I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s massively-famous The Sandman: Vol 1, Preludes & Nocturnes. I had found the second volume very cheap at a library book sale. I have been putting off reading this series for a very long time, so when I got volume two practically free, I decided I would bite the bullet and read. The Sandman is a series that began in 1989 and continued through 75 issue until 1996. It has won acclaim in both the comics-community and in the general media (e.g. New York Times and Entertainment Weekly).
I have never been interested in this series because, after some review of the matter, I think that I am not on the same wavelength as Gaiman. That’s a fair way of putting it. I find Gaiman a bit creepy. Not that I have ever met him, mind you. There are female friends in my world who use the word “skeevy.” No one has ever defined that word for me and I am hardly an expert in its usage. However, if I had to associate it – yeah, it’s gonna be with Gaiman. When I was dragging my feet about reading this series, I looked Gaiman up on Wikipedia. I even read an article about his wife. Yeah, neither one is going to get invited over to a tea party at my house. Again, nothing against them – we just come from widely divergent universes. Also, “gothic” is usually just creepy.
I actually attempted to read a couple of Gaiman’s novels. I think I got at least 25 pages in Neverwhere. And I did watch the DVD of Coraline. But that’s as far as I was able to get. Something about his writing or his ideas doesn’t mesh with me. That is okay. I would rather be honest about it than lie and pretend to be a fanboy over this.
First impressions: (1.) the main character, Morpheus, looks like Gaiman. And it’s not a look I like. Arrogant of the author?; (2.) man, I hope this isn’t just a revenge tale; (3.) The art is gritty. Dunno if I like the layouts.
After reading volume one, I can say that some of the contents are very dark and disturbed (depraved?). But these elements are luckily buried in a story that is tolerable, not great. The question is: is the story there to provide a context for the darkness or do the disturbing parts just fill-out an otherwise credible storyline? Immediately, I think most fans would say the latter. I am not so sure. There are some good ideas, don’t get me wrong. For example, the interactions and juxtapositions in “Imperfect Hosts” is quite original and creative and I can get behind some of this inventiveness. The same goes for “A Hope in Hell.” Both of these issues demonstrate the best that is offered in this volume. Creative and interesting. But throughout the rest is a very dark and dim view of humanity.
I was never really able to sympathize or enjoy the Morpheus character. Particularly, with his moping around and stereotypical portrait. Pale, hairy, moping Gothic creature. And the thing is, while we are led to believe that this character has insight and is cunning, generally, I found him boring and lucky. I am not familiar with Jack Kirby’s Sandman character, but I cannot say that Gaiman’s characterization is a winner for me.
So here is the thing. . . not all authors have universal audiences. Many authors are able to reach most audiences. Some strive to increase their audience. Some authors have a select, carefully segmented audience and seek only to reach that number. I suspect a lot of readers really dig Gaiman’s work and he does have a widespread audience. For better or worse, though, I am not in that number. I can recognize the quality parts in this volume, but hands-down I am completely more entertained and interested in Locke & Key and Scalped. I do intend to read volume two of The Sandman, but we will see if I ever get father than that. I am going to give the first volume three stars – because I do think it is deserving of precisely three.