“I know that people in Cleveland are, theoretically, like people in other places,” said author Neil Gaiman Sunday afternoon, in a soft British accent. “But I don’t know what people in Cleveland want to know.” A mob wanted to know anything Gaiman would talk about.

After the Browns game, author Gaiman’s appearance at the Cleveland Public Library Lakeshore Facility was probably the biggest event in Cleveland Sunday. While a rock-star comparison isn’t quite appropriate — he really seems like a down-to-earth guy — the next time he comes through town, he’d do well to book House of Blues, because the reading/book signing would have sold out the Grog Shop or Beachland.

According to the library, a crowd of over 1,000 turned up. Fans began lining up before 11 a.m. for the 2 p.m. event. An hour before it kicked off, the line was a block long. The event nearly didn’t happen at all. Gaiman had the flu, and was talking about canceling appearances in Cleveland and Toledo (Monday), but girlfriend Amanda F. Palmer (formerly frontwoman of the Dresden Dolls) tweeted that she’d badgered Gaiman into keeping his commitment.

Gaiman’s reputation has been growing steadily for over two decades, from his work in comics (including Sandman) to children’s literature (Coraline, now a movie), picture books (The Wolves in the Walls), and adult fantasy fiction (American Gods). Last year’s The Graveyard Book has been on The New York Times bestsellers for a full year. It won a Newbery Medal, which is given to authors for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. (Gaiman mow lives in Minnesota.)

Gaiman is also a noted reader: He performed the audiobook version of The Graveyard Book, which won the Audio Publishers Association’s Audiobook of the Year award for 2009. And his reading/question-and-answer session delivered such a performance. Gaiman claimed he was winging it, explaining, “If I don’t plan too much, nothing can actually go wrong.”

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