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Neil Gaiman is just what everyone who has been to a signing says he is
- only about the sweetest most brilliant person on earth. When he
walks into the press conference area in the British Council, a mixture
of awe and disbelief hangs in the air for a good half-minute before
the bevy of fans, conveniently disguised as reporters, remember to
breathe. Wearing an all-black ensemble of a t-shirt, jeans, sunglasses
and his somewhat legendary jacket, Neil Gaiman looks like he has just
stepped out of the author photograph on Coraline's dustcover, only
fresher and less mop-like than one would have imagined. He sits
comfortably cross-legged; perhaps his charm lies in his witty, almost
conversational discourse, with the ease and earnest of a very old
friend. Perhaps it is his elevated rockstar status, leather-jacketed
and complete with shades, adored to the point he is almost a god. It
is unanimous but unspoken - this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

As much as his epic comic masterpiece the Sandman gained him a
substantial amount of fame, spanning seventy-five issues and spawning
a world-wide following, Neil Gaiman has crossed genres and media,
writing children's literature, horror stories and screenplays, and of
late, directing movies. His works have won numerous awards, among
which are the Will Eisner for his achievements in the Sandman, the
Hugo and the Nebula for American Gods, and another Hugo for Coraline.

When asked about his feelings on being dubbed Neil 'Sandman' Gaiman,
he quips "What's weird is more and more these days I get Neil
'Coraline' Gaiman.  I'm sure next year I'll be Neil 'Anansi Boys'
Gaiman". The Anansi Boys, his latest endeavour, will be out late
September, a novel following the death of Mr. Nancy, a character in
his best-selling American Gods. Good Omens, a collaborative work
between him and Terry Pratchett, saw his following expand further, and
he notes bemused that "there's sort of vague cultural meme about that
book that's now heading into the world which is the idea that what
obviously happened was that I wrote an incredibly dark and serious
book and Terry walked behind me putting in jokes." Although he has
enjoys immense popularity as a adult fiction novellist, he is also
well-loved for his children's books, Coraline, The Day I Swapped My
Dad For Two Goldfish, and the Wolves In The Walls. His works have been
a basis for many productions, currently the Wolves in the Walls is
being made into an opera and an movie adaptation of Coraline is being
produced.

With regards to movies and screenwriting, Gaiman has been in the
business for some time. He wrote the English screenplay for Hayao
Mizyazaki's Mononoke Hime, the Neverwhere TV series upon which his
novel Neverwhere was based on, and has written treatments for a number
of his works, including a movie adaption for Good Omens with Terry
Pratchett in the early '90s, which was "one of those horrible
Hollywood experiences they joke about". "There was an article in the
Hollywood Reporter ... saying I had more things bought and not made in
Hollywood than any other living author" he says, but he remains
sanguine about it, likening Hollywood productions  to the English bus
system "if you wait for a really long time then three of them come
together".  Recently, his relationship with the screen has looked up,
with the imminent limited release of Mirrormask, a joint effort of his
and long-time friend and artist Dave McKean, and Gaiman's involvement
in screen-versions of Beowulf and Coraline.

Though his prose has won him legions of fans and a fair number of
awards, he has not forgotten his love for comics, returning to the
industry with Endless Nights, an anthology of stories about the
Endless, featured in the Sandman, and Marvel's 1602. Of the latter, he
remarks candidly that he has received strange reviews like "well if
anyone else had written this it would have been brilliant" analysing
the vast disparity between it and the Sandman. This critique concerns
him little as the variation was intentional, the way his next Marvel
project would be similarly unlike 1602.

Neil Gaiman speaks affectionately of the English contributors to
American Comic Book Revolution, particularly "the amazing Alan Moore
who is very huge and very hairy and very funny and not at all scary",
describing American comics of 1986 and 1987 as imitations weaned
solely on comics "like when you photocopy something and you photocopy
that photocopy and you photocopy it again and you head into a grey
sheet of paper". The English authors, however discussed things like
Victorian writers and "weird London georgraphy". "It's like we had a
bunch of strange cultural reference and this peculiar god-given
mission to somehow try and create art using superheros and full colour
american comics, which looking back on it was madness, pure madness. I
had no idea why we did it and we're very sorry."


Were gods half this affable, this charismatic in real life, religion
would be a whole lot easier to believe in.