Master of dreams Neil Gaiman’s new book features a kiss between two women

Neil Gaiman has been weaving his particular brand of magical tales for three decades. Gaiman’s The Sandman series was unlike anything the comic word had seen before, and features many female characters prominently. His mini-series Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life even starred a lesbian leading character. As a kid whose adolescence was built upon a stack of Sandman comic books, this was a pivotal point for me. I had never seen a lesbian character in a comic book before, let alone a lesbian couple. Gaiman, who is married to musician Amanda Palmer, has a strong track record of drawing interesting female characters. From the Endless sisters (Death, Delirium, Despair and Desire) to young Coraline, Gaiman seeks to show us the fantastical as well as the flawed.

Sleeper cover

It was recently announced that Gaiman’s new project, a children’s book called The Sleeper and the Spindle, would feature a kiss between two female characters. Like most of Gaiman’s previous work, this book promises to be full of twists and surprises. According to the publisher Bloomsbury, “On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future–and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems.”

sleeperandthespindleIllustration by Chris Riddell (via GScene)

Traditional fairytales haven’t exactly been fertile ground for queer storylines or characters. However, in recent years, authors have been using the medium to present queer takes on some classics. For example, author (and former AfterEllen editor) Malinda Lo came out with her excellent novels Ash and Huntress, which put a strongly queer spin on some very familiar fairytales. Strong female characters are always a welcome sight in these types of stories, so The Sleeper and the Spindle should be a wonderful addition to the children’s book market.

The Sleeper and The Spindle written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell comes out on October 23rd.