Feature – New Paper

From the July 6th New Paper:

Fantasy come true

Neil Gaiman’s Singaporean fans had their fantasies realised yesterday.

More than 500 got to have copies of their favourite Gaiman books signed by the the UK-born author of the Sandman comics and other fantasy books.

Gaiman, who is in Singapore to show a taste of his new film, Mirrormask, also held two talks-cum-signing sessions at Orchard Cineleisure yesterday.

When Gaiman entered the cinema hall, it was to the kind of applause you would expect a visiting hero to get.

You could also say he’d come in character. He was dressed in trademark head-to-toe black and even had on amazingly, considering Singapore’s climate his black leather jacket, though, as he pointed out, the air-conditioning justified his decision.

Gaiman was as witty and entertaining a speaker as you would expect from a writer of his versatility. As he later admitted to The New Paper, he felt he found his feet in the second session.

But both sets of audiences lapped up the opportunity to ask the questions they had always wanted to ask.

The maths involved in the signings is daunting: Two signing sessions involving more than 280 people per session, each with about two or three books to sign.

Pain

One can only imagine the pain he’s enduring in his hands right now. And it’s only the first day. He has more book signings and talks today and tomorrow.

The second session yesterday was meant to be over by 9.30pm, but was still going on well after midnight.

It had created a long snaking queue of fans and the whole session was eventually moved to comic shop Comics Mart on the third floor.

Comics Mart and The British Council jointly organised the event.

But the fans weren’t complaining. The man they had come to see was happy to stay until everything had been signed.

There was a mix of fans from all walks of life, from students to business executives.

Apparently, there were even International Olympic Committee members in the crowd. A group of schoolgirls from Methodist Girls School was so excited, you could be forgiven for thinking it was Justin Timberlake waiting at the end of the line.

Fan David Ross Florey, 35, vice-president of marketing for the Kas-Telstra group, put Gaiman’s popularity down to ‘the magic, the mysticism and the wit’. ‘It’s a difficult mixture to pull off,’ he said.

Mr Dennis Kuek, 36, said he enjoys the way Gaiman ‘brings the everyday into the fantastic’.

But if your impression of comic fans at a signing is that of awkward men whose best relationships are with their Xboxes, then this is the session to change your preconceptions.

Gaiman has a huge female following. Some girls had even flown from Malaysia for the event. So what is it about Gaiman’s work that attracts women? A longtime fan who wanted to be known only as Ash, 29, loves the way he builds a character ‘like the way the Devil is a good guy in Season Of Mists’.

Another fan, Dora, 29, said it’s not only the intelligence of his writing that impresses her, ‘there’s a vast universe in his writing and it’s not your traditional ‘wham-bam’ comic,’ she said.

‘Dream.’

That’s what Gaiman wrote in this reporter’s copy of the Sandman book, Endless Nights. Yesterday was certainly a dream come true for his fans.