This warm documentary captures fantasy author Neil Gaiman on a demanding book-signing tour in 2013, and is a fascinating portrait of his life and career.

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Somewhere in Seattle there is a massage therapist who helped author Neil Gaiman keep his right hand from completely shriveling in 2013.

Gaiman himself attributes the save to a visit here that year, during a whirlwind, physically demanding book-signing tour captured in the warmly revealing documentary “Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously.”

Though writing your name in a book might not sound hazardous, Gaiman, the enormously popular creator of “The Sandman” graphic novels and writer of “Coraline” and “The Graveyard Book,” did it at least 150,000 times, plus dedications, without a break over 90 days in the U.S. and U.K.

Movie Review ★★★  

‘Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously,’ with Neil Gaiman, Bill Hader, Michael Sheen, Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Martin; directed by Patrick Meaney; No rating, equivalent to PG; 74 minutes. Grand Illusion.

The reason: This was Gaiman’s last such tour. As seen in filmmaker Patrick Meaney’s nimble, playful chronicle, Gaiman is constantly mindful of the needs of his fans, speaking to large crowds, giving hugs, posing for photos and wielding a favorite fountain pen. After each lengthy autograph session, he plunges his arm in a bucket of ice water (as recommended by that Seattle healer).

“Dream Dangerously” also looks at the winding course of Gaiman’s life and career. That narrative is touchingly helped by his visit to Portsmouth, England, where he grew up lost in books and a deep imagination. Sprinklings of animation and interviews with actor Bill Hader, the late author Terry Pratchett and many more help round out the portrait.

But it’s Gaiman himself who muses on writing: discovering characters, staying true to his goals and balancing worldly engagement with necessary isolation. By the end of this film, it’s clear he has more of the latter now.