Mr. Sandman

04-20-05_image-1_thumb.jpgNeil Gaiman, creator of the cult comic series Sandman, noted last night that a Web site measuring celebrity has labeled him “niche famous.” But judging by the sold-out audience that filled the Court Theatre to watch his interview with Gretchen Helfrich, host of Chicago Public Radio’s Odyssey program, the niche has grown quite large.

Gaiman, visiting the University as part of the Presidential Fellows in the Arts series, has experimented with many media, including graphic and traditional novels, television, and film. “I have long held the theory that the next thing I do should be completely different from the last. But then I look back and [my projects] are all lined up like soldiers, leading to the same thing.” It’s not quite clear to the author what that thing is, but his fans clearly enjoy it. When Gaiman read a passage from his new novel, Anansi Boys, in which the character Fat Charlie woke up hungover one morning, feeling like “his eyes were too tight in his head,” and “not only were they too tight in his head, but they must have rolled off in the night and reattached with roofing nails,” the college-age audience nearly heaved with laughter.

Although Gaiman specializes in creating fantastic stories in ordinary settings, he does not consider himself an escape artist. “Fantasy is not to create a different world, but it is a route back in to this one,” he said. “It is that wonderful feeling of coming home after being away awhile.”

Meredith Meyer, ’07

April 20, 2005