The Sandman (1989-1996)
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Cover Art: Dave McKean
Illustrated by: Various
The premise: Given the nature of the series, I'm not going to attempt to provide a summary. However, Neil Gaiman has a fabulous quote summing the whole thing up, so I'll provide THAT to you instead: The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.
Must Have: If you're already a Neil Gaiman fan, what exactly are you waiting for? If you haven't read this, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookseller and get the whole series. Sure, it's a different reading experience than American Gods or Coraline, but just because it's a comic book doesn't make it any less important. I still maintain that you cannot call yourself a TRUE Neil Gaiman fan if you haven't yet read The Sandman (and that's not saying that because I have read The Sandman, I am a true fan--I like his work, but he's not a must-author for me).
If you're a reader of comics and graphic novels, then by all means, give this a shot. Note that there will be DC Universe cameos at the start of the series, but all of that DC Universeness fades as the series goes on, with one notable but very important exception. But definitely, get your hands on this. It's just as important, IMHO, as Watchmen and just as epic (but in a COMPLETELY different way) as Preacher. This is a classic, and besides, the issue "A Midsummer Night's Dream" won a World Fantasy Award. How can you say no to that?
Lastly, if you haven't read Gaiman before and you're a casual to non-reader of comics, I offer this advice: it's your call. My first experience with Gaiman was American Gods, and that gave me enough credit to be willing to read this series even if I never read another Gaiman novel or short story as long as I lived. But where you start is up to you, and your comfort level in reading graphic novels. But I will say this: if you're a fan of the types of epic stories that history and mythology can create, then you need to sit down and give this a shot. I think the story itself is a MUST, but how you experience it and in what edition is entirely up to you.
That said: I will happily re-read this series one day. It's one of those that once you get to the end, you want to go back and look for all of the little details you missed. And that, frankly, is simply enjoyable.
Review style: even if I wasn't trying to avoid spoilers, there's no way in HELL I'd spoil this series for you. Instead, I want to talk about the reading experience, offer advice on HOW to read the series, discuss the art and the problem of having multiple artists between story arcs. We'll talk about what makes it epic as well as why Gaiman's of multiple, various, and competing mythologies simply works in this series. I'll discuss the story itself in the most vague, generic way possible, so have no fear. :) I'll also provide a list of available editions and the appropriate order, because this is one series that's necessary to read in order.
So, if you'd like the full review, please click below to go to my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)
REVIEW: Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN
Happy Reading! :)
Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!
March: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
April: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
May: Natural History by Justina Robson