrington) and Terry Gilliam is contracted to write and direct it.

Other books include the cult hit Ghastly Beyond Belief [1985] and Don't Panic [1987], and, as editor, a book of poetry, Now We Are Sick [1991]. His essays have appeared in "Horror:100 Best Books", and "100 Great Detectives".

His six part fantastical TV series for the BBC, called Neverwhere, set in a strange world beneath London, was broadcast in Autumn 1996, and his novel, set in the underground world of the television series, was released in the UK by the BBC and from Avon books in July 1997: it appeared in hardcover on a number of best-seller lists, including the LA Times list (at #3), the San Francisco Chronicle list and the Locus list (at #1). Rights to the book have been sold around the world. It was awarded the prestigious Julia Verlanger Award for best fantasy/SF novel published in France in 1999.

The film rights to Neverwhere have been bought by Jim Henson Productions, in association with Denise DiNovi, and Gaiman has written the script for the film.

In 1997 Gaiman wrote an episode for the final season of cult TV show "Babylon 5", 'The Day of the Dead', the only episode in the last three seasons not to have been written by the show's creator, J. Michael Straczynski.

In 1998 he wrote the English language script for Miyazaki's record-breaking Japanese film Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke), which Miramax released in 1999. Gaiman's script was praised by Roger Ebert and Janet Maslin and has been nominated for a Nebula Award.

Gaiman's first book for children, The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, came out from White Wolf books in May 1997, illustrated by Dave McKean, and was listed by Newsweek as one of the best Children's Books of 1997. His next Dave McKean- illustrated book for children will be released in 2002 by Avon.

Stardust, a prose novel in four parts, began to appear from DC Comics in October 1997. Illustrated by Charles Vess, it is a fairy story for adults. The collected DC version appeared in the Autumn of 1998, while in January 1999 Avon released the all-prose unillustrated version of Stardust as the first fiction title in their Spike Books imprint; Stardust received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and appeared on a number of American bestseller lists. The film option to Stardust was bought by Dimension Films. It was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of the year.

In August 1999 Stardust was awarded the prestigious Mythopoeic Award as best novel for adults.

His most recent collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, came out from Avon in the autumn of 1998. It is currently nominated in the UK for a MacMillan Silver PEN award as the best short story collection on the year.

Sandman - The Dream Hunters

Gaiman's 1999 return to Sandman, the prose book The Dream Hunters, with art by Yoshitaka Amano, was awarded the Bram Stoker award for best illustrated by the Horror Writers Association, and was nominated for a Hugo award.

Gaiman's work has appeared in translation in Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, France, Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Poland, Bulgaria, Greece, Finland, Japan, Hungary and lots other countries he can't think of off-hand. His journalism has appeared in Time Out, The Sunday Times, Punch, The Observer Colour Supplement, and many other places. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers.

Tori Amos sings about Neil on her albums 'Little Earthquakes', 'Under the Pink' and 'Boys for Pele'; and he's written songs for Minneapolis band The Flash Girls ("the find of the year and perhaps beyond" -- Utne Reader). He appeared on the cover of photographer Patti Perret's book of photos of authors, The Faces of Fantasy.

In 1992 he swept the Canadian "Ricky" awards, given out by the viewers of Canadian TV show 'Prisoners of Gravity', winning, amongst other awards, 'Favourite Guest'. He was awarded the Kemi (Finland) Award as Best International Writer (1994), the Austrian Prix Vienne as Best Writer (1993), and the Spanish 'Haxtur' award for best writer (1993, 1994, 1995) and, for the last four years, the Brazilian 'HQ' award for best foreign writer and comic. From Italy he has won the prestigious 'Yellow Kid' award (1995) and the Lucca Best Writer prize (1997). From Germany he won the Max Und Moritz award, for best foreign writer (1998), and from Norway, the Sproing Award (1998).

In August 1997 the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a First Amendment organisation, awarded Gaiman their Defender of Liberty award for his work 'defending First Amendment freedoms'.

Neil Gaiman has somehow reached his early forties and still tends to need a haircut

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Last edited Sun Oct 01 18:50:18 2006.