Twenty years ago next month, I received the comic book seen above as a wedding gift. A good friend went out of his way to buy this as a convention and have it signed by the artist, P. Craig Russell. It has sat all this time, safe and secure, in the same box that holds our cherished wedding photos.
I had spent the past few years wondering if there was a way to have it signed by the author, Neil Gaiman. I had been following him on Twitter, and reading his blog, and hoped against hope that he might some day come somewhere nearby on a tour, in the hopes that I might get him to sign it.
Tonight was that night.
I learned that Neil (if I may be so bold as to refer to Mr. Gaiman by his first name) was coming to Ann Arbor, on what he was calling his “last US book tour”, and as part of the event, he was willing to sign personal items. I asked my wife (She Who Balances the Budget) if there was any way I could go, and she happily agreed to let me go as a birthday present.
At the end of a (very) long evening, I was standing in line, waiting for Neil to sign the book he was on tour promoting, as well as my comic book. I had hoped to engage him in a brief conversation about the comic, and what it meant to me. Unfortunately, and as one would expect, the scene did not play out as I had seen it in my head. I was at least able to say that I had waited twenty years for this, and that I would cherish this wedding gift even more now. But Neil, if you happen to read this (and you might, since you replied to my tweet wishing you well on your flight to the show), there’s more that I wanted to say, and it would have gone something like this:
Thank you, Neil. Thank you for inviting me and my imagination into your worlds. Thank you for inspiring me to try to be a little bit more imaginative and thoughtful. Thank you for taking all those things that seemed like they might fit together, if only someone would look at them the right way, and giving them a good hard look. Thank you for getting to tonight’s show late, yet staying so much later, and for treating your fans here as well as you have treated them elsewhere, regardless of how much of your time it would take.
This comic book that you signed for me tonight, in the midst of all the other Sandmans and Doctor Whos and other memorabilia, means a great deal to me. It signifies the understanding friends have for each other, and the love that a husband and wife share. I sincerely wish that you and Amanda enjoy the happiness that my wife and I have through these first twenty years, and that your friendship is as strong as the one that my wife and I share as well. I thank you again for the gifts you have bestowed on myself and the rest of your fans over the years, and I wish you a safe trip home to your beloved.
Your faithful follower,