For those who have only discovered Neil Gaiman through his novels, there is a treasure trove of comic book/graphic novel works to unearth. Below you will find my personal picks, although almost everything he’s done is worth seeking out.
This was originally a three issue limited series and marked Gaiman’s first work for DC. It’s a mystery story that revolves around the title character, a woman reborn as a plant. As her tale unravels, she encounters several DC Comics regulars including Batman, Poison Ivy, and Swamp Thing. It’s a beautifully told and at times uncompromisingly violent tale with some amazing artwork from regular Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean.
Books of Magic
Before Harry Potter there was Timothy Hunter, a young British lad destined to become a great magician. The first issue of this limited series was published in 1990, six years before Master Potter even found a publisher. It ties in closely to DC mystical mythology but not so much it gets in the way of the story. Each issue had a different artist with some of the biggest names in comics collaborating with Gaiman. John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson are all strikingly different artists, yet each fitted the story perfectly.
Death: The High Cost of Living
This was a three issue Sandman spin-off series from 1993. Once every hundred years Morpheus’s sister Death walks the earth in order to better understand mankind. Every bit as good as the series that spawned it, this is a heart-warming tale of Death, and that’s something you don’t find very often. The art on this one is by Chris Bachalo.
The Last Temptation
This was another limited series, this time for Marvel in 1994. This sprang from his work with Alice Cooper on his The Last Temptation album in 1994. Gaiman and artist Michael Zulli bring the story from the concept album to life on the printed page. It’s a Halloween tale about a boy, Steven’s temptation by the diabolical Showman, and his theatre of the real. Far from Gaiman’s deepest work, it’s nonetheless an enjoyable read, particularly if you’re an Alice Cooper fan as well as a Gaiman fan.
Without doubt Gaiman’s most mainstream comic’s work, this was a spin-off from Todd McFarlane’s top selling Spawn series. Angela, as her name suggests, is a heavenly warrior whose mission is to hunt Spawn and this series came after a successful guest spot in the regular title. Neil actually wrote the series for his son who was a big Spawn fan although after the legal wrangles that surrounded the Angela character, he may have been put off McFarlane’s creation.
Gaiman reinvents the Marvel heroes in the 17th century. Dr Strange is Queen Elizabeth’s court magician while Sir Nicholas Fury is the crown's top spy. Also making an appearance are strikingly different versions of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. It’s a witty, fun read that’s let down only slightly by a not completely satisfying climax. Mainstream comics regular Andy Kubert provides the art. This was so successful Marvel has published two further series although Gaiman had no connection with either.
Well worth tracking down is the collected edition of Neil’s work on Miracleman. He proved every bit Alan Moore’s equal when he took over the title, giving readers a very adult take on the superhero. The collected edition is currently out of print and may set you back a pretty penny but it’s one of the jewels in Gaiman’s illustrious career.
Currently being published by Marvel is his reinvention of the Jack Kirby title Eternals with John Romita Jr. The book is on the fringes of the Marvel universe and it allows him to play with regular Marvel characters like Iron Man while also giving him enough freedom to spin his yarn. With its religious allegories it shouldn’t disappoint Neil’s regular readers while also being accessible to the regular Marvel audience.