Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Neil Gaiman takes the stage at Emerson’s Colonial Theater to screams of excitement

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Neil Gaiman

“Through your stories, your voice will live on forever. How does it feel to be functionally immortal?”

Neil Gaiman read my question aloud to scattered laughter. Though he stepped onto the stage of Emerson’s Colonial Theater on Oct. 2 to literal screams of excitement, the bestselling author replied with typical humility. 

“You very quickly get over any idea that your voice will actually live on forever.” 

Gaiman is a wise and experienced author, so he probably knows what he’s talking about. Still, I have a hard time believing the excitement palpable in the air Monday night will dissipate anytime soon. 

Fans of his bestselling work—some in full cosplay—crowded the sold-out theater, eager to meet the maker of their favorite stories. Out of sheer excitement, one person compulsively hugged me, squeaked something about “breathing the same air,” and disappeared into the crowd. 

Gaiman is the brains behind popular titles belonging to all genres of fiction: “Coraline,” “The Sandman,” “The Ocean At The End of the Lane,” “Good Omens,” and many more. The love the audience has for these stories and the man who created them permeated the theater. When I learned Gaiman was coming to Boston, I knew I had to go. I’ve been a fan of Gaiman’s since watching “Stardust” as a kid, and I never grew out of it. I never had to. Beyond his children’s stories, Gaiman has written novels like “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys.” These titles are meant for mature audiences, but maintain that same sense of magic and wonder. His diverse catalog keeps me devouring his work even today. Gaiman has something for everyone!

The diversity of Neil’s fans—some of whom flew in from the West Coast to hear him speak—reflected the diversity of his content. Anna, a fan from Nebraska, said she’d been reading Gaiman’s books since the ‘90s. Her daughter, Katie, is a senior Creative Writing major. Her speculative fiction is inspired by Gaiman’s work. Juggling a pile of autographed novels, Katie showed me her tattoo of Coraline’s key. 

“I feel like [my mom’s] passed on her love [for Gaiman],” Katie said. 

Across multiple generations, Gaiman’s fans exhibit a devotion that is hard to find.

Gaiman clearly appreciates his readers as much as they appreciate him. Most of his show was dedicated to audience questions, which were as eclectic as his fans. His answers were thoughtful, in-depth, and charming, whether he was giving parenting tips or explaining his supposed disdain for Crystal Palace supporters. 

Every reply he gave felt as personal and relatable as his stories, drawing his audience in and eliciting laughter more often than not. Though his performance was writing-focused, at times it felt almost like a comedy show. 

When I asked him for tips on journalism, Neil told me to put the most interesting thing said at the beginning and the second most interesting thing at the end. (You will notice that this article begins with a quote from myself. That is because I was more interesting than the greatest storyteller of our time.)

My tendency towards social transgression made an already personal experience that much better. As Gaiman wrapped up his answer to my question, I shouted a thank you to him through the silent theater, to which he replied over laughter, “You are so welcome.” 

This may seem an inane interaction, but Gaiman’s willingness to interact with his fans is a gesture of respect that many celebrities wouldn’t stoop to. Since it was a back-and-forth in which I was acknowledged, I can truthfully say I had a conversation with one of the greatest writers of all time—though my roommates didn’t seem too impressed when I barged in after the show and freaked out about it.

When Gaiman wasn’t taking fan questions, he was reading excerpts from his books. As the narrator of his work, Gaiman justly has an unparalleled understanding of what his characters should sound like when they talk. 

Reading to us from his “Norse Mythology,” Gaiman had his audience in hysterics with a story about Thor’s quest to retrieve his stolen hammer by disguising himself as the bride-to-be of the would-be thief. 

Switching gears, he showed his range with a sweet-then-scary suspense story about a monster called a click-clack-rattle-bag. Spoiler alert—the adorable child is a tiny murder machine! Though his writing is incredible, his delivery added a whole extra dimension to his stories. 

 “I loved this,” Will, a sophomore VMA major, said of Neil’s show. “I had no clue what I was getting into.”

Though Will has only read “The Sandman” comics so far, he left the theater with plans to explore “Good Omens” next. 

“I feel like I just got a million good recommendations!” Will said. 

There were many other young artists just like him at the show, excited to carry Gaiman’s influence into their own projects. 

Though Gaiman may not be “functionally immortal,” his words have found staying power among the next few generations of writers and creators. I don’t think his stories are going anywhere anytime soon, especially with season 3 of “Good Omens” already in the works. “Sometimes you get lucky,” he said. “You get remembered. You stick around.”

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