Who Is Neil Gaiman?

I get that question a lot.

And my inner response is “you haven’t heard of Neil Gaiman? Where have you been for the past year or so?”

But then I realize that his rock-star status, his ubiquity, is almost entirely within a) the internet community, b) the sf-fantasy community, or c) the graphic-novel community, or d) geekdom. These realms intersect with each other but perhaps not with the “real” world all that much.

But if you’re a writer, or a reader, it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t heard of him. He’s won many major literary awards, he does promos for the American Library Association, he does endless readings and book signings. His face is on a lot of posters. He’s a rock star.

He’s also a good writer and has built a huge fanbase through strategic but curiously genuine-seeming use of social software. He has a lovely blog, where he writes about his dogs and his bees and his cats. And, oh, the series of posts he wrote when one of his cats was dying was beautiful. He’s also on Twitter: one of the top celebrity Twitterers. He has children whom he obviously adores. He is engaged to be married to the performance artist Amanda Palmer, and writes beautifully about her here. He seems like a really nice guy.

And in the world of graphic novels, he’s a god. Up there with Alan Moore as one of the most important and influential, with his series The Sandman and related works. He’s also written scripts and screenplays and been involved in many other creative undertakings. He’s a talented guy.

I wish more people I knew had heard of him.

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Blake-based stories

Via Neil Gaiman’s blog comes word of a series of stories on BBC Radio 4 inspired by poems of William Blake. Gaiman’s is called “Jerusalem” – intriguing. It will be available later today and archived for a week.