And Then I Read: TWO RARITIES BY NEIL GAIMAN

SweeneyToddTaboo6GoldBookImages © Neil Gaiman, Michael Zulli and Gahan Wilson

I’m dipping into the large collection of Gaiman rarities now available from Humble Bundle (but not for much longer, so act quickly if you want them). These are two I had some involvement with, only slightly in the second one.

“Sweeney Todd and Other Stories” is a compilation of several printed pieces never before in one place, with the unifying factor (other than Neil Gaiman) of having art by Michael Zulli. “Sweeney Todd” was to be a comics series running in Steve Bissette’s TABOO, but only an introduction (first page above) and the first chapter were produced. I lettered the chapter. In these two parts, a grand plan was outlined, one that reminds me some of what Alan Moore did with Jack the Ripper in FROM HELL (also originating in TABOO). It was to be an exploration of a famous London murder story that arose in early broadsides (predecessors of the pulp magazines in a way). I don’t know the reason why it went no further, but these two parts are well done and worth a read. Also here is the short story “Babycakes,” and a story written by Neil’s daughter Holly Gaiman as a child and illustrated by Zulli.

“A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Stuff” was published by Borderland Press in 2011, and collected a number of then-uncollected stories and articles by Neil. The first entry is the poem, “Before You Read This,” which I commissioned from Neil for the second of my signed prints, You can see that HERE. I knew it had been in print in a book, but didn’t know where. I found it interesting to read again as simply a poem.

“Featherquest” is a long early fantasy story which shows the influence of Lord Dunsany and James Branch Cabell, and probably other fantasy authors. I loved it, though this version is full of typos. Fans of “Stardust” should find it appealing. It has the feel of a fable, a quest story, and a fairy tale of sorts with a good dose of humor.

Several of the other stories have been reprinted elsewhere, including in Neil’s latest short story collection, “Trigger Warnings.” There are awards ceremony speeches, book introductions, and non-fiction articles, all worth reading, and hard to find.

These are only two of over a dozen rare Gaiman works available in the Humble Bundle. I look forward to reading the rest.

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