Flashback: A little nail polish, a bit of Coraline and an email from Neil Gaiman…

[Updated 11/25/2008: I’m starting to find more boxes appearing online. I’ll post links as I can at the bottom of this post. I can’t wait to see all 50 together!]

The most amazing thing happened to me.

I got a comment on the blog by someone with a question asking me to email them. I was to send an email to “TheTeam@coraline.com”. This comment was on my post about the Buffy quote on Neil Gaiman’s blog. “Coraline.com?” I asked. Hmmm…what on earth?

So I sent the email and here was the response:

Dear Sara,

We are a group of artists, puppet-makers and animators who, for the past three years, have been working on our new film, Coraline. We are great admirers of your work online and therefore want to send you something special. Something handcrafted. We only made 50 of these something specials, and we think yours will be right up your alley. We’d love to send it to you soon, so please email us back with your mailing address at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

The Coraline Team
Portland, Oregon

Intriging…but I have to admit I was skeptical. I wanted to instantly believe that it was true – it sounded amazing and they had singled meout for 1 in 50 of something. Something that was never for sale, something that was hand-selected. Of course I wanted to shout my address from the rooftops (figuratively speaking)! But I can be naive and it felt a little strange. So what did I do – I emailed Neil Gaiman.

Yep. I’ve read his blog long enough to know that from time to time things such as these come to him through his FAQ line and since he is the most awesome of them all he actually responds.

And that’s how I got an email from Neil Gaiman. In my mailbox. He pointed me to another site who seemed to have received the same invitation. The next day the link showed up on his blog. And I had it in my mailbox before anyone else saw it.

I raced to my email to respond to the original. It had been about a week and I was afraid I missed my opportunity. But I got a response and today I found this on my doorstep:

My Own Mystery Box

My Own Mystery Box

On top of the box was a letter, sealed with black wax and a black button.

On top of the box was a letter, sealed with black wax and a black button.

Here’s what it reads:
Dear Sara,
Since ancient times, strangers who work on feature films have sent strangers with great websites mysterious gifts in the hope that they can connect over a mutual interest and come to love each other. Some people think that receiving random gifts from strangers in the mail is illicit. Not when the gifts are awesome, right?
Inside this old box is a one-of-a-kind collection we’ve amassed and cataloged with you and you alone in mind.

Why? We at Laika are nearing completion of Coraline, our first full-length animated film. For the last three years, 351 or the world’s oddest and most talented animators, artisans, and puppet fabricators have been hand-making one movie. Led by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. This team has created the first stop-motion feature shot in 3D. Based on the beloved best-selling children’s classic by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a fairy-tale nightmare steeped in classic storytelling, craftsmanship, and the old-fashioned art of moviemaking magic. That means everything is handmade. Every leaf, drawer pull, and roast turkey. Even the rusty shower water.

The plain truth of the matter is, we are pretty obsessed with Neil Gaiman. Like you. No shame there. That’s why we admire kissthelibrarian. It’s weird. It’s funny. It’s got a wicked point of view and that’s why we’re writing you. When your byline is “How Neil Gaiman Changed My Life” you know you’re dealing with an honest fellow devotee. Neil’s been to the set of our movie and each visit has been inspiring. We’ve tried very hard to keep true to his magical vision. Please keep up the super work. We’ll be reading.

Coraline is coming out this February. If we have guessed correctly that you are a curious person with access to the internet, perhaps you’ll look for more cool things about this film. This is not a secret we hope you won’t want to share. And so, we say thank you for your time, enjoy and hello.

Sincerely,
The Coraline Team

There have only been three times when I have been close to being as geeked out as I was when I opened this box: 1) When Mark presented me with a Buffy prop for Christmas (I can’t believe I’ve never posted that here before! It must have been pre-blog days), 2) When Mark got me the Strangers in Paradise panel for Christmas last year and 3) When I met James Marsters. I can’t quite describe what I was feeling. I was actually speechless when I lifted the lid and looked inside.

Whoa...are you serious?!

Whoa...are you serious?!

All I could do was blink and point until Mark came over to look. Here’s what was inside (click to enlarge):
Black Button Seal

Black Button Seal

Twitchy Witchy Blue Nail Polish made for Coraline

Twitchy Witchy Blue Nail Polish made for Coraline

The Black Key

The Black Key

C's Necklace

C s Necklace

Still of the props in the actual footage

Still of the props in the actual footage

Signed by Henry Selick!!!

Signed by Henry Selick!!!

There are no words...Need I say anything else? How about one last picture, then? And go to Coraline.com, enter BUTTONEYES for a special meet the cast feature (more passwords are floating online, such as STOPMOTION, MOUSTACHIO, ARMPITHAIR). Then be sure to watch for the film coming in February – it’s going to be amazing.
What?!

What?!

All I can say at this point, and keep in mind I’m on geek overload, is that I have learned to be grateful for my little idiosyncrasies and quirks – I am passionate for a lot of things and each one makes me who I am. It’s ok to embrace that – good things come to those who are authentic. You never know when you might find your own mystery box of sorts on your doorstep.
Thank you to the team at Coraline for putting a little more magic out into the universe.
This blog is doing a much better job of tracking the Coraline boxes than me. Check it out: http://jspake.blogspot.com/2008/11/mysteries.html
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