Like many, I came to Neil Gaiman through comic books.
His Sandman series remains one of the most ambitious and richly philosophical examples of the medium. Or any medium for that matter. It’s dark and complex and intelligent and wildly uninhibited.
Sadly, and try as I might, I’ve never quite connected with his novels in the same way. I like most of them – American Gods has some amazing moments, Anansi Boys is funny, Coraline is sweet and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is beautifully written – but none match the power and majesty of Sandman.
The View From the Cheap Seats is his first collection of non-fiction and it’s very good. The topics are many and varied – an introduction he wrote for an HP Lovecraft collection sits alongside an interview he conducted with Lou Reed – but united by a common thread: his infectious enthusiasm for art.
Whether it’s comics or novels or film or music, Gaiman has an insatiable appetite for good art (indeed the centerpiece of the collection is perhaps his much celebrated essay Make Good Art) and he doesn’t discriminate based on era or genre or what’s hip – just on the quality of the creation.
Like any such collection you can pick and choose which articles to read and which to skip, but I read every word. His writing is too good to skip; his passion and optimism too irresistible.
Next: Speaking of comic books…