Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Gaiman, Neil

 Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

(1960-    ) UK writer of Graphic Novels, US fantasy Comic books and fiction; his fertile imagination has given new life to several moribund comic-book characters and created a number of new ones. NG has also published one text novel, Good Omens, the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990) with Terry Pratchett, a collection of short stories, Angels and Visitations: A Miscellany (coll 1993), three nonfiction books – Duran Duran (1985), Ghastly Beyond Belief (1985) with Kim Newman and Don't Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion (1988) – and several anthologies, including Now We Are Sick: A Sampler (anth 1986 chap; exp vt Now We Are Sick: An Anthology of Nasty Verse 1991) with Stephen Jones; plus five titles (which he "devised" or "co-devised" rather than edited): Temps (anth 1991) with Alex Stewart, The Weerde: Book I * (anth 1992) with Mary Gentle and Roz Kaveney, Eurotemps (anth 1992) with Stewart, The Weerde II * (1993) with Gentle, Kaveney and Stewart, and Villains! * (1992) with Gentle. He has also published short stories and verse in a number of periodicals and anthologies.

NG worked as a journalist, interviewer and reviewer before becoming a freelance writer. He came to prominence in the comics field on publication of Violent Cases (graph 1987; original colour restored 1991), the first of four collaborations with artist Dave McKean, and the almost simultaneous appearance of the anthology comic book Outrageous Tales of the Old Testament (graph anth 1987), for which he produced many of the scripts. The former brought him fame and the latter notoriety.

NG went on to establish himself in US comic books with Black Orchid (#1-#3 1988-1989; graph 1989), in which he breathed new life into the minor DC Comics superheroine created by Sheldon Mayor (1917-1991). His greatest success has been with The Sandman sequence (see Sandman) (1989-1996) – for one episode of which, A Midsummer Night's Dream (#19 1990), he was awarded the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. His other major works include The Books of Magic (1990-1991; graph 1993) and Death: The High Cost of Living (graph 1993).

NG has a wide-ranging romantic imagination and has created a uniquely personal gallery of fantasy characters: Death, the dark maiden, is a streetwise punk teenager (besides Death, Sandman's brooding lead character Dream has five more "Endless" siblings: Destiny, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium); Mad Hettie hid her heart and forgot where it was; Calliope, the captured Muse, is imprisoned in the attic of a writer to whose advances she is compelled to submit in order to enable him to write prizewinning novels; and so on.

NG's Sandman graphic novels are The Doll's House (graph 1990), Preludes and Nocturnes (graph 1991) – which comes first by internal chronology – Dream Country (graph 1991), Season of Mists (graph 1992), A Game of You (graph 1993), Fables and Reflections (graph 1993), Brief Lives (graph 1994), Worlds' End (graph 1994), The Kindly Ones (graph 1995) and The Wake (graph 1997). His graphic novels with McKean, aside from Violent Cases and Black Orchid, are Signal to Noise (in The Face #10-#17 1989-1990; graph 1992), about a dying movie producer planning an apocalyptic film he knows will never be made, and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch (graph 1994), another enigmatic account of a childhood experience. A BBC tv series, Neverwhere (1996), is about an Underground London Wainscot. [RT/NG]

other works: Miracleman: The Golden Age (1992; graph 1993); Snow, Glass, Apples (1994 chap).

Neil Richard Gaiman


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.