The Sandman Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

Author: Neil Gaiman and lots of illustrators
Publisher: DC Comics
Date: 1995 (first published October 21st 1991)

Some time last year I realized, much to my dismay, that I hadn’t read a Neil Gaiman book in months. Right on top of that thought came the NEXT one which was this:

There are MANY Neil Gaiman books that I haven’t read AT ALL, not even once.

I knew immediately that this simply would not do. I’m sure you are all aware, as am I, that reading Neil Gaiman’s books will greatly increase your chances of success in the afterlife. This is a fact, children and you can tell your mums and whatnot that Laura said so.

I can’t remember the last time I read a graphic novel (which is really just a hoity-toity name for a fancy comic book- I don’t care WHAT you say). I know there was one I use to read, back in the day, when I was a wee tot but I’m pretty sure it was brightly colored and involved good guys killing bad guys. When I pledged myself (and the safety of my eternal soul) to reading all of Neil’s books, I unwittingly committed to reading his graphic novels, The Sandman series- which are NOT brightly colored but DO involve lots of different kinds of people, killing lots of different kinds of people.

I procured a copy of The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes, which contains issues 1-8. I didn’t know what to expect from the series, or from a graphic novel in general so I was more than pleasantly surprised when I discovered that I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Don’t you just love that feeling when you’re reading something so good that it would take a VERY strong person prying it out of your hand while you’re repeatedly beating them over the head with their own leg, to take it away from you? You know you do.

The story- as I explained it to my beloved who is a non-reader but willing to indulge my book talk if I keep it short enough- is about the king of dreams who is accidentally summoned by an evil wizard who was REALLY trying to summon Death (dumbass). Scared stupid, the wizard imprisons Dream for many years and loots his stuff. When Dream finally gets free, he sets off to retrieve the tools of his trade that have since been scattered hither and thither throughout the world(s). This first 8 issues follow him into the dream world, the human world and hell as he reclaims the items that hold his power. This summary, when told, involved the use of lots of BIG hand gestures.

The artwork is absolutely amazing in parts and in others absolutely grotesque- like whenever they did a close up of Stimpy’s boogers. The images and imagery are incredibly dark, powerful and disturbing. 24 Hours (issue #6) was almost more than I could handle. It wasn’t until the last issue in the volume that I really got a Neil feel because it took him a little while to warm up. This being the first volume of the series and largely rumored to be the weakest, I can forgive him his stage fright.

But I’m in, I’m hooked, I’m committed and Vol 2, The Doll’s House, should be here any day now.