With Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker awards plus his iconic Sandman series, Neil Gaiman is Comic- Con royalty. He’s one-upped himself again this year in San Diego though with Starz’s series adaptation of his American Gods novel, which is being unveiled today in Room 6BCF with Gaiman himself in attendance along with executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green and castmembers Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Yetide Badaki and Bruce Langley. That’s in addition to a tribute panel Saturday at the confab.
Gaiman took time out of a busy schedule that includes writing the TV adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 fantasy novel Good Omens and trying to find a good Internet connection in Scotland to talk to Deadline.
DEADLINE: We’ve seen photos of the show, but American Gods is having its debut of sorts at Comic-Con. Adapting a book to a series always requires changes, what do think of how Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have molded the story for TV?
GAIMAN: I think they’re doing a remarkable job. The book itself exists almost entirely from Shadow’s point of view. So one of the first things that we’re doing is going we don’t have to make a TV series that only exists from Shadow’s point of view. We can watch what happens to Mad Sweeney. We can watch what happened to Laura before she died. We can watch what happened to Laura after she died. We can go off and do things with people. Stuff is happening. I think they’ve definitely taken the right approach in just how you open something like this up.
DEADLINE: Fuller and Green told me that they have really enjoyed the collaboration with you. How involved have you been?
GAIMAN: Up until about three or four weeks ago I was looking at all the dailies every day, and then I went off to work and do some writing on a remote Scottish island where the Internet is still drawn by horses. It became impossible to download the dailies because the download speeds were too low. I’m very excited now to see what they’ve done in the last month. I love getting the scripts from them. I love giving them feedback on everything, and I get to watch Ian McShane as Wednesday, which is astonishing. I get to watch Ricky Whittle being Shadow, which is astonishing. There are two fantastic performances in there, and Pablo Schreiber too. So that’s absolutely a joy and some of the effects and some of the magic is glorious.
DEADLINE: Collaboration doesn’t have to mean conflict, but creators can obviously have different points of view. So where have there been times in the adaptation of American Gods where you saw things in another way from the showrunners?
GAIMAN: There was a moment at the end of the first episode where they had Shadow doing something that I felt was astoundingly out of character. I don’t even want to say what it is because it will give something away. But that was one of those ones where it was like I absolutely see this will be glorious, it’s dramatic, it’s wonderful, and I see why you are doing this, and I see why you would want to do this — but with all of those things said, this is not what he would have done. They were like, “Oh, OK.” Incredibly nice about it.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk about another TV series based on a book of yours, or in this case, that you co-wrote. Earlier this year, you said you were going ahead with a series based on Good Omens by you and the late Terry Pratchett. You did a radio version a few years back, but where is the small-screen version at now?
GAIMAN: It’s six one-hour episodes and I just finished the script for number 6. It’s being done through the BBC. Beyond that we’re going to have to wait and see.
DEADLINE: In terms of finding an American outlet?
GAIMAN: I know who it’s going to be, but I don’t believe it’s announced yet, so I can’t say anything.
DEADLINE: When will the Good Omens series debut?
GAIMAN: That will probably be a year after American Gods. We’ll start shooting very, very early next year.
DEADLINE: Are we going to see a sequel to the Good Omens book?
GAIMAN: We’ll see. I mean the first thing that has to happen is that we have to make the TV show.
DEADLINE: With Good Omens in motion, what’s the state of the Sandman adaptation?
GAIMAN: The adaptations I could give you real answers on are the things that I control. I do not control Sandman, so I very much hope there will be. It was being made over at Warners and then it moved to New Line, and right now I believe they’re developing a script.
DEADLINE: You are appearing on the American Gods panel on Friday and there is a tribute panel to you, but what are you looking forward to at Comic-Con this year?
GAIMAN: I think it’s always good for people to go to the Eisner Awards because you find out what’s good, which I thinks is great. You get reminded that at the heart of San Diego is a comic convention.
DEADLINE: Do you think that’s been lost to some degree?
GAIMAN: I think it does get forgot because the media, the giant media rollout, tends to make it slightly marginalized. The comic convention itself tends to come second to the giant announcements in Hall H and the movies and the TV. So I think it’s always good to remind people that there is a wonderful comic convention going on.
DEADLINE: Sounds like you have mixed feelings about the convention?
GAIMAN: Going to Comic-Con for me is always hard and weird, so it just makes me feel guilty. There’s always a hundre thousand people out there who have copies of things that I’ve written and they really want signed and they’re not going to get them signed. It’s like being a really big, maggoty log at a woodpecker convention. I’m very willing and happy to be there to help introduce American Gods to the world.