Saturday, October 04, 2008

Neil Gaiman in Philadelphia

On Wednesday evening, myself and chicks 1.0 and 2.0 saddled up the ole Ford, crossed the bridge into Philadelphia and made our way to the University of the Arts to the Levitt Auditorium in the Gershman Y to be exact, to see Mr. Neil Gaiman read a chapter from his new book, “The Graveyard Book”. I have been a Neil Gaiman fan for years and I’ve been subversively including my children in my madness for quite some time. They are now hopeless geeks, much like myself. ...Oh yes.

Please forgive me Gentle Reader, I digress; as I was saying, I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman ever since I read “The Sandman” Vertigo Comics series. I haven’t read the entire story arc but I’ve read enough to say that this is the book that you put in front of someone who asks, “Why would you want to read a comic book?” Gaiman has a unique narrative quality to the stories he tells. There is an underlying intelligence and humor that he brings to the conversation that exists between an author and a reader. And once you start you will have a hard time not wanting to continue reading from his works. “The Anansi Boys” is one of my favorites. It follows the sons of the mischievous African spider god Anansi on their journey to discover just who they are and who killed their father. Karaoke, for yours truly, will never be the same. The whole family and I enjoyed the films “Mirrormask” and “Stardust”; both written by Gaiman. If you haven’t seen the movies or read the books you should give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. He’s one of my favorites – which, oddly enough, is hard for me to pin down. I forget who it was that said when asked the question “who’s your favorite author?” The reply was that it was whomever they were reading at that moment. I resemble that statement. Gaiman, however, is one of my favorites; so it was with great joy that I was able to take 3 out of 5 of us and go listen to the man read a chapter (Chapter Two – that is) from, “The Graveyard Book”.

After the introduction by Vincent Price who came back from the dead for the event (very cool BTW) and some guy from Borders Books, Mr. Gaiman took the stage and explained what was going on with this particular book tour. He said that this was an experiment in that he was reading a chapter of “The Graveyard Book” at each of his stops, filming it and posting it to his website. The theory is that once the book tour is done you can go to his website, click away and have him read you the whole thing. There are three chapters up so far. You can see them here: (click on Journal) or here: He further explained that in the past at book signings that he would read about 15 minutes from something that he wrote, have a brief Q & A, he would begin to sign books and “you” the people who came would "get into long lines that would snake around the book store" and that, “it would be 11:00 PM before you got to me. You would have forgotten the question that was fresh in your mind 5 hours previous.” He said something about muscle spasms from repeating his signature and he said that he was sorry that he couldn’t meet with everyone to sign and personalize their books. He showed the crowd his broken finger and said, “But now… I’m not that sorry.” He explained that he broke his finger in China while slipping on a moss covered stone. Pre-signed books were available and - yes – I got one. After he read chapter two there was a short intermission and then the trailer for “Coraline” was presented, followed by a healthy Q & A session. “Coraline” is adapted by Neil Gaiman based on his novel about a girl who finds an alternate universe and life behind a wall in her bedroom. The same man who did, “A Nightmare Before Christmas”, Henry Selick, has directing duty. No CGI will be used instead it will be stop motion animation – just like Nightmare. There will be a 3D version that will really highlight the use of the models and landscapes.

Yeah, I’ll be buying about 5 tickets come February of 2009. What can I say – I’m a geek; it’s what I do.

If you get the chance to see Neil Gaiman, take it. You’ll be glad you did.

…Now where is that book?

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