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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, 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.) Two of his novels, Stardust and Coraline, have been made into movies. 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's married to Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls. 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:

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    Comic Books 
  • Black Orchid: His premiere work for DC Comics, with art by Dave McKean. Legend has it that when Gaiman floated the idea, he had to explain to DC's representatives who the character was.
  • The Sandman: His Breakthrough Hit, and arguably the reason DC was able to launch its Vertigo wing at all. Featured - by design - an ever-rotating cast of interior artists, but almost always with covers by Dave McKean. Spin-offs were innumerable, but the ones Gaiman directly wrote include:
    • Death: The High Cost of Living
    • Death: The Time of Your Life
    • Sandman: the Dream Hunters (a prose novella illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano)
    • The Sandman: Endless Nights
    • The Sandman: Overture.
  • The Books of Magic: The original four-issue volume only. Basically an encyclopedia of all of DC's magic-based characters, with gorgeous painted art by by John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson.
  • A handful of Swamp Thing stories (the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing being a premier influence on his love of comics) and one issue of Hellblazer. All collected in the volume Midnight Days.
  • A handful of Batman stories - most famously the Mind Screw Riddler origin "When Is A Door" and Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? - which can all be found in just about any collection of the latter.
  • Miracleman: Picked up right where Alan Moore left off... and promptly dropped off after eight issues on account of Eclipse going bankrupt. After many thrilling legal adventures, the rights are now with Marvel Comics, who have repeatedly promised it'll be finished any day now.
  • A handful of Spawn stories, as a show of creator's-rights solidarity with Todd McFarlane and Image Comics. Ironically produced the first big legal kerfuffle of his career, as he and McFarlane constantly butted heads over who had the rights to Breakout Character Angela.
  • Violent Cases.
  • Mr. Punch: The Tragical Comedy or the Comical Tragedy.
  • The Last Temptation: A collaboration with Alice Cooper. Initially published through Marvel Comics' short-lived Marvel Music imprint, but not considered a Marvel comic per se.
  • Marvel 1602: For all intents and purposes, his Marvel Comics premiere - a Marvel Universe Elseworld, transposing many familiar characters to the year 1602.
  • The Eternals: Specifically, the 2006 Retool.
  • Creatures of the Night.
  • Harlequin Valentine: Began as a short story.
  • "Murder Mysteries": Began as a short story.
  • Signal to Noise.
  • The Case in the Departure of Miss Finch: Began as a short story.
  • Metamorpho The Element Man in Wednesday Comics.
  • Gaiman also came up with the concept that Tekno Comix eventually turned into a small line of inter-linked titles. The original pitch differed from the end result in a number of respects, to Gaiman's displeasure.
  • Wrote the story "Wordsworth" for the Clive Barker's Hellraiser comic series; it was republished in the short stories collection Hellbound Hearts.
  • Goliath, a Matrix comic.


    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 
  • Wrote the Doctor Who episodes "The Doctor's Wife" and "Nightmare In Silver". He’s disowned the final version of the latter, which went through Executive Meddling that left some plot holes and left him feeling the soul of what he wrote was gone. In 2020, he wrote a Doctor Who minisode featuring Rory Williams, with Arthur Darville reprising his role.
  • Wrote an episode for Babylon 5: "Day of the Dead". Especially notable as the only episode of the show not written by J. Michael Straczynski after season two. The Gaim, one of the alien races in Babylon 5, is named for him. And just to hammer the homage further, they all strongly resemble Dream Of The Endless.
  • Neverwhere.
  • American Gods. Airing in 2016 on Starz and created by Bryan Fuller.
  • Good Omens. Full-on showrunner and appointed guardian of Terry Pratchett's legacy, a role which swallowed up most of his time (and stamina) from 2017 to early 2019.
  • Had a brief Creator Cameo as the voice of God in the last episode of Season 3 of Lucifer, a loose adaptation of Lucifer Morningstar, which he co-created along with Mike Carey.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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