Neil Gaiman (1960-) is one of the best fiction writers in the world in my opinion. His work covers novels, short-stories, children’s books, comics, film, television – pretty much the whole pop-culture gamut.

This quote is taken from Gaiman’s commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which was all over the internet last week. In an absolutely beautiful and inspiring speech, Gaiman shares the best tips that he wished he knew when he was first starting his writing career. It’s required listening for anyone passionate about the arts and I’ve bookmarked it so I can watch it whenever I lose my direction. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and click here.  

I first read Gaiman’s work over 15 years ago, although I didn’t know who he was at the time. It was Spawn #9, which stood out from all the other Image, testosterone-filled comics I was reading because it was um … well-written. I kept reading the rave reviews The Sandman was getting but I wasn’t ready for ‘adult’ comics yet (I was 14 and hooked on the proportionally-challenged, gun-pouch-wearing superheroes of the new Image universe.) By the time my reading tastes had matured and I started university, I couldn’t afford to buy all of The Sandman collected editions. However, one of the (only) good things about my college was that their library had a comic collection, including all of The Sandman books. Reading the series over the course of a year (they were popular so it was difficult to loan them) was one of the highlights of my three years at university. The series lived up to the hype, opened my eyes to what comics were capable of and helped me score dates with goth girls. After that, I moved onto Gaiman’s novels including the hilarious Good Omens (co-authored with Terry Pratchett), Anansi Boys and the brilliant American Gods. He’s one of my favourite writers and if you see this Mr. Gaiman, thank you for not only making good art, but for making great art.

– Neil Gaiman’s official blog. I especially recommend this recent interview Gaiman conducted with one of my other favourite writers, Stephen King.
– Thanks to reader, Albert, for first sending me the link to the commencement speech.
– I’ve never liked using the term ‘graphic novel’ to describe adult or mature comics. I know Will Eisner created the term and who am I to argue with him, but whenever I hear people use it, it’s like they’re ashamed to admit that they read comics. I actually heard someone say “I don’t read comics, I only read graphic novels.” They’re the same thing!