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Imagery and Neil Gaiman

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In the field of imagery, Neil Gaiman is truly one of today's most creative and inventive authors. This first became obvious in his various short stories printed in many anthologies, but most recently can be seen in Smoke and Mirrors. His attention to detail is incredible, reaching far into realms most authors would never think to delve. The example that leaps most readily to mind is the experience of his werewolf who, upon returning to his human form, finds himself feeling ill. He disgorges a cow's hoof and a human hand, proof of his nocturnal deeds.

His imagery is not limited to the horror genre, however. In his book Stardust, Gaiman explores the world of fairy folk. While there are notably dark sections, this book presents us with a kind of modern fairy tale that searches different motivations in its characters without painting any of them as 'evil'. Instead, Gaiman explores the concept of 'conditional evil' - an act that seems to be good and moral to us could be perceived in a different way by someone with different motivations.

Neverwhere takes a simple Englishman and plunges him into a separate world. Gaiman carefully describes scenes that should be familiar to most London dwellers, but puts enough of a twist on everything to make the common-place seem weird and unusual. His treatment of the 'Mind the gap'* message no doubt made many hop quickly into the trains, avoiding even looking down at the tracks.

Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic series is full of imagery. In the comic medium, however, Gaiman was able to rely on stunning pictures as well as words to show us the world inside his head. In some ways, this took away from the strength of the words themselves - they were not a necessary when you can show a scene in a picture. Despite this, Gaiman refused to rely entirely on the image, as so many modern comic authors do, and instead used his words to create a richer and truer world than could have been portrayed otherwise.

In short, Neil Gaiman has found a way, through imagery, to present the reader with the familiar in an unfamiliar light. He has used his writing prowess to make us think twice about the world in which we live and the people who we spend each day with. He has used this incredible gift to make the world a better place by not only expanding our minds, but by entertaining them as well.

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