Monday, November 26, 2007

Graphic/Fiction Awards 2007 Transcripts

I'm juggling too many transcripts currently but here's an abridged version (to be updated when they're finished) of the various speeches at the Graphic/Fiction Awards.

Many thanks to the hosts and --- are words I couldn't quite understand while ... are entire phrases which I couldn't comprehend.

Neil Gaiman's Introduction:

What did you think about your entrance?

The great thing about coming to the Philippines is that people always ask what was the strangest thing that has happened to me in the Philippines. Today when they were asking me upstairs as I was being interviewed was yesterday during the book signing that I did in Subic, somebody named Jason with him through my FAQ line on my website and said I want to propose marriage to my girlfriend, would you mind writing Maui would you marry Jason in my book? Of course I did it. I wrote Maui would you marry Jason and--I did a Sandman drawing first and handed it to her and she looked very baffled at first, possibly I was the one proposing. And then she looked at the word Jason attached to it and by that point she had Jason down on his knees pulling out a ring. That was yesterday's strangest thing.

I assume she said yes?

She did. I was worried if she said no. So that was yesterday's. Today's most peculiar thing was definitely coming on holding the word quintessential. In the middle of a not-quite-arrived typhoon.

Would you tell us Neil why you're so involved in these awards?

How many of you were here at the Rockwell event? So I recognized that-- So I came up around two and a half years ago and one of the first things I had to do, more or less getting off the plane was judge an art competition and I was astonished by how good the art was and then I kept going around and talking to people and meeting people. And I got a sense of how smart everybody was, how good they were, how really cleaned up on science fiction and fantasy and how much science fiction and fantasy and horror was part of the walk of the --- of society here. How well they understood it and nobody seemed to be writing it. There wasn't really a tradition of Filipino fantasy and Filipino horror despite the fact that you got the coolest and richest folklore in the world. And you do! And you have such amazing, intelligent people. When I grew up, when I was around fourteen, the best artists in American comics were Filipinos. They were Alex Nino, they were Alfredo Alcala, they were Tony de Zuniga, Nestor Rodondo. There were lots of them and they were amazing. And then these days you don't seem to be playing very much, just started at it again. There are a few people who are playing on a global stage. But I wanted to encourage them so I phoned up Jaime Daez from Fully Booked and I said okay, I would be with you. We talked about it a bit and I would put up the prize money personally if you run the competition. So that's the way it turned up. I put up the prize money. Putting up the prize money is the easy bit. Jaime Daez, they really have the hard bit because they have to organize it and then to run it. About a year ago, the first round of winners were announced. And then a year later, I've written the introduction and we have two collections of the winners so you can actually read them. It has the winners and has a lot of good stuff in there, but if you're can't be good enough to be runner up or worse, what we'll be doing later today is announce the winners of this year's competition and we'll always talk, I think I'll mention it now. We're going into year three, we're going to do the competition for year three and the quality of the prose entries I actually thought was excellent in year one. You have better writers, better writing than we did in year one. The comics entries weren't actually as good. I should warn you ahead of time that when we talked this evening, we have no first prize. We have two second prizes and a third prizes but no first which we thought was good enough. And we got the --- that we're not giving you long enough so so you have about a year. This year. We are announcing right now, there will be a third year.

Will you be back for the third year?

Depends on the quality of the entries. If they're good enough I'll come back. The other thing we want to do is add an extra category. Up until now we got prose and we got comics. This year we will add short film.

How would you describe or define Filipino Realism?

Filipino on Realism is really, it began as a comment by me out of reading about why are the things coming out of the Philippines is if you come to the Philippines, people give you things. And they give you really cool things you've never encountered before if you're me like Calamansi juice and strange little wooden carvings with enormous penises. Even Chocnut. One of the things I was given in quantity were books of the literature of the Philippines including short story collections and great Filipino short stories and I've been reading this stuff and loving it and wondering why do you have an amazing tradition here of Filipino realistic literature. There's great realism but there doesn't seem to be any unrealism. There's no tradition of great fantastic literature, of great horror, of great science fiction. That's really what I'm looking to pick up the --- tube to use an English expression and see if we can put on Filipino unrealism.

Neil Gaiman's Q&A:

When will we be seeing the Endless on the big screen and who would you want to play Dream, yourself not included?

I'm not tall enough anyway. Or white enough. I don't know. Probably because we're going to see them in the Death movie if that happens. I vote out early this year with Guillermo del Torro as executive producer on the Death movie. And --- will be directing. And Guillermo to be the one offered to me because he's out on ---, He's .... He's filming Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. And so I could shadow him and learn everything, critique me about directing techniques. I can ask him any question I want to. So do. And I follow him around and I think it's marvelous. And we had the marvelous time and what brought me off course is I'm on strike. As a writer's guild member, I'm on strike which means I can't do anything to the script until the strike is over. But once it's over I'm really looking forward to working on the Death movie. As for who would play Dream or who would play Death, that's for me to know or hope and you guys to find out when it gets made.

I would tell you but somebody might post it at Ain't It Cool News.

What is the most important ingredient in making an effective dark plot or dark character?

Most important ingredient in making an effective dark plot or dark character is believing in it yourself. If you want to write something scary, you're going to be scaring yourself. If you're going to write something troubling, you better go find something that actually troubles you. If it doesn't scare you then it probably does not scare anybody else at all. So that's for me is the most effective thing, finding--Coraline, with ---, with nightmares, ---. The thing with --- is that kind of thing that I scare myself when I was a kid. I'd sit there at school, thinking what would happen if while I'm at school, my parents forget me and move out and there's nobody there when I get home. What if my parents move house completely look exactly like my parents move in. And I wouldn't know. I'd sit there absolutely terrified, wonderfully terrified about this. So that for me, and that was the beginning of Coraline. You got to find something that scares you.

I'd like to know your thoughts on the Amazon Kindle or Ebooks in general.

I was very lucky, I was given a Kindle in June. I got to play with it through September when they worried there might be a security leak and made me give it back. It was wonderful. It was not a substitute for a book. A book--a paper object book is always going to be preferable. But if like me you travel too much and you really don't have room in your bag to put for twenty or thirty books, the electronic version is --- and just being able to --- on Kindle was going to be the best with Maddie and sitting on the plane before it took off and she looked at me really worried and said I don't have anything to read and I put out the Kindle and just bought her five --- books to .... and she has books to read all her way through, she has books to read while sitting on the film set. Then when she got bored of ---, she started reading things like Stephen King's The Cell, and Dracula. Which I can't imagine she would have ever read except as a --- on the Kindle...

I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem with your works being sold on the Kindle.

No, I don't have a problem with eBooks. They are not a substitute, they are something else.

How can writers of fiction, especially speculative fiction, engage themselves in social causes? How can writers be agents of change?

Which is a really good question because I think that sometimes people think that you cannot talk about something real when you're talking about something unreal. Whereas I think it's the other way around. I think it's very very hard sometimes to talk about things that people are very very familiar with. Why did I ---? I could have written a novel about homelessness in London and nobody would have ever read it except those people who are interested in homelessness in London. And instead I wrote a novel called Neverwhere. And somewhere you get --- taken away from him about the people who fall through the cracks and I get to write about the dispossessed, I get to write about the people whose lives fall through the cracks, I get to write about the homeless and the land in a way which makes people read the book and look at the homeless encounter possibly for the first time because it's talking about the way that all the people who've become invisible to the people who have jobs working income. But you can do that better sometimes when you sort of go around the prom.... talk about these feelings that you had when you were a kid about --- whether you're gay, whether you're sloppy, whether you're weird, whether you were a nerd, whether you were lonely. And suddenly you're a --- and you could have helped that in a way...

How has being a father to Maddy especially influenced or changed the content of your work? Has any of them shown any writer's inclinations?

That's a good question... Mike come up on stage. Okay, this is my son Michael.... because he works for Google. And I think being a father is great because I've been stealing stuff from my kids now for over twenty years. How many books have I stolen from you?

Michael: Many. I would say you steal from me, you stole from me ---

Goldfish book? That was you? I put him one day and he was really grumpy because I thought he was much taller. I told him something terrible like go to bed or clean his room and he looked up at me and do you know what it was he said?

Michael: I assume it had something to do with, I don't know.

It was. You looked up at me and were very grumpy and said I wish I didn't have a dad. I wish I had, and then you stopped and thought because what else did you have? And then you said I wish I had goldfish. And I thought that's brilliant, I'll steal it. And I did and I wrote a novel.

Michael: And I went to college so it all works out.

And I stole some more from Maddie who woke up and she said dad, she was in bed and crying, and I said what's the matter? She said there were wolves, there were wolves in the house and they came out and they took the house over. I said I think you have a bad dream. She said no, I can show you the place in the wall where they came out from. And I thought there you go. And one day we'll put her through college.

I don't think, I mean my children's books, without any children, I probably would have written all the other books but the children's books, including The Graveyard Book. The Graveyard Book is which is what I'm writing currently began about two years ago. We didn't have a garden so we would drive around in his little tricycle, his little tricycle in the graveyard next door. And sit on the bench and watch this little girl puttering next to gravestones thinking I'm going to use that one, ay? And I did.

Jaime Daez Speech:

Good afternoon everyone. I'm honestly very, very honored, flattered and out of words because this is our first publication ever. For anyone in my position, it is a dream come true that the guy who's launching this book together with me is one of the greatest writers in the world right now. So Neil, once again, I can't thank you enough for all the support, for coming over two and a half years ago, and going through all the hell lines just to satisfy everyone. And for coming back and for keeping on supporting this by already telling everyone that we will be doing this again next year. Having said that, there are a lot of people as well involved, people who don't get acknowledged and I want to acknowledge these people right now who worked very hard to make this happen. These are the people who had to go through the hundreds of entries and basically go through and judge which are the winners. So I would like to acknowledge them right now. Ramon de Veyra, I'm sure he's here right now. Ramon is the guy who really helped sort through the whole comics list and Erwin Romulo, I see you right there. Erwin Romulo was the one who sorted through the whole prose list. And then I have three of my staff. Vivian Chuaseco, and Tals Diaz who really helped as well in sorting everything out and deciding who the final cut was going to be. I would like to make special mention to one of my staff as well, I see her right now. Rhea Llamas. Rhea was the one who really did the work. This was the, this was what Neil was saying when he said this was the hell part. Of compiling everything, going through the printing, going through the editing, checking every word so that everything was done correctly. Again, Rhea, thank you very much. Last but not least, aside from the judges who will be presented anyway later, I would like to thank the guy who did the cover: Leinil Yu, please. For all of you who do not know, Leinil Yu is one of the most sought out comic book artist in the world. Currently drawing the best-selling comic right now in the US, the New Avengers. If you do not know him, by next year you will because anyone of you who has read Civil War, the biggest comic book next year is going to be Secret Invasion and he is the guy drawing it. So he probably makes some people very very proud, we have one of the best right here. Thank you all for coming, I believe that you already know that the books are available but unfortunately, Neil cannot sign for everyone. If you do buy the set, you are guaranteed one book signed by him.

Once again, a big round of applause for Neil.

On This Year's Winners:

"Absolution" is a wonderful little comic. Beautifully drawn, doesn't really have enough of a story to be a first prize winner. And with your story it would have been probably the best drawn I think.

"Afterlife" was beautifully drawn, too wordy and felt too compressed as if it had just a little room to breathe it would have given you a few more pages, it would have worked out better. Nice art though.

"Juan Perez's Corpse" really funny, nasty story. And I loved both the funniness and the nastiness of a corpse of a man killed in a plane crash, wakes up in bed in a particularly nasty condition and goes down for breakfast and the reaction of the neighbors and everybody else to what's going on and it actually manages to be moving as well which I thought was lovely.

The other thing that managed to be moving was "Lines and Spaces", our second place for comics which was basically a tribute to Alex Nino and which I thought was particularly apt since Alex Nino was one of the huge inspirations behind comics and it's a lovely little story.

Second place winner "The Bridge" very spooky. One of the things I loved about all the stories is that they all feel uniquely Filipino. And "The Bridge" which is a story about a psychic little girl and her encounter with a political leader of a country a lot like the Philippines is very, very creepy and really nicely done.

"The Sugilanon of Epifania's Heartbreak" which Ian, who also won 1st place in last year's competition is a lovely little fable and felt it should have been illustrated. If you get it published, maybe in the book next year we can get a few illustrations.

The first place winner is science fiction and fantasy and uniquely Filipino and very, very, very odd in all of the nicest possible ways. And it's a story called "Logovore" about somebody who eats words and their encounters with the people--it's almost indescribable and I've never read anything like it before and was absolutely ready to go on the world stage. I looked at that story and--it could have been fantasy or science fiction and it ought to be picked up by the best of the year anthologies.

So honestly you guys, especially in prose, nothing to be ashamed of. So absolutely terrific showing. What I'm hoping for next year is that we not only get absolutely world class prose but we also get absolutely world class comics as well. Not to mention of course short films. We have strange plans for the short films, quite possibly our own YouTube channel. Maybe having to do the DVD. And I guess I'll have to do the introduction to the DVD.


Jason said...

Hey thanks for transcribing the interview - our friends told us that he did mention something about my crazy plan to propose to my girlfriend. At least we have a point of reference now. :D


Charles said...

You're welcome. =)