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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From the Archives: Neil Gaiman

While travelling around the world in 1994, I spent two months in Europe, mostly visiting family in Hannover.

While there, the biennial Comic Salon in Erlangen was taking place, so I took the train south to northern Bavaria. The Salon was quite amazing, as the entire city embraced the culture and art of the medium! The salon itself was small as compared to other comics shows I've attended... The MoCCA Festival is probably the closest comparison to what I experienced in 1994.

My German is passable, allowing me to survive well enough on my own. I knew very little about the European comics scene, attending mostly because many American (and British) guests had been invited by German publishers. I learned first of the Salon because of Don Rosa, then met Will Eisner, Hunt Emerson, Scott McCloud, Joe Kubert, and Neil Gaiman. What surprised me the most were the free sketches most artists made for attendees! I quickly bought a sketch pad from an art store, and collected many sketches. I was extremely fortunate to be one of the first to get a sketch from Don Rosa, who actually produced FINISHED artwork... pencilled in blue, then hand inked! Not a quick sketch, but what would be considered a commission... I asked for a Guardians of the Lost Library motif (the story had just been published in May) and he delivered! Of the others, I asked for self-portraits of each artist, since many do not publicly produce them.

I had spent three months in New Zealand while travelling (and would have stopped my wandering there had immigration not been so difficult), and found all of Neil Gaiman's early stories for 2000 A.D. He graciously signed them, and then even agreed to a quick self-portrait. This might be the only time he has done this, so I am sharing this with the world. The original is on A4 paper.

Later, during the Max und Moritz Preis reception (the awards ceremony was held at the Opera House, preceded by a comedic gymnastic performance), I eavesdropped as Mr. Gaiman told a cautionary tale of an actual industry professional. Of course, I've kept it to myself, as it is not my story to tell.

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