An Evening With Neil Gaiman

in Hive Book Club3 months ago

Gaiman Philadelphia 2022.jpg

I was fortunate to spend last Thursday evening in the presence of literary greatness, as Neil Gaiman came to Philadelphia as a stop on his first tour since before the pandemic.

For those who may actually be unfamiliar with Neil, he built his career on the critically acclaimed comic book series Sandman, before also becoming very well known for his poetry, children's books, and prose; many of which have also been adapted into other media. These seminal works include tales such as American Gods, Coraline, Good Omens (with the late Terry Pratchett), Stardust and countless more novels, short stories and television episodes.

Over six months ago I'd stumbled across an announcement about the tour date just before the tickets went on sale and purchased a couple seats immediately. I pretty much had my pick and opted for the first balcony row, dead center.

Gaiman Philadelphia 2022 stage.jpeg

The friend who accompanied me is one of the tallest human beings I know... and is partially responsible for the "Imp" nickname I garnered in my school days as I looked even more diminutive than normal when I was standing next to him. I had hoped the front row I'd chosen would feature a bit more legroom than normal... but that was not the case! A kind usher saw the plight of my friend's legs uncomfortably crammed against the balcony wall and offered us the option to move to a balcony box seat. We happily accepted! Plentiful legroom, much more comfortable padded chairs... the only drawback was I believe the audio to the sides of the theater was worse and we strained to hear some of Gaiman's more soft spoken moments.

Neil was on stage for approximately 2 hours through a mix of reading published and unpublished short stories and poetry, peppered with questions submitted from the audience as well. We hung on every word.

He read "Click Clack the Rattlebag", a chapter from "Norse Mythology" featuring a delightful tale of Thor as a bride.. a couple months of his "Calendar of Tales" project, poetry highlighting the plight of refugees, and a wonderful poem examining the mythos of Batman; which he dedicated to the recently deceased Neal Adams, who was a legendary Batman artist and tireless advocate for creator's rights.

Sitting in that balcony seat with my friend I felt like we were Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets... only we had nothing to complain about or mock, as Neil was absolutely delightful from beginning to end. (Incidentally, thanks to one of the audience questions I now know that Gonzo the Great is Neil's favorite Muppet...)

Statler and Waldorf balcony.jpg

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There were books for sale, all pre-signed by Neil at no additional cost and I was inclined to pick up a couple souvenir's of the evening and add to my collection but upon seeing the line already wrapping around the block as we exited the theater it was an easy decision to just let it go and head for home!

My Neil Gaiman shelves are pretty well stocked already and that line saved me from spending more money!

Gaiman Collection.jpeg

Altogether it was a great evening. I came away feeling inspired, invigorated, and exhausted! I think pandemic life has actually decreased my tolerance for big events, crowds, and mental stimulation! I can only describe what I felt as akin to a literary version of a "food coma" as I was nearly comatose and recovering all the following day.

Here's hoping I get another crack at such a literary feast in the future...

-Bryan "the Imp" Imhoff

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WOW!! just wow!. I've always wanted to attend this kind of show and neil gaiman is one of my favorite authors. Ever since I discovered his America gods,I really wanted to attend his talk! I also enjoyed Coraline too and was writing an essay about it for my child-lit class.Must've been awesome being there.

It's pretty remarkable how something so simple, watching a man stand on stage and read... can be so entertaining! I have a feeling Neil's voice and accent serve him well in his public speaking popularity. When he reads his works aloud they come off as good or better than on the printed page which is something I don't think many authors could claim.

Neil Gaiman is great :)

Agreed! I'd promised myself I'd do some extensive re-reading before seeing him live... and of course I didn't! Next deadline is before the Sandman series launches on Netflix... we'll see if I dig back into the comic before that!

I know that :) Always a good thing to read before seeing the film (or series).

OMG You are so lucky you got to see him read! I saw him once in 2013 when he released Ocean At The End of The Lane

It was great, I already knew it but seeing him live just confirmed his amazing speaking charisma and charm. I have to wonder if his career would be quite as successful if he sounded like Bobcat Goldthwait or Gilbert Gottfried... 🤔 😆

Thank you for sharing your experience with us! It must've been that fun.

I can't believe how jealous of you I am. I love this guy!! I recommend 'American Gods' to EVERYONE!

Looks like a fun evening. I was lucky to get to a show he did for the BBC where he and others read things by him and others that he just liked. Peter Capaldi was one of the other readers. That was really cool. He is so prolific and I've not read everything he's done. Whatever he does is always interesting.


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Thanks for sharing your "Evening With Neil Gaiman". I confess that I met him, thanks to your lines, hahaha, I was delighted, I noticed that he dedicated a poem to Batman, I'm also glad that your friend was able to feel comfortable and stretch his legs. I imagine the joy you felt being there! I wish you health, success, prosperity and dreams come true.

Pretty cool! I got Jonesy's Mom a solid silver "key to hell" necklace as a gift a while back as my first intro into the Sandman books. They wear it often. They also have a white ink tattoo of it. I won't use the key though. I now realize that this is up your alley.