Holiday Gift Suggestions --
For The Writer In Your Life
Let me aim the
first installment of my holiday gift / Christmas money suggestion
guide squarely at those who love peeking behind the scenes,
obsessively garnering details about a writer's life so that
if you can ever meet him, you're prepared with both knowledge
and love. But really, you're looking for a little inspiration
for your own work and someday a job carrying David Tennant's
shoes. In short, I think I've just described my students.
At any rate,
this season offers a few choice goodies to explain genre
inspiration and aspirations.
The Mindscape of Alan Moore
Shot a few years ago, this DVD saw U.S. release back in
September, and it's a must-have for fans of Moore's work,
of course, but also for those interested in the creative
spirit. Director DeZ Vylenz sat down with Moore in his home
for a lengthy interview - but this film is so much more
A portrait of
a man who, by his own admission, chose to frighten his friends
by going completely mad, the film includes recreations and
homages to Moore's seminal work. At one point, a re-enactment
of a scene from V For Vendetta blows away the actual
film adaptation because if its simplicity. And you can agree
with Moore's daughter Leah that he does the best voice of
Rorschach from Watchmen (if you choose to ignore
his British accent).
it starts to repeat itself -- often intercutting the same
vaguely disturbing image of a breathing moss-covered thing
that could not be Swamp Thing, oh, no - the film takes a
sharp turn in its second half.
Moore's career up to about the point of Lost Girls,
Vylenz gets the writer/artist/performer to open up about
the creative spirit, and his thoughts on the artist's place
in civilization. It's inspiring, and like much of Moore's
work, more than a little mind-blowing. Though that could
be just because of the intensity with which he says it.
The disc also
includes interviews with many of Moore's artistic collaborators,
shot in much brighter environments than Moore's sanctum.
If the original film has any weakness, it's the lack of
outside viewpoints, which the extras provide. The DVD set
also has a booklet that helps guide newcomers through Moore's
life and theories, though it may be best to just watch the
Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman
Moore mentored and championed the young Gaiman as he broke
into American comics. Maybe he wouldn't have needed the
help, but it's easy to see a connection between the two
authors. Except Neil Gaiman has always seemed somehow more
accessible, his only real affectation a predilection for
black, not black magic.
Maybe it's too
soon to have a guide to his work, as he's still in his forties.
But this labor of love still works as an intellectual scrapbook,
gathering some of Gaiman's early work and painstakingly
explaining the process and impact of all of his work - even
some still in development.
Wagner, Christopher Golden and Stephen R. Bissette intersperse
critical takes on the work with interviews, giving an edge
of perspective. It never backs away from being a love-fest,
of course, but you're here because you love Gaiman. And
he, too, pops up in interviews quite liberally, occasionally
giving this book the jaunty feel of his blog, which is also
covered at the end.
As a guide,
the book serves the dual purpose of reminding fans what
they loved, and pointing people to corners of Gaiman's work
that they might not have encountered yet. Certainly, as
I have a shelf in an annex of Lucien's library called "Books
I Will Read When I Get The Time," there's a huge stack of
it's clear that Gaiman was and is a voracious reader, so
perhaps the gift of this book can inspire and remind would-be
writers that they need to immerse themselves in a world
of words even as they write their own.
Friend of Fanboy Planet Jeffrey Berman launched this interview
series last month, and of all my recommendations, this one
probably gets the deepest into the nuts and bolts of the
craft. Berman doesn't limit himself to just genre writers,
a very smart move which should garner this series wider
Of course he
speaks to another genre master, Joss Whedon, but he also
talks to Heroes creator Tim Kring, and sitcom creators
like Sam Simon and Phil Rosenthal. Because Berman works
as a screenwriter himself, he can get past the fannish questions
and turn probing and informational in a way you certainly
won't get from most sites.
involved is also very comfortable, and any one of these
DVDs would serve as a master class in writing. Cruise
by the site and pick one up…the writer in your life
will be glad to find one under the tree - or in the stocking,
or just in the mail a few days after Christmas.