Who Is Neil Gaiman, The Fantasy Author And Father Of The Sandman
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman was born on November 10, 1960, specifically in Portchester (England), in the bosom of a Polish Jewish family. He is a British author of science fiction in graphic novels, novels, comics, sound theater and screenwriter.
He began his career in the 80s after leaving school and working as a journalist. Gaiman has several successful works, including the novels Stardust, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Coraline and The Graveyard Book, and the comic book series The Sandman.
Neil Gaiman Early Years and Education
Neil Gaiman is an author loved by fantasy genre fans. Born in Portchester, he spent his early years in Sussex, England. Since childhood, he has been inclined towards reading novels and comics. His favorite authors were C. S. Lewis, G. K- Chesterton, and J. R. R. R. Tolkien.
Since childhood, Gaiman dreamed of being a writer; he has been passionate about reading since he was four years old, according to his own statements. He learned to read and became a real bookworm. Perhaps that is why he did not finish his studies and began to work as a collaborator in various publications as a critic, interviewer or columnist.
There was one interview that really marked him, one with the notorious author Alan Moore; it literally changed his life. From this moment on, Gaiman developed a strong love for comics. Later in his career, it would be Alan Moore himself who would help the author to make a living in this medium.
In the 80s, he met Dave McKean, a young man dedicated to drawing with a peculiar style and personality. Together they managed to create Violent Cases, his first graphic novel. It was a biography of that rock band.
At the same time, with Alan Moore’s success with his famous comic The Swamp Thing, DC Comics started looking for new talents. This time, the editors focused on the British Isles.
Thus, Karen Berger, who served as DC’s editor, brought a generation of writers to the United States. With them, a milestone was set in the American comic book industry, including Gaiman.
Neil Gaiman Professional Career
Image: Jutta Flickr
Neil Gaiman’s professional career is quite broad and rich, which we tell you in this section.
Journalism, Early Writings And Literary Influences
Gaiman’s childhood was from an early age marked by the love of books. From that age, he met many writers who would later influence the writer he is today.
One of them was G. K. Chesterton, taking from this his style, marking an essential point in his life—likewise, J. R. R. Tolkien with his Lord of the Rings books.
Later, the young man was fascinated by C.S. Lewis with the Chronicles of Narnia. Also, as we said before, Alan Moore influenced and inspired him with his different comics, from Batman to Swamp Thing.
By 1988, Gaiman began his journey through the American market. He began with Black Orchid, and Karen Berger, the editor of DC Comics, encouraged him to bring out a monthly series.
Thus, the author created a new character based on The Sandman. In this case, the character would develop in a supernatural and dreamlike environment. This concept, at the time, was far from the typical superhero comics that predominated in the market.
In, The Sandman story, Gaiman recreated the departure of Morpheus and his brothers, the so-called Eternals. And so he blurs their loves, characters, and dramatic figures. This work granted him a well-deserved recognition by the public inclined to this type of reading.
Neil Gaiman Novels
Image: DC Comics
Neil Gaiman wrote his first graphic novel in the 80s. Together with Dave McKean as a cartoonist, they created The Cold Case. Based on and recreating a biography of that rock band.
From there followed other successes, such as:
- The Sandman.
- Tharg’s Future Shocks.
- Neil Gaiman: Midnight Days.
- Murder Mysteries.
Films and Screenwriting
Neil Gaiman has worked on several films, such as:
- 1994, Death Talks bout Life.
- 2005, Mirrormask.
- 2007, The Big Book Of Who Killed Amanda Palmer.
- 2009, Coraline.
In television, he worked as a screenwriter, collaborating in:
- Day of the Dead, belonging to the 5th season of the series Babylon.
- Doctor Who, writing two episodes of this British science fiction series.
- The Doctor’s Wife won the Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation for this short format in 2012.
- Nightmare in Silver, in 2013, in the 7th season.
- The Simpsons, season 23, episode 6, in 2011.
- He was confirmed to write some episodes of “American Gods” on Starz channel.
His famous character, The Sandman, has a Netflix series. With a first season, Sandman has been a total success. So, the streaming platform confirmed a second season, which all fans of this genre are eager to see again.
By 2013, Dirk Maggs adapted six parts of the novel Neverwhere for BBC Radio 4. Notable actors among the characters are James McAvoy as Richard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Natalie Dormer, Bernard Cribben, Christopher Lee, and Johnny Vegas.
For 2014, Good Omens goes on air. Gaiman joins forces with Terry Pratchett, and alongside BBC Radio 4, they make their first dramatization. It consisted of five half-hour episodes, ending with a one-hour apocalyptic showdown.
In 2021, Gaiman played Duke Aubrey. He appears in an adaptation of Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist. It was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and was a great success.
Neil Gaiman is a public figure who frequently gives public readings of his short stories and poetry. While married to singer Amanda Palmer, he toured with her, who offered songs to the public.
In 2015 he gave a 100-minute lecture entitled “How Stories Last about the nature of storytelling and how stories persist in human culture.” Long Now Foundation sponsored this. In 2018, Gaiman appeared in “The Big Bang Theory”.
Blog and Twitter
Neil Gaiman has his own official website where he sponsors all his works. He usually posts his daily process of writing, publishing, reviewing or promoting any project on the blog.
He has proven to have quite a lot of interaction with his readers, publishing some of the submitted webmails. Likewise, the writer is very active on the social network Twitter. His official account is @neilhimself, with more than 2.7 million followers. In 2013, he was named by IGN as one of the “Best Comic Book Tweeters”.
Neil Gaiman Filmography
This author has several movies such as:
- 2010, Arthur.
- 2011, The Guild.
- 2011, The Simpsons.
- 2013, Groovy Cartoon Movie.
- 2015, The Making of a Superhero Musical.
- 2016, Neil Gaiman Dream Dangerously.
- 2017, The Simpsons.
- 2018, The Big Bang Theory.
Neil Gaiman’s Personal Life
Like most excellent authors, Neil Gaiman’s personal life has been controversial. He was married to Mary T. McGrath, from whom three children were born, Michael, Holly and Madeleine. By 2001 he was living in an Addams Family-style house in Minneapolis, United States.
In 2010 he announced his engagement to Amanda Palmer, an American singer. From that relationship, he had a son, Anthony Gaiman, born on September 16, 2015. By May 3, 2020, the singer announced in a publication that her relationship with the writer was over.
Neil Gaiman Disputes with Todd McFarlane
(Image: Gage Skidmore)
Like some writers, Neil Gaiman has also been involved in controversial litigation with Todd McFarlane. This conflict is due to the character Miracleman, who was born in 1953 at the hand of Fawcett Publications.
This publisher is the one who sponsors Captain Marvel, later known as Shazam. This character caused controversy with DC Comics, where they ended up selling the rights to this character.
Since they could no longer publish the character, they sought a substitute. Thus, in 1954, Miracleman was created by Mick Anglo. Later, Anglo, with the company L. Miller & Son, Ltd., began publishing the character’s material for over 60 years.
When the company went bankrupt in the 80s, the British magazine Warrior decided to recover the character. Thus, there were renditions of the classic material, which Alan Moore himself led.
Around the same time, the first big problem with this character appeared right in the middle of reeditions. When Marvel Comics entered the scene, it was not a lawsuit but an agreement where the publisher changed the character’s name from Marvelman to Miracleman. In the late ’80s, Neil Gaiman continued Alan Moore’s story, developing his own Miracleman series.
Image Comics Entering the Scene
At this point, Image Comics, a publishing house founded by several authors in protest against Marvel and DC, entered the scene. Todd McFarlane was one of these authors who released several stories that took a stand alongside Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and others.
Todd McFarlane licensed several figures, whereas authors like Neil Gaiman did not see a penny. At that time, the authors did not enter into any litigation but entered into an oral agreement.
The agreement consisted of Todd keeping all the rights to the characters created by Gaiman, where he was not to pay him the royalties he owed him. In exchange, Gaiman kept the rights to Miracleman to conclude his story.
Todd fulfilled only half of the agreement; he did not pay the royalties. And after the announcement that Miracleman would be in a Spawn series, Gaiman proceeded with litigation, culminating in Gaiman winning the lawsuit but not Miracleman.
To sum it up, Todd did not own the rights to the Miracleman character. The intellectual property belonged to Mick Anglo, who sold the rights to Marvel Comics. It would be no surprise if Gaiman collaborates with Marvel to culminate the Miracleman story.
Neil Gaiman has several audiobooks, including:
- The Sandman.
- Norse Mythology.
Neil Gaiman Awards and Recognitions
Image: Author nrkbeta
The writer Neil Gaiman has had several awards and recognitions, including:
- 1993, Best Writer, won the Austrian Prix Vienne.
- The Horror Writers’ Association awarded him the Bram Stoker Award for:
- 2001, Best Novel: American Gods.
- 2003, Best Work for Young Readers: Coraline.
- 2002, nominated for American Gods, winning the BSFA award.
- The Eagle Awards were given to the writer.
- 1988, as Best Graphic Novel for Violent Cases.
- 1990, Best American Comic Book Writer.
- 1996, the GLAAD Awards for Best Comic Book.
- 1990 to 1992, Harvey Awards for Best Writer and Best Continuing Series.
- In Spain, the Haxtur Awards granted him:
- 1994, Best Screenplay for El alto coste de la vida.
- 1995, Best Screenplay for La Cruzada de los Niños.
- 1995, Finalist for Most Voted by the Audience for The Children’s Crusade.
- 1990, Nominated for Best Long Story for La Orquídea Negra.
- 1992, Nominated for Best Screenplay for Collectors.
- 1994, Nominated for Best Long Story for The High Cost of Living.
- 1997, Nominated for Best Screenplay for The Dreaming: The Goldie Factor.
- From 1998 to 2001, he was recognized by the Brazilian HQ Awards as Best Foreign Writer and Best Comic Book.
Neil Gaiman Literary Allusions
Among the literary allusions, Neil Gaiman is one of the most prominent. Several writers highlight the allusions made by the author to fairy tales and Victorian culture.
Highlighting in some of his works patterns and allusions to the gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, using very gothic characters and settings. For the novel Coraline, it is indicated the work has some notion of Sigmund Freud.
These allusions, although they have brought good comments, have scorned, on some occasions, his works for omitting his collaborators. However, what cannot be denied is the influence that his literary works continue to generate.
The Fantasy Author And Father Of The Sandman
Neil Gaiman is one of the writers characterized by being renovators of the fantasy genre in contemporary literature. He is endowed with a great imaginative vein and erudition, which has manifested since childhood.
From the first moment, he stood out in the comics field. He has been equally successful in his essays, short stories, novels, and scripts for television and cinema. He has been awarded countless prizes for his outstanding career.
Now, Gaiman is getting wide notoriety thanks to the Netflix series Sandman. The streaming platform just confirmed a second installment of this series. So Gaiman’s characters will continue to penetrate into the mainstream.
Featured Image Via DC Comics
I am a circus aerialist influenced by Dick Grayson and Spider-Man. Fortunate to write about the characters that inspired me. I also have a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's degree in International Trade.