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Creator / Neil Gaiman

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Neil "Scary Trousers" Gaiman, master of modern horror.note 

"The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before."

Neil Richard Mackinnon Gaiman (born 10 November 1960) is a contemporary British writer of stories.

He is famous for his Urban Fantasy works, including the renowned The Sandman comic series for DC Comics under their Vertigo imprint, which was the only work in its medium to win a World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. (To prevent it happening again, they changed the rules so that comic books had to be relegated to their own special category, and couldn't be judged alongside prose works.) His novels Stardust and Coraline, have been made into movies, and American Gods and Good Omens have been made into streaming miniseries. He's also written scripts for other projects, such as MirrorMask by Dave McKean and the Neverwhere TV series. In addition, he worked on the translated script of Princess Mononoke. His young adult work The Graveyard Book became the first book to win both the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal. He also wrote two episodes for Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife" in Series 6 and "Nightmare in Silver" in Series 7.


His works are marked by extensive use of mythological references and symbolism, often times in "modern" settings. Stephen King thinks Neil may well be the greatest storyteller alive today.

He is married to Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls. (They had a rough patch in 2020, but have since reunited in New Zealand and are working on their relationship.) He has a Twitter account and a Tumblr blog, as well as a more traditional blog (it was originally created to document his promotion tour for American Gods back in 2001, and it took off from there). He's also been known to dispense writing advice to fans (often via Tumblr).

He is also a part-time professor at Bard College.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, when LeVar Burton was looking for material to read during his live-stream, Neil granted "blanket permission" for him and anyone else to use his stories for their shows.


His works include:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 


    Short stories & anthologies 

     Picture books 
  • The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, illustrated by Dave Mckean. (1997)
  • The Wolves in the Walls, illustrated by Dave McKean. (2003)
  • The Dangerous Alphabet, illustrated by Gris Grimley. (2008)
  • Blueberry Girl, illustrated by Charles Vess. (2009)
  • Crazy Hair, illustrated by Dave McKean. (2009)
  • Instructions, illustrated by Charles Vess. (2010)
  • Chu's Day, illustrated by Adam Rex. (2013)
  • Fortunately, the Milk, illustrated by Skottie Young (US edition) or Chris Riddell (UK edition). (2013)
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle, illustrated by Chris Riddell. (2014)


    Live Action TV 

  • Ghastly Beyond Belief — The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations (1985, with Kim Newman) — a troperiffic collection of movie and written fiction quotes with plenty of snarky asides from the compilers.

Tropes of which Neil Gaiman is an example:

  • As Himself: In the second Shadow Police novel, The Severed Streets, Neil—with his involvement and permission—appears as a supporting character who has some information regarding the magic of London that the protagonists find useful. He also aids a villain in murdering one of the protagonists. He also appears in "The Original Dr Shade", a short story by Kim Newman.
    • Also his guest appearance on The Simpsons in 2011 where he claims he Never Learned to Read despite being a famous author. Ditto his appearance in The Guild.
    • Gaiman has a small role (and song!) in the 1980s Star Trek tie-in novel How Much For Just The Planet? Especially fun as he was little known at the time.
    • Subverted in the Audible short story "The Neil Gaiman At The End of the Universe": It turns out that the man known as Neil Gaiman, who is voiced by Neil, is not actually him. He's a psychologist who was acting his own test subject in an experiment to help astronauts combat the mental effects of isolation.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Reading his blog will give you a bit of a view into his mind. When he rescued Cabal, he said the Nazis tried to wipe out White German Shepherds. Much like how they tried to wipe out his family.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay: Originally he viewed piracy in a fairly negative light, but his views evolved as time went on to be more accepting of it as he noticed as the sales of his works started increasing thanks to it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Terry Pratchett. Gaiman is visibly upset and fighting back tears in the documentary Back in Black made after Terry's death, saying "I miss him so much".
  • Insult Backfire: On being called a pencil-necked weasel, over a library visit, he said that he was proud to be among the company of weasels.
  • Limited Wardrobe: He dresses all in black in all public appearances. Until a few years ago he wore a black leather jacket in public appearances too. He used to claim to own the world's largest collection of black t-shirts, too.
  • Messy Hair: In all his author photos, he sports an untidy dark mop. This is probably the inspiration for the looks of several characters he's written, including The Sandman, Richard Mayhew, and Tristran Thorn, not to mention the picture book Crazy Hair. One of his "about the author" notes includes the sentence, "He thanks you for the offer of a comb, but doubts that it would do any good."
  • Money, Dear Boy: He has stated just about every time he did work solely for money no money has come from it.
    • He's quite happy to admit this as the only reason he wrote a biography for Duran Duran early in his career. However, because of complications with the publisher, he never saw a dime save for his advance fee, which was only a few hundred £. The book actually did make it to print before the publisher went belly-up and, ironically, copies of it can now fetch a good bit of money. It's also just about the only book about them that the members of Duran Duran actually liked.
    • His other early non-fiction book, Don't Panic, a book about Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was a mixture of Money, Dear Boy and One of Us.
    • He only did his issue of Spawn for money as he thought it was beneath him, would damage his reputation and had no interest in violent superheroes. Ironically the issue ended up being one of the most significant for the character and led to an unimaginably long and expensive courtroom battle between Neil Gaiman and Todd Mc Farlane.
  • Older Than They Look: He's pretty youthful for a guy born in 1960.
  • Self-Deprecation: Appears in the comic adaptation of his book on Norse Mythology on the mead of poets as an example of a dreadful poet.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: He guest starred as himself in an episode of Arthur.

Tropes common in his work:

  • All Myths Are True: This is the basic premise of American Gods, but it's common in other works.
  • Animal Motifs: Used most prominently in Anansi Boys, but ubiquitous throughout his work.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Shoggoths Old Peculiar has an (initially) Unfazed Everyman American tourist who visits the picturesque English town of Innsmouth and converses in a pub with the friendly Cthulhu-worshippers who live there. He ends up with a bad hangover and a "feeling of nameless dread" (TM).
  • Author Appeal: All Myths Are True, but the one Gaiman finds the most interesting is Norse Mythology. Loki and Odin are major characters in both American Gods and The Sandman.
  • Based on a True Story: He confirmed in the collection Smoke and Mirrors that "Queen of Knives" was based on real events, namely his grandmother disappearing. In the case of the poem, the grandmother disappears during a magic trick and the magician refuses to say where she went or what happened to her when the grandfather confronts him. Apparently, the details were so close to the truth that Neil received concerned messages from people who knew the real story.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Due to the frequent use of Eldritch Abomination in his works, they usually have their own morality.
  • Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Many of his works have a pair of bad guys with little characterization outside of being an inseparable antagonistic pair. Examples include Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar; Hastur and Ligur; and Mr. Wood and Mr. Stone.
  • Canon Defilement: Gaiman hoped Snow, Glass, Apples (a Perspective Flip of "Snow White") would prevent the reader from ever experiencing the original innocently again. His External Retcon of Beowulf pulls a similar trick. The Problem of Susan riffs off of Susan's exile from Narnia: her embrace of adolescence means that, retroactively, she experienced the original adventure as a Darker and Edgier pagan allegory.
  • Commedia dell'Arte: Especially in Mr. Punch and "Harlequin Valentine".
  • Contemptible Cover: Ghastly Beyond Belief certainly has a lurid cover. However, the book was something of an Affectionate Parody, so this may be what the authors were hoping for.
  • Continuity Porn: He can reach Don Rosa levels of this, especially when he's writing for DC. The Books of Magic ties together almost every magic-based character in the DCU circa 1991note , with the last Book even cameoing sci-fi characters like Tommy Tomorrow, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and The Flash villain Abra Kadabra.
  • Creator Thumbprint: His novel protagonists follow a specific pattern: young-ish males who are pretty much completely unfamiliar with the fantasy realm in which they find themselves, who survive and triumph by a combination of luck, compassion, and a lot of help from a more knowledgeable, often female character.
  • Dark Fic:
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: It's entirely possible for main characters to meet with a Humanoid Abomination and have a perfectly pleasant time, not even realizing exactly what they were dealing with.
  • The Everyman: The hero of his works is often this. Notably, the Anti Anti Christ in Good Omens winds up being described as "human incarnate" rather than "demon incarnate" as expected.
  • Eye Scream: A recurrent theme.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Several of his stories and novels play with fairy tales and tropes and fracture them to pieces. "Snow, Glass, Apples" is a dark take on Snow White in which Snow White is a vampire. Meanwhile "The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds" mashes up several nursery rhymes into a Private Eye Monologue as Hardboiled Detective Jack Horner tries to solve the murder of Humpty Dumpty. "The Sleeper and the Spindle" features Queen Snow White investigating the familiar curse of Sleeping Beauty, only to discover that the old woman looking after the girl was the princess, who was cursed to stay awake, and the evil sorceress was the one asleep, restoring her youth and power.
  • Future Self Reveal: In the short story "Other People", the demon in Hell who tortures and interrogates the damned protagonist turns out to be the man himself, mutilated beyond recognition. Whether or not that means an eventual release for him is left ambiguous.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Used in the novels Stardust and Anansi Boys, the Sandman story arcs Season of Mists and Brief Lives. even the occasional Tweet.
  • Light Is Not Good: Several works have villainous angels, and other similar subverted tropes.
  • Old Shame: Invoked in promotions for the Humble Bundle, a collection of rare stories and books rereleased to raise funds for charity. These include his infamous debut book — a biography of Duran Duran — and a short story, “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle", which Gaiman claims "is so bad I've never let it be reprinted. Not even to give young writers hope that if I was that awful once, there is hope for all of them."
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad:
    • Somehow, he manages to deconstruct the idea itself. In a blog post, he proposed replacing the term "Politically Correct"note  with the phrase "Treating Other People With Respect", to highlight the implications of rubbishing someone else's feelings.
    • At the same time, he's firmly against Moral Guardians trying to forbid content on the basis of obscenity, as discussed here
  • Reference Overdosed: For more information click here.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: His work usually differentiates about where it lands closer to. However, there are elements of both in all his stories.
  • Surreal Horror: This can't be stressed enough. The guy made buttons scary, for crying out loud. And, that's among the least of the screwy, nightmare, weirdly juxtapositioned tomfoolery he pulls on you. It's almost a relief when you get to see it upfront and in-your-face in such places as Delirium's realm, rather than sneaking up to randomly grab you from "normal" environments... like say, in Neverwhere. Or American Gods. Or anything else.