Thursday, November 29, 2007

Visiting Neil: An Epilogue, Of Sorts

* An oversight in my previous post (see link, below): It was Special Collections librarian Meredith Gillies who led Neil Gaiman, Hank Wagner, Jack Zipes, Casey Hoekstra and I into the subterranean vaults of the University of Minnesota Children's Literature Research Collection. As promised, upon my return home I rushed a care package off to Meredith of my own work, and I hope in time to find a way to tap the collection there for my own research project on early children's literature on dinosaurs and prehistoric life. Mayhaps a reason to revisit the Midwest, when the time is right? I've many cool old samples of that genre in my collection (some of which I've already shipped off to the Bissette Special Collection at Henderson State University's HUIE Library), going back to the late 19th Century, but Meredith's tour and the mind-blowing scope of their special collection was a mouth-watering overture to arriving at a more definitive grasp of the roots of the prehistoric genre. Wish me luck!

  • In Part III of my posts on my visit to Neil Gaiman's, I mentioned Neil's signing session after his reading: "After the long line has been moved once to another room and each person (including a lanky pair of identical twin brothers) given time for signatures..."

  • Well, what d'ya know, an email arrived the next day from one of the brothers, Nick Folkman: "I just wanted to say that I read your blog today and was delightfully surprised to see you mention my brother and I (we were the lanky pair of identical twins at the Fantasy Matters conference). Had we known that you were there as well we would've attempted to say hello and try to pick your brain about comics. Anyways, I just wanted to say hello and good luck on the Gaiman biography!"

    Thanks for writing, Nick, and a care package of comics (identical batch, signed to you and your brother) is already on its way to you; enjoy.

    * To clarify: it's not a biography we're working on, it's a 'companion' -- an unauthorized overview and analysis of Neil's body of work to date, as complete as we can make it. Neil granted time for an exclusive interview, and when he's had time has answered some of our email questions, but this isn't a book Neil cares to have in existence, really -- to his mind, he's not done enough. Again, I'm a late-comer tagalong on this venture, happy to be working on it, invited in during the eleventh hour to help with this and that; it's Chris Golden's and Hank Wagner's book, I've done only a fraction of the work involved as and when asked, and Hank has been hammering Chris and I with completed chapters this week. We're in the home stretch, so I won't be blogging much this weekend due to workload on the project.

    As of this week, I'm trying to excavate my set of Miracleman comics for that writeup this weekend, and have one more polish of The Wolves in the Walls to tackle before I fire the final draft of that chapter off to Chris and Hank. Again, wish me -- and us -- luck... I think the book is turning out pretty well.

    * Last night, one of my CCS students asked me a question about Alan Moore, then flinched and covered their mouth and said, "Oh, God, sorry -- !" I laughed and answered their question, brushing off the unnecessary apology. Funny, though, that someone I've never discussed any of this with had that immediate a reaction, suddenly aware this might still be a sore point. Funny, too, I'd thought of it yesterday AM myself, for reasons noted below.

    One of the first things Neil said to me almost immediately upon Hank's and my arrival to Neil's home two weekends ago was, "I just thought you should know I saw Alan the other day, and he seems very happy..." Alan and Melinda (Gebbie) were of course married earlier this year, and Neil was there, too; I posted links and congrats here when that popped up on Neil's blog.

    Neil's immediate comment was completely appropriate, and it's nice to know Neil knew it to be. Neil is my only remaining 'lifeline' from the often intense ten-year friendship I enjoyed with Alan (Rick Veitch and I just don't talk about it any more, and haven't for a couple of years). It was a kindness indeed for Neil to share his news with me. I've made my peace long ago with Alan's exile of yours truly, but all this came to mind yesterday morning as I listened to one of my current favorite tunes on Mirror Mirror, the gift CD Lorraine Garland sent me home with from the visit to Neil's home. The following lyrics resonate in the context of all this:

    "Every cold mile between us is painful,
    All of the words we could never unsay in full,
    Moments are magical, pain universal,
    Frozen like ice and it's just too damn personal..."


    - "Personal Thing," lyrics by Neil Gaiman, music by Neil Gaiman and Graham K. Smith, from Lorraine a' Malena's CD Mirror Mirror
  • (Again, the link...)

  • That's how it felt for a few years, but no more: the song, heard in the context of musing over lost friendships, captures the initial grief and melancholy that followed, but it's past history. It's no longer personal, when so many people know about it; and it's nice to know, per Neil's kind words, that Alan's doing well these days. What's done is done; life goes on. Thanks for the kindness, Neil, via the comments, via the song.

    * One more followup to Neilland for this AM: I mentioned the backdrop of gunshots and deer hunters in the Midwest during our visit. Deer hunting season is closed here in VT now, but the aftermath lingers! But -- Goona Goona? No dice!
  • Marek Bennett asked if this (click link) counts as goona-goona --
  • -- sorry, Marek, that's not exotica, a necessary component for goona-goona. It's just New England nature at work. I've stumbled on far worse in the woods in northern and southern VT -- but those are tales for another day...

    Have a thumpin' Thursday --

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    6 Comments:

    Blogger Mark Martin said...

    What does "unauthorized" mean? Not the dictionary definition, you know what I mean...

    11/29/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    It means Neil's not approving the project, though he's being quite cooperative in every possible way short of authorizing it. The nicest imaginable 'unauthorized' stamp-of-disapproval one could wish for. But, like, still, it's not authorized.

    11/29/2007  
    Blogger Marek Bennett said...

    S --

    EXOTICISM, eh? Okay, we can do that. Next time I'll dress the dog up in a little grass skirt and one of those coconut bras... then we'll see some gory GOONA-GOONA!

    -- M

    11/29/2007  
    Blogger Mark Martin said...

    Seems silly. He's cooperating, but not approving? Does that mean "I'll talk to you but I don't have time to go over the results before it's printed"? Or "I don't want to do this, but oh, okay"? Or is it a legal technicality connected to some insanely convoluted contractual mumbo jumbo?

    Sorry. I'm intrigued by this weird detail. This whole scene, the Neil Celebrity Machine, all of it is kinda surreal. The "unauthorized" fact at this point - goona goona!

    HEY! Do you want this LOGGER video back? Am I holding that for you, or are you done with it?

    11/30/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    Mark, I've emailed you directly.

    Marek, the grass skirt would help immeasurably, as would fake tusks on the deer carcass, and a Killer Shrew outfit on the dog. Make Mine Mondo!

    11/30/2007  
    Anonymous Meredith said...

    Imagine my surprise when I arrived back from lunch yesterday afternoon, and discovered I had a package actually addressed to me! This is actually quite a rarity, since most of the packages I work with come addressed to the curator.

    That said, I would like to thank you for your gift! You should be getting a formal letter of thanks in the mail, and now I have an excuse to go downstairs and play with the comics collection! Isn't that how everyone wants to spend their Friday afternoon?

    I hope you get the chance to visit the collection again sometime. After all, there are still plenty of spaces unexplored!

    11/30/2007  

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