Checkout what Gaiman says about himself! [Source: Twitter]
For all comic buffs, Neil Gaiman is the man who needs no special introduction.
The acclaimed author is known as the creator of one of the most influential comic books of the modern era — The Sandman. The comic was recently adapted into a series which will premier in August on Netflix.
Besides his contribution to the world of comic books, Gaiman works in many artistic domains ranging from graphic novels to screenwriting and even voice acting.
Let’s introduce you to Neil Gaiman and his celebrated comic books, novels and other notable work.
Who Is Neil Gaiman?
Neil Gaiman is a celebrated British author, comic book writer, screenwriter and voice actor.
Born in 1960 in Portchester, England, the legendary author has garnered a cult following, and rightfully so!
He single-handedly redefined the modern comic book genre.
Ever heard of a comic book series called The Sandman?
If you have, then Gaiman’s name isn’t news to you.
If you haven’t, it’s time you slowed down on playing Elden Ring. We see you.
Instead, how about you get your hands on book 1 of The Sandman? We promise you; you’ll be hooked! But more on this comic book soon!
Neil Gaiman’s Influences
As a kid, Gaiman read a lot of mythology and science fiction. He was fascinated by the fantasy worlds, and his love for the surreal translates into his writing.
In his storytelling, he blends fantasy, horror and humor.
As a result of the interesting genre-crossing typical of his writing, he creates unique works and vivid worlds that, although you know are imaginary, feel real!
How does he manage to achieve that?
To make his stories’ ideas and messages more tangible, Gaiman often personifies and humanizes them.
For example, in his comic book mini-series Death: The Time Of Your Life, instead of portraying Death as an abstract concept or as some scary cloaked skeleton, Gaiman personifies death as a punk-rock teenage girl. Suddenly, Death doesn’t feel like a concept to grasp; it becomes real and familiar even.
We also mentioned his tendency to humanize concepts so they may feel less distant.
Take The Sandman‘s lead character Dream.
Dream is an eternal being, older than time. Gaiman uses this character to personify actual dreams and stories, and — to make it more relatable — he gives Dream some human characteristics and flaws. For example, Dream can be just as self-obsessed and depressed as anyone.
When he feels he lost his purpose in The Sandman #8, he mops around, and his sister, Dream, calls him out on it by telling him:
“You are utterly the stupidest, most self-centered, appallingest excuse of an anthropomorphic personification on this or any other plane! An infantile, adolescent, pathetic specimen!”
No one can set you straight like a sister can!
Sure, Gaiman may sometimes step into the realm of horror, but hey, at least you can always count on him imbuing humor into all that he writes!
In The Graveyard Book, after he describes the horrendous murder of a family, he proceeds to describe the way a diaper falls off the baby who survived the tragedy. He first terrifies you and then proceeds to write about something as mundane and funny as a diaper falling off a baby.
Neil Gaiman’s Audience
Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller, so it’s no wonder his works reach audiences of all ages.
He wrote Coraline and The Graveyard Book for children.
He wrote The Sandman for, well, everyone.
But the thing is, although some of his works may be characterized as “books for children,” adults can enjoy them, too. The difference is they won’t perceive the books the same since kids focus on what’s literal and can’t comprehend allegories and hidden meanings.
He takes time to respond to the people who love his work being his usual hilarious self, and that’s what makes him all the more likable.
Neil Gaiman’s Comics
Although Neil Gaiman shares his creativity through several mediums, the author is best known as the creator of arguably one of the best comic books of all time — The Sandman.
1. The Sandman
The Sandman is a comic book series that consists of 75 issues. It ran between 1989 and 1996.
It tells a story about Dream, the lord of dreams and their embodiment, who has been around since the very first living creature in the universe fell asleep and he’ll live on until the very last living thing dies.
The Sandman also describes the adventures of Dream’s family of The Endless who embody six other concepts of existence, including Destiny, Desire, Despair, Death, Destruction and Delirium. They’re the children of Night and Time.
Dream is inspired by the Sandman — a mythical creature popular in European folklore.
He’s described as the spiritual being that sprinkles magical sand or dust on people’s eyes, puts them to sleep and ensures they have lovely dreams.
Throughout the comic book series, Dream goes by several other names, including Morpheus (the Greek god of dreams), Kai’ckul and Oneiros. His name changes when he interacts with different characters.
When the first series of The Sandman was published, there were no comics like it.
The Sandman is monumental because it showed how much comic books as a medium have to offer.
Sometimes, The Sandman feels more like a novel than a comic book because of how multi-layered the storyline is.
The genre-crossing masterpiece blends superhero and supernatural elements with horror, humor, history, poetry, and dark fantasy.
Although it feels impossible to briefly explain the complexity of this comic book, the author himself did it best. Someone asked Gaiman to sum up the comic book in 25 words, and in his introduction to Endless Nights, the follow-up to The Sandman, he wrote:
“The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.”
Change is one of the key topics of The Sandman. Does Dream like what he does and is he happy with who he is? Is he proud of his past actions? Or is there something he’d like to change about himself?
These are just some of the questions the comic book explores and answers.
2. The Eternals: Gaiman’s Work For Marvel
In 2006, Gaiman wrote a miniseries about Marvel’s Eternals.
The Eternals are extraterrestrial humanoids that have been around for millennia. They are in charge of protecting humans and saving the Earth.
The first issue about the Eternals was published in 1976, but these immortals have somehow stayed on the margins of Marvel’s universe until Gaiman’s series.
Gaiman managed to re-introduce the Eternals to the modern-day public by taking into account the events described in the Civil War.
The controversial comic book that has polarized the audience describes the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man. The two fought because of the Superhero Registration Act. According to the act, those with superhuman powers must register with the government. Unlike Iron Man, Captain America refuses to support the act.
In the 2006 miniseries, The Eternals are shown to support the act. Iron Man makes an appearance in the series as well. He’s portrayed as someone who wonders whether the Eternals, as immortal creatures, should register with the government.
By addressing the event described in Marvel’s Civil War comic book published the same year, Gaiman made the Eternals part of the contemporary Marvel universe.
If you’re not familiar with the Eternals and you haven’t read any of the older comics, Gaiman’s miniseries is a great primer to get to know them.
When you finish reading his seven-part series, you’ll have no trouble keeping up with the last year’s movie about the Eternals:
Neil Gaiman’s Books
Even though Neil Gaiman is perhaps best known for creating The Sandman, he wrote several fantastic books which are a testament to his beautiful writing and rich imagination.
Coraline is Gaiman’s best-known book.
It is a dark fantasy children’s novel published in 2002 that was also turned into an animated movie of the same name.
The book tells a story about a girl named Coraline who moves into a new house with her parents. Her parents love her, but they’re workaholics, so Coraline often feels ignored.
One day, she discovers something unexpected — behind a door in her new house, Coraline discovers a whole new world that looks almost the same as the world in which she lives. Her parents live in that mirror-like world, too, but not everything is the same as in her OG world.
The coming-of-age story about Coraline and her adventures is intense and, at times, scary.
If you think you might be too old for a children’s book, we promise you, Coraline is probably nothing like the books you read when you were a kid.
Even if you’re in your late teens or a fully grown adult, you’ll enjoy reading Coraline because the book teaches you some important lessons, such as the importance of being brave even when you’re scared.
Moreover, Coraline is a beautiful inspiration to girls because the story shows that, even if you’re a scared little girl, you can still overcome obstacles on your own by being powerful and strong!
2. American Gods
American Gods is Gaiman’s fantasy novel published in 2001.
Gaiman himself described the book as the story about America, immigrants and their gods.
Being the master storyteller that he is, Gaiman effortlessly blends the old and new mythology, fantasy and Americana. In doing so, he created a novel filled with symbolism that explores the myths and stories about the old gods that immigrants brought to the U.S.
However, modern-day Americans don’t believe in the old gods. There are new gods to worship, and so the war between the old and the new gods is imminent.
American Gods is a story that gives you hope and shows you that, if you look for it, you can find something mythical and grandiose in everything.
In 2017, the novel was adapted into a TV show:
Neil Gaiman’s Other Notable Works & Contributions
Aside from The Sandman and Coraline which are associated with his name, Gaiman’s other notable works include American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Good Omens. He co-wrote the latter with the legendary Terry Pratchett (If you don’t know who he is, we urge you to get acquainted with his majestic Discworld series!)
Gaiman also wrote an episode for the series Doctor Who and he provides the voice for the God on Lucifer.
Another cool thing Gaiman did was write the script in English for the phenomenal anime Princess Mononoke.
Aside from collaborating with Marvel, he also wrote a story about DC’s most famous superhero — Batman!
Titled Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, the story describes what happens after Batman’s fall. The beloved superhero is gone, with both his friends and family mourning him. Is this the end of the Caped Crusader?
Gaiman is also no stranger to appearing on TV shows. He was a guest on The Big Bang Theory and appeared as himself in the episode titled The Comet Polarization in which other characters fail to recognize him.
He also appeared on The Simpsons two times. In the episode titled The Book Job he starred as himself, and in Treehouse of Horror XXVIII he was Snowball V, the Simpson’s fifth cat.
Neil Gaiman’s Awards
Throughout his career, Gaiman won numerous awards and accolades for his work.
- The Hugo award, which is like the Oscars for sci-fi and fantasy works for Coraline, American Gods and The Graveyard Book
- The Nebula award (given to the best science fiction and fantasy works published in the U.S.) for Coraline and American Gods
- The Hugo award for The Doctor’s Wife episode of Doctor Who
- The Rhysling award (given for the best science fiction, fantasy, or horror poem of the year in the U.S.) for The Mushroom Hunters
- The Bram Stoker award given to superb achievements in dark fantasy and horror writing. Gaiman won the award for The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, The Sandman: Endless Nights, American Gods and Coraline
So, Who Is Neil Gaiman?
Neil Gaiman is one of a kind. He is probably the only author who can that skillfully blend mythology, folklore, history and fantasy.
He has created works that transcend genres and push the boundaries typical of the literary medium.
- Gaiman is a rockstar among authors because he:
- Wrote The Sandman, American Gods and Coraline
- Works for TV (wrote episodes for Doctor Who and appeared on The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory)
- Has won the biggest accolades, including Nebula and Hugo awards
Gaiman’s imagination is so vivid and rich, and it’s no wonder so many of his works have been adapted into movies or TV series!
Have you read any of Gaiman’s works before? If not, which of the ones we mentioned in the blog you’d like to read first? Let us know in the comments below!