Martha Thomases: Neil Gaiman – And Failure

Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases brought more comics to the attention of more people than anyone else in the industry. Her work promoting The Death of Superman made an entire nation share in the tragedy of one of our most iconic American heroes. As a freelance journalist, she has been published in the Village Voice, High Times, Spy, the National Lampoon, Metropolitan Home, and more. For Marvel comics she created the series Dakota North. Martha worked as a researcher and assistant for the author Norman Mailer on several of his books, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Executioner's Song, On Women and Their Elegance, Ancient Evenings, and Harlot's Ghost.

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9 Responses

  1. John Ostrander says:

    Good column, Martha, and Neil’s advice mirrors the best advice I got from any teacher, one Harold Land (also an Englishman; I wonder if that has something to do with it?): You have a right to fail. You have a right to try something and have it not work so long as it is an honest try and (as Neil and you pointed out) so long as you LEARN from it. You have to aim higher than you think you can do. You’re trying for excellence. You may not hit it but you’ll do better than if you were aiming at “good enough”. All you’re likely to hit then is “mediocre”.

    I don’t think kids are told they can fail. They are told to excel, to win, and then trying becomes a really scary prospect. Or they’re taught that anything they do is really great — which is another way of avoiding failure.

    I slightly disagree about not taking jobs for money. Not every job I’ve taken has been because I was burning to do it. I took some fill-in jobs on AQUAMAN because I needed the money. BUT I always found something in the assignment that COULD excite me other than the money. As a result, I’m proud of those Aquaman fill-ins I did and really got to like the character.

    Like i said, good column and you and Neil both said things that a wider audience needs to hear.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Oops. I shouls have written Harold LANG, not Land. I really need to proff read these things better.

      • John Ostrander says:

        And I should’ve written “should” instead of “shouls”. I’m stopping now.

        • Glenn Hauman says:

          And proof instead of proff. Jeez, you wanna make Gold think editors are needed or something?

          • John Ostrander says:

            That’s actually my little joke — I usually write proff reading for proof reading. Of course, no one gets it but me but that’s alright.

  2. Neil Gaiman says:

    I didn’t say “Don’t take jobs just to make money”. I worked as a journalist, and had two small children to support.

    I said “Nothing I did, where the only reason for doing it was the money, was ever worth it except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t end up getting the money either. The things I did because I was excited and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I’ve spent on any of them.”

    And it’s true. There had to be a reason that was more than just the money.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Absolutely agree with that, Neil. If i was given an assignment I always tried to find something that i loved about it. Sometimes I failed, of course — we all do. And your failures get printed and, someti8mes, remain in print.

      I was once asked on a panel at a convention what was my “least favorite” story that ever saw print. I named it and some poor fan in the front row looked stricken. “But…but that was my favorite story!” said the fan. I will NEVER name a “least favorite story” again. Every story is somebody’s favorite.

  3. Yo says:

    Neil Gaiman is still an active Scientologist, giving $35,000 to the Scientology Super Powers Center in Minnesota in 2009 and named a Cornerstone Club member by Scientology. Gaiman contributed another $500,000.00 to the same Org in 2010, through his business partner Mary Gaiman. Listed as patrons of Scientology, the Gaiman family owns G&G Vitamins which reaps 6 million a year from selling The Purification Rundown to cult members. Gaiman’s two sisters, Claire Edwards and Lizzie Calciole are not just high-ranking Scientologists, they are the Head of Recruiting and the Head of Wealden House ( the Scientology stronghold in East Grinstead where Gaiman has been photographed). These two high-ranking Scientologists cannot associate with Neil unless he is in good standing.

    • Glenn Hauman says:

      The short answer to your long post is \”So what?\” And since your post was so long and off topic, I decided to shorten it by removing the vowels. Ta ta.