I’ll be completely honest here. I’m not entirely sure how to write this review. Yes, I have reviewed Neil Gaiman’s work before and I have reviewed graphic novels and comics before, but I haven’t reviewed a comic series written by Neil Gaiman. I’m finding it a little daunting.
I am, of course, talking about the Sandman comic series.
The first problem is the sheer size of the series. There are 75 comics in the series, along with a handful of spin-off comics. I honestly don’t think any review of mine can accurately portray that much information.
The second problem is that I always feel compelled to talk about the artwork in comics. This is a problem because I know nothing about art in print comics. I could pull influences and find comparisons for web comics easily, but I just don’t know enough about print comics to cover that aspect of the series.
So I’m going into this knowing that whatever I say isn’t going to be enough to give you a clear idea of this series. And yet, I’m writing this anyway. Why?
Because this series is just that good.
Sandman is a series of tales focused around Dream of the Endless, the anthropomorphic representation of his name sake. He is the Lord of the Dreaming, the one who builds our dreams and nightmares. He is one of seven siblings1, all of which make appearances in these comics.
These stories vary in pace and focus. Sometimes they are about Dream himself and his struggles to restore or maintain his realm. Sometimes the stories are about human characters who find themselves relying on Dream for help. Sometimes the stories are about nonhuman characters who find themselves relying on Dream for help. Sometimes the stories are about the other Endless siblings. It’s a bit of a story buffet.
As per Gaiman’s usual, the stories in this series tend to take a turn towards the darker end of fiction. Not all of the good guys are good, not all of the bad guys are all that bad, and the tales don’t always have a happy ending. The stories often resemble dreams in that, more often than not, endings are both happy and sad, or neither, but they feel familiar when you read them.2
I don’t really know who I would recommend these to. I mean, obviously Gaiman fans should have a look and people who regularly read comics wouldn’t find these to be too out of their way and should take a look. I can’t really pin down an audience other than those two groups. If you have found anything I have said up to this point interesting, then I would suggest finding a few and having a look.
1 Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, and Delirium.
2 Even for me, and I rarely remember my dreams.
The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes