“From Homogenous to Honey” — Neil Gaiman & Bryan Talbot

Neil Gaiman’s most recent novel, the international bestseller The Graveyard Book, won the prestigious Newbery Medal, given to great works of children’s literature. Other novels include American Gods, Coraline, Neverwhere, and Anansi Boys, among many others. In addition to his novel-writing, Gaiman is also the writer of the popular Sandman comic book series. Most of Gaiman’s short work has been collected in the volumes Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and M is for Magic. His latest book is a hardcover edition of his poem, Instructions, illustrated by Charles Vess.

Bryan Talbot is a comics writer and artist. He is the creator of the comic The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, and he’s worked as an artist on books such as Hellblazer, Sandman, Fables, and Batman. Other writing credits include the graphic novels Alice in Sunderland and Grandville. 

Our next piece isn’t just words on a page—it’s a sequential art story, the short fiction love child of a comic strip and a graphic novel.  It originally appeared in 1988, in the comic anthology A.A.R.G.H., edited by Alan Moore, and was recently reprinted in the GLBT anthology, The Future is Queer edited by Richard Labonte and Lawrence Schimel.  The story is a response to a piece British legislation that had a decidedly anti-homosexual flavor. 

This story uses scathing sarcasm to present a future without homosexual influences.  No art, no plays, no books, no cultural referents to anything gay, lesbian, transsexual or remotely queer.  For the story’s masked narrator, it’s a perfect world.  But the images behind him suggest something a little darker.

The narrator of this piece speaks through a mobile white mask with very abstracted features, strikingly reminiscent of a Guy Fawkes mask.  It’s interesting to note that at the time, V for Vendetta, a 1980s British comics series featuring a character who wears a Guy Fawkes mask (and written by Alan Moore, the first editor of this piece) was very popular. 

Different motivations, different details—but Moore’s character, Gaiman’s narrator, and Guy Fawkes were all men perfectly willing to destroy the world for their own black purposes.