Perhaps it's the fever of Comic-Con that made me want to reminisce this event, nevermind all my pressing deadlines at the moment (or, then again, this might be a good quick distraction that keeps me working again.. haha what an
Reading that entry, I feel lucky to have met him in a much quieter ambiance. The date was April 25th, 2003. I was about 4 months pregnant with Lindri. And if you know a saying, it is best if a pregnant woman could quench her yearnings, you'll see how important this opportunity was for me. I read in his blog (yes, the same one) about his plan to do a reading and signing session at Donner in Rotterdam, about three weeks before the actual date. Rotterdam is about one and a half hour train ride from Amsterdam, where we lived. The program was going to start at 19.00 and I didn't know how long it would take, so I had to ask for a permission from Syb rather guiltily, because our boy Dhanu was only a wee toddler by then. But Syb didn't look he mind and I was very grateful for that; Go and enjoy yourself, he said.
Now, next problem: what oh what was I to bring! He normally allows three items to sign and I would love to have three scribbles instead of one (*greedy*). One was surely a copy of my sister Tiyas' Sandman series (I forgot which volume.. The Kindly Ones?). Another is my (then) new copy of Coraline, of course, because it's a Coraline tour. The last one.. hmm.. shall I dare myself to make sketches for him to see? I thought what the hey and I did: the most popular siblings in The Sandman series, Death and Dream, wearing Indonesian batik, in pencil.
The D-Day. I arrived a bit early at Donner and asked an attendant where the signing would be. It was at the lower ground, where seats and a low stage were being arranged. A desk at the front was full of copies of Coraline and American Gods (in Dutch and English). The space fitted perhaps 100 people but no more. The space started to fill up slowly when I was spending my time browsing books, so I got to sit at the very back, not on a seat but on a high bench. The audience was composed of mostly young adults in various styles. Neil came walking from behind the rows of audience, then took the seat at the podium.
Then came the question-and-answer session. Don't look at me - I'm actually very bashful at this. My English (or any other language) would fall apart and I would loose my train of thoughts in a forum like this; that's for sure. So I just sat back and enjoyed the show. Points I remember at the moment are:
- Someone wondered if Neil has a thing with cats, and if he considers himself a 'cat person', since he hardly features any dog in his book. Neil said it's not that he doesn't like dogs. It's just dogs are too eager (Out? "Yah! Yah! Let's go out let's go out!") and almost like a 'yes man' ('yes dog'?) to their masters. While cats seem to have their own thoughts and do whatever they please. He told an example of how one of his cats came and saw him typing, stared and then left with a bored expression, as if saying, "you missed a coma there".
- Another question was why Neil chose Scandinavian gods for American Gods. Neil said he kinda likes gods who don't go out there only to make heavenly promises and to save humankind. Or perfect gods who punish us when we don't do what we're told. No, he likes gods that can also screw up both themselves and humankind. With a sense of humor and a tendency to be nasty sometimes.
I brought a camera (an old pocket version - no digital yet), and asked a boy standing in front of me to take picture of me up there with Neil. The two photos you saw here are the only result of his work. Queueing, my head filled up with rehearsed questions and remarks. I naturally wanted to make a good impression and to be remembered. But what for?!, I thought later, so I just decided to at least NOT embarrass myself by being a dimwit up there. OK, take a deep breath, compose yourself, because the tall Indian-looking boy who was
T (nervous, placed my books on the desk in front of him and blurted out words as if I wanted to get it over with as quick as I could): Hello. Um. Could you sign these, please.
He looked so relaxed,
N (picking up The Kindly Ones): Who is this for?
T: My younger sister. She lives faraway, in my home country. I'm now studying here in The Netherlands so I'm glad I can get this one signed for her.
N: And where is "faraway"?
Neil wrote "To Tiyas: Sweet Dreams", then took my Coraline. He copied my name from a piece of paper (where people wrote down their names so he didn't misspell), and wrote it above his drawing of a mouse. Now, my sketchbook-diary. Heart beating fast..
N (looking at Death and Dream): Wow, did you draw this yourself? This is really good
T: Thank you (blushing profusely)
N: It's great.. Are you an artist? (continues flipping previous pages)
T: No, I'm just a.. designer..
N: A graphic designer? Illustrator?
T: No, industrial designer. This is my sketchbook, er, diary.. where I draw my daily happenings and sketches
N: (I forgot what he actually said while still flipping pages,
T: Thank you very much. May I have a picture taken with you?
N: Of course, that's what I'm here for.
Some posing, snapshots, then I shook hands and said bye. I was still shaking and perhaps floating a bit when I
I left when the crowds were still gathering, with thoughts in my head. Stuff I should have said. Other things I should have drawn. I kept smiling to myself during the train ride back to Amsterdam, ignoring a group of loud, cheeky teenagers that usually irritates the freak out of me. I noted down the events in my sketchbook page, and more. I realized that my Death and Dream are out of proportions so I drew them criticizing the drawing in the next page. But oh boy what a memory.