Whenever it seems to me, Neil Gaiman, that my life has become a thing understood, a plan well-executed, inevitably the forces of the universe conspire to remind me that it's all a dice-roll, and we're just as likely to come up snake-eyes as we are whatever a GOOD roll is called. And when it became apparent that my new house was going to cost a lot more than that brigante who calls himself a General Contractor said it would, I found myself, like Alice, stepping back through the looking glass. Even though I'm Neil Gaiman.
"I'm willing to write comics again. You may genuflect, if you wish," I said to the DC editor, a young chap clearly fresh from whatever public school purgatory had been responsible for the almost funereal lack of intelligence in his eyes, "I shall of course be needing a limousine to drive me from my bedroom to my word processor each day, and a generous fruit basket must accompany each editorial missive, and perhaps a string quartet fortnightly would not be untoward. I'll agree to write a book titled Sandman, with the sole proviso being, of course, that neither Morpheus nor Daniel ever appear in the book, which will mostly be about a tribe of hill people in a faerie land trying to weave a great basket to catch moonbeams. I, Neil Gaiman, will have my choice of several artists, all of whom will paint the full script which will then allow me to select the version I think looks best, or, conversely, I may choose to scrap the entire project and use the art to pitch a movie deal. Public announcements for my - that is, Neil Gaiman's - return to Vertigo will be tasteful, yet expensive. Nothing too ostentatious, but I urge you to consider the value of genuine gold leaf, which is as long-lasting as it is eye-catching."
The dullard former copy boy stared at me blankly and said, "Right…now who are you again?"
It seems that in my absence, sales for comics in general and Vertigo in particular had (predictably) taken a catastrophic plunge. I wouldn't wipe myself with the current Invisibles sales figures, for example. Thus, my quite reasonable initial offer was rejected.
"But…but…I have both a leather jacket and a pair of sunglasses which I wear at all times!", I protested. "I, Neil Gaiman, produced an entirely adequate translation for Princess Mononoke! All my comics have been HUGE, if you discount anything not Sandman-related! DC recently did a trade paperback of nothing but my W-2 forms…For God's sake, this is still VERTIGO, is it not? Just tell whatever troglodyte is in charge that I'm BRITISH!"
But it was not meant to be. Apparently editors have a memory of infinitesimal length. No matter though, as the title they DID offer me is one of such rich possibility…
The great Chaos Lord sat alone, one weary hand upon his alabaster brow, inscrutable, with only the heavens to bear witness to his gossamer contemplation. A copy of Finnegans Wake lay at his feet.
His was a deathless solitude unmatched, for he was a Czarnian and the last of his kind. The guilt for the incandescent slaughter of his people could be laid at his spiked leathern boot (next to the book), yet he felt no shame for his deeds, for he was Lobo, Lord of Chaos, and no more answerable to mortal responsibilities than the hurricane is answerable to a newt. His eyes were crimson in skin like Wisconsin winter.
"A client has arrived, my brother…", said Limbo, his adopted sister, and about her it must be said that even though she was the Lord of Misadventure; a wild, raging vortex of majik and pre-Jurassic sound and fury, she still looked like a cute Goth chick. "Shall I send him in?"
"I'm aware of his presence, dear sister, for am I not the Main Man? Please, will you be good enough to send the bastich in, that I might frag him..?"
"You'd do well to remember your place, brother, and stay thy insolent tongue when addressing me.", the Goddess spake, her voice betraying a treacherous undercurrent of sharp red danger, like a razor blade wrapped in furious velvet, despite the fact that she looked a bit like a fourteen year old Tori Amos.
"I do apologize, beloved sister. Allow me to receive our guest personally. Please feel free to frolic with my space dolphins, if you so desire…or perhaps I could make you some herbal tea? I have a fabulous loose-leaf Darjeeling from Ceylon…it's fragging exquisite, I assure you."
The Cure groupie-looking Lordette (the kind British writers like…grROwlll!) relented, a bit mollified…"Perhaps I will, brother…and your civility is noted, all the better for you. Pray, do not forget what became of our departed sister Lesbo, when she was impolite to me…"
"I'm aware of our sister's demise, Limbo, as I am also aware of our long-standing truce. Our realms are not wholly disparate, after all…", he allowed his stinging retort to hang in the air a moment, then added the capper that would leave his sister gasping;