Dinner with a Fiddler's Green Guest of Honor!

Karen Berger
In a show-business career spanning five decades, Karen Berger has stamped her inimitable style on Hollywood, Cannes, and the Great White Way.

She sang and danced her way into the hearts of middle America with her performance as Dianne Arbus in the hit "Some Day My Prints Will Come" and went on to become the face of an era.

In the words of Brigitte Bardot: "Karen was everywhere in those days, from Vogue to the Oscars, to the cover of Lawnmower Collector's News (incorporating Garden Gnome Fancier's Monthly)."

Briefly married to Mickey Rooney during the fifties, as was the fashion at the time, in recent years Karen's talents have mostly been directed towards managing the career of her daughter Vertigo.

Karen Berger is the Executive Editor of DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. Berger was the driving force in launching Vertigo in 1993 with Sandman as its flagship title, paving the way for DC to publish innovative comics with darker, more sophisticated themes on a regular basis. Starting as an assistant at DC in 1979, Berger began editing House of Mystery six months later. Her work on that title and others, along with her recruitment of young British writers such as Gaiman, Jamie Delano, and Grant Morrison to write for DC in the late 1980s, became the mulch that would eventually grow the idea of Vertigo.
See also:

Neil Gaiman
Grown in a Petrie dish as the result of a bet between Howard Florey and Alexander Fleming, Neil Gaiman first came to prominence as a boy soprano, his album "Songs I Learned At My Mother's Knee and Other Low Joints" selling at least three copies.

Sent down from Cricklewood Junior Comprehensive following an incident involving a goldfish donated by the Bishop of Leicester, Neil began work with his family's chimney-sweeping business. This proved to be an unhappy liaison, partially due to his insistence on starting at the bottom. It also left him with a lifelong penchant for black clothing.

After study in Paris, Neil embarked on the career that was to dominate his future life: mime. Critical response was initially cool, but as he built up a body of work, this turned to open hostility, frequently occasioning physical violence. Neil's idol Marcel Marceau described his work as "   ."

Seeking new directions, Neil began writing comics as a sideline to his day job in street theatre and one of his earliest scripts was awarded a "Rigellian Hotshot" from British comics' top editor of the time, T.M. Tharg.

Colleagues have at various times said about him: "Neil who?" "Oh yes, Neil's not a bad writer, but he can't hold his Chinese food," and "Please don't tell him where I'm living now. I don't want to illustrate another children's book. Why can't he just leave me alone?"

Until recently, he lived mainly in hotels and on airplanes, but as a result of purchasing a car with GPS, he can now find his house.

Neil Gaiman is the co-creator and writer of the award winning comic series Sandman, from DC's Vertigo imprint. Spanning a run from 1989 to 1996, Sandman garnered multiple awards, including Eisners, Harveys, and the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction (Sandman #19). Transitioning easily from journalism to writing comic scripts, prose, poetry, screenplays, and songs, Gaiman's work continues to gather awards. Neil Gaiman is a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors, and his efforts for the Fund are constant and notable. He is currently at work on his next novel, Anansi Boys, set in the same world as his multiple award-winning American Gods.
See also:

Caitlin R. Kiernan
For at least two generations of children, Caitlin R. Kiernan is simply Miz Cait, the beloved host of "Oikle Town" who taught life lessons with the help of her puppets Daisy, the Geography Cow, Mayor Oikle, and Jean-Pierre, the Existentialist Snail.

With regular musical numbers from the house band of chickens, The Buffalo Wings, Caitlin and "Oikle Town" are regarded as being responsible for America's continuing fascinations with cartography, local government, and mid-twentieth century French philosophy, and for setting new standards in educational television.

Caitlin has often mentioned her regret at retiring from television, but feels that her role as junior senator for Georgia has continued the work she began there.

Caitlin R. Kiernan is an active paleontologist, a former front-woman for the band Death's Little Sister, and a full time celebrated dark fiction writer. Neil Gaiman invited Kiernan to write for Vertigo's The Dreaming in 1996, and she became its primary writer until the series' end in 2001, as well as scripting two Vertigo mini-series, The Girl Who Would Be Death (1998) and Bast: Eternity Game (2002). Her three novels and many eloquently disturbing short fiction pieces have won or been nominated for multiple fantasy and horror awards. She is currently working on a new novel, Daughter of Hounds.
See also:

Todd Klein
A fugitive from justice for more than thirty years as a consequence of the infamous Annapolis Agnew-egging of 1972, Todd Klein is one of the most mysterious figures in the publishing industry.

Editors speak of clandestine negotiations in underground parking lots and work submitted through a series of blind mail drops in adult bookstores and bus station lost and found offices.

One of the few people to have seen Klein in the intervening years, former landlord J.D. Salinger describes him as "a shy sort of kid who rented my spare room for a few months. I guess he moved on because he couldn't deal with the media attention I constantly have to deal with."

Editors have been willing to go along with Klein's elaborate security precautions due to the consistent brilliance of his lettering work, although some have privately expressed disappointment at his decision to continue with them even after President Clinton granted him a full pardon in 1998.

Todd Klein started working for DC Comics in its production department in 1977, eventually going freelance in 1987 primarily as a letterer and logo designer. In an average month, he supposes that he letters approximately six or seven monthly books, as well as "about 30" covers for DC. Klein is well known for lettering by hand, and when lettering by computer, he creates his own fonts; as the letterer for almost the entire run of Sandman he created distinct "voices" for every character in the extended, award-winning run of the series. He has won 10 Eisners, 7 Harveys, and multiple other awards for his distinctive drawing.
See also:

Jill Thompson
Jill Thompson was created in 1948 by Tex Avery for his classic short "Jill and the Beanstalk". Although never shown in full in the home market, this cartoon became a favorite amongst US troops in the Japanese occupation forces and served as an inspiration to Japanese children who watched it alongside the GIs.

A Japanese child interviewed at the time, known only as Osamu T., described his reaction thus: "She is like something from deepest, darkest Africa, she brings the jungle fame. She seems to believe in doing good and doing right. Kojilba (as she was called in the initial translation into Japanese,) the white fox is the one."

Tragically better-known outside the US than within, Jill was forgotten by mainstream America but was embraced by the "underground comix" of the 1960s, culminating in Ralph Bakshi's legendary and now impossible-to-find 1967 animated movie "The Adventures of Jill the Giant Killer", the last existing copy of which is owned by a private collector in Chicago.

The less said about the mid-seventies Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, featuring a falsetto Casey Kasem as the voice of Jill, the better, but the curious reader may still find episodes appearing on Boomerang on really bad weekends.

In the late eighties, following Jill's cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, development began on a live-action Jill Thompson film. The project has languished in pre-production due to scheduling problems with star Nicole Kidman.

Jill Thompson is one of the top illustrators in her field. Starting her career as a penciller and artists' model, Thompson worked on titles such as Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, and Sandman, before co-creating Finals, and moving into writing, drawing, and painting her own Scary Godmother series, for which she was also the co-writer and executive creative consultant for the computer-animated 3-D version aired in Canada in 2003. She applied her distinctive style and voice to two Sandman offshoots, The Lil Endless Storybook and At Death's Door, a manga-style story she wrote and illustrated based on the Season of Mists arc of Sandman. Thompson has been nominated for and has won multiple Eisner awards, among other recognitions.
See also:

Charles Vess
Charles Vess is the former xylophonist for The Mothers of Invention, often referred to as "the fifth Monkee."

Famed as the first-ever musician to throw a television out a hotel window, Vess is now largely retired from the music industry, spending his time running his two thousand-acre estate in the English midlands, in particular breeding crocodiles for the moat around the thirteenth-century castle he shares with his wife.

In the late '90s, Vess was a finalist in the world Eight Ball championships, but was defeated in a play-off by Icelandic language expert Margret Rodas.

In his spare time, Vess enjoys painting, collecting Ferraris, and kickboxing.

Charles Vess became a freelance illustrator in 1976, working for publications including National Lampoon, Heavy Metal, and Klutz Press. His collaboration with Neil Gaiman on Sandman #19 won the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction in 1991. He won Eisner Awards in 1997 for his work on The Book of Ballads and Sagas and for Sandman #75, and won the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 1999. Vess' work has been exhibited in several galleries and museums, as well as in the pages of many comic books. His own publishing company, Green Man Press, offers several publications and art prints from his most celebrated works. See also:

Biographical information compiled by Gregory Osborne, Randi Mason, and Maure Luke.