Neil Gaiman - all hat, no cattle?

I know - the Texas-style aphorism is kinda off, but I couldn’t come up with the Goth / dark fantasy equivalent on the fly :wink:

Okay, so inthis thread on Entertainers you like, but only in theory, I was a bit wary of offering the following post:

…and was surprised to see a number of other folks agree.

Do you like Neil Gaiman?

If so, would you rate him as substantive, a bit lighter or something different vs. Alan Moore? How do you contrast their work?

I kinda like Neil Gaiman. I think **Sandman **was his best work.
I am a sucker for “strange things are happening that the Mundanes just don’t notice” stories, so I enjoyed **Neverwhere **and liked American Gods as I was reading it, but I also felt let down by the conclusion. I think he was trying to hard with Anansi Boys.

All in all, I think Moore has a better grasp of the comic book medium and tells *much *better superhero stories. I honestly believe the two authors are very different, with Moore being a master of comic book stories and Gaiman being a workmanlike fantasist.

I like Gaiman, but not necessarily for the same reason other people do. My introduction to him was Neverwhere, which I quite like: it’s a well-done fantasy novel, well-realized and well-written, genuinely creepy and dark but with humor. I could give similar praise to Coraline; and Stardust is also a good fantasy novel. American Gods and Anansi Boys are worth reading, but overrated—American Gods in particular I felt like has been done before. The Graveyard Book is well done, standard Gaiman, but no masterpiece. Some of his short stories are pretty good. Good Omens (by Gaiman and Pratchett) isn’t bad, but when I read it I didn’t think it lived up to all the high praise it gets around here. And I could never get into Sandman: somewhere around here I have a copy of the second collected volume with a bookmark somewhere in the middle. But then, I’ve never been into comics/graphic novels.

As I said in the other thread, I think the Sandman was superb. I read Neverwhere and American Gods, but they just fell flat for me. On the other hand, Coraline was very good, so he isn’t incapable of writing prose.

Gaiman’s best work has been comics. His novels have been good, but nothing spectacular. His Doctor Who episode from a month ago was excellent, however.

My one Gaiman pet peeve is that so many people praise Good Omens as their favorite Gaiman work. It has as much (if not more) Pratchett in it as Gaiman, so I don’t think it’s really fair to use it as an example of his writing.

Sandman is superb (I’m currently rereading it from start to finish and I amazed at how well it holds up and how many things in early issues refer to events that happen later (and vice versa)). Death: The High Cost of Living was also amazingly good.

The Books of Magic is a clever pastiche of all the DC mystical characters and I liked it a lot.

I haven’t been quite as impressed by his fiction, though Coraline is excellent. I preferred Anansi Boys to American Gods, and I also liked Stardust quite a bit. His best work is definitely in comics, but his novels have all been good, if not great.

I agree that Good Omens is much more Pratchett than Gaiman – take a look at the way Death is portrayed. That’s Terry’s Death, not Gaiman’s.

Sandman is utterly, devastatingly brilliant, and I’m not otherwise all that into comics and graphic novels. (The only other one I’ve found that means anywhere near as much to me is Alan Moore’s Promethea.) I liked Neverwhere a lot, though I had read the comic adaptation and saw the miniseries before reading the prose version. The other strictly prose stuff I’ve read has been good, but nothing to write home about. As far as I’m concerned, it’s Sandman alone that cements Gaiman’s importance.

I think his kids books are his best work.

Yeah, I thought American Gods was derivative. I can’t figure out where from, but in the mid 80s I read several “books like that.”

I also think Gaiman is overrated. I think Sandman was his best work, but his novels all leave me feeling that something is missing, that he hasn’t come near his potential yet. Maybe that’s what the people who praise his so highly see in him – the potential, not the reality. Gaiman always disappoints.

Also agreed, I enjoyed Good Omens so much because of Terry Pratchett, not Gaiman.

I tried reading American Gods after a bunch of all y’all raved about it, and I just couldn’t get into it at all. It’s just like there was a fundamental disconnect between me and the author that I just couldn’t cross. I had no idea what was going on, and worse, I didn’t really care. So I put it down and never picked it up again.

Maybe I’ll try one of his other books.

This is fascinating.

I always think it reads just like a Pratchett book, but Gaiman did write quite large sections of it. IIRC, most of “the Them” was written by Pratchett, while most of Aziraphale and Crowley was Gaiman.

Going back to his novels, I just found Neverwhere and especially American Gods to be rambling and lacking in interesting and sympathetic characters. Take the protagonist in Neverwhere for example, and Door - I can’t remember them having any distinguishing characteristics. Whereas in the Sandman and Coraline the characters are full of personality.

I like Gaiman, for the most part. I had a hard time getting into the first Sandman, but my Comic Book Guy explained that this was backstory for the most part, and connected up the old Sandman with the new one.

I’ve read several of his books and anthologies. I could do without most of his poetry. I can see that he writes good poems, I’m just really not that much into poetry for the most part.

I didn’t like Mr. Punch, but I think that was mostly because of the aesthetics. I found the artwork and the lettering to be extremely ugly and offputting. If one or both had been more attractive, I might have liked the story better.

Yeah, he’s not much as a novelist, but his other work - TV, comics, radio, short stories, kids books, short illustrated adult books…all good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie he’s written - just adaptations of his work (Stardust, Coraline) and a localization (Princess Mononoke), so I can’t say if it holds with that, but, as a general rule - visual/audio, short, or both, he does well. Long-form prose, not so much.

One of his short works - Murder Mysteries, it’s called - has been done in 3 separate media - a radio play, a short story, and a comic (drawn by P Craig Russell)…the two I’m familiar with (short story and comic) are both quite good. (I think Neil does the framing story and the angelic side better, Russell does the main thrust of the human side better - specifically more clearly.)

Yes, the first colelction isn’t great, Gaiman himself said he hadn’t found his voice yet. If I’d read that first I’d have probably given up on the series. Fortunately I read The Dolls House first, I think the prose recap at the start does a far better job of setting the scene.

I started reading Sandman while it was being published. I don’t think they had even spun off the Vertigo line yet.
I was less than impressed with the first three issues and I dropped the series at that time.

That’s a good point. I agree that Moore is more specifically a comic book writer (and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way) - he incorporates the medium into what he writes. Gaiman is more of a general story teller who sometimes uses a comic book to tell his story.

A lot of people regard “24 Hours” (the sixth issue) as the first classic one.

Little Nemo:

Really? I thought issue # 4 (where he shows up Lucifer in Hell) was the turning point of the series.

Gaiman’s Sandman and related stuff is fantastic. Most of his other comics work is great also, e.g., the Marvel 1602 mini-series. I haven’t read any of his prose works, so I can’t evaluate that.

Comparing him to Moore, though? Forget it. Gaiman, as excellent as his stories are, works within the comics medium as is. Moore experiments and pushes boundaries, and finds brilliant ways to do so.

In my opinion, there were some great scenes in the first five issue. But “24 Hours” was the first great issue as a whole.

I agree. That was the point I was trying to make above.