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Free tickets for Neil Gaiman claimed in a flash

Iconic writer set to appear at MacEwan Hall on Feb. 24, 2014
October 25, 2013

Legendary novelist and comic book giant Neil Gaiman just became the hottest literary ticket in the city with 800 free tickets to his upcoming University of Calgary appearance on Feb. 24, 2014, claimed online within about one minute.

Gaiman is scheduled to give a reading at MacEwan Hall as the 2014 Distinguished Visiting Writer for the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program (CDWP).


Free tickets for the event became available at noon today (Thursday, Oct. 24) on the online ticketing site Within about one minute, all available tickets were claimed – pending the completion of the registration process by those lucky enough to have made it into the queue.


Unfortunately, this left many Gaiman fans – who were online at noon but still didn’t make the cutoff – feeling frustrated.


“This is the largest venue on campus, other than McMahon Stadium,” explained Bart Beaty, head of the English department and Acting Chair of the CDWP.  “Given how fast these tickets were cleaned out, maybe we should’ve booked the football stadium – if the event wasn’t being held in late February.”


Beaty says the CDWP chose to set up free tickets for the 2014 event after Margaret Atwood’s appearance as the 2013 Distinguished Visiting Writer last February. The Atwood event was also free to the public and when MacEwan Hall filled up, about 400 fans were turned away at the door.


Free tickets were set up for Gaiman’s appearance to prevent a similar situation.


“The reason we went with tickets for Gaiman is that, if we didn’t, people probably would have started camping out the day before,” says Beaty. “We would have been turning away hundreds of fans.”


“This is a writer with 1.9 million Twitter followers,” Beaty adds. “He is a phenomenal presence in literature and popular culture. He’s a novelist, a writer of children’s books, a comic book writer, a writer for movies and television. He’s worked across the media spectrum and, obviously, he attracts people from all over.”


Indeed, tickets were claimed from fans across Western Canada and as far away as the United States and the United Kingdom.


An acclaimed writer who counts the Newbery and Carnegie medals and the Hugo, Will Eisner and Bram Stoker awards among his accomplishments – Gaiman first came to fame in the late 1980s with his groundbreaking adult-themed horror fantasy comic book series, The Sandman.


A new mini-series called The Sandman: Overture, a prequel to the original series, will be released just in time for Halloween on Oct. 30.


Among his best selling novels are Neverwhere, Stardust, and American Gods, the latter of which is being adapted into an HBO TV series.


He’s also a prolific writer of books for young readers. These include Blueberry Girl, Coraline and The Graveyard Book.


For further details on Gaiman’s Feb. 24, 2014 MacEwan Hall appearance, visit 

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