Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman
Gaiman in 2013
Gaiman in 2013
BornNeil Richard Gaiman
(1960-11-10) 10 November 1960 (age 63)
Portchester, Hampshire, England
OccupationAuthor, comic book creator, screenwriter, voice actor
GenreFantasy, horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, comedy
Years active1984–present
Notable worksThe Sandman, Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Mary McGrath
(m. 1985; div. 2007)
(m. 2011; div. 2022)

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman[2] (/ˈɡmən/;[3] born Neil Richard Gaiman[2] on 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and screenplays. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and the novels Good Omens, Stardust, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He co-created the TV series adaptions of Good Omens and The Sandman.

Gaiman has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. It was later adapted into a critically acclaimed stage play at the Royal National Theatre in London.

Early life and education

Gaiman's family is of Polish-Jewish and other Eastern European Jewish origins.[4] His great-grandfather emigrated from Antwerp, Belgium, to the UK before 1914[5] and his grandfather eventually settled in Portsmouth and established a chain of grocery stores. Gaiman's grandfather changed his original family name of Chaiman to Gaiman.[6] His father, David Bernard Gaiman, worked in the same chain of stores;[7] his mother, Sheila Gaiman (née Goldman), was a pharmacist. Neil has two younger sisters, Claire and Lizzy.[8]

Gaiman was born on 10 November 1960[9] in Portchester, Hampshire. The Gaimans moved in 1965 to the West Sussex town of East Grinstead, where his parents studied Dianetics at the Scientology centre in the town; one of Gaiman's sisters works for the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles. His other sister, Lizzy Calcioli, has said, "Most of our social activities were involved with Scientology or our Jewish family. It would get very confusing when people would ask my religion as a kid. I'd say, 'I'm a Jewish Scientologist.'" Gaiman says that he is not a Scientologist, and that like Judaism, Scientology is his family's religion.[10] About his personal views, Gaiman has stated, "I think we can say that God exists in the DC Universe. I would not stand up and beat the drum for the existence of God in this universe. I don't know, I think there's probably a 50/50 chance. It doesn't really matter to me."[11]

Gaiman was able to read at the age of four. He said, "I was a reader. I loved reading. Reading things gave me pleasure. I was very good at most subjects in school, not because I had any particular aptitude in them, but because normally on the first day of school, they'd hand out schoolbooks, and I'd read them—which would mean that I'd know what was coming up because I'd read it."[12] When he was about ten years old, he read his way through the works of Dennis Wheatley; The Ka of Gifford Hillary and The Haunting of Toby Jugg made a special impact on him.[13]

Another work that made a particular impression was J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which he got from his school library. Although they only had the first two of the novel's three volumes, Gaiman consistently checked them out and read them. He later won the school English prize and the school reading prize, enabling him to finally acquire the third volume.[14] For his seventh birthday, Gaiman received C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. He later recalled that "I admired his use of parenthetical statements to the reader, where he would just talk to you ... I'd think, 'Oh, my gosh, that is so cool! I want to do that! When I become an author, I want to be able to do things in parentheses.' I liked the power of putting things in brackets."[14] Narnia also introduced him to literary awards, specifically the Carnegie Medal, won by the concluding volume in 1956. When Gaiman won the 2010 Medal himself, he said "it had to be the most important literary award there ever was"[15] and "if you can make yourself aged seven happy, you're really doing well – it's like writing a letter to yourself aged seven."[16] Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was another childhood favourite, and "a favourite forever. Alice was default reading to the point where I knew it by heart." He also enjoyed Batman comics.[14]

Gaiman attended Ardingly College in Ardingly, West Sussex

Gaiman was educated at several Church of England schools, including Fonthill School in East Grinstead,[17] Ardingly College (1970–1974), and Whitgift School in Croydon (1974–1977).[18] His father's position as a public relations official of the Church of Scientology was the cause of the seven-year-old Gaiman being forced to withdraw from Fonthill School and return to the school which he had previously attended.[10][19] He lived in East Grinstead for many years, from 1965 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1987.[17]

He met his first wife, Mary McGrath, while she was studying Scientology and living in a house in East Grinstead that was owned by his father. The couple were married in 1985 after having their first child, Michael.[10]


Journalism, early writings, and literary influences

Writers that Gaiman has mentioned as influences include Mary Shelley,[14][20] Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Dave Sim,[21][22] Alan Moore, Steve Ditko,[23] Will Eisner,[24] Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, John Crowley, Lord Dunsany, G. K. Chesterton and Gene Wolfe.[25][26] A lifetime fan of the Monty Python comedy troupe, he owned a copy of Monty Python's Big Red Book as a teenager.[27] During a trip to France when he was 13, Gaiman became fascinated with the visually fantastic world in the stories of Metal Hurlant, even though he could not understand the words.[28] When he was 19 or 20 years old, he contacted his favourite science fiction writer, R. A. Lafferty and asked for advice on becoming an author along with a Lafferty pastiche he had written. Lafferty sent Gaiman an encouraging and informative letter back, along with literary advice.[29][30]

Gaiman has called Roger Zelazny the author who influenced him the most.[31][32] Other authors Gaiman says "furnished the inside of my mind and set me to writing" include Samuel R. Delany and Angela Carter.[31] Gaiman takes inspiration from the folk tales tradition, citing Otta F Swire's book on the legends of the Isle of Skye as his inspiration for The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains.[33]

In the early 1980s, Gaiman pursued journalism, conducting interviews and writing book reviews, as a means to learn about the world and to make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published.[14] He wrote and reviewed extensively for the British Fantasy Society.[34] His first professional short story publication was "Featherquest", a fantasy story, in Imagine Magazine in May 1984.[34]

Gaiman frequented the Forbidden Planet comic store at its original location of Number 23, Denmark Street, central London (pictured).

While waiting for a train at London's Victoria Station in 1984, Gaiman noticed a copy of Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, and carefully read it. Moore's fresh and vigorous approach to comics had such an impact on Gaiman that he later wrote "that was the final straw, what was left of my resistance crumbled. I proceeded to make regular and frequent visits to London's Forbidden Planet shop to buy comics".[26]

In 1984, he wrote his first book, a biography of the band Duran Duran, and co-edited Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book of quotations, with Kim Newman. Although Gaiman thought he had done a terrible job, the book's first edition sold out very quickly. When he went to relinquish his rights to the book, he discovered the publisher had gone bankrupt.[14][35] After this, he was offered a job by Penthouse. He refused the offer.[14]

He also wrote interviews and articles for many British magazines, including Knave. During this, he sometimes wrote under pseudonyms, including Gerry Musgrave, Richard Grey, and "a couple of house names".[36] Gaiman has said he ended his journalism career in 1987 because British newspapers regularly publish untruths as fact.[37][38] In the late 1980s, he wrote Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion in what he calls a "classic English humour" style.[39]

Following this, he wrote the opening of what became his collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the comic novel Good Omens, about the impending apocalypse.[40]


Gaiman discusses Sandman in 2014

After forming a friendship with Alan Moore, who taught him how to write comic scripts,[26][41] Gaiman started writing comic books and picked up Miracleman after Moore finished his run on the series. He continued his professional relationship with Moore by contributing quotations for the supplemental materials in the Watchmen comic book series.[41]

Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham collaborated on several issues of the series before its publisher, Eclipse Comics, collapsed, leaving the series unfinished. His first published comic strips were four short Future Shocks for 2000 AD in 1986–87. He wrote three graphic novels with his favourite collaborator and long-time friend Dave McKean: Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. Impressed with his work, DC Comics hired him in February 1987,[42] and he wrote the limited series Black Orchid.[43][44] Karen Berger, who later became head of DC Comics's Vertigo, read Black Orchid and offered Gaiman a job: to re-write an old character, The Sandman, but to put his own spin on him.[14]

The Sandman tells the tale of the ageless, anthropomorphic personification of Dream that is known by many names, including Morpheus. The series began in January 1989 and concluded in March 1996.[45] In the eighth issue of The Sandman, Gaiman and artist Mike Dringenberg introduced Death, the older sister of Dream, who became as popular as the series' title character.[46] The limited series Death: The High Cost of Living launched DC's Vertigo line in 1993.[47] The 75 issues of the regular series, along with an illustrated prose text and a special containing seven short stories, have been collected into 12 volumes that remain in print, 14 if the Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life spin-offs are included. Artists include Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel and Michael Zulli, lettering by Todd Klein, colours by Daniel Vozzo, and covers by Dave McKean.[14] The series became one of DC's top selling titles, eclipsing even Batman and Superman.[48] Comics historian Les Daniels called Gaiman's work "astonishing" and noted that The Sandman was "a mixture of fantasy, horror, and ironic humor such as comic books had never seen before".[49][50] DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz observed that "The Sandman became the first extraordinary success as a series of graphic novel collections, reaching out and converting new readers to the medium, particularly young women on college campuses, and making Gaiman himself into an iconic cultural figure."[51]

Gaiman and Jamie Delano were to become co-writers of the Swamp Thing series following Rick Veitch. An editorial decision by DC to censor Veitch's final storyline caused both Gaiman and Delano to withdraw from the title.[52]

Gaiman produced two stories for DC's Secret Origins series in 1989. A Poison Ivy[53] tale drawn by Mark Buckingham and a Riddler[54] story illustrated by Bernie Mireault and Matt Wagner. A story that Gaiman originally wrote for Action Comics Weekly in 1989 was shelved due to editorial concerns but it was finally published in 2000 as Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame.[55]

In 1990, Gaiman wrote The Books of Magic, a four-part mini-series that provided a tour of the mythological and magical parts of the DC Universe through a frame story about an English teenager who discovers that he is destined to be the world's greatest wizard.[56] The miniseries was popular, and sired an ongoing series written by John Ney Rieber.[57]

Gaiman's adaptation of Sweeney Todd, illustrated by Michael Zulli for Stephen R. Bissette's publication Taboo, was stopped when the anthology itself was discontinued.[58]

In the mid-1990s, he also created a number of new characters and a setting that was to be featured in a title published by Tekno Comix. The concepts were then altered and split between three titles set in the same continuity: Lady Justice, Mr. Hero the Newmatic Man, and Teknophage,[59] and tie-ins. Although Gaiman's name appeared prominently as the creator of the characters, he was not involved in writing any of the above-mentioned books.

Gaiman wrote a semi-autobiographical story about a boy's fascination with Michael Moorcock's anti-hero Elric of Melniboné for Ed Kramer's anthology Tales of the White Wolf. In 1996, Gaiman and Ed Kramer co-edited The Sandman: Book of Dreams. Nominated for the British Fantasy Award, the original fiction anthology featured stories and contributions by Tori Amos, Clive Barker, Gene Wolfe, Tad Williams, and others.

Asked why he likes comics more than other forms of storytelling, Gaiman said:

"One of the joys of comics has always been the knowledge that it was, in many ways, untouched ground. It was virgin territory. When I was working on Sandman, I felt a lot of the time that I was actually picking up a machete and heading out into the jungle. I got to write in places and do things that nobody had ever done before. When I'm writing novels I'm painfully aware that I'm working in a medium that people have been writing absolutely jaw-droppingly brilliant things for, you know, three-four thousand years now. You know, you can go back. We have things like The Golden Ass. And you go, well, I don't know that I'm as good as that and that's two and a half thousand years old. But with comics I felt like – I can do stuff nobody has ever done. I can do stuff nobody has ever thought of. And I could and it was enormously fun."[60]

Gaiman wrote two series for Marvel Comics. Marvel 1602 was an eight-issue limited series published from November 2003 to June 2004 with art by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove.[61] The Eternals was a seven-issue limited series drawn by John Romita Jr., which was published from August 2006 to March 2007.[62][63]

In 2009, Gaiman wrote a two-part Batman story for DC Comics to follow Batman R.I.P. titled "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?"[64] a play-off of the classic Superman story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" by Alan Moore.[65][66] He contributed a twelve-part Metamorpho serial drawn by Mike Allred for Wednesday Comics, a weekly newspaper-style series.[67][68] Gaiman and Paul Cornell co-wrote Action Comics #894 (December 2010), which featured an appearance by Death.[69] In October 2013, DC Comics released The Sandman: Overture with art by J. H. Williams III.[70][71] Gaiman's Angela character was introduced into the Marvel Universe in the last issue of the Age of Ultron miniseries in 2013.[72]

Gaiman oversaw The Sandman Universe, a line of comic books published by Vertigo. The four series — House of Whispers, Lucifer, The Books of Magic, and The Dreaming — were written by new creative teams. The line launched on 8 August 2018.[73][74]

After teaming with Colleen Doran for a series of graphic novel adaptations based on his short stories "Troll Bridge", "Chivalry", and "Snow, Glass, Apples", Gaiman and the Terry Pratchett estate chose Doran to adapt Good Omens into graphic novel form, and to self publish the work via the Pratchett estate's Dunmanifestin label. It was financed on Kickstarter where it became a record-setter in less than a week as the top fan-supported and top-earning comics project in the history of the platform.[75]


Neil Gaiman and Roz Kaveney discuss Why We Need Fantasy at the British Library on November 20, 2023
Gaiman in 2009

In a collaboration with author Terry Pratchett, best known for his series of Discworld novels, Gaiman's first novel Good Omens was published in 1990. In 2011, Pratchett said that while the entire novel was a collaborative effort and most of the ideas could be credited to both of them, Pratchett did a larger portion of writing and editing if for no other reason than Gaiman's scheduled involvement with Sandman.[76]

The 1996 novelisation of Gaiman's teleplay for the BBC mini-series Neverwhere was his first solo novel. The novel was released in tandem with the television series, though it presents some notable differences from the television series. Gaiman has since revised the novel twice, the first time for an American audience unfamiliar with the London Underground, the second time because he felt unsatisfied with the originals.[77]

In 1999, the first printings of his fantasy novel Stardust were released. The novel has been released both as a standard novel and in an illustrated text edition.[78] This novel was highly influenced by Victorian fairytales and culture.[79]

American Gods became one of Gaiman's best-selling and multi-award-winning novels upon its release in 2001.[80] A special 10th Anniversary edition was released, with the "author's preferred text" 12,000 words longer than the original mass-market editions.[81] Gaiman has not written a direct sequel to American Gods but he has revisited the characters. A glimpse at Shadow's travels in Europe is found in a short story which finds him in Scotland, applying the same concepts developed in American Gods to the story of Beowulf. The 2005 novel Anansi Boys deals with Anansi ('Mr. Nancy'), tracing the relationship of his two sons, one semi-divine and the other an unassuming bookkeeper, as they explore their common heritage. It debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list.[82]

In 2002, Gaiman entered the world of children's books with the dark fairy tale Coraline. In 2008 he released another children's book, The Graveyard Book. It follows the adventures of a boy named Bod after his family is murdered and he is left to be brought up by a graveyard. It is heavily influenced by Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. As of late January 2009, it had been on The New York Times Bestseller children's list for fifteen weeks.[83]

In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.[84] The novel follows an unnamed man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier.[85] Themes include the search for self-identity and the "disconnect between childhood and adulthood".[86] It was later adapted into a critically acclaimed stage play at the Royal National Theatre in London.[87]

In September 2016, Neil Gaiman announced that he had been working for some years on retellings of Norse mythology.[88] Norse Mythology was released in February 2017.[89]

Several of his novels have been published as paperbacks with retro covers by artist Robert McGinnis.[90][91]

Film and screenwriting

Gaiman wrote the 1996 BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere. He co-wrote the screenplay for the movie MirrorMask with his old friend Dave McKean for McKean to direct. In addition, he wrote the localised English language script for the anime movie Princess Mononoke, based on a translation of the Japanese script.[92]

After his disappointment with the production limitations of Neverwhere, Gaiman asked his agent to pull him out of an (unnamed) UK television series that was to begin production immediately afterwards. "I didn't want to do it unless I had more control than you get as a writer: in fantasy, the tone of voice, the look and feel, the way something is shot and edited is vital, and I wanted to be in charge of that."[93]

He co-wrote the script for Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf with Roger Avary, a collaboration that has proved productive for both writers.[94] Gaiman has expressed interest in collaborating on a film adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.[95]

Gaiman on a panel about the Good Omens TV series at New York Comic Con in 2018

He was the only person other than J. Michael Straczynski to write a Babylon 5 script in the series' last three seasons, contributing to the season five episode "Day of the Dead".[92] The series also features a recurring alien race called the Gaim, who resemble the character of Dream and are named after Gaiman.

Gaiman has also written at least three drafts of a screenplay adaptation of Nicholson Baker's novel The Fermata for director Robert Zemeckis,[96][97] although the project was stalled while Zemeckis made The Polar Express and the Gaiman-Roger Avary-penned Beowulf film.

Neil Gaiman was featured in the History Channel documentary Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked.[98]

Several of Gaiman's original works have been optioned or greenlighted for film adaptation, most notably Stardust, which premiered in August 2007 and stars Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes and Mark Strong, directed by Matthew Vaughn. A stop-motion version of Coraline was released on 6 February 2009, directed by Henry Selick and starring the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher.[10]

In 2007, Gaiman announced that after ten years in development, the feature film of Death: The High Cost of Living would finally begin production with a screenplay by Gaiman that he would direct for Warner Independent. Gaiman said that he agreed to direct the film "with the carrot dangled in front of me that I could direct it. And we'll see if that happens, and if I'm a good director or not."[93] Don Murphy and Susan Montford were named as producers, and Guillermo del Toro was named as the film's executive producer.[99][100] By 2010, it had been reported that the film was no longer in production.[101]

Seeing Ear Theatre performed two of Gaiman's audio theatre plays, "Snow, Glass, Apples", Gaiman's retelling of Snow White, and "Murder Mysteries", a story of heaven before the Fall in which the first crime is committed. Both audio plays were published in the collection Smoke and Mirrors in 1998.[102]

At Guillermo del Toro's request, he rewrote the opening of Hellboy II: The Golden Army to make it look more like a fairy tale.[103]

Gaiman's 2009 Newbery Medal winning book The Graveyard Book will be made into a movie, with Ron Howard as the director.[104]

Gaiman wrote an episode of the long-running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, broadcast in 2011 during Matt Smith's second series as the Doctor.[105] Shooting began in August 2010 for this episode, the original title of which was "The House of Nothing"[106] but which was eventually transmitted as "The Doctor's Wife".[107] The episode won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).[108][109] Gaiman made his return to Doctor Who with an episode titled "Nightmare in Silver", broadcast on 11 May 2013.[110][111]

In 2011, it was announced that Gaiman would be writing the script to a new film version of Journey to the West.[112][113]

Gaiman appeared as himself on The Simpsons episode "The Book Job", which was broadcast on 20 November 2011.[114][115][116]

In 2015, Starz greenlighted a series adaptation of Gaiman's novel American Gods. Bryan Fuller and Michael Green wrote and showrun the series.[117]

In 2020, Gaiman received a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form for the TV miniseries adaptation of Good Omens, for which he wrote the screenplay.[118]

In 2023, Gaiman voiced Gef in the black comedy film Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose, one of the film's titular characters.[119]


A six-part radio play of Neverwhere was broadcast in March 2013, adapted by Dirk Maggs for BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. Featured stars include James McAvoy as Richard, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Bernard Cribbens and Johnny Vegas.[120]

In September 2014, Gaiman and Terry Pratchett joined forces with BBC Radio 4 to make the first-ever dramatisation of their co-penned novel Good Omens, which was broadcast in December in five half-hour episodes and culminated in an hour-long final apocalyptic showdown.[40] In 2021, Gaiman was cast as Duke Aubrey in an adaptation of Hope Mirrlees' Lud-in-the-Mist, a novel Gaiman had previously proclaimed one of his favourites (and contributed a foreword for an edition by Cold Spring Press), for BBC Radio 4.[121]

Public performances

Gaiman frequently performs public readings from his stories and poetry, and has toured with his wife, musician Amanda Palmer. In some of these performances he has also sung songs, in "a novelist's version of singing",[122] despite having "no kind of singing voice".[123]

In 2015, Gaiman delivered a 100-minute lecture for the Long Now Foundation entitled How Stories Last about the nature of storytelling and how stories persist in human culture.[124] In April 2018, Gaiman made a guest appearance on the television show The Big Bang Theory, and his tweet about the show's fictional comic book store became the central theme of the episode "The Comet Polarization".[125]


In 1993, Gaiman was contracted by Todd McFarlane to write a single issue of Spawn, a popular title at the newly created Image Comics company. McFarlane was promoting his new title by having guest authors Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Dave Sim each write a single issue.[126][127]

In issue No. 9 of the series, Gaiman introduced the characters Angela, Cogliostro, and Medieval Spawn. Prior to this issue, Spawn was an assassin who worked for the government and came back as a reluctant agent of Hell but had no real direction in his actions. In Angela, a cruel and malicious angel, Gaiman introduced a character who threatened Spawn's existence, as well as providing a moral opposite. Cogliostro was introduced as a mentor character for exposition and instruction, providing guidance. Medieval Spawn introduced a history and precedent that not all Spawns were self-serving or evil, giving additional character development to Malebolgia, the demon that creates Hellspawn.[126][127]

As intended, all three characters were used repeatedly throughout the next decade by Todd McFarlane within the wider Spawn universe.[128] In papers filed by Gaiman in early 2002, however, he claimed that the characters were jointly owned by their scripter (himself) and artist (McFarlane), not merely by McFarlane in his role as the creator of the series.[126][127] Disagreement over who owned the rights to a character was the primary motivation for McFarlane and other artists to form Image Comics (although that argument related more towards disagreements between writers and artists as character creators).[129] As McFarlane used the characters without Gaiman's permission or royalty payments, Gaiman believed his copyrighted work was being infringed upon, which violated their original oral agreement. McFarlane initially agreed that Gaiman had not signed away any rights to the characters, and negotiated with Gaiman to effectively "swap" McFarlane's interest in the character Marvelman.[130] McFarlane had purchased an interest in the character when Eclipse Comics was liquidated while Gaiman was interested in being able to continue his aborted run of the Marvelman title. McFarlane later changed his initial position, claiming that Gaiman's work had only been work-for-hire and that McFarlane owned all of Gaiman's creations entirely. The presiding judge, however, ruled against their agreement being work for hire, based in large part on the legal requirement that "copyright assignments must be in writing."[131]

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court ruling in February 2004[132] granting joint ownership of the characters to Gaiman and McFarlane. On the specific issue of Cogliostro, presiding Judge John C. Shabaz proclaimed, "The expressive work that is the comic-book character Count Nicholas Cogliostro was the joint work of Gaiman and McFarlane—their contributions strike us as quite equal—and both are entitled to ownership of the copyright".[133] Similar analysis led to similar results for the other two characters, Angela and Medieval Spawn.

This legal battle was brought by Gaiman and the specifically formed Marvels and Miracles, LLC, which Gaiman had previously created to help sort out the legal rights surrounding Marvelman. Gaiman had written Marvel 1602 in 2003 to help fund this project[134] and all of Gaiman's profits for the original issues of the series were donated to Marvels and Miracles.[134] The rights to Marvelman were subsequently purchased, from original creator Mick Anglo, by Marvel Comics in 2009.[135]

Gaiman returned to court again over the Spawn characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany, claiming that they were "derivative of the three he co-created with McFarlane."[136] The judge ruled that Gaiman was right in these claims as well and gave McFarlane until the beginning of September 2010 to settle the matter.[137]

Personal life

Gaiman and wife Amanda Palmer in Vienna, Austria, 2011

Gaiman has lived near Menomonie, Wisconsin, since 1992. Gaiman moved there to be close to the family of his then-wife, Mary McGrath, with whom he has three children.[14][138][139][140] He was close friends with fellow author Terry Pratchett until his death in 2015. He was in a romantic relationship with Amanda Palmer between 2009[141][142] and 2020[143] and the two have a son.[144] As of 2013, Gaiman also resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[145] Since 2014 Gaiman has been a professor in the arts at Bard College, teaching courses in theatre and performance, written arts and experimental humanities.[146] At Bard he also serves on the advisory board for at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts,[147] where he hosts public lectures and conversations with notable figures in the arts.[148] He is also frequently on social media, most notably Tumblr, and often advocates for political and humanitarian causes like LGBTQ+ rights. He has mentioned being autistic.[149]

Blog and social media

In February 2001, when Gaiman had completed writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional website featuring a weblog in which Gaiman described the day-to-day process of revising, publishing, and promoting the novel. After the novel was published, the website evolved into a more general Official Neil Gaiman Website.[150] Gaiman generally posts to the blog describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is. He also posts reader emails and answers questions, which gives him unusually direct and immediate interaction with fans. One of his answers on why he writes the blog is "because writing is, like death, a lonely business."[151] The original American Gods blog was extracted for publication in the NESFA Press collection of Gaiman miscellany, Adventures in the Dream Trade.[152] To celebrate the seventh anniversary of the blog, the novel American Gods was provided free of charge online for a month.[153]

Gaiman joined Twitter in 2008. In 2013, Gaiman was named by IGN as one of "The Best Tweeters in Comics", describing his posts as "sublime,"[154] but as of 2023, Gaiman no longer personally posts on Twitter; his account @neilhimself [155] posts updates on his behalf.[156]

Other personal relationships

Gaiman was married to songwriter and performer Amanda Palmer, with whom he had an open marriage.[157] The couple announced that they were dating in June 2009,[141][142] and announced their engagement on Twitter on 1 January 2010.[158] On 16 November 2010, Palmer hosted a non-legally-binding flash mob wedding for Gaiman's birthday in New Orleans.[159] They were legally married on 2 January 2011.[160] The wedding took place in the parlour of writers Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon.[2][161] On marrying Palmer, he took her middle name, MacKinnon, as one of his names.[2] In September 2015, they had a son.[144]

In March 2020, Gaiman, Palmer, and their son were in Havelock North, Hawke's Bay, when New Zealand's government announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole country would move to COVID-19 Alert Level 4: complete lockdown and quarantining of people within their own homes.[162] In May 2020, Gaiman travelled from New Zealand to his holiday home on the Isle of Skye, breaking the lockdown rules. Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford described his behaviour as unacceptable and dangerous.[163] Gaiman published an apology on his website, saying he had endangered the local community.[164] After Gaiman's departure, Palmer announced on her Patreon that she and Gaiman had separated and requested privacy.[143] Gaiman stated in a blog post that their split was "my fault, I'm afraid" and also requesting privacy. The couple later released a joint statement clarifying that they were not, however, getting divorced.[165] They reconciled in 2021,[166][167] but in November 2022 they released a joint statement to announce they were divorcing.[168][169]

One of Gaiman's most commented-upon friendships is with the musician Tori Amos, a Sandman fan who became friends with Gaiman after making a reference to "Neil and the Dream King" on her 1991 demo tape. He included her in turn as a character (a talking tree) in his novel Stardust, and she guest-starred in that role in the BBC Radio 4 audio drama.[170] Amos also mentions Gaiman in her songs, "Tear in Your Hand" ("If you need me, me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king. Neil says hi by the way"),[171][172] "Space Dog" ("Where's Neil when you need him?"),[173] "Horses" ("But will you find me if Neil makes me a tree?"),[174] "Carbon" ("Get me Neil on the line, no I can't hold. Have him read, 'Snow, Glass, Apples' where nothing is what it seems"),[175] "Sweet Dreams" ("You're forgetting to fly, darling, when you sleep"),[176] and "Not Dying Today" ("Neil is thrilled he can claim he's mammalian, 'but the bad news,' he said, 'girl you're a dandelion'").[175] He also wrote stories for the tour book of Boys for Pele and Scarlet's Walk, a letter for the tour book of American Doll Posse, and the stories behind each girl in her album Strange Little Girls. Amos penned the introduction for his novel Death: the High Cost of Living, and posed for the cover. She also wrote a song called "Sister Named Desire" based on his Sandman character, which was included in his anthology, Where's Neil When You Need Him?.

Gaiman is godfather to Tori Amos's daughter Tash,[177] and wrote a poem called "Blueberry Girl" for Tori and Tash.[178] The poem has been turned into a book by the illustrator Charles Vess.[179] Gaiman read the poem aloud to an audience at the Sundance Kabuki Theater in San Francisco on 5 October 2008 during his book reading tour for The Graveyard Book.[180] It was published in March 2009 with the title Blueberry Girl.


In 2016, Gaiman, as well as several prominent celebrities, appeared in the video "What They Took With Them", from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to help raise awareness of the issue of global refugees.[181][182]

Gaiman is a supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and has served on its board of directors.[183] In 2013, Gaiman was named co-chair of the organization's newly formed advisory board.[184]

In 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Gaiman supported Ukraine by announcing on Twitter that he doesn't want to renew contracts with Russian publishers.[185] The writer also encouraged donations to Ukrainian refugees.[186][187]


Literary allusions

Gaiman's work is known for its allusiveness.[188] Dr. Meredith Collins, for instance, has commented upon the degree to which his novel Stardust depends on allusions to Victorian fairy tales and culture.[189] In The Sandman, literary figures and characters appear often; the character of Fiddler's Green is modeled on G. K. Chesterton, and both William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer appear as characters, as do several characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream[190] and The Tempest. The comic also draws from numerous mythologies.

Analyzing Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, bibliographer and librarian Richard Bleiler detects patterns of and allusions to the Gothic novel, from Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. He concludes that Gaiman is "utilizing works, characters, themes, and settings that generations of scholars have identified and classified as Gothic, ... [yet] subverts them and develops the novel by focusing on the positive aspects of maturation, concentrating on the values of learning, friendship, and sacrifice."[191] Regarding another work's assumed connection and allusions to this form, Gaiman himself quipped: "I've never been able to figure out whether Sandman is a gothic."[192]

Clay Smith has argued that this sort of allusiveness serves to situate Gaiman as a strong authorial presence in his own works, often to the exclusion of his collaborators.[193] However, Smith's viewpoint is in the minority: to many, if there is a problem with Gaiman's scholarship and intertextuality it is that "... his literary merit and vast popularity have propelled him into the nascent comics canon so quickly that there is not yet a basis of critical scholarship about his work."[194]

David Rudd takes a more generous view in his study of the novel Coraline, where he argues that the work plays and riffs productively on Sigmund Freud's notion of the Uncanny, or the Unheimlich.[195]

Though Gaiman's work is frequently seen as exemplifying the monomyth structure laid out in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces,[196] Gaiman says that he started reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces but refused to finish it: "I think I got about halfway through The Hero with a Thousand Faces and found myself thinking if this is true – I don't want to know. I really would rather not know this stuff. I'd rather do it because it's true and because I accidentally wind up creating something that falls into this pattern than be told what the pattern is."[197]

Selected awards and honours


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  128. ^ See Judge Shabaz's ruling for the legal reasoning: "As a co-owner, McFarlane was not violating the Copyright Act by unilaterally publishing the jointly owned work, but, as in any other case of conversion or misappropriation, he would have to account to the other joint owner for the latter's share of the profits."
  129. ^ See Khoury, George, Image Comics: The Road To Independence (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2007), ISBN 1-893905-71-3
  130. ^ See Judge Shabaz's ruling Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine: "A tentative agreement was reached that... Gaiman would exchange his rights in Medieval Spawn and Cogliostro for McFarlane's rights in another comic book character, Miracleman."
  131. ^ Judge Shabaz, Official ruling Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, as per "Schiller & Schmidt, Inc. v. Nordisco Corp., 969 F.2d 410, 413 (7th Cir. 1992)"
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