Answer: Neil Gaiman.

This isn’t (just) me being childish, but I have somewhat taken a shine to the cover of “Prince of Stories”, a sort of definitive roundup of pretty much everything Gaiman’s done to date. Aside from being an invaluable asset to anyone interested in the man’s writings (and all manner of other creativity) (1), well, he’s got a praying mantis on his head:

Obviously I’m indulging my own obsessions at this point, but the image, by longtime Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean, is such a beautiful little rendering that I felt I had to bring it up. Really, get hold of a copy and look at it out of the corner of your eye: the head tilts and the antennae twitch, it’s so filled with life and energy.
Or maybe that’s just me letting my enthusiasms run away with me. Anyway…
Speaking of covers:
This is Jon Sullivan’s magificent cover art for the fifth book in the Shadows of the Apt series (2). Rather startlingly it’s already on Amazon to pre-order.
Some people have asked where I’m going with the series, how long it’s going to be and so forth, and once Salute the Dark is out on the shelves and people have had a chance to read it (3) I hope to be able to set out my Five Year Plan concerning the series. One thing I will say is, yes, I’ve talked about ten books, putting me level with Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Dead and maybe the Song of Ice and Fire (I’m not sure how many volumes Mr Martin is likely to run to, and it’s a little confusing anyway because at least one book came out in two bits, blurring the edges.
I can say that the Shadows of the Apt series will haveinternal structure to the series, rather than one homogenous plot. Plots within plots, anyway. Once Dark is out, and the spoilability of the situation decreases somewhat, I’ll elaborate.
In other news, I’m apparently in a cover smackdown or something, here. Anyway there is some manner of contest, and the US cover of Empire is right in the middle of it, kicking butts and taking names. In my infinitely unbiased and even-handed way, I think it’s by far the best of the three, and hats (further hats, anyway) off to Jon Sullivan for it. Needless to say, the US covers for Dragonfly and Mantis are similarly awe-inspiring. Especially Mantis. Just you wait.
(1) Having finally got round to reading the complete Sandman I am now probably an official Gaiman afficionado. It’s a striking piece of storytelling, especially as so much of it is from the point of view of characters peripheral to the actual events – the Sandman and his siblings, the “Endless” incarnations of death, destiny and so on, are seen more through the way that they touch mortal lives than their own direct actions. When you think that this series’ unlikely midwife was DC Comics (and various DC characters do make the odd appearance) you can see how Gaiman, like Alan Moore, has had a large part to play in reinventing the comic as artform and as a medium for storytelling. Anyway, enough eulogising.
(2) Yes I know it’s bigger than Neil Gaiman’s. Whose damn blog is this, anyway?
(3) Or at least buy it. I’m not fussy.
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