The highlight of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (otherwise known as C2E2) was a special event evening with Newbery prize-winning author Neil Gaiman, creator of the Sandman graphic novel series, Coraline, Stardust, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and many others. He gave a three-hour long presentation on behalf of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund — the first time in a decade that Gaiman has given a public reading of this nature for the CBLDF.
Gaiman was introduced by illustrator Jim Lee, who was funny and charismatic, cracking jokes about thanking Gaiman for bringing so many more female fans into the world of comics. Displaying his traditional soft-spoken dry humor, Gaiman had the audience laughing out loud while keeping his own facial expressions serious and noncommittal. He read a few short stories from his collection of work, which included one of my personal favorites titled “Chivalry,” and he also surprised the audience with a few new poems and stories that no one had ever heard before.
After a brief intermission where signed books and other products were sold to raise funds for the CBLDF, Gaiman did a question and answer period. I was delighted that he chose my question amongst the stack to answer. The question I asked was, “Which age group do you prefer writing for — children, teens, or adults?”
Gaiman answered, “I honestly don’t think very much about writing for age groups, and I’m also very very aware that even if you’re writing a book for kids, quite often the person reading it to them is going to be an adult, and they had better enjoy it too. There are books and stories that I write that I don’t think include kids, but I don’t think it goes the other way. I think that my kids books are books that adults and kids can read, but that my adult books are probably boring for kids.”
He ended the event with another reading, and then graciously thanked everyone for their support. The satisfied audience chatted with their neighbors, both strangers and friends, about what a wonderful evening they had and how they were so happy to have had the experience of seeing such a prolific author read his own work.