Neil Gaiman, The Sandman
A young lady at Dragon’s Lair comics here in Austin talked me into buying the first volume, and when I got the whole stack from the library, another young lady at the checkout desk looked at the stack with approval and asked, “First time?”
It took me about two months to get through all ten volumes — read them only before bed, which did, unsurprisingly, have an effect on my dreams.
Sandman was a DC comics character that Gaiman resurrected for the series:
They said: make it your own. So I started thinking more mythic – let’s have someone who’s been around since the beginning of time, because that lets me play around with the whole of time and space. I inherited from mythology the idea that he was Morpheus, king of dreams: it’s a story about stories, and why we need them, all of them revolving in some way around Morpheus: we encounter a frustrated writer with an imprisoned muse; we attend a serial killer convention and the first performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; we even find out what cats dream about (and why we should be afraid).
I have to admit, one thing I find very disorienting about reading the series, especially reading it all in one big gulp, is the rotating cast of artists. I find that when reading comics made by a bunch of different artists (different penciler, inker, colorist, etc.) there’s a kind of lack of visual unity that just puts things off a little. Characters sometimes don’t look like themselves, and it can be hard to track visually what’s going on. (Which makes me appreciate collaborations like Saga and From Hell all the more.)
Dave McKean, who did all the covers, alludes to this:
Since the interior artists changed all the time, I was the only consistent visual element. I wanted the covers to be a filter, a window of slightly surreal, melancholy, thoughtful imagery to pass through… Some covers were painted, some drawn, but many of the first few were 5ft-high collage-type works made by me that we took to a high-res photography studio to shoot – this was all pre-computers.
McKean’s covers are really worth browsing through (here are some of his favorites and a dedicated volume).
I actually wish there was a way (other than owning the original comics) to replicate the serialized experience of reading the individual issues. I’d like a series that was just the original comics, with ads and everything, bound together. These trade paperbacks I read had the covers, but everything was sort of squashed together, and it was hard to tell where one issue began and one ended. I suppose you could download the original scans on bittorrent or something.
It’s fun to swallow it all in one gulp, but I can only imagine how cool it was to read these individually, in their original context, back in the day. Saga is the first comic I’ve read for which I’ve actually gone to the comic book store to get new issues, and it’s a really fun experience.
Filed under: my reading year 2014