Neil Gaiman isn’t afraid to let things get dark.
He never has been.
His writing has a way of working its way into you and sticking there, of making you feel uncomfortable and perhaps a little sad, but like you’re a better person for having read it, or maybe you can at least understand the world a little better.
That’s how his last appearance in Austin felt. Walking out of the Long Center on that night in November 2015, just after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, felt like walking out of a particularly intense therapy session: lighter, but also somehow heavier at the same time.
In light of the attacks, on that night, Gaiman opened by reading his essay “Credo,” which he’d written earlier that year as a particularly poignant message about freedom of speech (it has since been beautifully and hauntingly illustrated by Chris Riddell several times over). During a phone call in June, he called that night in Austin one of the darkest appearances he’s ever made.
“What I remember of Austin is that it was really dark in a really good way,” Gaiman said. “Normally, they’re really funny and good-natured.”