This week, Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman The sand man makes its debut. It’s been a long, long road for the adaptation of the legendary comic book, and Gaiman’s involvement has helped keep the adaptation true to its intent while making key changes.
With the release of the series, what better time to celebrate the work of Gaiman, whose writing has been featured in virtually every possible writing medium you could think of? Here are some of our favorite novels, short stories, graphic novels, TV episodes, and other assorted works by the author (and for something more Sand seller-specific, here are our favorite stories from the comic).
While the question of whether or not The sand man is Neil Gaiman’s best work is a matter of debate, I adamantly maintain that it is the more Work by Neil Gaiman. Indeed, as my colleague Susana Polo so eloquently explains, The sand man was the product of not just a once-in-a-lifetime moment in comic book publishing history, but of an ambitious young writer who put every creative passion of his into work for fear of not having such an opportunity again.
The result was not just one of superhero comics’ biggest cult hits (if not the biggest), but an introduction to the kinds of stories Gaiman would go on to write throughout his career. Quarreling deities and modern anthropomorphic aspects of american gods? It’s in The sand man. The elements of urban fantasy and distant folklore of Never and Stardust? It’s in The sand man. The whimsical horror humor of Coraline? You guessed it – The sand man. If nothing else, The sand man is a perfect entry point for any potential reader to become familiar with Neil Gaiman’s distinctive writing style. The sand man feels like the ur-text for every story Gaiman could possibly aspire to write in the future. —Toussaint Egan
good omens is one of those pop culture things I had heard about but never really knew what it was about – until I finally read the book and absolutely fell for it in love and understands all the hype. Written by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, good omens somehow transforms the apocalypse into a witty and charming reflection on the joys of mankind.
At its core, it’s Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and a demon, who have spent the last thousands of years cycling in and out of each other’s lives and, as such , have instead become attached to each other and live on Earth. They team up to stop the apocalypse from happening, even though their heavenly and hellish bosses really want the end of the world to begin already.
The TV adaptation, which stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant, is equally delightful – and further fleshes out Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship. It gets a second season. Gaiman has a lot of input into it and he’ll incorporate bits of the sequel that he and Pratchett never got to write, so hopefully that holds up. —Petrana Radulovic
Gaiman is, if nothing else, an all-around writer. In addition to comics and novels, he has written works as diverse as one of the best-loved episodes of Doctor Who and the English script by Studio Ghibli Princess Mononoke. But for my money, there’s nothing Gaiman does better than short stories.
First published in 1998, Smoke and mirrors collects pieces dating as far back as 1984. The reader will find erotica, a Christmas card, dreamlike science fiction, fairy tale retellings, deconstructions of great fantasy authors and even a bit of poetry inside. But above all, they’ll discover Gaiman’s talent for the short, fantastical horror thread that makes you uncomfortable and ends with – well, if you don’t hear the Cryptkeeper snickering like he just came from very away, maybe you’re not paying attention. —Susana Polo
My favorite story about Stardust is that Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne Jones once compared notes on John Donne’s ‘song’ – and in response to this poem, Gaiman wrote Stardust and Jones wrote Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle.
The original novel and the film version of Stardust play with the conventions of fairy tales (in the same way as Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle Is). It follows Tristran Thorn (Tristan in the film), who promises to fetch a Fallen Star for the most beautiful girl in his village – only to find that the Fallen Star is actually a headstrong young woman. There are fairies, witches, pirates on floating ships – it’s a fun adventure and fascinating romance. And somehow the movie version manages to capture the magic, but with a few tweaks to make it more cinematic and give it a happier ending.
However, the book’s original ending is one of the most poignant and bittersweet endings I’ve ever read and it holds a special place in my heart at how devastating it is. —PR
Coraline is a children’s horror masterpiece. I still remember finding the book at my local library, both spellbound and terrified by the illustrated cover, which showed a character with buttons for eyes. I had recently made the jump from the early readers section to the mid-level chapter books, and I was fully judging the books by their covers. I had no idea how much this iconography would haunt me for weeks. It also made me a young Neil Gaiman fan.
I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly. Vanity is genuinely frightening, even as an adult, and incredibly relatable as a child. Just like other children’s suspense portal to another world (see also: Taken away as if by magic), Coraline features a young girl who wishes her life was a little different after moving to a new house. She crawls through a small door and into another universe, where she meets Other Mother, who cooks her favorite dishes and lets her have the adventures she really wants. The problem? She can never leave. In addition, his eyes will be replaced by buttons, like all residents of this universe.
The film adaptation is also excellent. In a beautiful coincidence, I had just become obsessed with stop motion, especially that campy horror era of Tim Burton – especially anything directed by Henry Selick. Coraline was adapted by animation studio Laika (years later they made Kubo and the two ropes, a marvel of animation). The Selick-led Coraline the film is whimsical, wonderful and, above all, absolutely terrifying. I watched it when I was in sixth grade and it gave me nightmares for weeks. It was, and still is, all I ever wanted. —Nicole Clark
His “Make Good Art” commencement speech in 2012
In 2012, I was a freshman in college, nearing the end of my studies and the start of a career in a volatile industry. This keynote, which I stumbled upon after a friend shared it on Facebook, had a massive positive impact on me at a time when I needed that boost.
The whole is worth it, but one part in particular deserves to be remembered.
People continue to work, in an independent world, and more and more people in today’s world are independent, because their work is good, because it is easy to get along with them and because that they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is good. People will tolerate how rude you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
This is a valuable lesson in life, especially as work insinuates itself more and more into every aspect of our lives. I’m grateful to have heard it at a time when I really needed it. —Pete Volk
His presence on Tumblr
Before elaborating – yes, people still use Tumblr and it’s a lot more popular than most people realize. Neil Gaiman has been an active Tumblr user since 2011, and he still actively uses the microblogging platform to this day. This is notable, as celebrities have notoriously been bullied on Tumblr. Yet somehow Neil Gaiman survived them all, watching from the shadows of his own dashboard.
He keeps his question box open and answers questions from fans. He gives life and writing advice. He talks about the different adaptations of his works, gives the information he is able to give and responds with a “wait and see” signature when he cannot. He plays around with silly jokes and reblog additions. He helps fans track down the murky lines he wrote. And as is the reality of the internet, he faces his share of haters and trolls, but he’s still remarkably gracious to them.
He also reblogs posts, adds new information, provides funny comments or gives helpful advice (this usually causes some surprise in people who come across a Neil Gaiman comment organically in the wild, and it’s always great fun have).
It’s just a good internet presence, which is extremely rare these days. —PR
Neil Gaiman? What are you doing in my falafel?
I would be remiss if I did not mention the episode of the PBS Kids series arthur where Neil Gaiman comes to advise Sue Ellen on writing her own graphic novel. In the episode, she meets Gaiman (her Arthur-sona, at least, who is a cat) at a book reading and he gives her a copy of the Coraline graphic novel. When she tries to write her own book and is discouraged by her friends’ comments and her own doubts, an imaginary version of Gaiman seems to give her some good advice! It’s a great episode about the creative process – but also offers the hilarity of a little cat-like Neil Gaiman sitting in a falafel. —PR