Neil Gaiman is a prolific author and a successful one, to say the least. It’s not a stretch to say most sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fans can rattle off several titles by Gaiman without any help from their smart devices. American Gods, Sandman, Stardust, The Graveyard Book–the list goes on and on. Though much of Gaiman’s work is readily available wherever fine books are sold, the author’s bibliography includes essays, comics, poems, and other odds and ends that are more difficult–if not impossible–to track down. The availability of those words changes today thanks to Humble Bundle.
They’ve teamed up with Gaiman to dive deep into the vaults and make his rare works available digitally for the first time ever. The Neil Gaiman Rarities bundle includes out-of-print books and stories that have never been published or only printed in small quantities. Gaiman said it has been fun to dig out previous works and maybe a little painful to think about some of the stories being back in the world. “Some of it is cool, rare, desirable, and wonderful, and some of it is cool, rare, desirable, and incredibly embarrassing,” he said.
The rarities Humble Bundle came about because of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They’d been talking to Gaiman about putting together a bundle for a while, and Gaiman suggested making it about some of his more unusual, less accessible pieces. He said, “I have all this weird, rare stuff that I’ve always said no to allowing back into print over the years. Some of it is rare just because of the way publishing has worked. Things that I have like disappeared because there was really no place to collect them. Things like one off comics, things done for obscure magazines, a comic I did for Alan Moore’s birthday–things like that. And some of it is rare because I didn’t want to see it in print anymore. I’ve never had any urge to go back and bring the Duran Duran book or Ghastly Beyond Belief back into print. There’s even a short story in the Humble Bundle that I went and found called ‘Message in a Milk Bottle’ which published in ’84 or ’85, and this short story of mine was so bad that I never put it in any short story collection. It just really wasn’t any good. So, I thought even this part, I’m going to bring it all out everything that any collector could possibly want.”
And collectors do want these titles. Gaiman said he occasionally comes across them at signings and when he asks how much was spent to acquire them, he learns a ridiculous amount of money was invested. The Duran Duran book and Ghastly Beyond Belief were among Gaiman’s first few books and are up there in price. Gaiman said, “I went on Amazon last night–I was just curious–and it looks like you can get copies of Duran Duran in paperback from about $100 in really bad condition up to about $500 or $600, and the hardback copy, of which there were only about a dozen, would set you back about $4,500.”
The price tag on the Humble Bundle isn’t nearly that hefty, unless the buyer wants it to be. The purchaser dictates the price he/she wants to pay and decides where the money will go–for this particular bundle, dollars can be split between the publisher and two charities: the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and The Moth Education Program.
As Gaiman mentioned, he was content to never see some of these past works come back into the light but enough time has passed and at the end of the day, it’s for a good cause. He said, “I’m at a point now where I’m old enough and I’ve been doing this enough and I have enough of body of work that I’m proud of, that one short story that embarrasses me isn’t the end of the world for a good cause. This bundle is a weird mixture of me taking people to my basement and through my attic and pulling out the cool, rare stuff that nobody ever sees– we’re reprinting the ‘Sweeney Todd’ comic I did for Taboo that has never been reprinted but some of the finest art that Michael Zulli ever did. I would love people to see this. Nobody would ever have seen it. So on the one hand, you have the rarities like that, and on the other hand, there are the moments that are the equivalent of the dunk tank or the pie in the face. But something about being my age, I guess, I can let it about in public without being embarrassed.”
See a full list of the titles available at Humble Bundle and keep in mind more rarities will be added on September 16.
IMAGE: The Eternal Graffiti