Neil Gaiman seems to exist in a binary state. You either know him and all the things that he has created over the years, or you don’t. But when you talk to those that have gone ‘Who?’ it doesn’t take long for them to realise that they have come across him in one form or other, they just weren’t aware of it. He is a prolific and original tour de force who has given us some amazing creations.
So far he has written novels, non-fictions books, comics, graphic novels, articles and speeches. On top of that he has then created scripts for radio, film and TV shows and theatre, collaborated with all manner of people on all sorts of subjects and projects, sung on stage despite “no kind of singing voice”, dabbled with art and is not afraid to be political for issues that he is passionate about. Somehow he manages to fit in a professorship and tours publicising his own material and with his current wife Amanda Palmer.
Hayley is the daughter of Eddie Campbell, a graphic novelist and long-time friends of Neil Gaiman. This friendship allowed her almost unrestricted access to the archives, notebooks, random scribblings and most importantly the mind of Gaiman to show just how he creates the things he does best. It is a lavishly illustrated book, full of scanned images of the drafts and germs of ideas, that over time became the books and graphic novels that he is best known for. There are loads of photos of him from early years when growing up and some equally dodgy ones from when he was a journalist as well. I knew he had a boundless imagination, but what came across is just how long some of his most successful books took from the initial spark of an idea to the final offering. It is not that he is a slow, jut some of these things need time and thought invested to make them as good as they are.
Campbell has given us such a good book, it is not quite a biography, but reading this feels like you are privy to the places where the magic happened. One minor flaw is that there could have been a little more on Neil, but I guess that will come one day in another book. A stunning book and one that I am going to be buying.