Neil Gaiman
The Sandman scribe on anime and Miyazaki
Neil Gaiman is no stranger to comic book fans; for seven years, his Sandman series, released under DC's Vertigo imprint, raised the bar on what was possible in a comic book. He's also worked in other media, having penned books such as Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett) and Neverwhere, as well as working on their TV adaptations.

Gaiman's work reflects a skill with weaving mythological figures and events that resonates in the same way as the original myths themselves, with just the right touch of both grandeur and humanity. It's probably no surprise, then, that he found himself working on the adaptation of the English script to Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece Princess Mononoke, which similarly focuses on both god and man.

Emru Townsend: I see that you haven't done any work in animation before. There was a rumor way back when that there was possibly going to be a Sandman episode of the Batman animated series. Were you actually involved in that?

Neil Gaiman: Paul Dini came up to me one day at a convention in about '91 or '92 and he said he had a Sandman plot, he told it to me, and would I give it my blessing? I said I definitely would. And we talked about five minutes about who we would cast for the voice, and what kind of voice effects we'd do. And that was pretty much that. It never really happened. I think it was after that, it became much more Batman and Robin-y, and there never really was room to do that story. And oddly enough, I bumped into Paul Dini in San Diego this year, in the middle of the screening of Princess Mononoke that we did at [the] San Diego [comic convention], when I wound up introducing the screening, running back to the main hotel, and presenting some Eisner awards, then running back and doing a question-and-answer at the end of Mononoke. And I bumped into Paul Dini. And he was saying, "You going to write me a Batman Beyond, then?" And I said, "I don't know, it depends if I have time. Why don't you do that Sandman story?" And he said, "What a great idea!" So maybe it'll show up in Batman Beyond then.

But otherwise, you haven't done work with animation, have you?

Um... no.

You seem to have covered just about everything else, I mean you've done prose novels, short stories, of course Princess Mononoke--that's animation work, although it's not actually writing, strictly speaking, it's more rewriting--comics, with Sandman, of course, but you haven't done anything else with animation to date. Are you planning to at any point?

We're negotiating with Sunbow, and I believe the negotiation is all done, to do a series based on my book with Dave McKean, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and may well wind up doing some other stuff.

I've been going through some other articles from other interviews with you in the past, and you said in one of them that you had, if anything, a "lazy" interest in anime before Princess Mononoke.

People who [I know] would occasionally stick on videos and say "Watch this, you'll like it." What would happen is, mostly I would. Actually, I was under the impression when I started Mononoke that I was a vague anime fan, and discovered, rather to my surprise, that actually what I was was a vague Miyazaki fan, and all of the things had really registered, and I'd gone, yes, I like this, yes, this is good...

Do you mean that in the sense that the things you'd seen before that you'd liked were Miyazaki works, or just the aspects that you liked?

The ones that had registered. The ones where I went, oh, that is so cool, that is so amazing, turned out to be Miyazaki.

Was there anything else that came along that you found interesting?

I liked Akira. I liked parts of Akira. But I preferred it as a comic.


The trouble is, a lot of the stuff that didn't register, I didn't stop to find out what it was, even the title. You know, so... oh, that's interesting, great. So a giant demon has taken over a skyscraper and now appears to be attempting to penetrate this young lady with 200 giant magical penises.

I know which one that is! [laughs]

I don't. I've completely forgotten.

That's okay, consider yourself lucky.

So most of this stuff would wash in and wash out easily, and the stuff that tended to stay was Miyazaki, although I didn't know that at the time.

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