Read An Excerpt From Our Neil Gaiman Feature In Tripwire Spring Special 2020

Read An Excerpt From Our Neil Gaiman Feature In Tripwire Spring Special 2020

A Dream Career

Olly Macnamee has taken a look at the career of writer Neil Gaiman for our Print Spring Special and here’s a taste of what people can expect from it…

JRR Tolkien, C S Lewis, J K Rowling and Neil Gaiman. All authors who have left their indelible mark on the wonderful, British infused worlds of the fantasy, myth and legend and in doing so created many, many magical worlds in their wake. Worlds that have given countless readers so much escapist pleasure over the years. And, in the case of both Rowling and Gaiman, continue to do so. 

Gaiman at Forbidden Planet in London in 1998. Photo©Forbidden Planet.

To me, Neil Gaiman is a modern master storyteller who has spent a career – thus far – working his magic within the genre of fantasy primarily, but with dalliances within the world of capes and cowls and other genres too. He’’’s even got to write an episode of Doctor Who! Unlike Tolkien, his is a contemporary fantasy setting, albeit well informed by the myths and archetypes of the ancient world. And, like Tolkien, Gaiman has created a shared universe his work on The Sandman for Vertigo, that will last long after he is gone. It’s clear from DC Comics’ launch of a Sandman Universe line the other year that his legacy is endearing and enduring. His interests in folklore, stories of yesteryear and all things Joseph Campbell shine through as he weaves his longstanding themes on the real and the imagined into his work. What we perceive as reality and what could be lurking behind the next corner, over the wall, or just out of sight offers a sense of wonder as much as it offers supernatural threats. 

It’s this title – The Sandman – that Gaiman, arguably, is still best known for amongst us comic book aficionados, and it’s the book that shot him into an orbit he has ever since inhabited. It was a book like no other that DC Comics where publishing at the time, and a great way to launch a new more mature imprint at a time when DC Comics were getting a bit shaky and worried about some of the content writers like Alan Moore were including in books such as his own The Saga of the Swamp Thing. But, for a young and hungry writer, it was an opportunity too good to pass up, when offered it by Karen Berger, who had read his work with Dave McKean on the prestige-format mini-series Black Orchid; another hokey character Gaiman gave life to in his interpretation of here as something of an environmental hero that many Extinction Rebels would more than be able to relate to, some 30 plus years later. Lest we forget, at this time there hadn’t been that many radical rethinking of characters, as there is today, and for my money his take on Black Orchid was inspirational at the time. McKean’s artwork cemented this as a title not to ignore. 

Berger initially wanted him to re-imagine a Sandman based on a flimsy character created by Jack Kirby in his short time at DC Comics back in the early 70s, something like he had just done with Black Orchid. His decision to create an all-new character was a career-defining moment, supported by Berger. The rest, as they say, is history, and the birth of one of comics most successful franchises coming out of comics in the late 20th century. 

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