The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman is one of those classic graphic novels that everyone who appreciates graphic novels has read. Well, everyone that is, except yours truly. You see, once upon a time I heard about this “new comic” and I, being the traditionalist that I am, dismissed it off-hand, sight unseen. After all, how dare anyone take Jack Kirby’s character and reinterpret anything. Okay. Sure, Kirby himself had redefined Sandman during his career but it’s one thing when a creator redefines a character. Clearly, however, I finally broke down; I used some of the money that I earned thanks to all of you clicking on my links (thank you, again!), I bought the first book in the series.
As with many initial issues of any series, I can’t say that I loved this graphic novel but I absolutely love where I see it going. Perhaps the fact that I’ve already read and loved Death: The Cost of Living is part of the reason my faith in what’s coming in future issues is so solid. Or maybe it’s because I can see the foundation of this first graphic novel and how it fuels the praise I’ve heard for so long. Regardless, if I wasn’t excited by the story that makes up the bulk of the first few issues in the series, I’m excited to see where it’s heading.
Part of my ambivalence may be that the illustrations are not what I had expected. Knowing that it is a gothic fantasy, I suppose I expected something more in line with what I loved in The Crow. I did appreciate some of the lettering (leave it to me to notice the “lettering” of all things!) and there are some panels that I outright adored on a purely technical or evocative level. The layout is often brilliant but sometimes confusing. The strength for me ultimately lies in the story which hasn’t quite hit its stride; even at its weakest, it's still better than most of what was out there at the time and even surpasses most of what is out there now.
It will be a while before I can indulge in buying the next one in the series. I’ll have to wait for a gift card on my birthday or something along those lines. In the meantime, I hear there’s an annotated version of the series coming out, one that explains many of the allusions that are made throughout the series. I have to admit, I’m almost as excited to read those annotated volumes as I am to read the rest but since the annotated ones aren’t in color, I’ll just have to consider whether it’s worth investing in both or not. See? I still resist this series, no matter how deliciously tempting they try to make it.