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Neil Gaiman


Those who know who Neil Gaiman is should know that, at his request, we spent most of our time talking about Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, though we did cover some of his other projects.

Those who don't know who Neil Gaiman is should take a look at Cranky's Princess Mononoke review, where I gush a bit.

A full shelf of one of my bookcases is filled with Gaiman's work, all ten volumes of The Sandman, Stardust, Neverwhere (including a bootleg tape of the BBC series), all the other work for DC Comics and the occasional pamphlet or two. And Neil's CD. Simply, Neil Gaiman is the best fantasy writer on the planet. "I write fairy tales" he told the Comics Buyer's Guide, but he also writes children's books, SF television episodes, and, thanks to a word from Quentin Tarantino, has penned the adaptation of Princess Mononoke, the first animated work that can properly be described as "epic".

CrankyCritic: How does Quentin Tarantino fit into all of this?
Neil Gaiman: Quentin's mum is a fan of mine and has been reading my stuff for a decade and insisting that everybody else read it, too. Bless her. In fact she used to send Quentin Sandman T-shirts. The first thing I ever heard about it was when people would say "Hey! I saw Quentin at a book signing and he was wearing a Mr. Punch T-shirt, or whatever. I thought, oh that's cool. So, he knew my stuff through his mum. Harvey Weinstein called him; Harvey's theory was he had Mononoke. He wanted the best screenwriter he could get to write it, to do the English adaptation. He didn't want anything that sounded like Saturday morning cartoons like Speed Racer. He called Quentin and Quentin said "You don't want me. You want Gaiman. Go and get Gaiman" An hour later my phone rings and next thing I've got Harvey telling me he wants me to write it. I said "OK. Send me a video" and Harvey said "No. I want you to see it in a cinema. You see this on video you do not 'get' the picture. You do not 'get' what this thing is." I went to a screening in Los Angeles, not really knowing what to expect, and the film started.
CrankyCritic: I've seen the same subtitled version on video. We can compare notes.
Neil Gaiman: Mr. Miyazaki has said watching Mononoke on video is like watching noise. And I think it's true. It's something that you have to see in a cinema. You have to see the hugeness, the beautiful-ness. I find it interesting because I must have seen it, now, on video perhaps a thousand times and in the cinema about five times, in various different dubs and forms. At the New York Film Festival in Lincoln Center I sat through it, watching it with joy. Seeing little details that I hadn't seen before. Little bits I'd missed
CrankyCritic: How was the audience reaction?
Neil Gaiman: Lovely. Perfect. Couldn't have asked for a better one They laughed at the jokes. They oo'd and ah'd but not inappropriately at the handful of tiny moments of ultra-violence. They obviously had an effect on them but it wasn't "yeah!" [think of a slice 'n' dice crowd cheering the nasty stuff, that's the kind of sound Neil made -- cs] and we got a standing ovation at the end.

CrankyCritic: You're well known for your championship of what are called Creator's Rights, that an author's work shouldn't be screwed with by outside hands. It must have been an interesting project to take on and adapt another man's work.
Neil Gaiman: Oh sure. At the end of the day what sold me on doing it was just realizing that here was this amazing, wonderful, beautiful thing that I really cared about. I watched it and I wanted it done well. I thought "If I say no, to the next person they hire, it may be a job." If anybody's going to f*** it up, I want it to be me. If Miyazaki is going to be mad at someone, I want it to be me, because I will be doing it with love and respect as best I can.

NEXT: We compare notes >>>

Copyright © 1999 Chuck Schwartz except All images and music © 1997 Studio Ghibli.

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is  Copyright © 1995-2016 by, Chuck Schwartz. All Rights Reserved. Articles and interviews by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All Rights Reserved. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of and ©, ®, ™ their respective studios. Used by permission. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award™(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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