Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Day I Met Neil



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
excuse). No, really, this is due to my reading of Neil's blog this morning (dated July 24th), about how he is at that conference. That he's working, not on a vacation or such, therefore his time is limited from one venue to another, fitting into a tight schedule. So, as a consequence, he won't be able to entertain every single fan who comes and greets him.

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.

He first read a chapter from Coraline; even sang the mice song. He said adults often forget how nice it is to have stories read to you, as when you were kids, and he was right. How long has it been since my last (bed-time) stories? Or since my last exposure to "sanggar cerita", or the audio stories? ("Audio books" weren't so widely known then). It was indeed a pleasant sensation. Not to mention that the story was read by its own creator!

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.
Other questions are not recorded in my mind. Might be about how old Coraline is, or about Neverwhere. All of a sudden it's signing time. Being at the very back, I stood as almost the last person in line. Everyone was so patient, friendly and cheerful. The girls in front of me were also a bit nervous, but at least they have friends to be nervous with. One was reading a chapter from American Gods so she could have something to ask when her turn came.

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
talking so seriously to Neil is saying goodbye.. giving handshakes.. and I'm on!

N: Hello..
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,
easy and friendly, which calmed me down a bit..
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"?
T: Indonesia.
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..
T: Would you please validate my drawings with your signature? ("validate"?! what am I saying?!)
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,
but it's surely flattering, then he signed the Death and Dream page)
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
removed myself from the podium. I wanted to stay longer only to enjoy being in the same room with him, but it's getting late and my thoughts were going to little Dhanu at home.
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.

54 comments:

  1. hihihi...aku juga selalu ngerasa 'jantung turun ke dengkul' kalo ketemu tokoh yang aku kagumin..:p
    biarpun fotonya cuma 2, tapi bagus-bagus kok :D

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  2. serasa ABG lagi ya.. khikhikhi.. ayo chic cerita "kejatuhan dengkul"mu yg pertama dong (abis kamu banyak bener ketemu artis) :D

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  3. hadu mbak....semoga nanti aku bisa ketemu Oom Gaiman juga.Kalo pas hamil jabang bayinya ta'selipin nama Si Oom mungkin.

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  4. I still envy yoooooouuuu! Gambar dream & deathnya bagus banget ta! Especially death yang dibawah... err.. mirip gua gak? (maksaaaa!!! pengen maksudnya hahaha)

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  5. Foto yang ke dua...adohh ;) *colek2demplon*

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  6. Embeeer! Sumringah sekali :x :x *eh.. ngomongin Tita apa Gaiman? :D*

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  7. yang nyendernya paling jauh aja, siapa coba.. :P

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  8. nah, sepakat dulu sama calon bapaknya.. hehe..
    amiiin bert

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  9. awww makasih lex :">
    emang, mirip elu juga ya.. si mungil keceh galak.. jangan2 bawah sadar gue ngegambar death itu ingetnya elu, berhubung elu pernah jadi dia di acara fancy nite!

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  10. :envy: ooouughh... nice tita..nicely written and a surely pleasent memory ..

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  11. Wow, you're in the presence of greatness! How great is that!
    Neil sounds like a cool guy. Great wry sense of humor, with a composed expression to boot!

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  12. aww thank you. glad you could enjoy it, too :)

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  13. Uhm... gue nggak kenal Neil Gaiman karena jarang sekali baca komik. Deket sini ada toko khusus komik doang, kapan2 gue cari deh bukunya. Memang orang top yah?? :D Ikut berbahagia dikau sempat ketemu sang idola! :D

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  14. si oom gaiman tuh ganteng amat yak.. stardust bareng yok mbaaak!

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  15. hihihi..pertama kali ngerasa begini pas ketemu casiopea, waktu aku masih kelas 4 SD :p
    tapi yang bener-bener bikin jantung copot itu pas hadap-hadapan sama pat metheny..awalnya blas nggak bisa ngomong apa-apa dan dengkulnya gemeteran :))

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  16. euuuhhhh masih iriiiiiiii.... :D seandainya aku bisa nemenin abm.... :D:D:D

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  17. namanya aja udah metheny (baca: medheni.. *kriuk*).
    kalo si bekennya gak ngocol/ blagu dan ramah, kitanya jadi bisa nyaman deket2 ya :D

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  18. hee hee, at least I have something to tell to my children, when they start reading his books, too!

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  19. undang ke sini aja yuk si paman ganteng ini, biar bisa kita serbu rame2!

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  20. Dia juga nulis novel dan (kumpulan) cerita pendek, biasanya di toko buku disimpennya di bagian fiksi/fantasi. Juga buku anak2, yg ilustrasinya digarap oleh Dave McKean (The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls), atau novel utk anak (Coraline) yg ada ilustrasinya McKean juga. Semua cerita dia arahnya agak2 'gelap' dan 'terpelintir'. Silakan dicek2 :)

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  21. huaaa mau! kapan ya nyampe sini?

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  22. ya ampun kamu ketemu om gaiman ta, asiknya!
    trus gambarnya lucu banget si tuh tita with sandman & didi :)

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  23. haha tenaaaang adiik... dulu kenapa nggak jadi ke singapur utk ketemuan sendiri, hayo? ;;)

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  24. gambar yg spontan gini buatku malah lebih kena.. yg disket2 dulu malah jadinya cemen :P

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  25. Ganteng yah Ta, kaya josh groban ;))
    Tita, aku pengen beli buku komik kamu neh..masih ada gak ?? minggu depan geu mo ke bandung..siapa tau bisa ambil sekalian..

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  26. gantengnya model anak band ;)) lagi abis feb, juga pin2nya. tp semoga minggu depan udah kelar diproduksi lagi. sinta ama delia jadi mau nggak niihh..

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  27. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!!
    *cuma bisa nunjuk ke monitor dengan iri dengki*
    >,<


    (padahal blom baca isi blognya)

    T_T

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  28. Karena sudah terbang ke langit ketujuh Hihihihi

    *flipping Tita's comic, finally in my hands!*

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  29. huehuehue.. perkara langit ketujuh ini gue ada cerita serupa tapi tak sama :) *lain kali aja yah*
    asiik kirimannya udah nyampe :D hope you enjoy it!

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  30. Great story!

    About something else: Marksbird asked on the messageboard if you and your family were ok since there where earhquackes in Indonesia (not in you neighboorhood though...), then others replied: they miss you!
    I gave Marksbird the link to this blog; hope you don't mind :)

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  31. Hahahahhahahahaha..... Apa si Syb gak cemburu nih Ta? ;)

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  32. aww.. thanks vonne! Of course it's alright to give her this site's link. I've received an email from Marksbird this morning and replied already. You're all so sweet and I miss you all so much, too! I'll go to our Board today and 'see' you there! :)

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  33. he doesn't have any reason to be jealous :)

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  34. Iyaaaahh hahahahhaa~ eh Ta, mungkin itu salah satu keberuntungan bawaan orok hehehe

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  35. ekspresi yg tita ngeliatin neil lagi balik2 bukunya lucu ya, lugu hiihihi

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  36. hahaha.. dalam situasi ini, cengengesan itu sangat mudah!

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  37. Tita, in the pic with Neil, you looked so ecstatic...like a cat swallows a canary!

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  38. sengaja pake baju item-item biar agak nyambung keGaiman-an nya ya?
    iriiiii hatikuuuu!!!

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  39. harl: cep.. cep.. *teteup*

    gid: nganu.. efek langsing.. hihihi

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  40. wuah si mas itu guanteng buanged yak....

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  41. neil gaiman.
    kalo gw cewe .... im yours neil !

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  42. tita, gambarin si dreams ama aku dong !
    cheers,
    rieza

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  43. lha tau2 ada lagi penjahat ini :))
    mana woy fotomu yg sama neil, liat juga dooong

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  44. di balik kegantengan itu ada keisengan mendalam.. *klepek klepek*

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  45. ayo ke bandung, kita ketemuan dulu. baru deh bisa digambar. sekalian kamu belanja sus merdeka, brownies kukus amanda, pisang molen, kue bawean.. *kabuuurr*

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  46. neil gaiman???? hahahaha
    sampe sekarang kadang2 suka ngebayangin ada tangan kanan sedang berkeliaran diluar kumah..hiii

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