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Jordain Chinander - Visiting Artist Response

For my visiting artist assignment I have decided to write about a lecture and book reading that was given by author Neil Gaiman on October 9th at the United Church of Christ, in St. Paul. The lecture was part of a promotional book tour for Gaiman’s newest novel “The Graveyard Book.? At the event there was also a sneak-peak for the not yet released stop-motion-animation production of his well-received book “Coraline.? In addition to the typical book tour venue geared towards selling his book, Neil also spoke briefly about himself and his background as an artist. Finally, at the end of the evening, Gaiman took submitted questions from the audience including one of my own inquiries. I was very impressed with the work Neil presented, with hearing about himself, and especially having my question answered by the author.

On Wednesday October 9th I attended a lecture and reading given by author Neil Gaiman at the final stop in his book tour promoting his newest book “The Graveyard Book? as well as the production of his famed book “Coraline? into a feature film. Gaiman began by giving a short lecture about himself, his history as a writer, and finally a brief background of the book. Afterwards he read the final chapter in the book to the audience, explaining that he had read one single chapter to each city he visited beginning at the start of the book and now finishing with St. Paul.

After he read from his new book he gave us a quick history of his best-selling book Coraline, and explained how it, like “Mirror Mask? and “Stardust? before it, was going to be made into a feature-length film. We were then treated to a sneak preview of the film. The movie has been made entirely in stop-motion animation; the same director and crew who made “The Nightmare Before Christmas? created it. The movie stars Dakota Fanning as the voice of Coraline, the main character. Based on the preview I saw, this movie looks like I will be just as entertaining as “Stardust? and “Mirror Mask? were.

As an artist, Neil Gaiman is an extremely well versed creator. He is multi-talented, having worked on books geared for many audiences ranging from small children to adults. He has also worked on films, as I mentioned earlier, and he is additionally well loved in the world of comics and graphic novels.

One of Neil’s most famous works was a series he picked up from DC Comics called “The Sandman.? “The Sandman? series was originally created and introduced by the company a number of years ago, however it was unsuccessful and was eventually dropped until Gaiman reintroduced it in 1989.

Since the reintroduction and of “The Sandman,? Gaiman has worked with both of the other top Comic book companies Marvel Comics and Dark Horse Comics.

Similar to his re-adaptations of failed comic book series, Gaiman was also employed to adapt the concepts of Japanese legendary director Hayo Miyazaki’s drawings for “Princess Mononoke? into a script version for the feature length animated film. I think this shows the writer’s talent for being extraordinarily adaptable in his writing for not only his own works but the work of others as well.

Mr. Gaiman spoke to us briefly about himself and his history in regards to its influence on him as a writer. He is modest however about his numerous achievements. Rather than boast about himself he spoke more about his years living in London and the effects the English lifestyle had on his writing. He also mentioned that his family, especially his children, have always been an inspiration for the characters in his books.

After having spoken about his personal life, career and influences, Neil took questions from the audience. All of the questions pre-written a submitted before Mr. Gaiman took the stage. I wrote one to him asking for his advice in regards to how a young college Arts major, such as myself, might make my way into the field of Illustrating for a large comic book company such as DC, Marvel, or Dark Horse.

Gaiman’s response t my question was very inspiring and helpful. He advised me to draw often and really hone my skills once I feel confident in my talents; he suggested that I create a portfolio that is dynamic and professional. Once I have a firm portfolio in place he said that I should create numerous copies of it and send it into not only those three major comic book companies, but to news papers, magazines and any other publishing mediums that would put my name out there but also anyone who would be in contact with a comic book company.

What I took from Mr. Gaiman’s advice, as having been the most useful was the concept of submitting my work to those outside of my intended field of work to build myself a strong foundation as a versatile artist. I suppose this makes perfect sense coming from an artist who works in a multitude of mediums himself. I was also inspired by the way in which he gave me the advice. He spoke in such a manner that I felt it was as though he completer confidence in my ability to make work for myself with the employers I mentioned by putting a little effort into my portfolio and by having a little faith in myself.

The entire experience was inspiring and enriching for me, I really enjoyed attending this event. I learned a lot about what makes one of my favorite authors tick. I also received valuable advice and was treated to a free reading and preview as well. I thouroughly enjoyed the lecture and look forward to Neil Gaiman’s next visit.