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Congratulations! We’re very pleased to announce that Neil has chosen your artwork as one of his runners-up for the month of January."
Those 24 words are the beginning of an e.mail I got on March 22nd from BlackBerry Keep Moving Team; those 24 words almost caused me an heart attack.
Let's explain what did happen: some months ago I was dicking around on deviantart.com as I often use to, and, in my message box, I spot an adv for a BlackBerry contest. I've a looser attitude I know it and I'm trying to fight against this point of my character but it's still very rare I read this kind of advertising till the end; I use to stop within 5 lines: the good time to make me persuaded I'm not able to take part to the contest or I'm not really interested in. This time something make me read the advertisment till the end and that thing was the name Neil Gaiman clearly visible in the headline (that and the fact the text was quite short).
Shortly the adv explained mr Gaiman wrote 12 short stories, one for every month, basing on some tweets he himself had chosen in a previous part of the contest, and he was inviting whoever to illustrate them. All you had to do was to dawnload the short-stories, read them, pick-up one of them, make an illustration and upload it on the dedicated web page; then it will be up to Gaiman to choose his favourite ones to be featured in the digital A Calendar of Tales.
Now, I'm not an absolute lover of every Gaiman's work (let's say I even don't like some of his works), but Neil Gaiman was the one who taught me to look to comic books using completely dofferent eyes (it's not I become a Corinthian stealing people's eyes anyway), some of his works went along with me during those complicate, absurd years that are between childhood and being an adult and sometimes, when I look behind my shoulders, I have to admit Sandman has been influencing my unconscious and my personal and career choices more than it's recommended for a comic series.
And, since it would be Neil himself the one to choose the illustrations, I hand the possibility to let the hero of my teenage know I do exist (yep you can have a lot of bizarre heroes during you teenage such as the Italian actor Bud Spender or the basketball player Dino Menegin and so on...). Neil Gaiman would watch my art work: perhaps he would like it, pheraps definitely not but I didn't care so much: HE WOULD WATCH MY ARTWORK; he would know that somewhere in the world there is FedZeppelin, that thing alone was a triumph.
So I downloaded the shortstories, printed them, read them all during one night (not a big deal really; they are very short), I loved some of them, I just liked some others and I just didn't like a couple of them; but I was very sure from the first moment I would make an art work based on January Tale. That wasn't my favourite one, the easier to illustrate neither but - I don't know why - it was the one which had a sort of correspondance in my mind, maybe because its asmosphere but is sounded sort of familiar to me.
I started work on a photomanipulation (you sow it at the top of this entry or, if you like - and please make me happy and do this - on the project page here): I took photos, searched between my files, looked for the help of some friends of mine (and I use this entry to say thanks to them: Valberici who long long time ago gave me the X-ray of his damaged eye and Luca who use to assemble such beautiful dioramas that I use part of one of them for my version of the character of Twelve).
At the end of all this I sent my artwork.
When they sent to me the e.mail telling me Neil (writing just the name was an idea of them not mine) shortlisted my work for the final selection and asking me to send an higher resolution file my heart stopped beating for a moment and what I thought was (in this very order): "so that's what a mail of good news looks like!" (I'm such a collector of "We are sorry to..." shaped mail and know very very well how they look like) and "OMG! OMG! Gaiman saw an illustration of mine and he liked it! Whatever will happen I won! The hell what happens now!"
And then the things went better than I can expect: surprisingly, some days later, I found in my e.mail box the letter I wrote in the beginning of this entry and I had to wait till A Calendar of Tales was officially online to spread the news all over the world.
In the meanwhile I wrote this blog entry again and again and again in my mind looking for the better form to share with you all my happiness. That is a small victory against my bad attitudes and that gives me the strength to keep on working.
And if when I was 14 they told that to me I would never never believe this: Neil Gaiman chosen my artwork.