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JW: I am.
TIME: How's that going?
JW: In my head, it's the finest film ever not typed yet. It's incredible fun, partially because I was never actually a huge fan. I never really felt there was . . . there's been some great work, but never one definitive run on the book for her, and I'm not a fan of the show. I feel like I'm taking an icon I already know and creating it for the first time.
NG: She's such a character without a definitive story. Or even without a definitive version.
JW: That's how I feel. I hope to change that because I really feel her. Let's face it: She's an Amazon, and she will not be denied.
TIME: I'm really hoping her bustier will slip down a little bit further than it did in the show.
JW: You're just after a porno, aren't you?
JW: It's all about priorities. Yes, it's very empowering for her to be naked all the time.
TIME: I don't think anybody has filmed your comic books, Neil.
NG: I think I've actually dodged several bullets, though, having read scripts of unutterable badness. And even utterable badness. They did a cover article on me once in the Hollywood Reporter about two years ago, the entire thrust of which was that I was the person who sold the most things to Hollywood without anything getting made, which at the time I suspect was a completely specious argument anyway.
Since then, a few things have actually gotten green-lighted. Coraline is being made by Henry Sellick as a stop-motion thing. Robert Zemeckis will start shooting the Beowulf script that Roger Avary and I did next week. It's one of his weird motion-capture things.
I just get to see, mostly from a distance, things going through awful adaptations. Books of Magic Warner has done seven scripts on that, and it's now got to the point where my only response is, why don't you just change the lead character's name and not call it Books of Magic? You've now created something that that will do nothing but irritate anyone who thinks they're going to see a Books of Magic movie. But it's probably a perfectly decent movie, so just take the name off it.
JW: Have they ever asked you to write your own?
NG: I did Death: the High Cost of Living, which New Line are meant to be doing next year. They're going to call it Death and Me. I did that mostly because it was one of the things I'd done that was small enough and short enough and actually had a story shape and I could expand it into a movie rather than looking gloomily at something huge and trying to work at what to throw away. I liked that.
But that's barely even a fantasy movie. I mean, it's a story about a depressed sixteen-year-old who runs into a girl who claims to be Death, having her one day off every hundred years, and who may or may not be. It's kind of fun.
But Sandman movies, they just got increasingly appalling. It was really strange. They started out hiring some really good people and you got Elliot and Rossieau and Roger Avary came in and did a draft. They were all solid scripts. And then John Peters fired all of them and got in some people who take orders, and who wanted fistfights and all this stuff. It had no sensibility and it was just...they were horrible.
TIME: They probably tried to make it into one of those pornos. Bastards.
JW: I find that when you read a script, or rewrite something, or look at something that's been gone over, you can tell, like rings on a tree, by how bad it is, how long it's been in development.
NG: Yes. It really is this thing of executives loving the smell of their own urine and urinating on things. And then more execs come in, and they urinate. And then the next round. By the end, they have this thing which just smells like pee, and nobody likes it.
JW: There's really no better way to put it.
TIME: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is out this month as well, making it effectively national Goth month.
NG: We are Goth icons. Joss and I. We don't have to be Goths, because we are Goth icons.
JW: I'm low on mascara. It's weird. I've made my bones with vampires, but I've never really associated anything I did with Goth that much, except that I've kind of made fun of them. I don't really see that as much at the conventions and stuff in the fan base. It might be somebody in Goth make-up coming up and saying, oh, this is for my mom.
The great thing for me about the convention is almost the little microcosm of every society of hardcores. The Jedis really represented this year. Actually a lot of Siths as well. And the anime kids and the indie-comic guys. You can always sort of tell what everybody is into, and there they all are. There is something both universal and totally marginal about the crowd. That's what I love.
NG: Last time I was at Comicom, there were like 5,000 people there, and the audience was going to try and cut me off with stuff to sign. They had to figure out how to get me off the stage. All of a sudden, I'm getting to the end of the conversation. Dave McKean and I were doing a Mirrormask thing and we're ready to leave the stage. I look up and they have a bodyguard line of 30 Klingons. They're six-foot six and four-feet wide and they have the foreheads and they had linked arms. We were being lead off behind a human wall a Klingon wallof Klingon warriors. And I thought, how good does it get?