I went to the Neil Gaiman signing hosted by Books & Books today. I’d heard about it a whiles ago and bought my entrance the first week the bookstore was selling tickets. It was a no brainer really. Of course I would go see Neil Gaiman. Why not? He’s an author I’ve always idolized. So why not go hear him speak again and then get one of my old books signed as well.
Perhaps you’ve read what happened the first time I went to a Neil Gaiman event. I consider it one of the greatest days of my life even 15 years later. Nothing could top that day as far as Neil Gaiman stories go, and so I went in to this event a bit calmer and more blase about the whole thing.
I was there 1 hr 30min early to ensure getting a good seat, and I got pretty good one. I had a bag on me with snacks, a water bottle, and a work journal I could read while I waited. My bag had a few things I’d like Neil to sign though I wasn’t sure if he was only signing 1 or 2 extra things. I had planned, this whole time, to get my hardcover Good Omens signed for sure.
So Neil begins talking and then reading from his book and he’s every bit as funny and wonderful as I remember and from the videos I’ve seen through the years. Except now the room is filled with 1000 people instead of the perhaps 150 that were in the room with me 15 yrs ago. From the first time I picked up a Sandman comic 20 years ago, Neil went from my favorite comic book writer to world-wide bestselling author.
So after the talk I get in line to get my books signed. I’m stressing the decision, do I get my Good Omens signed or do I get my Ramadan, Sandman issue #50 signed. Each has a great story attached to it. I look at my copy of Ramadan, a gift from my friend at school who would lend me his X-men comic books, and notice that the issue date is June 1993. It is now June 2013. Twenty years. It seemed like fate and so my decision was made.
The line hadn’t even begun moving yet when I realized I was trembling. My eyes were watering thinking of how to tell Neil the story behind my first ever Sandman comic. I ended up taking another pill to stifle my anxiety that I don’t think actually kicked in until after I’d already left. Because I was trembling until I finally stood in front of Neil himself and he happily said my name (from the sticky note) and started signing The Ocean at the End of the Lane. And then he went to sign Ramadan.
Me: That book is 20 years old now.
Neil: Yes, yes it is.
Me: My friend took me to a comic book store and said, “I know a writer you are going to love.”
Neil: Aw, well thank you for reading my work all these years.
I smiled, but 4 hours later I couldn’t tell you if I said anything back. I’m sure I said “thank you”, but not 100% sure. I did however smile fondly. I hate adverbs, but I know no better word to describe the look that must have been on my face. 20 years and the man still has the power to turn my brain to mush.
I’ve met a few celebrities in my life, it’s fun stories to tell people, but I always say there’s really nothing like meeting someone you truly admire, respect and even idolize. I missed Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, but I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Neil himself twice.
In case I didn’t say it, Mr. Gaiman, thank you.