Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Neil Gaiman on Gay Men (and Women)

I interviewed comics writer God Neil Gaiman about his film Mirrormask for the gay press a year or two ago. Funny enough, I'm not a huge fan of his writing - I'm more in the Alan Moore/Warren Ellis corner. And Garth Ennis. Dirty dark senses of humor and political edge.

In any case, Gaiman is involved with the upcoming Beowulf film, so out comes my draft of the Gaiman piece... with a bonus cut quote.

L



Dreamweaver

By Lawrence Ferber

In the fantastical new film, MirrorMask, a teenaged girl embarks on a Wizard of Oz/Labyrinth-esque quest in a CGI-generated world of bird-monkeys, human-faced sphinxes, and a witchy diva. But the show stops for a very odd musical number, a version of The Carpenters’ “Close to You” performed by a roomful of creepy, giant music box robot dolls. It’s the most striking, memorable performance of a Carpenters’ tune by dolls since Todd Haynes’ cult classic Superstar. And it’s but one nugget of strange springing from the mind of comics/fantasy literature god Neil Gaiman, who created MirrorMask with longtime collaborator/artist David McKean.
The UK-born Gaiman has folded all sorts of queerness into his work, notably the groundbreaking 1990s The Sandman comic series, which revolved around a skinny, Robert Smith-haired Goth, Morpheus, Master of Dreams. The Sandman’s spin-offs include the 1996 GLAAD Best Comic award-winning “Death: The Time of Your Life,” and the recent Manga (Japanese comics) style “The Dead Boy Detectives,” starring a pair of ghostly preteen sleuths who don drag while investigating a girls’ school.
“For more or less as long as I can remember I’ve had a huge gay, lesbian, and comparatively huge given the small number of them, transgender fans,” Gaiman notes. “These were all my friends and people I knew and didn’t see any reflection of them in the comics I was reading, so I put them into MY comics.” Other highlights include “Murder Mysteries,” a grim tale of sexy gay angels illustrated by out artist P. Craig Russell, Marvel’s 1602, and the short story “Changes,” which was about “the side effects of an anticancer drug that switches your gender and what it would mean when people start taking it recreationally.”
Gaiman, who counts homo horrormeister Clive Barker and Tori Amos amongst his friends, admits some readers have been puzzled by these queer inclusions. “This morning I got an e-mail from somebody who was puzzled by the scene of gay sex in [my novel] American Gods,” he says. “A gay Arab trinket seller and a genie who drives a cab in New York get together. And I thought it was just fascinating getting this letter saying ‘please explain this, why were they gay and have sex?’ Because they were gay and had sex!”
Some of Gaiman’s creations have even had gay sex without his involvement - in “slash” fiction, a genre of fan-scribed stories that sexually pair up real and fictitious characters. “People have sent me links to slash with ME in it,” he admits, amused. “The cutest one was me and Morpheus. Kind of sweet. But there was a me, Trent Reznor and Tori Amos threesome! Slash fiction fascinates me. I remember paging through, with my jaw open, Knight Rider slash. It was David Hasselhoff and the car, and it was all ‘impale yourself in my throbbing gearstick.’ And he did. Repeatedly.”

Cut quote: “The great thing about being a Carpenters fan is it goes beyond being cool or uncool,” Gaiman admits. MirrorMask was directed by longtime collaborator/artist David McKean. “There have been times in my life when it was incredibly uncool to be a Carpenter’s fan, times when it was cool, and then times when it was only cool to be a postmodern Carpenter’s fan so you could have the ‘I Wish I was a Carpenter’ album.”

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