In conversation: Neil Gaiman talks to Shaun Tan
NG: Your stuff is always laconic. One of the things I love about it is that a picture is worth a thousand words and you make your pictures work very hard.
ST: The text illustrates the pictures – it provides a connective tissue for me. I usually refine the text last, partly because pictures are harder to do so it's easier to edit words – I use text as grout in between the tiles of the pictures. I always overwrite, really awful, long bits of script and then I trim it down to the bare bones and then add a little bit to colour it in. At the end of all of my stories I test for wordless comprehension. So I remove the text and see if it works by itself. And if it does I feel that that's a successful story. I don't know if that's an important principle but it's helped me structure things.