Saturday, August 04, 2007

Rejecting fame

The weekend when Neil Gaiman was here a couple of years ago I was hanging out with some friends at Greenhills Promenade, where he was scheduled for a book signing. They asked me what the long lines at Fully Booked were for and I told them Gaiman was coming over. I also said I had an invite to the writers' forum the following day so I was in no hurry to see him.

They asked, "Neil who?"

My brow wrinkled slightly and I replied "The author. Sandman, American Gods, Coraline."

Their eyes were still blank.

My surprise was partly from the fact that Gaiman is not an Alan Moore or Warren Ellis (popular comic book writers) but a guy who has crossed over to writing TV shows (Neverwhere, Babylon 5), movies, and bestselling novels. But of course what should I expect from people who think Paolo Coelho is "deep" and "The Da Vinci Code" is good? (Oh, they didn't say that out loud but literate half who read this blog know the type well enough.)

Anyway, it just amused me to find out the Nail Gaiman consciously avoided becoming famous preferring, instead, to maintain his cult status. I think he will, despite Stardust the movie. The actors who are being interviewed on TV don't even mention him at all. Which means he'll belong to us comic book cultists, academics, and literary geeks a bit longer.


Francis Ocoma said...

Hey there, Sir Pat. I've only ever read Neil's American Gods and his and Pratchett's Good Omens and I know only one iAcademy graduate who's a Gaiman fan (Tedi Soriano, who corrected me once for mispronouncing Gaiman), so I guess it's true that he's not popular...which is weird for me since I always thought he was one of the more well-known fantasy writers out there. I suspect Gaiman's lack of fame is rooted more on the general tendency of the unwashed masses, so to speak, to fear unrequired reading, rather than on Gaiman's own conscious rejection of fame. Many people just won't read books unless their teachers or bosses require them to, or unless enough of their friends pressure them.

Anyway, I saw the Stardust trailer a few weeks ago and it was astounding! I immediately thought "This must be based on a book", because I don't put much store in Hollywood's creativity. Well then, I guess I've decided which Gaiman book I'll be reading next. :-)

Tala said...

@Francis: You know me. Heehee.

People don't appreciate Gaiman more because they don't get the humour/tone of his work. I have this pattern of introducing friends to Gaiman. I let them read Good Omens first. If they don't get it (how can you not get it, right?), I just stop. I don't think Stardust is going to make it big mainstream either. I think it's going to be the next Princess Bride. Which is fine by me. I don't like it when my fandom goes mainstream (re: Harry Snotter).

missingpoints said...

@Tala: Which is why I'm a Honor Harrington fan. Military Space Opera will NEVER be big if BSG is the most popular we can ever get. :)

yup, they're already calling it the next "Princess Bride." I find it weird how people will balk at fantasy played straight while suspending disbelief for something like "Die Hard."

"Good Omens" is a bit too british, though. Plus he's with Pratchett, who's even more "love him or hate him" than Gaiman. I think American Gods or Anansi Boys might be a better intro.

@Francis: he is a cult figure, plus he's crossed over to various genres. He's popular for his genre/s but not Stephen King or (shudder) Dan Brown popular.

I just found his conscious rejection of celebrity cool. I mean, who turns down Letterman?

Francis Ocoma said...

Oops. Sorry Ate. I was thinking of Batch 2007. :)

I suppose it shows my social ignorance when my idea of mainstream means "mainstream for geeks" haha.

missingpoints said...

^ Well, me too. I don't assume that everyone likes him or has read something of his. I just thought most guys who go to bookstores might find the name familiar. Evidently I was wrong.