When I was 17, I met a vampire in Pittsburgh.
We first met on a crowded stairway. From behind me I hear, “Nice tattoo.” Since this was 1992, and I’d just had my first one done, I turned. “But I like the face better.”
I bumped into him the next day and, as we walked to his place a few blocks away, he confided he was a 200 year old vampire. True, he was thin and pale, tho not as pale as me, but… “You do know you’re in the sun, right?”
“Stings a bit, but I have a high threshold for pain.”
He had an answer for every question, and that, mixed with my penchant for passing out in the sun, made us both hurry to his house.
Just before we stepped inside, he asked if he could suck my blood.
“Aren’t you worried you might catch something?” I asked.
“I’m already dead, remember?”
But when he asked if I’d suck his blood, “I’m still alive. I can catch something.”
We made our way up to the third floor bedroom, where the most amazing poster hung on his closet door:
I sat on the floor, back against the couch, mesmerized by every detail. The cat with bat wings. The girl gently resting her hand on the head of the girl sitting on the floor.
As my vampire sat above me, legs on either side of me, he pulled the hair away from the back of my neck and maybe it was the situation– I’m having my blood sucked by a guy who thinks he’s a vampire– but I insisted he take me to buy my own. (I still have it. It’s on my wall now.)
When I got home, I went straight to Forbidden Planet, a large comic book store near where I lived. I described the poster, and was led to a graphic novel called, “Sandman: Season of Mists”.
I bought it, read it, and was hooked. The author, Neil Gaiman, had so much knowledge, which he seamlessly wove into his stories.
I was a Gaimanite. (“Gaimanite” is a potential term for a Neil Gaiman fan. There was a minor Twitter debate.) I longed to add the cover version of the Key to Hell as a tattoo. (*There are at least three versions of the Key. I did get the Key done, tho I waited 17 years.)
I read everything I could that had Neil Gaiman as an author. I bought graphic novels, books.
I even got a T-shirt with a popular Death quote:
Fast forward to a week ago at the library. I’ve been begging my son to read on of Mr. Gaiman’s books, but no luck.
It was when I checked out, “The Annotated Sandman, vols 2 and 3 that my sons’ curiosity got the best of him.
Book 2 begins with Season of Mists. And, like me, my son can’t put it down.
And so it begins.
A new Neil Gaiman fan. Only this one Is a 2nd generation fan.
To my “vampire”, where ever you are, thank you.