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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 known for his recurring work in the Urban Fantasy genre and extensive use of mythological references and symbolism, often times in "modern" settings. Stephen King thinks he may well be the greatest storyteller alive today.

Some of Gaiman's most famous works include the renowned The Sandman (1989) 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.note  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.

Gaiman married Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls in 2011; they have one son together. The couple announced their divorce in November 2022. He has three grown kids from an earlier marriage who, he says, were the inspiration for works like Coraline and his picture books.

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 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).
  • 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.
    • Small references in The Case in the Departure of Miss Finch show you that the protagonist of the story is Gaiman himself. Notably, because it's the sort of story he writes for a living, they cannot tell what happened to the police or the press.
    • 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.
    • Gaiman also made a guest appearance as himself in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Comet Polarization".
    • Gaiman appears as himself in one episode of the comedy series Staged, which stars his Good Omens (2019) leads David Tennant and Michael Sheen as fictionalised versions of themselves.
  • 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. Odd and the Frost Giants is based on Norse myths and he even wrote an entire novel acting as a retelling, aptly named Norse Mythology.
    • Tied with the above, Genius Loci and Eldritch Abominations, particularly of the humanoid kind also frequently pop on his works.
  • Bantering Baddie Buddies: 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.
  • 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.
  • Commedia dell'Arte: Especially in Mr. Punch and "Harlequin Valentine".
  • 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.
  • High-Class Cannibal: In his short story "Sunbird", when Crusty reveals that a past incarnation of the Epicurean Club had tried human flesh, which was apparently legal at the time it had happened, provided it came from someone sentenced to death in the electric chair, and that it was nothing special and prompted no one to pursue cannibalism regularly, save for one member who was already prone that way.
  • Humongous-Headed Hammer: Norse Mythology 2017 is a retelling of classic Norse myth in contemporary language. Thor's hammer, depicted on the cover, is an iron brick with intricate gold inlay, and Thor uses it to do many a One-Hit Kill, particularly on Frost Giants, aka Jotun, and on one occasion an entire wedding party of ogres.
  • 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.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: The reason for his first published book: a biography of Duran Duran. Worse yet, the publisher folded and he didn't even get the money. He says the experience taught him that selling out isn't worth it.
  • Jokers Love Junk Food: His retelling of Norse Mythology paints Thor as a lover of junk in "Freya's Strange Wedding", as Thor, disguised as Freya, eats an entire tray of pastries and "fancies" at a wedding party, to the consternation of the other women there. Loki, by comparison, takes a dainty bite of a single offering. In Gaiman's retelling, Thor is characterized as Dumb Muscle, though no less strong or dangerous for that.
  • 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 Overcorrectness:
    • 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.
  • Shared Fate Ultimatum: the short story "The Monarch of the Glen". After Shadow helps save her son, Grendel's mother tells Smith and Mr. Alice that if anything happens to Shadow and she suspects their hand in it, they will meet with quick deaths themselves.
  • 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.


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Neil Gaiman

None of the guys recognize Neil Gaiman when he talks to them, dismissing him as some random guy.

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