Reading, and meeting, Neil Gaiman

Adel Gabot

8:11AM

I recently got started reading Neil Gaiman’s new collection of short stories called Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances on my Kindle, and I’m struck (and pretty intimidated, frankly) by his facility and use of language to put across his ideas. I wonder if I’ll ever get that good.

Neil Gaiman’s always been a role model and idol of mine, despite the fact that he’s just a couple of years older than me. I got started with him through the Vertigo comic Sandman, and marveled at his play on words, seemingly effortless plotting and grandiose, yet seemingly intimate, stories and concepts. I particularly admired his run on the Miracleman comic after Alan Moore gave up on it.

He’s the reason for the title of this blog, as a matter of fact. I was working as Copy Chief for ABS-CBN Publishing, copyediting and proofreading tons of magazines, and when he made a throwaway statement on his blog about blogging being akin to snacking between meals, I immediately snatched it up and made it the new blog’s title.

Over the years I continued to read his books, screenplays and novels and followed his literary career, and when he came to the country several years ago, I got a chance to meet and interview him, and get some of my comics autographed. Suffice it to say I was starstruck, but I think I hid it well enough.

Neil

As part of the Mega editorial contingent and editor-in-chief of Manual magazine, we were the first to have a crack at him at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati. We had a nice morning talking and shooting the breeze with Neil, and the editors took turns asking him questions. We spent the next half-hour that way.

As we wrapped up the interview the guys filed out of the conference room and the organizers were getting ready for the next group to interview him, for some reason I can’t recall now, I got left behind and got stuck with my idol, alone in that Peninsula conference room, for several long minutes.

I had lots to ask him but didn’t quite know how to do it, so we gravitated to that awkward, uneasy province of just making small talk, even though I was bristling with lots of questions. I don’t recall exactly what we spoke about.

In the course of those few awkward minutes, Neil, pleasantly bored, gravitated to the window, which looked out on the corner of Makati Avenue and Ayala, where there was an ongoing political rally in the street. He asked me how politics was done in this country, and I gave him what I thought was a witty answer, and privately hoped that he might incorporate in in his work someday.

MM23

I asked if he could sign some of the comic books I had brought with me that day, and he obliged. Then shortly after, the next editorial group came in, and that was that. There went my meeting with my idol.

I would cross paths with Neil Gaiman a couple more times that week when I went to his signing events at a couple of malls, but never again with the brief intimacy of that interview at the Peninsula. He was a really nice, accommodating person. He even stayed long after mall closing time just to continue signing books for his thousands of fans, I’m told. That’s who Neil is.

Trigger Warning is looking to be another excellent book, even if I’m just starting to read it. I can tell already.

 

 

 


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