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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."
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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.

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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 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.

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His works include:

    open/close all folders 
    Comic Books 

    Novels 

    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)

    Films 

    Live Action TV 
    Other 
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Old Shame: Several, all from the very beginning of his career. His first published work - a biography of Duran Duran - was so awful that when it came up during an auction at a Sandman convention, he tried to fork off auctioneer duties on Charles Vess (needless to say Hilarity Ensued). Then there's his first published bit of fiction... Eventually, he gathered all these into a Humble Bundle for fans to enjoy and/or laugh at, with proceeds going to charity.
  • 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.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He really likes sushi, as shown by "About the Author" blurbs. It also shows up in the short story "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch", where (in-story) Jonathan Ross persuades Neil to help with entertaining an unwelcome associate in return for excellent sushi.

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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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