Neil Gaiman

Sandman to Hark! A Vagrant: the best comics of the decade

Thank you to Sam Thielman ( @samthielman ) for this survey.

Old names and ambitious first-timers produced great graphic novels on everything from teen friendship and time travel to horrifying murder mysteries

Reading a Lot

When you read a lot, authors come in and out of your field of vision. People you don’t think about for years, books you don’t touch, float into view, and you have to seek them out. I always think I forget what I have read, soon after I put the book down, but then many years later it comes back. A specific scene or character or setting or the whole thing. This weekend was

J G Ballard's picture

a flood. J.G. Ballard is always around somewhere–although I don’t need to read them all again right now, that world is too dark. Alasdair Gray died.

book cover of My Seditious Heart

Arundhati Roy came back–I’m looking at her new essay collection My Seditious Heart. She is someone who goes into what is happening in the world and looks hard at where we need to go. Terry Eagleton is back. It’s not hard to see the full shelf of his books, but his way of delving into a topic opens up the chance to see his point of view and to fight back. Neil Gaiman and Sandman was right up there over the weekend, as kept getting introduced as the Graphic Novel guy to adults and young people alike. Chris Ware is back–but that is because he has a new book, but also because I ran into a clean copy of Building Stories in the library sale.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

26372Anything Neil Gaiman publishes these days deserves and grabs attention. This is deserved not least for his role as writer of the one of the most important graphic sequences The Sandman . This short story —original text is available on Gaiman’s website–will be a film directed by John Cameron Mitchell, in 2017.  This version is illustrated by graphic artists Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

Don’t look to Gaiman for the advice suggested in the title.  It seems to boil down to “You just have to talk to them.” as Vic–the confident one–says to Enn–his shy friend. The two are trying to find a party without the full details, and instead gatecrash a different party that seems to be a mostly female gathering of exchange students.  Where they are from is a mystery. Vic quickly finds a way to get Stella upstairs. After talking to a couple of girls–Enn finally meets Triolet (a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming abaaabab and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth.).  This story is a poem–the drawings add imagery that sparkles and takes you right to the heart of the solar system if not beyond. Triolet is more spirit than person. “She began to whisper something in my ear. It’s the strangest thing about poetry. You can tell it’s poetry even if you don’t speak the language.” Enn and Vic leave the party in a hurry after Stella seems to turn on Vic.  They have touched a world outside of our own, but return to the everyday streets of an English town.

Gaiman, Moon and Bar have taken a simple story of two boys on the pull and turned it into a graphic poem.  I am not sure what the film will do– it will have to make too many decisions, but I will see it anyway.

The original story won the  Locus Award

Sandman Overture

Sandman-Overture-1This volume kind of a kind of Volume 12 or Volume 0 for the series of paperback collections of the original Sandman magazine, and it reads like the extra scenes from the four volume Absolute Sandman. Maybe not the place to start despite the title and despite the fact that Gaiman writes in the introduction that it comes after Volume 10, The Wake and the short story collection Endless Nights and before the first volume, Preludes and Noctures.  It also has a more consistent look than the main series, with only one artist J. H. Williams. I will read this again, and have more to say, but for now, read the series and then read this.  The Sandman is not to be missed. Everyone needs to read it.

A Guide to Sandman

Twenty-seven years after its premiere, reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (Vertigo) and its related books can be daunting, especially now with the publication of the prequel miniseries The Sandman: Overture. Where should you start reading? What is skippable? What is the difference between The Sandman and The Sandman Presents? Where will you keep all of this after you buy it? Read on and find out!

What is The Sandman?

The Sandman #1, cover by Dave McKean