THE SANDMAN, VOL. 1
Updated: Feb 11
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Illustrators: Sam Kieth & Mike Dringenberg
WHAT IS IT?
Dark, gothy fantasy with some DC Universe crossover.
It’s one of THE comics you hear people talk about when they talk about classic comics. Written in the late ‘80s, this FEELS like that era of fantasy. Think Labyrinth’s big hair and dark fantasy. It also feels like the Russian film, Night Watch, probably took some inspiration from here, too.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The concept of “Dreams” is personified as the protagonist of the story. He’s captured and weakened.
As you may expect, when someone captures a deity or anthropomorphized concept and keeps them in a cage for several decades, there are repercussions (and, at one point, literally Hell to pay).
This kicks off a 10-volume series of mind-bending storytelling, so strap in for some dark, edgy, mind-bending Neil Gaiman storytelling.
A Classic for a Reason: There’s a reason people tell you to read this title if you like comics, and there’s a reason Neil Gaiman is a successful writer – because this is a timeless, brilliant, unique story
If the traditional “boxes-on-a-page” presentation of comic book storytelling bores you, this definitely mixes it up with innovative layouts and panels (see image below)
The world-building is immense and creative
Long but finite series means you know how much story you’re signing up for
Blends some myths and legends, some DC Comics characters and new ideas for a really well-rounded and unique story
Once you read this, you can smugly tell other new comic book readers they HAVE to read The Sandman Series
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Made in the ‘80s: If you’re one of those people who can’t enjoy something if the art isn’t as crisp & clear as modern comics, this may not be for you – color has been updated in some copies, however!
Length: These trades are nearly twice the length of modern trade paperbacks (collections of single issues), and the dialogue is dense, so it’s a slower read
If you’re not ready to get weird or if you’re not a fan of Neil Gaiman’s work, you may want to hold off on this one
I’d probably limit this to adult readers – there’s a decent amount of nudity and violence
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This shouldn’t be the first comic book you open, but yeah...you need to read it. A lot of what made this so groundbreaking was that it did things differently from a lot of the other comics around at the time. It may also be challenging to new readers, so if you’re new to comics, I’d consider reading something that feels like less of a departure from what you enjoy in other media.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Sandman, Vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg & Malcolm Jones III
Preacher by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert
If you like the art:
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
The New Mutants by Chris Claremont & Bill Sienkiewicz
The Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman & Tomm Coker
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Neil Gaiman – Writer
Name Recognition: Incredibly well respected for his achievements in comics, literature & more
His comics, novels and books of short stories are wildly popular and several have been adapted for TV & film
Married to talented musician Amanda Palmer
Sam Kieth – Pencils
Quit working on The Sandman after the 5th issue
Creator of the classic ‘90s series, The Maxx
Mike Dringenberg – Pencils & Inks
Replaced Sam Kieth on pencils for The Sandman
Has also done art for the popular collectible card game series, Magic: The Gathering
Malcolm Jones III – Inks
Replaced Mike Dringenberg on inks for The Sandman
Todd Klein – Letterer
Award Winner: Since starting out in comics over 40 years ago, he has won many, many awards
Has created over 100 of his own fonts
Robbie Busch – Colorist
Also worked on the Babylon 5 comic series
Dave McKean – Cover Artist
Name Recognition: He is widely known for his conceptual, mixed media art, much of which he’s done for Neil Gaiman projects
Also a talented jazz pianist
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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