Gaiman Interview with Brian Hibbs

Interview with Neil Gaiman. Conducted October 26, 1989 12:30 am. by Brian Hibbs, Owner of San Francisco’s Comix Experience. Transcribed by Brian Hibbs. Edited by Brian Hibbs, and Neil Gaiman.

Editor’s Spoiler: If some of the questions and answers seem non-linear, please keep in mind this interview began at 12:30 A.M., and didn’t finish until nearly 2 A.M. (Or 11 am in whatever time zone I was on.-NG)

COMIX EXPERIENCE: Let’s start off with an incredibly typical question — the obligatory “Why did you decide to start writing comics?”

NEIL GAIMAN: Because they were there? No. Because I wanted to, because it was a medium that I loved. I’d read comics extensively as a kid, and wanted to write comics as a teenager. I drifted away in the late seventies when there was very little interesting to read. I would occasionally pick up and flip through a comic, then put it back down in disgust. Then one day in early ’84 (or very late ’83) I was on Victoria Station in London and they had a pile of comics at the newsagents, including Swamp Thing. It was a title that I had loved as a kid, so I picked it up, thumbed through it, and thought. “‘ang on, this is literate, this is really interesting.” But by this point I had a very deeply ingrained prejudice against comics, and put it back down. Over the next month or so I’d pick up the Swamp Things, flip through them, and put them back down again. And finally, I think it was Swamp Thing #28, I bought it and took it home with me, and that was that. I’d discovered Alan Moore, discovered what he was doing. I realized you could do work in comics that was as every bit as mature, and interesting, and exciting, as anything that was being done in mainstream fiction or in modern horror literature. It was like coming back to an old lover, and discovering that she was still beautiful.

CE: You were slated to write Swamp Thing after Rick Veitch finished his run. Without getting into the politics of the situation, what were your plans for the book?

NG: I didn’t really have any. We never quite really got that far. I had a few ideas about what I was going to do. It was going to be me and Jamie Delano. We were going to split it, and do sort of three issues each on a turnabout basis. Neither of us could have done another monthly book at twelve issues a year, but we could have done it on that basis. It really hadn’t even got to the plotting stages.
Having said that, there was a lot of stuff that I did, back when I was originally creating Black Orchid, in terms of working out an unified vegetable theology in the DC world. So there is a lot of stuff in the background that I know about the Swamp Thing world that we never used. Some of that was hinted at in the Annual. (ED NOTE: Swamp Thing Annual #5)

CE: It seemed in the Annual that you were setting up a lot of plotlines.

NG: Yeah, I was setting up a lot of plotlines which I never actually got to do anything with. Doug (ED: Wheeler, current writer on Swampy) should have a copy of the essay that I did, “Notes Toward a Vegetable Theology”, and may well be picking up on some of that stuff.

CE: Was the decision to make Jason Woodrue (The Floronic Man) insane again yours?

NG: That was mine. I heard around the DC offices that New Guardians was going to get cancelled. I went over to (ED: Editor) Andy Helfer, and said, “Great! Can we have Jason Woodrue back, please?” He said yes, so I started messing with Jason Woodrue.

CE: Were you going to turn him back into a villain?

NG: I was going to bring him back as a villain. He was getting back to being Woodrue, the Rue of the Wood, and probably on a much bigger scale, a much nastier scale. It would have been fun, but again it didn’t happen.
I probably would have brought back Black Orchid in there. I don’t know, because as I said, it never got that far. Rick still had a few issues. I talked to Rick, we sort of co-plotted Rick’s last few episodes, which never saw print. When I say co-plotted, I mean that we had long bull sessions about them when I stayed up in Vermont for a couple days last Winter. I spent a day with Steve Bissette, a day with Rick, and the evening I spent with Rick we were plotting out Rick’s final sequence.
Rick had the end of the time travel sequence, and some Arcane stuff. We talked through what we would have done during the birth of the baby story. We would have done a whole “Gifts of the Magi” number, with various characters coming up, and bestowing the newborn child a gift. What John Constantine would have done, and so forth. That would have brought tears to your eyes, it would have been one of the most moving comics you would have ever read, Brian. You would have wept. It would probably have filled you with hope and inspiration for the rest of your life. And when you were feeling down, you would have taken that comic out, and read it, and felt good again.

CE: (Laughter)

NG: Unfortunately it never saw print.

CE: But that seems to be too ideal. After all Constantine, who was the, uh, vessel, was tainted with Demonblood. It seems that is too rosy of a situation.

NG: Yeah, well, let`s put it this way: That particular story would have been the business, it would have been gorgeous! Unfortunately…
But the point was Rick had six issues to go on his story. I had a few vague ideas rolling around, but I hadn’t actually rolled up my sleeves and gone to work. I probably would have had a big meeting with Jamie, we would have talked stuff through, we would have bounced ideas back and forth. We would have talked to Rick, we might well have talked to Alan. And then we’d have rolled up our sleeves and put it all together. I wanted to do stuff with old Swamp Things as well, just because of my fetish for the Historical.

CE: Just parenthetically, have you read any of the Doug Wheeler Swamp Things yet?

NG: Not really. Not properly. Looks okay. His Constantine has problems. I find Americans writing Constantine normally get his dialogue wrong. Rick got him right towards the end of his tenure, but even Rick was off when he started.

CE: Miracleman has gotten a reputation as being really late (second only to Ms. Mystic). When you take over the scripting next issue, will the book resume a normal schedule?

NG: Things can only improve, this is all I will say. For awhile it was coming out Bi-yearly. Currently, it seems to be an annual. Things will only improve.

CE: Do you think you’ll be able to keep a Bi-weekly…Bi-weekly?

NG: I doubt it.

CE: …Bi-monthly schedule?

NG: Well, we’re shooting for nine a year. What we’d like to do in the best of all possible worlds is bring out six issues, have three months off, then bring out another six, then have three months off, then bring out another six. I don’t know if it will actually work like that, but it should be more frequent. I’ve written the first episode Dave (ED: McKean) has painted the first cover, and some time around now, Mark Buckingham will finish drawing the first episode.

CE: So he’s already started?

NG: He was almost finished when I left.

CE: So in other words, one month after Miracleman #16 sees print, we could have #17?

NG: Maybe two months. It would be nice to have a little break after #16 for everybody to settle in.

CE: Where will you be taking Miracleman? Is the interlude in Total Eclipse an accurate view of what you’ll be doing with the book?

NG: No, the interlude in Total Eclipse was an interlude in Total Eclipse. They phoned me up and said, “We want you to do an interlude in Total Eclipse on Miracleman.” Well, they phoned me up and said, “Neil, we called to confirm that you’re doing Miracleman.” I said “That’s great, thank you for calling.” Now, bear in mind Alan had asked me to do the book two years before, so I’d been waiting for Eclipse to phone for quite a while. So I finally get a message saying, “Yes, you’re doing it — and by the way, we needed an interlude for Total Eclipse three weeks ago. We’ve got it all plotted out, it’s just Miracleman wandering around, brooding on his past, present, and future.” I said, “No”, and we started negotiating. In the end I said, “I’ll do you a story about little Jason, from issue 3 of Miracleman.” Jason and the the destruction of London. So that’s what I did. Anyway, that story’s not really part of Book Four. We may actually end up reprinting it in Book Four, simply because so many people didn’t see it in Total Eclipse. It was a very well kept secret, that story.

CE: So what are your plans for book four?

NG: Book four is a series of short stories about what it’s like to live in Utopia.

CE: Sandman is obviously a book with literary allusions. How much research do you do for an average issue, and what type of sources do you use?

NG: Okay. Firstly, there is no such thing as an “average” issue of Sandman. There really isn’t. And having said that, you’ll probably find that the ones you would assume I’ve done the most research on have little or no research, and the ones you’d assume I’ve made up are very well researched.
#9, for example, the African folk tale, was not researched. I was flattered by a friend of mine, who is an expert on shamanistic lore and the oral tradition of storytelling, when she complimented me on its accuracy. What I wanted to do was something that felt like an old African folk tale, even if it wasn’t. Especially if it wasn’t. That was totally unresearched.
Sandman #13 is a historical, very heavily researched. Partly because it was historical, and because it’s not just one historical period. It covers about six historical periods. I had to get them right sociologically, economically, in terms of architecture, in terms of speech patterns, (although not actually in terms of speech. If I had done how people spoke in the 14th and 15th centuries, it would have been unintelligible — try reading Chaucer in the original!) That was very heavily researched. And at the end of it, I went out and bought 60 worth of books on costume through the ages, interior decorating through the ages, and stuff, and sent them off to Mike Zulli — who’s done a superb job.
For Sandman #14, the serial killer one, I did a pile of research over the last year. I had the idea for this story October 1988, in fact I had the idea two weeks before the first episode of Sandman had come out. I’ve been quietly researching serial killers ever since. Every book on them I could find, and so forth.
Sometimes I actually do research. For example, I’ve got a character in the Doll’s House storyline called Hal, who is a drag queen. I mean professionally — he’s a singer and a dancer in a drag show. I was working on #15. The whole story is set in the dreams of all the people who live in that house. He was the only one I didn’t feel particularly comfortable with. So I got a friend of mine to take me down to a drag show in London. During the break I talked to the… performers. I said, “O.K., listen, you may think that this is a really weird question, but what do you dream about? Do you dream in drag? Do you dream as a man or a woman? How do you dream?” These kinds of things. I got two or three of them to tell me their dreams. It was really interesting stuff. I sort of planned to steal the dreams they told me and put them in the book. Then I came to write it, and none of the dreams they’d told me fitted. But I felt comfortable enough with how they dreamed, and what they dreamed about, and what the subtext of what they were dreaming about was to make up my own drag dreams.
One of them was terrific. He was saying, “I never dream about drag, never dream anything about drag. I have funny dreams, though. I dreamed the other week I was walking through a western town, and I walked into a bar, and I saw my boyfriend. There was something funny about his face. I went over and started picking at it, and bits of it started coming off in my hands. It was just like `The Fly’. But I never dream about drag or make-up. I had this other dream the other week, where there was me, and there was Pandora,” Pandora was this tall, black drag artist, “and Pandora had this big scar down the side of her face. I said, `Who did that to you?’, and she said, `A big dog’, and I said, `No, no, it wasn’t a big dog, it was your boyfriend.’ Her eye was destroyed, and her face was scarred. But I don’t dream about drag, or anything like that.” And I was thinking, “Yeah, right, you don’t dream about drag.”

CE: So you often approach it journalistically?

NG: Almost never, but I approached that journalistically. I do research until I feel confident that I can fake it, if you know what I mean. The thing about research is that there are some authors who wear their research on their sleeve, and a lot of the time that can get really irritating. You want to say, “Yes, you’ve obviously spent six months with this police force, you’ve interviewed the police, you know your police procedure down cold, now will you shut up and tell the story?” Everybody should do their research and then forget about it.

CE: You obviously (from the Swamp Thing Annual, and the Secret Origins Special) love funky DC’s from the 60’s. What are your most memorable stories?

NG: Trouble with the most memorable stories is that when you go back to them now, they, generally speaking, don’t cut it.
I have a huge fondness for strange and stupid stuff. Metamorpho, from the 60’s, is a title I love. The 60’s run of Plastic Man, Brave and Bold from the 60’s, y’know, because they had these incredible covers — Batman and Hawkman in the air, trying to rip each others masks off for no apparently discernible reason. The Time Commander stories — Green Lantern trapped in a giant metal bat! Those were the kind of comics I loved. Swamp Thing. I loved the Phantom Stranger — the Len Wein/Jim Aparo run on Phantom Stranger in the 70’s was absolutely stunning at the time. Nobody else, apart from Alan Moore very briefly, has ever done the Stranger right. I loved Kirby’s stuff.

CE: You and Dave McKean work together very frequently. How did you meet?

NG: I met him working for a comic called Borderline, which is an anthology comic that never happened. Basically, we were both interested in comics, and what was apparently a new comic came along, that wanted new thrusting, young talent, and we claimed to be such. We were working on different things, (I was a journalist, and I think he was still in art college at the time), we didn’t work on the same strips in the magazine, and the magazine never came out, for various reasons. The second eight pages of The Light Brigade, which was done back then, is the only thing to ever have seen print from it (ED: Reprinted in Trident #1) (NG note — the first eight pages were so appalling I refused to allow them to be reprinted, and Nigel Kitchen went back and did his version of that stuff, which is what saw print.)
Paul Gravett from Escape came over to see Borderline, liked what I was writing, liked what Dave was drawing, and asked us to do something together for Escape. What we ended up doing was not the five page story he had hoped for, but the 48 page graphic novel, Violent Cases. It is to his credit that he really didn’t blanch when we said, “Do you mind if we do this?”

CE: How long ago was this?

NG: 1985 – 1986.
…I love working with Dave Mckean — Dave is a joy. These days it’s practically telepathic. We talk in a shorthand that would probably be totally unintelligible to anyone else. I write scripts for him that would undoubtedly be totally unintelligible to anyone else. Dave is probably my favorite collaborator.
I love working with artists. That’s one of the joys of comics. When I write prose I can’t read my own stuff for pleasure, I can’t get any kick from it. I just look at it and go, “Oh God. Look at that sentence.” But I can — sometimes — get pleasure from a comic I wrote, because what I wrote was just a blueprint for what actually appeared.

CE: Where did the concept of using Morpheus come from, and more generally, where do you get your ideas?

NG: I get my ideas from a little ideas shop in South London.

CE: (Laughter)

NG: No, they’re terrific. They’re currently doing bulk rate deals. The way it works is that if you buy 50 ideas from them, you get another 10 ideas free. They aren’t very good ideas, but they’re ideas nonetheless.
Actually, the idea of Morpheus sort of evolved. Me and Dave did Black Orchid. Black Orchid is very much grounded in the real world. Very, very straight, very realistic. Which is what we wanted to do when we started out, but by the end of it, or even by the middle of it, we were sick to death of doing something so very obviously set in the real world. I was picking up ideas that were basically a reaction against that. I was thinking, what is the weirdest idea that I can come up with? I was also playing a game with myself, that I used occasionally to play, taking the stupidest characters, the worst, the characters that not only don’t work, but never worked, and try to find out what is interesting about this character. How can I make this character work? What is the interesting bit? Let’s start with this, and go forward. I played this game with the 70’s Sandman. Terrible character, and all that, but there was something actually interesting about a character who lives in your dreams. That’s where he lives. I was thinking that might make for an interesting graphic novel. Me and Dave doing a Sandman graphic novel. Throw out all the 70’s continuity and do something else. I mentioned that to Karen (ED: Berger, editor of Sandman), when she was over for a convention. It was really just a passing comment, because I was trying to sell them this Boy Commandos story, that would have been absolutely… I told the plot to Jenette (ED: Kahn, D.C. president and publisher), and she sort of went pale. So I never did it… Heart-rending story. It was called “Reunion”, and it took place now, with the Boy Commandos grown old, their lives totally ruined by the fact that they had their moment of glory when they were twelve, and it’s been downhill from there, it could never get that good again. You get medals from the President when you’re twelve? And adventures, and then the war finishes, and you have to grow up…

CE: How about the Green Team? I doubt even you could resurrect them!

NG: I thought about that the other day. Somebody else asked me, “What about the Green Team?”
Actually, the Green Team is a really interesting idea. “Here we are, six kids, and we have a lot of money, and we will pay anyone a million pounds for giving us an adventure.” Oh boy, I could do things with that! Trust me. “Hey kids, you want an adventure? Give me the million pounds.”

CE: (Laughter)

NG: Anyway, Sandman…
So I sort of forgot all about it. Then Karen phoned me up a few months later, and said, “We want you to do a monthly book, who would you like to do?” I said I’d probably like to do the Phantom Stranger, or the Demon, one of those. I wanted to do a horror title. They said, “No.”, and went away for a couple of days, then called me back and said, “How about the Sandman, using the stuff you were talking about at the convention?” I said, “Yeah, okay”. “But we don’t want it to be the Kirby Sandman, we want you to do a new one.” I said okay, and went off, and started just digging around in books of quotations, buying books on dreams, thinking about it. I also started thinking about what nobody had done yet in terms of a comics genre that had never been touched. What occurred to me was that nobody had utilized the super-hero aspects of dark fantasy, and religion, and myth. Roger Zelany did a series of novels in the 60’s — “Creatures of Light and Darkness” was one of them, “Lord of Light” was another — in which he’d transplant a mythic structure — for example, “Creatures of Light and Darkness” was the Egyptian mythology, “Lords of Light” was the Hindu mythology — and he’d place it in a science-fictional context, as a result of which you get larger than life super-heroes. I thought that was something nobody’s ever done in comics. Sort of a horror thing that basically could walk the line between horror and dark fantasy, while still doing something that would, at least on the surface, still seem to have some of the glitz and glitter of a super-hero comic. While not being a super-hero comic, looking sort of like a super-hero comic.
Then I started thinking of some of the problems of such a character — a character who has been around since the beginning of time. I thought, why has no one in the DC universe heard of him? He must have been out of action for a while. I had read Oliver Sack’s book, “Awakenings”, about the sleepy sickness thing, which started around 1916. I kept getting this image of a guy in a prison cell, or a cave, for years and years, and the people who put him there. I thought, he’d be able to escape by being simply outlasting them, he could wait. And they’d gradually get old and die, and they’d get sloppy. And after a while they don’t even really know why he’s there…
There’s a level on which Sandman #1 is still my least favorite issue. For each story, each episode, you have a sort of platonic ideal in the back of your mind. There is the perfect story, and you never approach it in what you write. (Well, you approach it, but you never reach it.) Sandman #1 is probably furthest of them all from my platonic ideal, from what Sandman #1 could have been.

CE: One of the fears on a continuing book, especially one like Sandman, is the need to constantly “up the ante”, to create a threat for the lead character. Do you think Sandman will run out of steam over the passage of time?

NG: I don’t think the need is to up the ante. I think that this is a mistake that people sometimes make. “Fuck, how are we going to up the ante?” Where The Sandman is concerned, the character is a god already. Now, there is a level of storytelling, that I personally find very stupid, which says, okay, we’ve got a continuing series here, a continuing character. In the beginning, we’re going to pose a big threat to this character, and at the end of it, it will be all okay, and he’ll be fine, and all ready for the next episode. Now, it struck me when I was reasonably young that there was something fundamentally dishonest about this. I don’t care what it says on the cover of the book — I know Lex Luthor didn’t kill Superman, because I know he’s going to be back next episode.
So, where Sandman is concerned the book is not designed to have bigger and better menaces every episode. I’m not going to say that the character won’t have problems, I’m not going to say that he’s not going to have menaces, I’m not going to say that he isn’t going to get into deep shit from time to time, but that isn’t what the book is about. Take issues 8 and 9. Issues 8 and 9 have probably been the most popular issues so far. What happens in #8? He walks around New York until he cheers up. He feeds the pigeons a bit. That’s what happens in Sandman #8.
What happens in Sandman #9? Two people go into a desert and a young man is told a story, in which a mythic version of the Sandman figures in a minor role.

CE: So you don’t think your audience expects you to up the ante?

NG: I don’t think so. Like I say, it’s not that he’s not going to get into trouble. But I’m writing the kind of comic that I’d like to read: that’s the rule. The rule on Sandman is that I’m writing the type of monthly comic that I’d like to read every month. I’m writing it for my sort of ideal reader, who in the case of Sandman is probably me. I don’t see any real reason to up the ante. There are an awful lot of stories going on, that I’ve got lined up. “Sandman meets the Tooth Fairy” will terrify you.

CE: Which brings us real neatly to my next question — what are the future plans for Sandman?

NG: Well, we’ve got the “Doll’s House” storyline. In the first storyline, Sandman #1-8, the story is told from a masculine perspective. The women in them, generally speaking, do not survive to the end of the story, those women who are actually in it, although they are very often sympathetic and interesting characters. What I want to do in the “Doll’s House” storyline is, while never actually standing on a soapbox and banging a little tin drum, is to address, even if very tangentially, things like the marginalisation of women, the role of women in culture, again, the role of the triune Goddess. That’s one of the themes. The other is the walls that we build between each other, relationships between people.
At the end of the “Doll’s House” storyline (I figured three or four months ago) we were going to be starting a big new storyline. But, having been writing something that is essentially one big story for six months, I’m sick of it. Well, not sick of it, but tired, and anyway, I’ve had lots of ideas for little short stories. So I suspect there will be three, four, maybe even five issues that are just individual stories.
There’s one called “The Death of Element Girl”, in which Sandman probably won’t even appear. He might appear, I dunno. That has Death, and an old DC character called Element Girl, who nobody remembers any more.

CE: From Metamorpho.

NG: Yeah. The Lady Metamorpho. So famous she never even made it into Who’s Who. Anyway, she’s in there. Terribly sad story.
There’s another one called “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” which is all about cats, and what they dream about. I don’t know if there are even any people in that story. It’s all cats — cat messiah, cat legends, cat history, cat dreams.
And, like I said before, there’s the Tooth Fairy story. I think it may have even started out as a joke — someone said, “When are you going to do a Tooth Fairy story, Neil?” I thought, “Actually, let’s think about this for a minute. What does the Tooth Fairy do with the teeth?” You’re going around the world, you’re accumulating thousands and thousands of teeth from under pillows every day. Why? I envisioned this castle, this huge structure, made out of little children’s baby teeth, a lot of them rotten, with sharp points. These walls, that if you leaned against them, you’d cut yourself on these sharp little teeth. Horrible. Anyway, that sort of started an idea for a story with the Tooth Fairy.

CE: I’ve always wondered where the Tooth Fairy got all the money.

NG: Actually, what happens is your parents come under the pillow, they put in the money, they take away the tooth. What do they do with the tooth? They throw it away. Then the Tooth Fairy comes by and takes the tooth out of the garbage. Anyway, this is my theory.
Future plotlines after that…well, there’s a plotline involving the rest of the Family — all of the Endless. By the end of my run on the book, which may be the end of the book — I think DC would probably let it stop with me — we will have met all the Family. Another storyline about Hell… there’s a lot of stories.

CE: Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament and Seven Deadly Sins show you obviously have a good working knowledge of the Bible…

NG: Or, in the case of Seven Deadly Sins, can make one up.

CE: While Sandman is filled with “alternative” theology. What are your views on religion and faith?

NG: I love religion. I could make up religions all day. I sort of think that in an ideal world I’d like to be a religion designer. I’d like people come up to me and say, “I need a religion.” I’d go talk to them for awhile, and I’d design a religion for them. That would be a great job. There’s a need for people like that. Fortunately, seeing that one can’t actually do it, I get paid for sort of making them up anyway.

CE: You’re listed in the credits of the Watchmen and Elektra paperbacks as “Special thanks to…” What gives? Have you been secretly plotting the course of western civilization’s comics these last few years?

NG: Yeah. I’m actually one of the secret masters. It’s the Gnomes of Zurich and me.
No, no… I remember Alan ringing me up when he was writing Watchmen #3, and said, “Neil, you’re an educated bloke. Where does the quote `Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?’ come from? I think someone said it when they were dying, but I don’t know when.” I went out, and found it for him, rang him back, and said, “No. It’s Genesis. God threatening to nuke Sodom and Gommorah.” He said, “Thanks”, then went off.
He rang me back a few months later and said, “Neil, I haven’t any quotes for the titles of #7 and #8. This is what happens in them, go find me a quote.” So I went off and got him “Brother to dragons, and companion to owls…” from Job for #7, and the poem for #8, Eleanor Farjeon’s “Hallowe’en”. “On Hallowe’en the old ghosts come.”
Also, while I was researching the Old Testament stuff, I was working my way through a huge Biblical concordance, getting various details. It fell open to a page on obscure history, and the name Rameses jumped out at me. I discovered this quote that said, roughly, “I’ve killed all these places, and left the widows weeping there. Everything is at peace, and everything is great in the world.” So I rang up Alan, and said, “What do you think of this?” He said “Great! I’ll stick it in #12” So you’ve got Ozymandius quoting Rameses in Watchmen. (ED: #12, Pg. 20)

CE: What do you think accounts for the “British Invasion” we’ve had in comics the last few years? Why does it seem that British creators have stronger voices and visions then their American counterparts?

NG: This always happens in America. First you get the Beatles. That’s Alan Moore. Then you get the Tremeloes and Herman’s Hermits. That’s me and Grant Morrison.

CE: I’d say more like the Who and the Rolling Stones.

NG: Nah, we’re the Tremeloes. We know who we are.
Probably a lot of it has to do with that we don’t only read comics. I wind up chatting with Grant, or chatting with Jamie [Delano], for example, and talking about what we’re reading, and comics never get a look in. Jamie goes burbling on about Robert Graves. Grant’ll just have discovered Peter Ackroyd… We’re not just talking about comics. I think in America, unfortunately, comics have become very incestuous – -and, I should add, I’m talking exclusively about mainstream comics. In the mainstream, you’ve got people who learned to write from people who learned to write from people who learned to write by copying Stan Lee. It’s like a Xerox: take an image, photocopy it, photocopy the photocopy, then photocopy the photocopy, and sooner or later you lose the image. I think part of that is what’s wrong with American comics. A lot of mainstream super-hero comics are like bad fourth and fifth generation photo-copies of 1960’s or 1970’s comics.
What we’re doing, or at least what I think we’re trying to do is to try new things, bringing in new approaches, and not trying to write like Stan Lee. It’s great watching Grant steal from Jan Schwenkmaier, a Czechoslovakian animator, and from the Dadaists, for the Doom Patrol. If you’re going to start stealing, it’s much better to steal from Dada and Schwenkmaier, and Andre Breton and the surrealists than to steal from Stan Lee, or…

CE: Or Roy Thomas.

NG: Or Roy Thomas, who’s sort of a second generation Stan Lee.
We’re more jaundiced as well, we’re a lot harder to please.

CE: Well, on that note, Neil, I’ll say good night. Thanks for the interview and pleasant dreams…

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