Study in Black

Neil Gaiman is constantly written about and interviewed, but few in the media challenge and test the Gaiman legend as Dana Goodyear does in his profile of Gaiman for The New Yorker.

“Kid Goth” is not an iconoclastic profile — Goodyear acknowledges when the legend bears up to scrutiny — but neither is it another uncritical catalog of the now-familiar sources of Gaiman’s literary fame and fannish adulation.

Certainly fans of my stripe will feel uncomfortable to witness last year’s Worldcon, where Gaiman was a GoH, being churned together with the rest of his appearances in this word picture:

Comics, science fiction, and fantasy conventions are nowadays something of a hardship for Gaiman-“like being a maggoty log at a woodpecker convention,” he says.


But as the father of a 7-year-old I found it very satisfying that Goodyear did not automatically accept at face value Gaiman’s representations about his children’s stories:

Gothic horror was thoroughly out of fashion in children’s literature when, in the early nineteen-nineties, the writer Neil Gaiman began to work on “Coraline,” a book aimed at “middle readers”-aged nine to twelve-in which he reimagined Clifford’s demon as “the other mother,” an evil and cunning anti-creator who threatens to destroy his young protagonist. “The idea was, look, if the Victorians can do something that deeply unsettles kids, I should be able to do that, too,” he told me recently.

Once Gaiman is quoted telling Goodyear that adults are more afraid of “Coraline” than children, at every signing or appearance he attends with Gaiman for the rest of the article he reports hearing children tell Neil how scary they found the story, or the movie based on it. I like that Goodyear captured these observations, while avoiding an ultimate, elbow-jogging conclusion about them, leaving readers free to decide whether this is a wonderful thing.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

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