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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/09/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Hanging out with the Dream King"

Hanging Out with the Dream King: Interviews with Neil Gaiman and His Collaborators
By Joe McCabe
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Review by Chad Denton

Few writers in comics, which is still despite the progress it's made very much an inclusive industry, have achieved as much a following as Neil Gaiman. Grant Morrison and Alan Moore are not only genre trendsetters, but celebrities in their own right, but they don't quite have the... groupies that Neil Gaiman tends to inspire. So it seems natural there would be an entire book about people talking about working and being friends with Neil. How much of an audience it will find remains to be seen.

Joseph McCabe's Hanging Out With The Dream King is a collection of twenty-nine interviews, three of which had been previously published, by Joseph McCabe with people who had collaborated with Gaiman to some way or another. The included interviewees are collaborators, artists, editors, and even letterers who worked with him on The Sandman and other projects, including Vertigo pioneering editor Karen Berger, horror artist Kelley Jones, humor-fantasy writer Terry Pratchett (who worked with Gaiman on the novel Good Omens), Alice Cooper, and popular musician (and close friend of Gaiman) Tori Amos. It's an eclectic mix, and it's quite impressive that McCabe was able to get an impressive interview out of even the letterer that worked on The Sandman, Todd Klein.

Joseph McCabe is, without a doubt, a skilled interviewer who isn't afraid to have actual conversations with his subjects. It's also interesting to see the history McCabe hits on: the early years of the Vertigo imprint, the 'British Revolution' in comics, Alan Moore's taboo breaking run on Swamp Thing. Naturally, although McCabe seems to try to avoid it at times and other works by Neil are discussed, much of the discussions in the book revolves around Gaiman's magnum opus, The Sandman, which was inevitable since that, out of all the things Gaiman has worked on, required the most collaborators. Unfortunately, with that comes an inevitable redundancy, and often you find yourself wishing that McCabe would follow the thread to a new topic.

It's an ambitious project, which any fan of The Sandman, Neil Gaiman himself, or simply in the comics and sci-fi/fantasy novel industries might find entertaining and even insightful. Still, how much you like it depends on whether you find the idea of thirty artists who are interesting people lead interesting careers in their own right talking mostly about one man and his works.

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