The Best Books, Comics and More by Neil Gaiman

This week Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaimans The Sandman makes his debut. It’s been a long, long road to adapting the iconic comic, and Gaiman’s involvement has helped the adaptation stay true to its intent while making some important changes.

With the series out, what better time to celebrate the work of Gaiman, whose writing has been featured in virtually every writing medium imaginable? Here are some of our favorite novels, short stories, graphic novels, TV episodes, and other select works by the author (and for a little more sandman-specifically, here are our favorite stories from the comic).

A page from issue #8, The Sound of Her Wings, by The Sandman.

Image: Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg/DC Comics

While the question of whether or not The Sandman Neil Gaiman’s finest work is debatable, I would swear it is most Work by Neil Gaiman. Because, as my colleague Susana Polo explains so eloquently, The Sandman was the product not only of a once-in-a-lifetime moment in comic book publishing history, but of a young and ambitious writer who poured all of his creative passion into the work for fear that he might not get an opportunity like this again.

The result was not only one of the biggest cult hits in superhero comics (if not the biggest), but also an introduction to the types of stories Gaiman would go on to write for the rest of his career. The Warring Deities and Modern Anthropomorphic Aspects of American gods? Is in The Sandman. The urban fantasy elements and distant folklore of Nowhere and Stardust? Is in The Sandman. The whimsical horror humor of coral? You guessed it – The Sandman. If nothing else The Sandman is a perfect entry point for any potential reader to become familiar with Neil Gaiman’s particular writing style. The Sandman feels like the source text for any story Gaiman might want to write in the future. —Toussaint Egan

Cover photo for Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Image: Workman Publishing

Good omens is one of those pop culture things that I had heard about but never really knew what the heck it was about – until I finally read the book and absolutely fell in love with it and understood all the hype. Written by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, Good omens somehow turns the apocalypse into a witty and charming contemplation of the joys of mankind.

At its core, it’s about Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and a demon, who have spent the last few thousand years cycling back and forth in each other’s lives and as such have grown quite fond of each other and living on earth. They band together to prevent the apocalypse, even though their heavenly and hellish bosses really want the end of the world to begin now.

The television adaptation, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, is just as delightful – and fleshes out Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship even more. It’s getting a second season. Gaiman has a lot of input into it and it will include parts of the sequel that he and Pratchett never got to write, so let’s hope it holds up. —Petrana Radulovic

Cover photo for Neil Gaiman's

Image: HarperCollins

Last but not least, Gaiman is a versatile writer. In addition to comics and novels, he has authored works as diverse as one of the most popular episodes of Doctor Who and the English screenplay for Studio Ghibli Princess Mononoke. But for my money, there’s nothing Gaiman does better than short stories.

first published in 1998, smoke and mirrors collects pieces dating back to 1984. The reader will find eroticism, a Christmas card, dreamy science fiction, fairy tale retelling, deconstructions of the great fantasy authors and even a bit of poetry. Most importantly, though, they’ll discover Gaiman’s talent for the short, fantastical thread of horror that winds you up with uneasiness, ending with – well, if you don’t hear the Cryptkeeper cackle as if from a great distance, you might not be paying attention. —Suzanne Polo

The cover of Neil Gaiman's Stardust

Image: Charles Vess/DC Comics

My favorite trivia facts about Stardust is that Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne Jones once compared notes on John Donne’s “Song” – and in response to that poem Gaiman wrote Stardust and Jones wrote Howl’s Moving Castle.

Both the original novel and the film version of Stardust playing with fairy tale conventions (in a similar vein to that Howl’s Moving Castle does). It follows Tristran Thorn (Tristan in the film) who promises to get a fallen star for the most beautiful girl in his village – only to find out that the fallen star is actually a wayward young lady. There are fairies, witches, pirates on floating ships – it’s a fun romp and captivating romance. And somehow the film version manages to capture the magic, albeit with a few tweaks to make it more cinematic and give it a happier ending.

However, the original ending is one of the most poignant, bittersweet endings I’ve ever read and it holds a special place in my heart because it makes me feel devastated. —PR

Cover art for Neil Gaiman's Coraline

Image: HarperCollins

coral is a horror masterpiece for children. I still remember finding the book at my local library, simultaneously mesmerized and frightened by the illustrated cover, which featured an eye-buttoned character. I had recently made the leap from the early reader section to middle school chapter books, and I judged books entirely by their covers. I had no idea how much this iconography would haunt me for the weeks to come. It also made me a young Neil Gaiman fan.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly. Imagination is really scary even when you’re an adult and incredibly relatable as a kid. Similar to other portal-to-another-world children’s suspense (see also: spirited away), coral Stars is a young girl who wishes her life could be a little different after moving to a new home. She crawls through a small door and into another universe where she meets the Other Mother who prepares her favorite food and lets her have the adventures she really wants. The catch? she can never go In addition, their eyes are replaced by buttons, as with all inhabitants of this universe.

The filming is excellent too. It was a nice coincidence that I was obsessed with stop motion, especially the era of cheesy Tim Burton horror – especially anything directed by Henry Selick. coral was adapted by animation studio Laika (years later they made Kubo and the two strings, an absolute animation marvel). The Selick direction coral The film is whimsical, wonderful, and most importantly, absolutely terrifying. I watched it when I was in sixth grade and it gave me nightmares for weeks. It was and still is everything I wanted. —Nicole Clark

His 2012 inaugural speech “Make Good Art”.

In 2012, I was a junior in college, nearing the end of my education and starting a career in a volatile industry. This inaugural speech, which I accidentally stumbled across after a friend shared it on Facebook, had a massive positive impact on me when I needed that boost.

The whole thing is worth it, but one part deserves special mention.

People keep working in a freelance world and more and more people in today’s world are freelancing because their work is good and because they are easy to understand and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how awkward you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They will forgive you for being late in work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

It’s a valuable life lesson, especially as work increasingly invades every part of our lives. I’m grateful I heard it at a time when I really needed it. – Pete Volk

His Tumblr presence

Before I get into that – Yes indeed, People still use Tumblr and it’s far more popular than most people think. Neil Gaiman has been an active Tumblr user since 2011 and is still actively using the microblogging platform to this day. This is notable as celebrities have notoriously been bullied by Tumblr. Yet somehow Neil Gaiman survived them all, watching from the shadow of his own dashboard.

He keeps his ask box open and answers questions from fans. He gives life and writing advice. He talks about the various adaptations of his works, giving any information he can and replies with a signature “wait and see” when he can’t. He plays along with silly jokes and reblogs additions. He helps fans track down obscure lines he wrote. And as is the reality of the internet, he handles his share of haters and trolls, but he’s always remarkably graceful towards them.

He also reblogs posts, adding new information, providing funny comments, or giving helpful tips (this usually causes some surprise in people who spontaneously stumble across a Neil Gaiman comment in the wild, and it’s always very amusing to see ).

He’s just a good presence on the internet, which is extremely rare to see these days. —PR

Neil Gaiman? What are you doing in my falafel?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the episode of the PBS Kids series Arthur where Neil Gaiman advises Sue Ellen on writing her own graphic novel. As a result, she meets Gaiman (at least his Arthur-sona, who is a cat) at a book reading and he gives her a copy of the coral graphic novel As she tries to write her own book and is discouraged by her friends’ feedback and her own self-doubt, an imaginary version of Gaiman seems to give her some good advice! It’s a lovely episode about the creative process – but also offers the hilarity of tiny feline Neil Gaiman sitting in falafel. —PR The Best Books, Comics and More by Neil Gaiman

Charles Jones

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