My little sister is actually the one who discovered Neil Gaiman’s works first, before I did, and sort of introduced them to me, indirectly. In the first years of my living in The Netherlands (early 2000), Lambiek comics shop in Amsterdam also took part in introducing me to more of his works. It didn’t take long until I became absorbed in them. The Internet era was young, then, when Multiply and Yahoo!Messenger were hip, and mailing-lists were insanely active, and, most importantly, when blogs flourished. And I was happy to find that Neil Gaiman keeps a blog, too, and used to be quite diligent in updating it. So, having been converted to a Gaimanite, I accessed his blog as a daily routine. Coming from a generation whose teenage years were filled with writing mails to their idols overseas (as in: with pen on papers, put them in envelopes, glued stamps on them and actually brought them to a post office), and having to wait for weeks until a response came (or none at all), I really feel the magic of the Internet and blogs. Surprises followed afterward…
It was April 2003; I was halfway pregnant with our second child when I read a pamphlet that announced a Gaiman event in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In those years, I had to commute weekly, by train, from Amsterdam (home) to Delft (campus) for my doctoral research, and Rotterdam is along the way. I was right away determined to get my first star-struck. I told my sister, who lived in Jakarta, about this event, and she asked me to have a book signed for her. No problem. I planned to bring more stuff for him to sign, anyway: my drawing of Dream and Death.
Here’s a chronicle of that evening, that used to be up at my Multiply, and now (since Multiply is dead), at my Blogspot: The Day I Met Neil (the links to the photo pages no longer exist). That was my first encounter with Neil Gaiman. The impression stays for years.
The second encounter was almost invisible. Next to Neil Gaiman’s works, I’m also a fan of Eddie Campbell’s, and as soon as I got my hands on The Fate of The Artist, I like it so much that I had a feeling I should let him know that it is such an amazing work. But how? He hasn’t had any blog then, and there’s no way I could find his email address. So I dared myself to leave a message to him through Neil’s blog, posted a link to my review (at my blog) of The Fate, with the hope that he’d relay the message, considering that they know each other well.
And then I got my surprise: within a day after I posted that message at Neil’s blog, an email from Eddie Campbell came into my inbox! That was July 2006, he said Neil forwarded him the link to my blog, and signed his email “Richard Siegrist” above an attached photo. I was star-struck again and was too nervous to reply. But I did. I was such a brave girl. (And he’s super nice!) I even drew the moment I almost jumped out of my chair when his email came, and sent the scanned drawing to him.
What happened afterward constituted a series of more surprises: he was willing to endorse my first book (a graphic diary titled Curhat Tita) in 2008, and he and his family hosted me for a weekend at their house in Brisbane, Australia, in 2009. But that’s another story. Now let’s go back to my next encounter with Neil Gaiman…
January 2009. I was back to living in Bandung (West Java, Indonesia), already since the beginning of 2007. My absence from this city comes near to 10 years, so I gradually discovered new establishments, such as a second hand English bookshop that also serves food and drinks, called The Reading Lights. One day I ordered a house-mixed coffee named Neil Gaiman and wrote about it in my Multiply, titled Gaiman is less sensible, compared to Pamuk. I mentioned about it to Neil Gaiman (again, via a posted message in his blog) and thought nothing more of it. Much later, a comment at that article in my blog remarked that Neil mentioned me in his Twitter. What’s a Twitter?! I didn’t know, so I went and checked, and got hooked. [In this case, Neil Gaiman is the one who introduced me to Twitterverse!]
I got star-struck again, moreover because Neil talked about that coffee in his blog http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/01/happy-and-wise-in-our-giant-hologram.html, then a related post followed in April http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/04/all-questions-all-time.html. It went viral since The Guardian picked it up and put a piece of article about it: Is Neil Gaiman your cup of novelty coffee? Then drinks with authors’ names went around the Internet for a while, before they died down a couple of weeks (months?) later.
Alright, that’s about the end of my story right now. I’m just glad I had the chance to meet a person whose works have accompanied me through most of my commuting trips and journeys, and have succeeded in enticing my thoughts and fantasies. For this small piece of my life, I am eternally grateful.