When I thought of having Neil Gaiman visit LitPark, I wondered, What of Neil hasn’t already been covered? I could say something about his storytelling, naturally, or how he’s the one author who lives on both my bookshelf and Mr. Henderson’s. I could say something about the characters he writes, like Dearly and The Runt, who sort of crawl into my brain and live there even after their stories end. But people write these things about Neil Gaiman all the time.
So I thought, When I talk to other people about Neil Gaiman, where does the conversation tend to go? Easy. In the end, I don’t tend to tell people the very private and permanent ways his writing takes hold of me. I tend to talk about his hair.
Neil was such a good sport about this. Ready?
A Photo History of Neil Gaiman’s Hair:
In Sussex, aged about 22 months. Waiting for my sister to be born. Such a neat child (although I’ve probably been dressed by my grandmother). You pushed the roundabout around until it went fast and then you jumped on. Or you tripped and were pulled around, face-down, skinning your knees.
About three? Down at the bottom of the garden in Purbrook, in Hampshire, on the swing.
Mr. Punch territory. My paternal grandfather, me and my cousin Sara, on the seafront in Southsea. July 1963.
My sister, my mother, her mother and me. September 1963.
When about 4 or 5, my hair was bothering me, so I took matters into my own hands. I found a pair of scissors, climbed into bed, got under the sheets, to hide, I suspect, and gave myself a haircut. It was the sort of haircut you give yourself in the dark under your sheets at the age of 5. This was after the attempt to repair it by my father.
I’m not sure that hair particularly made much of an impression on me until I was in my teens. From age 9 to 13 it was something that the school barber cut once a month or so (except in school holidays), and that teachers grabbed by the place the sideburns would one day be in order to make a point. Like Newt in Good Omens, the best I could hope for from a haircut was shorter hair. I had my fair share of ears snipped by scissors and clippers, to the point where I’d be wary of hair cuts.My father bought a “home hair cutting” kit once. It was an evil plastic device that looked like a comb with razor blades in it, which he would use to cut our hair. The idea was that he’d drag the comb through your hair and you’d magically get a great haircut. In reality the razor blades hurt as they dragged and scraped across the hair, and you wound up looking like your dad had given you a haircut with something advertised on TV.
Graham, Geoff, Neil, AlI was sixteen. Shortly after this photograph was taken Geoff (then a drummer, now a meteor hunter) and I bleached our hair. We wanted to look like Billy Idol. His hair went sort of blonde. Mine went ginger. Following a disagreement with my father, in which phrases like “you are not staying here with hair that colour” may have been used, I borrowed a tub of raven black from my cousin and was delighted, the following morning, to discover that I now had black hair with purple highlights, which was, I decided, the best of all worlds.
Douglas Adams and me in 1983. I’m 22, still smoking and wearing colours. Douglas is playing guitar while we wait for the photographer, John Copthorne, to finish setting up. (Douglas is playing Marvin’s “How I Hate the Night” song.)
I think this was taken the day before Maddy was born in August 1994. I’d decided I wasn’t going to get a haircut or shave until she turned up. Or something like that. I’d grown some pumpkins for practically the first time.
I got to England to work on Neverwhere and found everyone had shorter hair than I did. So I walked into a barber’s on the corner and asked them to cut my hair. They did. 1995, per the postmark.
Me and Clive Barker circa 1996. Two very scary people in leather jackets. Look! We are so scary! Photo by Beth Gwinn. Tee-shirt by Jenny Holzer.
Gaiman, Gaiman, 1998.
Neil, with his busy schedule, did not need to take the time to search for and scan in photos for me, but he did. And if there’s anything you should know about Neil Gaiman it’s this: Though he has the most glorious head of hair, he could lose all of it tomorrow and really lose nothing at all.
Thanks, Neil! Now let’s hope my site doesn’t crash. xx
Oh, P.S. A shout out to The Olive Reader – thanks for the link! Okay, see you Friday for the Weekly Wrap.
JordanFebruary 7, 2007
Gorgeous hair indeed. It has to be, to hide the obscenely weird and wonderful brain that lurks beneath it.
Great angle, Susan!!
viciousrumoursFebruary 7, 2007
It is always nice to read that a person you admire is actually as nice as you would like to believe.
taramisFebruary 7, 2007
Wow. Punk!Neil is awesome. I’m still amazed how someone can be so unspeakably cool can still be so nice in person. Geez, I just realized that the pumpkin picture was taken the same year I received my first issue of “Magian Line”. Wow…
Thanks for putting this together Susan!
k. sydneyFebruary 7, 2007
beautiful hair, beautiful mind, beautiful man.
damn, I’m jealous.
JustKristinFebruary 7, 2007
Gorgeous, indeed. Might there be a Samson-esque correlation between its lushness and creative productiveness? Or is it rather that it is styled to attract the Muse? Perhaps I should lose the boring, one-length thing. Hrmm.
KittyFebruary 7, 2007
Man, if only I’d known Neil at sixteen…
MarinaFebruary 7, 2007
Ah what a history, what a hair-cut selection, what a wonderful topic. A man is greater than the sum of his parts, surely, but Neil Gaiman may only be as extraordinary as his variety of hair. Thats a lot of hair, and a lot of scope!
NathalieFebruary 7, 2007
That was the unlikeliest interview.
tracyFebruary 7, 2007
this was a lot of fun..a great idea…and it’s funny that when talking about neil, hair does always seem to come up…just the other day someone mentioned my hair and i said it was neil gaimen hair….they agreed.
Ellen MeisterFebruary 7, 2007
I agree with Jordan. Such a fun way to offer a bio. And the quotes from Fragile Things are inspired. The site loaded, but very slowly … and it’s only about 5:30 a.m. Hope it stays up, Sue!
Robin SlickFebruary 7, 2007
One more xoxoxoNeil out of you and I’m forever boycotting LitPark, Susan.
Well, that was a most enjoyable way to have my morning cup o’tea.
(But just so you know, I outed how you two met in my own blog today)
Yeah, your site is crashing and while I did sign up for an rss feed, just how does one access an rss feed? I haven’t a clue.
Good luck with jury duty. I was called last year, and wore my John Lennon Revolution t-shirt because with all my years of civil legal experience, I knew I’d get passed over for that and they’d pick me for something criminal. Just as I predicted, I got a murder case involving a hand gun. They saw my Lennon t-shirt, between that and the fact that I smiled broadly and said “writer” when asked my occupation…well, they left me sitting in the waiting room for five hours with a book and the City of Philadelphia’s check for $9.00 (the daily jury duty pay scale, which doesn’t even buy lunch).
Seriously – great job here.
Dan GuyFebruary 7, 2007
That man has got a seriously nice head of hair there, in all of its incarnation. The short hair is amazing.
Ric MarionFebruary 7, 2007
This is a great way to start my morning. Thanks, Susan. No problem loading from here – worked better than it usually does.
Kay KirschtFebruary 7, 2007
You know, he did a rather good job on his haircut at 4 (and Dad’s repair wasn’t bad, either.)
Definite improvement over straight-across bangs.
Carolyn Burns BassFebruary 7, 2007
Some say the hair makes the man; others say the man makes the hair.
In Neil’s case, the man definitely makes the hair.
Thanks, Susan and Neil.
PiaFebruary 7, 2007
Contrapuntal genius, Sue and Neil. Nice for a change to let the writing answer and ask the questions, while the eye rests on private pictures.
KaytieFebruary 7, 2007
Ever since meeting Jonathan Lethem (who is NOT the same as Neil Gaiman, of course) I have been fascinated by author hair. No idea why.
I think Neil wins the award for most drastic lifetime changes.
kicking_kFebruary 7, 2007
I’m actually rather terrified by the pre-Maddy hair (and I haven’t had a professional haircut myself in the last 14 years or so). Though I wish there were photo-evidence of the “not getting a haircut until American Gods is finished” hair.
How cute was he as a little boy, though?
Jury duty can be OK. I was on a jury for a month, and finished a lot of very long novels while waiting around. I also ended up getting paid as if I’d been working every day of the trial, which would’ve been highly unlikely.
kelli bickmanFebruary 7, 2007
i especially like the first image with princess in the gazebo 🙂
LindaFebruary 7, 2007
Black hair with purple highlights IS the best!
Susan HendersonFebruary 7, 2007
Jordan – I agree about the brain and the hair.
viciousrumours, taramis, k. sydney, JustKristin, Kitty, Marina, Nathalie – Welcome to LitPark!
tracy – Yes, I know, he is also an adjective.
Ellen – I was locked off the site for the longest time, but it turns out my cable modem was turned off. Typical.
Robin – All credit goes to you, absolutely. And I shall link your blog: http://inherownwrite.blogspot.com/
And I’ll link your FRAGILE THINGS review, too: https://www.litpark.com/2007/02/03/robin-slick-talks-fragile-things/
These xxxx’s and ooooo’s are for you!
Dan Guy – I’m with you; all of the incarnations work for me.
Ric – Oh no, it’s slow on normal days? I’ll have to tell Terry.
Kay Kirscht – Welcome!
Carolyn – Oh, but we love his writing, too. (And his face and voice and the hair on his arms…)
Pia – That’s so neat that you noticed. As I was putting things together, I thought, I wonder if I extract myself from the interview, what would happen, and I really liked it.
Kaytie – Someone should do a coffee table book of authors and hair. I’d buy it.
kicking_k – I’m on stand-by for jury duty, yet again. I’m pretty certain tomorrow will be the day, though. Maybe I’ll wear my Worst President Ever shirt and see if they send me home.
kelli bickman – Nice to see all these new folks. Welcome!
Linda – I agree, and it’s a great story.
Tish CohenFebruary 7, 2007
I kind of fell in love just now…
AprilFebruary 7, 2007
He used to hang out with Douglas Adams? Whoa.
SnowFebruary 7, 2007
Is it bad that I thought the short Neverwhere hair was the best? More face to see…
KaytieFebruary 7, 2007
Let’s do it, Susan! I know a great freelance photographer…
LaurenBaratz-LogstedFebruary 7, 2007
Wow, things got really hairy there for a while… What fun!
n.l. belardesFebruary 7, 2007
Why do I sense that Robin and Susan are both on cloud 9?
Yoga GalFebruary 8, 2007
Neil; you are the definitive “Cool Dude”! Great hair and great talent! namaste Yoga Gal
Robin SlickFebruary 8, 2007
Ha ha – I think a lot of people here are on Cloud 9 today.
Though Susan and I were just emailing, Nick, and I have to admit, I think we’ve got a Lucy and Ethel thing going on.
And Sue, thanks for the link. It figures today is the day my blog decided to fly its freak flag and turn colors that couldn’t be changed back by mere mortals (me) and then as a final indignity, the comments section malfunctioned.
Oh well. I’ll always have that pumpkin patch photo…
Lance ReynaldFebruary 8, 2007
NG is always a great subject…I’m inspired by that down-to-earth quality the genius of Neverwhere and some of my favourite graphic novels manages to pull off, makes his accomplishments all that much more awe inspiring. An altogether swell fellow.
Thanks for bringing him to us, Susan & Robin!
Susan HendersonFebruary 8, 2007
Tish – I know.
April – I can’t believe no one’s brought up Douglas Adams until now. What an amazing photo that is – and a very funny ash tray, too.
Snow – Welcome!
Kaytie – I like that idea. There’s a gorgeous book of author photographs – Gail, do you know what its title? The one with Lucy Grealy and David Foster Wallace et al? Sometimes it’s good to see what’s already been done so you can be sure to find a new angle.
Lauren – I nominated you for something today – hope you win!
n.l. – I’m with Robin – happy everytime I think of that pumpkin photo.
Yoga Gal – Welcome to LitPark!
Lance – Back to work. I want to read that memoir when it’s ready.
Yoga GalFebruary 8, 2007
Neil is the definitive “Cool Dude”! Beautiful hair – beautiful talent!
Myfanwy CollinsFebruary 8, 2007
Thought this was such fun. Thanks to the two of you.
SnowFebruary 8, 2007
Susan, thank you for the welcome!
(I was directed here by a link on NG’s blog but am now planning to stick around to work my way through all your interviews. Congrats on a nice site!)
Gail SiegelFebruary 8, 2007
Well, I guess I’m going to have to break down and read something by this guy. You’ve convinced me!
Susan HendersonFebruary 8, 2007
Myf – Thanks!
Snow – Hooray! People who stick around are my favorites!
Gail – I think you might like Smoke and Mirrors best.
FlaviaFebruary 8, 2007
ThatÂ´s just sooo funny!
Hey, I absolutely love that photo of Neil as a punk rocker – even WITH that tie! ;D
Simon HaynesFebruary 9, 2007
“He used to hang out with Douglas Adams? Whoa.”
He also wrote Douglas Adams’ biography. I have a copy around here somewhere.
DevinFebruary 9, 2007
Neil with short hair on that little photobooth pic – amazingly beautiful.
Him and Clive = even hotter.
Kay SextonFebruary 10, 2007
Okay, I said I was jealous when you told us this interview was coming up. Now I am lime-green with envy, and blimey, what a tonsurial history you managed to get from the man!
When I read my first Sandman, back in the day, I remember thinking that the man who wrote it must be seriously, wonderfully strange, and from that day to this Neil has never disappointed me – he is seriously, wonderfully strange!
Kudos for revealing what Gaiman-geeks will love and Gaiman-beginners will find fascinating.
I am still jealous though …
Jon AthensFebruary 12, 2007
Hair? That’s hair? I always thought it was millions of antenna from which Neil receives all his amazing ideas and stories.
Kirk Putnam IISeptember 5, 2007
You know your a really important person to millions of people and your writing has endowed such severe inspiration that a segment of the internet is devoted to your hair. A segment which people read with that childish glee that only comes from seeing a book of yours, they have yet to read, on the shelves of their local book store. Touche, Good Sir. Not that I have much room to jest of course. I wish someone could find the will to make such a grand display in my honor…maybe someday. ahahahahahah.
Susan HendersonSeptember 5, 2007
Welcome to LitPark! I’ll let Neil know you left him a comment.
Cindy LynnSeptember 6, 2007
He is a marvelously nifty man. Great pictures!
RebeccaNovember 2, 2007
This is the best freaking thing EVER. Wee!Neil is so CUTE, and Teenage!Neil is just gorgeous.
julieApril 25, 2009
Love,love,love 1995 freshly sheared Neil. He hides that handsome face under lovely hair, but I prefer his face. Yum.