Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Upgrade or Downgrade? Black Orchid Deluxe hardcover

4 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Black Orchid Deluxe HCI hadn’t intended to do another Up-or-Down so soon, but I’ve gotten several requests for more, and since they’re easier to do as I’m organizing my comics and cleaning up my place, why not?

As I’ve mentioned, in the late 1980s-early 1990s DC Comics was on to something truly special. Few publishers at the time were turning out classic after classic (Dark Horse is the only one that comes to mind) and, though I was too young to appreciate it at the time, DC proved beyond a doubt that comics post-Watchmen/Maus/Dark Knight Returns were validated as true literature.

One of DC’s earliest projects to demonstrate this was 1988’s Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, one of their first U.S.-published comics works (along with The Sandman). A strange, short tale about unintended consequences and beauty in a violent world, Black Orchid was the first story to reveal the sophistication of Gaiman’s later self-contained works (his early Sandman stories were strange, cliffhanger- and superhero-populated affairs) and McKean’s sense of story-as-design he later applied to Arkham Asylum and Cages.

Black Orchid TPB 1st printing

The 1993 trade paperback (1st printing). Note the DC logo blotching an otherwise beautiful cover.

THE GOOD: The 2012 oversized Deluxe hardcover edition of Black Orchid is Continue reading

Start the year with a great read

1 Jan

by Mike Hansen

It’s not comics, but it applies to comics as much as text books: Here’s a fantastic, award-winning essay on copyright and piracy, and how modern technology will make books as easy to copy and share as music and movies. (Don’t fear the length: it’s a smooth, fast read.)

Here’s a taste:

Neil Gaiman thinks that releasing a free digital copy of American Gods (2001) increased sales by three hundred per cent, and he no longer fears piracy. ‘It’s people lending books. And you can’t look at that as a lost sale,’ he says. ‘What you’re actually doing is advertising. You’re reaching more people. You’re raising awareness … And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.’ But he doesn’t know. Cory Doctorow says half a million free downloads of his Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003) helped the book through five physical print runs. ‘Giving away books costs me nothing, and actually makes me money,’ he says. Maybe he knows. There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence. But nobody really knows whether that kind of strategy will work for all books and all authors, or whether it will work for long.

Most comics get scanned and uploaded to the internet as soon as they’re released, but a digital screen (even a tablet) is still not preferable in most cases. Comixology and other services have developed some workarounds for the unusual size and shape of comics pages and panels, but few comics are optimized for digital viewing – at least, for now. The future’s going to be very interesting indeed…

Neil Gaiman’s first interview?

26 Jul

by Mike Hansen

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 ...

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Village Voice found a 1968 BBC interview with 7-year-old Neil Gaiman about Scientology. Thought this was interesting enough to share.

They do point out that

Gaiman these days prefers not to talk about his Scientology past. His father, David, died in 2009. In 2010 Neil told the New Yorker that he’s no longer a church member.

So just think of this as a tiny glimpse of a moment from a very talented author’s childhood. Like this interview with 5-year-old Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day…

(thanks to Orion for the heads-up!)

Free rare Neil Gaiman comic available from Steve Bissette (offer ends TONIGHT)

9 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Sweeney Todd TABOO PD cvrI’ve ordered mine. If you want it, you should order right now

Comics legend Steve Bissette (of Tyrant, Taboo, and Swamp Thing fame) has a special offer at his online store: with every purchase (no matter how small!), he will include a free copy of the 1992 Sweeney Todd Penny Dreadful, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Michael Zulli, originally included in the now-very rare Taboo #6. I’ve never seen a copy of this myself, though I’ve searched for it for 20 years – so there’s no way I was going to pass this up.

Mr. Bissette asked me to spread the word about this offer, which I’m happy to do! As he posted yesterday, this offer is in its final hours – at midnight TONIGHT, unless he runs out of copies before then – so if you want a really cool and rare piece of ’90s comics history, go place an order now! There’s a lot of great stuff available, from Tyrant (one of the most acclaimed self-published series of the ’90s) to Taboo (one of the greatest horror comics series ever, containing the first chapters of From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell) to many other terrific books.

From his announcement (sample page in the link):

This genuinely rare Gaiman & Zulli gem was originally offered in 1992 as a pre-order special with all pre-ordered copies of Taboo 6. It was available only through Direct Market distributor pre-orders of that Taboo volume, shrinkwrapped with Taboo 6 all initial shipments to retailers. That was the one and only time the Penny Dreadful was made available to the market.

Since only a few thousand copies of Taboo 6 were preordered, this exclusive Penny Dreadful is among the rarest of all Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli‘s 1990s comics/graphic novel creations. Continue reading

Quote of the Day: Amanda Palmer

25 May

by Mike Hansen

English: Amanda Palmer Live 2008

Amanda Palmer Live 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The brilliant and talented Amanda Palmer (also known in comics circles as “Neil Gaiman’s wife”) posted an awesome Q&A about her latest Kickstarter venture.

 i think music should be shared. all the time. by everybody. i think it’s pure insanity to make music filesharing illegal.
and with that said, i have, for years, encouraged my fans to burn, download and share all of my music with each other and with strangers.
and i will never stop doing that. all that sharing eventually comes back to me in all forms of income and goodwill.

I think this applies not just to music, but all forms of “commercial art” (comics, books, movies, etc.). Even though companies generally look the other way now when their fans use their work in a non-commercial way (since angering one’s own customer base is stupid, if not suicidal), Continue reading

Dear Marvel: You’re Welcome

7 Feb

by Mike Hansen

“Marvel is the only publisher that mandates a recap page go at the beginning of every comic to catch the reader up on what’s happening if they’ve happened to miss an issue.” – Marvel Senior Vice President-Sales David Gabriel (from his ICV2 interview)

Well, except Red Skull: Incarnate. That miniseries didn’t have a recap page in any of its five issues. Marvel’s pretty good about including them most of the time, though.

When I was editor on Dark Horse’s monthly manga titles, they always had a recap page:

Oh My Goddess! Part X #2 IFC

from Oh My Goddess! Part X #2 (published by Dark Horse Comics, March 2001)

Here’s a recent Marvel one:

Mystery Men (Marvel) #5 page 1

from Mystery Men #5 (published by Marvel, November 2011)

Now, I wasn’t the first editor at Dark Horse to use recap pages, but I did make them 100% new-reader-friendly in 1999-2001.

Marvel started doing recap pages around mid-2002.

I applaud Marvel for Continue reading

Neil Gaiman and Peter David on SOPA/PIPA

18 Jan

by Mike Hansen

SOPA Resistance Day!

Image by ~C4Chaos via Flickr

Two of my favorite comics writers have been talking about SOPA/PIPA online.

Neil Gaiman posted an open letter to Washington, signed by quite an array of creators, including some of my favorites:

We are deeply concerned that PIPA and SOPA’s impact on piracy will be negligible compared to the potential damage that would be caused to legitimate Internet services. Online piracy is harmful and it needs to be addressed, but not at the expense of censoring creativity, stifling innovation or preventing the creation of new, lawful digital distribution methods.

(much more in link)

On his own site, Peter David blames illegal downloaders for the bills’ existence:

All people had to do in order to prevent anything like SOPA from ever coming into existence was respect copyright laws. You don’t bitch that copyright law is outdated. You don’t declare that the rise of the Internet means that everyone, everywhere should have free access to everything. If you felt that strongly that copyright law should be changed, then you do what you’re supposed to do: you go to your elected officials and seek redress of grievances. You don’t just sit on your ass in front of your computer screen, announce that you can do whatever you want, and declare that anyone who disagrees with you is clueless and should just piss off. Because you know what? Maybe they are clueless. But they’ve also got high-powered lawyers who are going to seek redress of grievances, and suddenly you’re staring down the double cannon of SOPA and PIPA and wondering how it all went wrong.

(much, MUCH more in link)

For added fun, read the comments, in which Mr. David and I misunderstand one another, make blanket assumptions about each other, and disregard each other’s points! (I’m being nice: it is his site, after all).

Any thoughts, readers?

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