Death is the maiden

Death is the maiden
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First Published: Sun, Mar 11 2007. 05 16 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Mar 11 2007. 05 16 PM IST
 Dear Neil (Gaiman):
It is difficult to be angry at someone whose books you like and I do like your books. I won’t say anything about the Sandman books because even the Luddites who do not read comics know of them (the same way they know of Spiegelman’s Maus or Moore’s Watchmen and pretend to have read them), but I loved The Last Temptation; enjoyed every bit of Mirror Mask , Mr Punch, Harlequin Valentine, Creatures of the Night and Stardust; thought 1602 deserved every bit of the hype it received before and after launch; and have wondered why you don’t write more prose (as opposed to graphic novels) after reading Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys and Fragile Things.
I also thought Goliath, the story you wrote, and which the brothers Wachowski carried in the first issue of their Matrix comics, was a masterpiece, almost comparable to Ray Bradbury’s short story, A Sound of Thunder. Now that we’ve established that I do like your books or, at the least, seem to know their names (and we have established this at the risk of either boring the readers of this column, which is bad, or being perceived as a pedant, which is worse), tell me: Why haven’t we seen more of Death?
Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten one of your finest creations? Death, of the endless, the sister of Morpheus, the combination of a sylph and a rock star who first made an appearance in the Sandman series and then in two books dedicated to her? Remember? Death: The Time of Your Life and Death: The High Cost of Living? So, why haven’t we seen more of her? Maybe I like Death because she’s so cool and who would have thought that? Maybe I like her because she’s so warm, friendly and accessible. Who wouldn’t want to walk with her? Irrational as it may seem, maybe I like her because she wears an ankh around her neck. Or, maybe I like her because she has the best lines. Surely, she deserves more than two books? You gave her brother 11, after all, and then some.
I know other writers have featured her in their comics, as had DC, which, presumably owns her (imagine that—owning Death), but while I do like the work of Jill Thompson (Death at Death’s Door) and John Ney Rieber (The Books of Magic), it’s not you. And while we’re on the topic, let me tell you that the best of The Books of Magic was the first one, which you wrote.
I must admit, portraying Death as a good-looking young woman was a masterstroke, and part of the lady’s charm remains in the fact that she hasn’t been written about much, but still... In anticipation, CF
Write to R. Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Sun, Mar 11 2007. 05 16 PM IST
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