Readers of my blog will know that I’m a big fan of writer Neil Gaiman – from his Sandman in the nineties, which was a huge influence in my decision to try to make the leap into a life in comics, to his Calendar of Tales last Spring, on which I collaborated; and now there’s his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, for which he’s making a grand final Signing Tour. Yesterday, he was in a bookstore in Rotterdam, and my husband and I went there to listen to him being interviewed and have our books signed.
(Photo by Snuggly Oranges)
When Neil came in everyone applauded, and interviewer Marcel van Driel started a relaxed, funny & informative conversation with him. Despite the fact that Neil must have told the same things over and over again in the past weeks, he was very involved and attentive and witty. I tried to sketch him, and failed miserably:
Then I tried not to capture him realistically, but get a bit of his posture and demeanor in a more caricaturized drawing, and also failed at that:
So eventually I decided to go full caricature, and came up with this, which did not totally fail, I think – but judge for yourself:
After the interview, the signing started. In the past weeks, Neil has signed for audiences of over a thousand people – fortunately, here were “only” about 200 people. Yiri and I waited until the very last to get our stuff signed (and made jokes about “The Author at the End of the Line”). I was surprised, impressed and delighted that after 2 hours of signing, Neil Gaiman is still able to direct all of his attention to the person in front of him, and be interested, courteous and, well, charming. I hate getting all fan-girly, star-struck and nervous, but Neil makes it really easy to connect with him – in fact, he made me feel like he’s just a human being; well, a human being endowed with awesome superpowers, but a human being nonetheless. I think. (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s Something Completely Different from Another Dimension either).
I asked Neil to sign my “winning” drawing for the July tale of his Calendar of Tales, and he said some really nice things about it, and I gave him prints of all the calendar-drawings I did and a copy of our new book, Science: A Discovery in Comics.
And then he said: “Do you want a hug?” And I said: “Yes please!”.
I have no photo of that moment. It was a very private and intimate moment between me, Neil Gaiman and my husband Yiri, who was standing aside and had been supporting me all evening and prevented me from nervously running away from this whole encounter a few times.
But I do have this, and the impression that, apart from being a talented writer whose work I find inspiring, Neil Gaiman is also a very nice person – and honestly, people with talent who are also nice make this world a much better place.