That was the pervasive sentiment of the American Gods panel at Comic-Con this weekend, summed up by Neil Gaiman himself: “As a general rule, if you loved it in the book, it is probably going to end up on your screen.”
Executive producer Bryan Fuller put the adaptation another way, saying that it becomes “fan fiction, in a wonderful way”.
Gaiman seemed nothing but happy with the way the show turned out, explaining that the moment he knew he was in good hands was when he said the only thing he wanted “held in stone” was that the diversity in the book was maintained for the cast of the show. No white-washing. “There was no pushback,” said Gaiman. “There was absolute agreement.”
Other things kept intact from the book to the screen is a moment with Gillian Anderson as Media where she says, “So you want to see Lucy’s —-.” Gaiman bleeped himself, but the line in the book is about Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy and it’s “Do you want to see Lucy’s tits?” Yetide Badaki and the showrunners talked about the part of the book where her character, Bilquis, “consumes” a man with her vagina and said it’s not only in the show, but was her audition scene.
A fan asked if a moment between main character Shadow Moon and the ravens will be in the series, to which Ricky Whittle (Shadow) responded, “There might be some raven wranglers” on set. Ian McShane (Mr Wednesday) joked back, “Are you talking to my ravens?”
They were also asked if the “coming to America” interludes — parts of the book describing how the old gods made the journey to the United States — would be included. Those parts are so rich — and the show has so much more time to delve into the gods — that Fuller said they treat them like “trampolines into more stories” about the old gods.
The show is getting so much right, said Gaiman, that he’s been stepping away more and more as it’s been “gaining its own power and its own identity”. He was involved in the casting, but now he gets to be as surprised as the rest of us. Executive producer Michael Green did say that it’s nice that when they’re stuck, they can fire off a letter to wherever he is and get him to fix it.
For example, Gaiman said that he gave them all 4000 years of history on the leprechaun Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and that “maybe” that would be worked into the series. Gaiman also said that, when he wrote the first draft of the book, he had a portion set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and there was a whole “kitsune” (the Japanese word for “fox”, which has a large role in Japanese mythology as a spirit) story that he eventually had to cut. “So maybe I’ll just persuade Bryan [Fuller] to do that story at some point,” Gaiman said. “Or maybe that will be in the next American Gods book if I do another novel, which is seeming more and more likely these days.”
Fuller immediately said he wanted Gaiman to write that episode for the second season of the show.
American Gods continues to build my anticipation more and more with every crumb of information. The cast looks great, the story seems perfectly interpreted, and Neil Gaiman himself is pleased. And, as happy as fans of the book are going to be with the show, there are still some new things lurking for us. If you’ve read it before, said Gaiman, “you are definitely ahead of the people who have not seen the TV series or read the book, but we have surprises for you, too.”
“However you come to this,” said Fuller, “you’re in good hands.”