Gaiman gives lighthearted lecture

Neil Gaimen recoups after his lecture here at NKU.

Whether a fan of fantasy and fiction or not, Neil Gaiman charmed the audience during his lecture on March 25. The turn-out was modest despite Gaiman being the author of the Harper/Collins best-seller “American Gods.” Notably, though, an impressive core of fans attended the lecture. Many brought graphic novels, books and even lecture posters to be signed afterward.

After a brief introduction by Andy Miller of the language and literature department, Gaiman approached the podium in his trademark attire of a black leather jacket, black jeans, black t-shirt and dark “crazy hair”. He is not your typical academic. Instead, his first words were, “Okay, here’s the plan. I’m going to give a short talk, followed by a reading from my new book “Coraline.” There will be time for a few questions and answers and then I will do some signing.” The audience clapped along with laughter and satisfactory smiles at his informal demeanor.

Gaiman’s introductory speech was just as refreshing and unique. He said, “…when I grew up I wanted to be a werewolf or a writer.” By puberty, he realized that, as far as he knew, he was not a werewolf.

He went on to explain his fascination with myths. He said, “If you were to put a gun to my head, I would say I don’t believe in them literally. But I do believe in their power.”

To further this point, Gaiman told a story from his experience at a fairy tale convention. He said after being offended by academics speaking of fairy tales as if they had no meaning to us anymore, he went to his room and devised a new perspective on the old tale of “Snow White.” These same scholars and intellects who have been so frustrating to him attended the early morning lecture unaware of his naughty scheme. Gaiman retold the tale from the wicked queen’s perspective, saying how there was a dead princess with skin as white as snow, encased in glass and a prince obsessed with kissing the corpse and carrying her away with him.

“…they ( the academics) were startled. As if they were safely drinking their morning coffee only to find out someone put blood in it,” Gaiman stated with a sly, victorious smile. The audience cheered and laughed with amusement. That is the power Gaiman said.

He concluded his speech saying how in the dark recesses of imagination he could be a guide for readers even if he was “…a boy who didn’t grow up to be a werewolf.”

For an hour during the lecture, the audience settled in their seats as Gaiman read from his new book, “Coraline.” The book is a tale of a young girl, Coraline, and her two not-so attentive parents who have just moved into a new flat. Out of boredom, she explores the grounds and premises of her new home. In their flat, there’s a room full of fancy furniture. A room the family never uses. Along one of the walls of this room, there is a locked door that opens only to brick wall that separates the converted house into flats. On the other side of the brick wall , there is a vacant flat. Or, is it (put sinister grin here)?

Then after an session of questions and answers, Gaiman finished the lecture with a poem he had written for one of his daughters entitled “Crazy Hair,” a humorous poem about his hair getting mangled by Florida’s humidity while attending a convention. “It was like while in my sleep, someone had given me a really bad perm,” Gaiman comically confessed to the crowd.

The hardback version of “Coraline” will be available in the states in July. Negotiations are still pending for a major motion film based on “Good Omens,” co-authored by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.