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Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman in Conversation, Oxford Playhouse, 21 August 2013

August 22nd, 2013 (12:49 am)

I really wish I'd had some way of recording this event. Messrs Gaiman and Pullman ranged over subjects from their attire at their last conversation (where Neil was dressed as Badger from The Wind in the Willows, Philip as Long John Silver from Treasure Island, as part of a yet-to-be-released publicity drive for the Oxford Story Museum; Pullman said Gaiman looked more like a badger pretending to be Neil Gaiman than vice versa); religion (the difficulties of keeping kosher at a Church of England school, in Gaiman's case; he discovered that an unpleasant chicken soup was actually rabbit stew when his spoon pulled out a rabbit's paw); the role of A.A. Milne in reinventing Kenneth Grahame's reputation around The Wind in the Willows and his restructuring of that story around Toad so Toad of Toad Hall could have a plot); comics, from "woodland creatures having adventures with jam" through the discovery of American comics (both Gaiman and Pullman had epiphanies at comparable ages though in different decades and with different ranges of titles) and Gaiman's addiction to the Odhams Power Comics range (Pow, Wham, Fantastic, Terrific and others) which reprinted Marvel and DC material in the UK in the late 1960s. Gaiman also read from his latest two books and Pullman read a section too in the context of some critical writing by C.S. Lewis, the precise content of which I've forgotten but which occasioned Pullman to make his traditional "a better critic than a novelist" statement, to a flutter of gasps (some self-mocking) in the audience.

There was of course much more, the first question from the audience eliciting an unsurprising endorsement of Peter Capaldi's casting as the twelfth Doctor from Gaiman, and a wish that Steven Moffat could get the BBC contracts department to pay him in weeks so he can find time to write for the next series.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2013/08/22/gaiman-pullman-oxford.html.