I mentioned before that I was never able to get into Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comics back in the early 90s. This was not due to any fault of the author or his collaborators. In retrospect, it is evident that I wasn't ready for something like The Sandman back then. After all, I was caught in the throes of the Image Comics revolution, and visually The Sandman couldn't compete with the works of Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, etc. I wanted some ass-kicking action, and felt that nothing much happened in Morpheus' story. At least compared to various X-Men titles, The Punisher, Spawn, etc.
Those days are long gone, and I was forced to sell my 1000+ collection for a mere fraction of its market value when I lost my job well over a decade ago. For some reason, I've never read any other comic books since then. . .
Not surprisingly, there is a vast overlap between the SFF books and the comic books fandoms. And many Hotlist readers have always been a bit perplexed by the fact that I could love Neil Gaiman's novels to such a degree, while I could never bring myself to give The Sandman a second chance.
So when GRRM put me in touch with people at DC Comics so I could fulfill my obligations for losing that NFL bet, I asked about the possibility to read and review The Sandman series. The idea was to give the sequence exposure to Gaiman fans who, like me, aren't or have never been into comics. Hence, I was quite pleased when I received a package contained the entire series.
The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes is an omnibus containing the first eight issues of The Sandman. They were illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III, while Neil Gaiman penned the story. The amazing covers are the work of artist Dave McKean.
The pace of the story, in this omnibus at least, is a bit slow-moving, reminding me why a younger Pat had trouble with it and moved on to other comic books. Yet you can see that this first story arc is meant to set the stage, and Gaiman seems to gain confidence and momentum with each issue. He also knows how to set the mood, which bodes well for things to come.
While "The Sleep of the Just," "Imperfect Hosts," "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "A Hope in Hell," and "Passengers" are all right, I felt that the tale really takes off with "24 Hours," which was fantastic. "Sound and Fury" brought this story arc to a close, but "The Sound of Her Wings" caps it off perfectly. Can't help but love the Death character!
Visually, the art from those first issues of The Sandman is a world aways from what I used to love in comic books such as Spawn, etc. But for a dark and moody piece like this, I feel that it works beautifully. And the McKean covers are incredible. Can't wait to read the second volume, The Sandman: The Doll's House (Canada, USA, Europe).
So there you have it. I took the bait, and I'm going for it! Looks like I'll be enjoying my second attempt at reading what helped put Neil Gaiman on the map! If, like me, you love Gaiman's novels, movies, and other projects, but you have yet to give The Sandman a chance, now's the time to do it. It's kind of cool to discover how it all began. . .