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Originally published Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 6:05 AM

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‘The Art of Neil Gaiman’: a master storyteller’s life (so far)

“The Art of Neil Gaiman” is a rich, lushly illustrated compilation of the work of one of the most imaginative storytellers of our time — comics, imaginative fiction, science fiction, all by a man wired to color outside the lines.


McClatchy Washington Bureau

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‘The Art of Neil Gaiman’

by Hayley Campbell

Harper Design, 320 pp., $39.99

If you haven’t heard of Neil Gaiman, you’ve missed a major force in creative fiction in the last 20 years. His offbeat writing runs from comics to films to television series to books.

The best way to meet the man, other than at a book reading, is in the new biography “The Art of Neil Gaiman.” Lushly illustrated, it’s a rich treat of an introduction to Gaiman, a master storyteller, and his work — imaginative fiction, science and fantasy, and all that lies outside the straight lines of a practical 9-to-5 life. It is also dark, bloody and often drenched in Victorian gothic.

From his earliest childhood Gaiman read books, absorbing words, characters and concepts along with his meals. His parents dropped him off at the library during summer vacations, and he’d vanish into the stacks. He read Shakespeare, Kipling, mythology, popular fiction, newspapers, pulp “penny dreadful” magazines, and more.

This gave him an incredibly rich mental set of ingredients to springboard off in creating his own imaginative fiction.

It is apparent that Gaiman’s imagination is always at work. It spills out organically into many fields like comic books, magazines, films, television and books. Campbell’s book shows the world of comic books where Gaiman found a home, ultimately creating a unique version of a classic DC title — “The Sandman.” Generally known as benign, in Gaiman’s version, he becomes a dark, brooding figure, full of angst.

The creation of the story behind the movie “Stardust” started on a vacation when he saw a stone wall with an opening, and thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if the other side of that wall was fairyland?” Years later, he saw a falling meteor and that image combined with the memory of the opening in the wall. His imagination took off, and he wrote a four-part comic book version, later a novel, then a film.

It’s clear that for Gaiman, life always has something new to use as grist for more stories. This is likely Book 1 of his career and life.



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