Honoring a Literary God: Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a writing genius. Recently, he’s been gaining lots of well-deserved recognition. With a new book released last month (Norse Mythology), a TV adaptation premiering in April (American Gods), and another book-to-TV adaptation recently announced (Good Omens), Mr. Gaiman has been pretty busy. I think it’s time we celebrate one of my favorite creatives; a prolific writer of books, comics, and screenplays.

I was first introduced to Neil Gaiman through his award-winning book, American Gods. I was immediately hooked, reading it more times than I can count (including now, in anticipation of the TV adaptation’s upcoming premiere). With its revolutionary re-imagining of old and new legends, there’s no surprise that it’s been looked at for TV/movie adaptations for some time. Excitingly, it’s finally set to air on the Starz network, starting April 30th. It is definitely one of my all-time favorite books and my recommendation to new Gaiman readers. American Gods was also a gateway book for me. Gaiman’s wonderfully imaginative way of looking at the world let me devour his body of work—Good Omens (written with Terry Pratchett), Neverwhere, Stardust, and more.

And he doesn’t just write adult books. Gaiman’s children’s book lineup is worth reading, no matter your age. From Blueberry Girl, which my little girl absolutely loves, to the gothic Coraline, Neil Gaiman has written for a wide range of ages. They are great entry points for younger readers to his widely imaginative, gothic fantasy world. Plus, many feature wonderful illustrations from artists like Gris Grime, Dave Mc Kean, and Skottie Young. 

Neil Gaiman also has made a significant contribution to the comic book world. He began collaboration with DC by writing a short run comic, Black Orchid. This eventually led to his ground-breaking reinventions of DC’s Sandman. Dream, Death, and his vision of Lucifer became iconic, due to his blend of humor and fantastic horror. Gaiman’s Lucifer was a bit character in Sandman, but was so well-developed and loved that he was continued on in his own comic book series which was eventually adapted for TV. The success of Sandman lead to Gaiman working on other iconic titles like Swamp Things, Book of Magic initial mini-series, and two stories for the Secret Origins series—Poison Ivy and The Riddler. He even wrote a 2-part Batman story.

 Of course, Gaiman’s talent hasn’t just been applied to literature, he’s written quite a few screenplays as well. A few also have become hit books for him, including Neverwhere, which was originally written as a BBC Series. The series and the book were released simultaneously, but contain some differences. Then there is my favorite children’s book/movie adaptation, MirrorMask. Gaiman wrote the story in collaboration with artist Dave McKean for Jim Henson Studios. If you have a chance to watch/read it, do it.

Then there are his random contributions to TV or movies. One notable adaptation was Gaiman’s work on the English script for Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, which just makes me love the movie even more. He has also written two Doctor Who episodes, “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver,” both highly-acclaimed episodes. He has also been involved in adapting his books into films, including Stardust, with Michelle Pfeifer and Claire Danes, and Coraline, a stop-motion animated film with Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher. Gaiman has also been highly involved in the current American Gods adaptation, including a recent trip to Iceland to record background video for the series. [He is also slated to be the showrunner for the Good Omens series for Amazon Studios. -Ed.]

When I think about the huge body of work listed above, I am humbled and awed. Genius should always be celebrated, and the large numbers of good things happening for Mr. Gaiman are warranted. Also, if you ever get the chance to hear him speak—don’t think, don’t question, just DO it. He was the most interesting speaker I ever had the pleasure to listen to. Allow me to finish on a favorite quote, one to live your life by: “Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break Rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” Of course picking up one or all of Neil Gaiman’s books would not be one of these mistakes. Happy reading!

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