The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

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I will admit that The Art of Neil Gaiman is a bit overwhelming at first. It is a heavy and dense book. Not in the sense of the writing or ideas contained within but the amount of visual and written stimuli it presents and the physical sense of the book as you hold it in your hand.

The Art of Neil GaimanWith unprecedented access to Neil Gaiman’s personal archives, author Hayley Campbell gives an insider’s glimpse into the artistic inspirations and musings of one of the world’s most visionary writers.

Over the last twenty-five years, Neil Gaiman has mapped out a territory in the popular imagination that is uniquely his own. A master of several genres, including, but not limited to, bestselling novels, children’s books, groundbreaking comics, and graphic novels, it’s no wonder Gaiman has been called a rock star of the literary world. Now, for the first time, Gaiman reveals the inspiration behind his signature artistic motifs, giving author Hayley Campbell a rare, in-depth look at the contents of his personal notebooks and early work, even some of his abandoned projects. The result is a startling, intimate glimpse into the life and mind of one of the world’s most creative visionaries. The book is the first comprehensive, full-color examination of Gaiman’s work to date, tracing the genesis of his creative life as a starving journalist in the UK to his life as a successful comic book writer and, ultimately, a bestselling novelist.

Complete with running commentary, interview text, and annotated material that contextualizes the visual material, this deluxe compendium contains never-before-seen material and promises to be every bit as inspired as Gaiman is himself.

The book came out in May and I have been dipping into it for months but never seemed ready to sit down and write about it.  I am still a little overwhelmed but figured I should offer my thoughts such as they are anyways.

If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman or the world of comics, graphic novels,  books, etc. you will want to check this book out.  It is a complex combination of art, history, biography and bibliography.

As the publisher’s blurb above notes, it traces Gaiman’s career from journalist to comic creator to best-selling novelist to international phenomenon.  But as the title indicates, it does this through his art and artistic vision.  So not only do you get insight into how his career developed but unprecedented visual glimpses into the process and vision as it happened.

There are a gazillion photos, sketches, letters, book covers, comics panels, etc. to go along with the text tightly squeezed into the spaces between.

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I will admit that I came to Gaiman through his novels not his comics (started with American Gods as I recall and worked my way backwards and forwards). I really know nothing about comics and have not read much if any of his work in that area.

But that is the beauty of this type of book. It doesn’t matter which part of Gaiman’s multi-faceted career you love best it is in here. Pick out your favorite story, book, movie, comic, you name it and you can read about how it came to be from idea to production.

If you are a visual person there is an amazing amount of unique information collected in one place; about Gaiman and the worlds and genres he worked in and impacted.

 

If you are more of a text person there is a great deal of fascinating insight, biography, and history included in each section and chapter.

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I am not sure you can really know someone by reading about them but I think this is probably as close as you can get to understanding Gaiman without actually knowing and interacting with him in real life.

 

As I said, any avid fan of Neil Gaiman will want to own this book.  But anyone seeking to understand the world of comics, fantasy literature and the overlapping world of art and story would also do well to check it out.

Here are a couple of useful links if you would like to know more about how a book like this comes together:

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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