The Sandman

I recently finished Neil Gaiman‘s epic comic book series The Sandman (from the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics). I read it in my favourite way to read the better comic book series: in ‘phonebooks’. By that I mean the serial stories are gathered into bound collections which don’t require Endless waiting. The 75 issues of The Sandman (published between 1989 and 1996) are contained in 4 volumes called “Absolute Sandman”. These are large publications with a old style faux leather cover and a ribbon attached for marking your place in each tome. Very nicely done. And I am actually lucky that my library still had all four since some of them have gone out of print.
Just about the only common thread through this series, beside Morpheus (The Sandman), is Neil Gaiman himself. There are a wide variety of artists, letterers, pencillers, inkers and editors that become attached and then detached to the series but Gaiman manages to keep something, not easily definable, cohesive alive through all 75. The visuals change so much that you’d hardly recognize one from the other but still there is that intangible dream of continuity that keeps you interested and makes me upset about book four being the end. And desire the series to be Endless. Add to that, too, that this isn’t a straightforward story. After reading them all I’m left with questions like who actually masterminded Lord Shaper’s death (there are several candidates). How could Morpheus have been imprisoned in the first place (was he that bad that his siblings wouldn’t come to the rescue:  Destiny had to know where he was)?  Why did Hob survive that final encounter with Death?  What happens to Nuala?  And more.  Of course, to my way of thinking, being full of questions after a work of art is an excellent state to be in.
Some of the things I find particularly interesting:

  • the family of the Dream Lord are Endlessly interesting… they approach their duties so differently
  • religion and the Endless: Gaiman includes various religions, gods, myth, comic book heroes, belief systems together with the story lines and with no apparent conflict
  • the inhabitants of Morpheus’ realm, The Dreaming, are fascinating with very rich backstories included (like Cain, Abel and Eve, Matthew, Lucien, Merv, the guardians at the door, the Corinthian and Nuala)
  • the complexity
  • the Land in A Game of You
  • the bridge becoming a hall for the Dream Lord’s funeral and wake and then becoming a bridge again
  • all the stories told by the refugees from the Reality Storm at the Worlds’ End Inn
  • although my first point included her in the collective Death deserves her own due in the end!
Advertisements

The Graveyard Book

I was in the audience when Neil Gaiman won the Hugo for best novel of the year and I have finally read The Graveyard Book. I devoured this book including the wonderfully simple yet complex illustrations in one day. It, like Coraline, was a joy to read. Gaiman is a wizard with language. He’s economical and yet adventurous with English. There are sentence structures all over the map (some long, some short, some nuts) and yet he’s just so enjoyable to read. and not just by adults but children and comic book lovers too. I wish I could write like that. I imagine that, like all art that looks beautifully simple, it took a long time to get right. I enjoyed the macabre twists too. I’m not into horror at all but I don’t mind being scared by Neil Gaiman.
Very highly recommended.

Stardust

This film of Neil Gaiman’s book is pretty good. Gaiman is a fantastic writer and I can’t wait for them to be finished with the movie for Coraline, my favourite of his stories. They certainly changed the script quite a bit from the book Stardust but it was enjoyable none-the-less. I loved Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare. He seemed to realize that this was a fantastical world and felt no need to force a feigned British accent. I agree with my wife who points out that it would have been much better for the movie if someone had had the stones to pull Michelle Pfeiffer aside and told her not to attempt one either.
I like the perspective of a star that Claire Danes brings to the role as Yvaine: her desire to love when the baddies are all about killing her. Nathaniel Parker plays a very credible Dunstan Thorn too!
A fun movie and worth watching!