Produced by Jordan Rennert, Patrick Meaney,
Julian Darius, Mike Phillips,
Cat Mihos, Morgan Peter Brown
Directed by Patrick Meaney
Starring Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer,
George R.R. Martin, Grant Morrison,
Karen Berger, Shelly Bond, Terry Prachett,
Lenny Henry, Michael Sheen, Patton Oswalt,
Chip Kid, Wil Wheaton, Jill Thompson
The living embodiment of The Sandman and literary genius Neil Gaiman (American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane) is highlighted in this documentary from SeqArt, following Neil on his final book signing world tour.
That is too say, Neil will, at the end of the documentary have signed over 75,000 books and need to ice his had after every session. An artist with such class and graciousness is rare for wanting face time with all of his fans, just one last time. No one can accuse Neil of being a ‘Ringo’ about his signing tour. He wants to get back to writing. At some point he decided he wanted the final tour to happen, so he, like one of his Endless characters, planted the seed in his fan’s dreams and let this pan out one last time.
With some great interviews with celebrity fans Wil Wheaton, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Ross, Lenny Henry, Grant Morrison, the late Terry Pratchett and so many more, this insightful documentary about Neil’s writing and life will be surely devoured by his devout followers and comics fans that recognize how works like Sandman truly changed the conversation and cultural landscape.
It comes as no surprise that Neil Gaiman’s books have influenced a generation of young people, and young people that have become adults. From The Sandman to Coraline to American Gods, there are comics, short stories and novels for many generations to enjoy.
This last book tour was a favor to the fans by giving advance notice to him retiring from the tiring part of being an author. To schlep from city to city all over the world to sign the books you’ve written is a double edged sword for an artist like Gaiman.
On the one hand he is so genuinely pleased that what he created has an affect on you, that he wants to be gracious enough to let you show that appreciation. On the other hand, he would rather be writing with his fancy quill pens, a different color each day, showing the passage of time as he makes his next idea come to life. Being on the road keeps a writer from being able to write that next Doctor Who episode.
When one sees celebrities be unkind toward their fans, or have a bad day, that colors what you think of them. Throughout this documentary we are shown how genuine Mr. Gaiman is with his time and offering an opportunity to fulfill this obligation. While tired at times, it seems as if he was still honored to do this. Not as a way to ‘give back,’ but as a way to let his rabid fans receive a hug if they needed one because they were nervous, or to get the signature on an average of three books per customer.
The ice bucket is real, doctors orders him to soak after each marathon signing.
SeqArt once again does a fine job of animating some sequences and inserting some cosplay scenes of Death and Morpheus while not detracting from the main story, which rather ends up being part biographical and autobiographical. Great interviews that stand out are from former Vertigo editor Karen Berger and SNL alum Bill Hader. Patton Oswalt also appears as well as Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson.
Berger recalls Gaiman’s persistence in getting hired from across the pond, in similar ways to how Alan Moore and Grant Morrison got their careers started. Gaiman himself admits to not seeing The Sandman go for more than 10 issues, underestimating the popularity of his own mythology.
Neil’s muse and current wife, Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls) describes their relationship and both are shown being affectionate to each other and it is quite lovely. Both are respected artists that have somehow found each other and inspire each others art. Nerds couldn’t write a more lovely slash fiction than what happens in real life with these two. The fans can’t get enough of the pairing.
A point Neil makes at the end of the film relates to his wife in a way. He is almost a bit jealous that Palmer gets to tour around the world doing what she loves to do on stage. Gaiman is a writer, who gets to tour by signing his artwork, not actually doing it. He’s not a ‘signer of books’ he is an author.
This perfectly sums up the movie for me. Neil Gaiman is so insightful, and in touch with himself that he realized that he only had this one last signing tour in him. And he honored it. Now he can get back to writing.
Now if I were a betting man, I might wager that he hasn’t signed his last book. But this is the final tour as he has deemed that so. What we get in return is Gaiman making more good art and inspiring us to be better, and to be kind and gracious to one another.