The Sandman is the universally lauded masterwork following Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming--a vast hallucinatory landscape housing all the dreams of any and everyone who's ever existed. Regardless of cultures or historical eras, all dreamers visit Morpheus' realm--be they gods, demons, muses, mythical creatures, or simply humans who teach Morpheus some surprising lessons.
Upon his escape from an embarrassing captivity at the hands of a mere mortal, Morpheus finds himself at a crossroads, forced to deal with the enormous changes within both himself and his realm. His journey to find his place in a world that's drastically changed takes him through mythical worlds to retrieve his old heirlooms, the back roads of America for a twisted reunion, and even Hell itself--to receive the dubious honor of picking the next Devil. But he'll learn his greatest lessons at the hands of his own family, the Endless, who--like him--are walking embodiments of the most influential aspects of existence.
This massive hardcover tome, over 1000 pages, collects the first 37 issues of Neil Gaiman's groundbreaking series!
I read most of the Sandman story as separate graphic novels bought off ebay about 10 years ago.
This Christmas I bought myself the bound 'mega-volume' a very high class piece of bookage that contains the 1st 37 issues of the comic which is half of the 12(?) graphic novels.
Now the thing is that, yes, at the bottom of it all these are comics bound together into a book that's six inches thick... but excellent writing can show up in many media and Neil Gaiman is an excellent writer.
The story we're given is as sophisticated and full of erudition as any book you're likely to find on your average fantasy fan's shelves. More so, in fact. But though it may quote Shakespeare and Marlowe and plunder the legends, sagas, and mythos of many cultures, it's mostly about entertaining you - and it does a great job of that too.
With a protagonist such as The Lord of Dream there are really no places you can't go. We bounce around through time and worlds and meet the good, the bad, the badder, and the ugly.
It's pretty much a triumph! And the art's not bad either!
I don't want to oversell it. You won't find an epiphany on every page, some stories disappoint, sometimes the art veers well away from my imagery for the story or characters ... but you'd be hard pressed to find a better set of graphic novels.
Gaiman and the artists work together to create wonderful moods, to delight, to revolt, to make you think. You might not want to shell out the small fortune for this tome but try the first graphic novel ... and thank me later!
Once upon a time, a few years before the turn of the century, I decided I was too cool for super hero comics and read a lot of darker, mature readers only type of stuff. The Sandman was at the front of the pack for a long time. My mom unexpectedly bought me this big honkin' omnibus for Christmas so I've busted it into chunks for reviewing purposes.
Preludes and Nocturnes: After decades of imprisonment at the hands of a group of magicians, Dream escapes and sets about reclaiming what is his...
My nineteen year old self was originally drawn to The Sandman because Sam Kieth of The Maxx, Vol. 1 did the art on some of the early issues. Funny considering how my 38 year old self thinks his art is the weakest part of the collection.
I'd forgotten some of the wrinkles of this tale in the years since I last read it. In some ways, it was like coming home after a long time to find things haven't changed much. While this is far from the best Sandman volume, Gaiman hit the ground running and set the stage for future volumes, mining seldom-used corners of the DC universe and various mythologies to create what is essentially a revenge story.
The Doll's House: Morpheus discovers four major dreams are missing from The Dreaming and dispatches Matthew the Raven to investigate. But what do the missing dreams have to do with the vortex that threatens the Dreaming? And how does an earth girl named Rose Walker figure into things?
The second arc does a good job of fleshing out The Dreaming and what Morpheus actually does when he's not imprisoned. Rose Walker and Gilbert are great characters, and I love that Gaiman actually references the lame 1970's version of The Sandman.
The Corinthian and the Serial Killers convention are some of my favorite parts of the early days of the series and are just as interesting as when I first read about them back in the day. Since originally reading this, I've of course read the series in its entirety and The Sandman: Overture so a few things make even more sense.
Dream Country: Tales of a muse, cats, Shakespeare, and Element Girl.
These were fill-in tales between arcs. The Dream of a Thousand Cats was light years ahead of the rest.
Seasons of Mist: Dream goes to hell to retrieve Nada's soul but doesn't find what he's looking for...
While I loved The Doll's House, Seasons of Mist is where the Sandman really took off for me the first time around. This time, it's still one of my favorite comic book stories of all time. Lucifer dumps Hell on Dream and he's forced to deal with it? Awesome stuff.
Side Note: I really liked that there was a P.G. Wodehouse book in the Library. Psmith and Jeeves? We could only be so lucky.
Distant Mirrors: Distant Mirrors was a trio of stories featuring Johnna Constantine, Augustus Caesar, and Joshua Norton, Emperor of America.
The fill-in stories weren't my favorites but they all had their moments. It's funny that Christopher Moore has also used the Emperor in stories.
A Game of You: Barbie's dreams are taking over and the Children of the Cuckoo will soon be upon our world. The only thing standing between them and conquest are Barbie and her housemates: a book worm, a transvestite, and a lesbian couple.
For a tale that didn't feature much of The Sandman, I really dug A Game of You. Barbie from The Doll's House is back and her dream world is in chaos. There is some gruesome stuff in this one but I love all of the characters. Thessaly, Foxglove, Hazel, and Wanda were very well done. Morpheus was good too, I guess. The cuckoo was suitably creepy. For some reason, I got a really Doctor Who-ish vibe from the Cuckoo storyline.
Song of Orpheus: When Eurydice dies on her wedding day, her husband Orpheus, son of Morpheus and Calliope, goes to the underworld to bring her back.
This is a retelling of the classic myth, recast with some Sandman characters. While mostly a retread, it's an interesting little tale that fleshes out the past relationship between Calliope and Morpheus.
Conclusion: I'm pleased to say I don't have to secure a time machine and punch my twenty year old self in the junk. The Sandman is as good or better than I remembered and I understood more of the references this time around. I will say that this omnibus was a little awkward to read due to its immense size but I knew that going in. Practical matters aside, I can easily award this five out of five stars.
I am not a reader of comic books or graphic novels. Aside from an early infatuation with Disney's comic books and the glossed pages of the W.I.T.C.H.-magazines, I've never cared for colorful pictures with eventful stories. Comics have always puzzled me, and I have always failed to see their charm. Until now.
Of course it would be Neil Gaiman who changed my opinion, as he always seems to do. These past two years I have been devouring his work; his short stories, epic novels, children's books and small rhymes, and I've fallen into a world of dark magic and unexpected delight. His stories are always new, always entirely unexpected and shining – and his originality alone lured me into this world of colored pictures and minimal sentences, unfolding to complex plotlines and beautifully composed sentences.
“For love is no part of the dreamworld. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel.”
The story about Morpheus and his realm of dreams is incredibly elegant. Literary references appears on almost every single page, old Gods march up to claim the Underworld as their own, demons die and a thousand people dream in a thousand different dreamworlds, simultaneously and yet separated. Speech balloons turn into poetry, and Morpheus offers melancholic wisdom for everyone who wishes to hear.
Morpheus really is my favorite thing about these comics. The Lord of Dreams is a tragic figure, as dark as the colors he wraps himself in. He can be merciless and unjust; stern and proud; unforgiving and unrelenting; and yet, he is also the distributor of dreams. He toys with his bag of dust, and he offers the sleepers of the world dreams they can escape into. He is terrible, and yet he fills the worlds with hope. There is hope in dreams.
Morpheus is the main character of this dream woven tale, but he doesn't take up many panels or inhabit all of the stories. He is just there, always looming in the background, watching the lives of the mortals that come to visit him in his realm of dreams. I always wanted to hear more about him, to let him become the main focus of the stories; but perhaps Gaiman succeeds in making his main character a mood, rather than a presence.
Morpheus, or Dream is one of the Endless. His elder sister is Death; a cheerful, skipping and kind girllike woman who takes the dying by their hand and guides them to a new realm. His other sisters include Despair and Delirium (who was once named Delight), and his elder brother is Destiny. Desire is both his brother and his sister; a creature who will embody the one thing that you desire most and be that thing in the flesh. Destruction is his last brother, but he is curiously absent in these installments of the story. He is hiding in silence.
Gaiman evokes these arbitrary concepts and turn them into fully fleshed character. And he does it convincingly, without a flaw, a crack and without the help of a single cliché. I really want to know more about their endless existences, their quarrels and their power dynamics.
“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”
I adored these comics and it took me by surprise. Perhaps I should have foreseen it; perhaps I should have known that anything Gaiman touches turns to gold. Perhaps I should. But the delightful surprise of these comics were beyond comparison. They have kept me up at night, reading when I should have been sleeping, and Morpheus' silent footsteps has echoed in my dreams.
Of course, I didn't completely adore all of these 37 comics, but I do adore where they let me too. Even when Gaiman's mindtricks seem as irrelevant fillers, they come back with a significant meaning later on. I liked that. I liked the sense of wholeness Gaiman evoked through his wildly imaginative episodes of dreams, chaos and hope.
I need to get my hands of the next gigantic part of this omnibus. I need to know what happens next.
“I move from dreamer to dreamer, from dream to dream, hunting for what I need. Slipping and sliding and flickering through the dreams; and the dreamer will wake, and wonder why this dream seemed different, wonder how real their lives can truly be.”
I’ve seen this series around a lot but actually had no idea what it was actually about until I read it. And shame on me because if I had had any idea how bloody brilliantly this series is, I would have devoured it AGES ago! The story is just beyond stunning, it drew me in from the get go and I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen. Just up give you an idea, I devoured 1000+ pages within 3 days while reading another book simultaneously and working overtime. That’s just how bloody addictive and totally brilliant this universe that Gaiman has created is. And don’t even get me started on how freaking beautiful the artwork is, it is seriously out of this world! Some pages I would just stare at for the longest time, completely hypnotized by how gorgeous it all was. Now I need to save up and get my hands on the second volume of the omnibus so I can immerse myself in this stunningly beautiful world again!
5 stars of the sort that are built up by layer upon layer upon layer of playful postmodernism whose grandeur and heft don't fully coalesce in the mind until round about p.500 of 1000. A lot of the content would have been 4 stars if it had been in smaller chunks. As a whole - or half of a whole - it becomes very impressive. A full Big Book experience, that started to feel like reading a great postmodern novel, but also like watching a really fun, effortless film.
Conversation I was reminded of (1): "comics are basically snacks" - friend who mostly reads word based fiction [what is the best way of saying that contrasted with comics?], but used to read a lot of comics, agreed with me about still wanting to enjoy them but often finding them less substantial than hoped. Not so this one, because so much in one go, and of one of the best, makes a different experience entirely, a huge and elaborate banquet.
A handful of favourite single issues within: ...Dream a Little Dream of Me (want more Constantine, lots more) The Sound of Her Wings (I'd read it before in the collected Death: The Deluxe Edition (was that meant to be a Rob Zombie allusion in the title or am I reading too much into it?), but it fits even better here, in its main story arc, and the surprise of Death appearing for the first time as this cool, wise, and actually rather happy goth girl still hasn't diminished. Even if she could do with more historically appropriate costumes and possessions in some other scenes. Also love the poetry and attitude.) Men of Good Fortune (which has some very cheesy cliches with Chaucer and Shakespeare, but oh how I love this sort of cross section of history; impressed, too, with the research about how people reacted to the introduction of chimneys, and other suchlike.)
Conversation I was reminded of (2): something another friend said about David Bowie round about this time last year: people had unusually personal connections to his work. They felt that many particular songs, or lines, or images, or ideas, spoke to them deeply as individuals, in a way that I've rarely noticed (at least among people of my acquaintance) with other artists who have such mass, crowd-pleasing appeal. Not the same as the usual big name pop star everyone sings along to on the radio. It's almost disorientating that so many others, plenty of whom may not be on one's wavelength otherwise, also feel this way about one's own special thing, this work that feels best appreciated alone or with one or two friends who really get it. Gaiman - although not always to the taste of some of the most stringently literary crowds on GR - is, I believe, another such, in different artistic forms.
In this, my GR stats page has already, before the end of January, almost certainly got the year's longest book fixed for the rest of 2017.
Otherwise, see/click below for a fuckload of status updates (which may make limited sense if you've not read Sandman or don't at least know some of the characters).
So I've finally read vol.1 of the famous Sandman! I would say this book has had as much hype surrounding it as the Watchmen did and it was no let down.
So the story starts of with some men performing witchcraft and they wish to trap Death, so that they may live forever, instead they trap deaths' older brother 'Dream' or his real name Morpheus. He is imprisoned on the mortal plane for over 80 years and in that time he does not speak to them.
When he is eventually released he goes about repairing the damage that was caused to the dream world while he was away. This is the most interesting part of the first few chapters. A lot of his friends betray him and some of his things are stolen and he goes about laying the smack down. All good fun.
I'm not going to go on and write a massive review on each volume within the omnibus because I feel drained after reading such a mammoth sized book, but let me say this...
It's my first N.Gaiman book and they way he writes this story is really intricate. A lot of research most have gone into this. The detail and the quality of the story telling is unreal, something I was pleasantly surprised about. He's created a unique character and in a lot of ways his own universe.
It's really quite something, Morpheus is a true God and it feels and looks like the best depiction of how a God should be written in graphic novel form. He doesn't go around bashing heads and changing things, he follows the rules and he respects life, but above all he is stubborn and arrogant, even gods have flaws! It's the rules in this story that make it interesting, but above all Morpheus stole the show, what a fantastic well rounded character.
There are long chapters where you don't see dream, so that other characters are left to shine, but when he comes back, I breathed a sigh of relief.
The omnibus itself is beautiful, with the look and feel of an ancient treasure. The story I would say slows down towards to end, so I think I'll have a breather before I read volume 2.
The main highlight for me was when Morpheus had to go to Hell to retrieve something that was stolen from him and sold by Constantine to a demon. He challenges the demon and wins in front of Lucifer damaging his credibility as the king of Hell! Lucifer Morningstar vows to destroy Morpheus one day, but when Morpheus surprises Lucifer by announcing his return, Lucifer's reaction is something other than unpredictable! Fantastic!
A well thought out genius piece of writing, I recommend to everyone and everything!
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.
The fear of the unknown has led humankind to try to give meaning to the unexplainable throughout history. While science has deciphered many of life’s greatest mysteries, religion remains a universal means for some to understand life and its myriad of gifts and misfortunes. As you venture in these mythical grounds looking to discover the greater schemes at play, you might also encounter supernatural entities who are wielders of terrifying powers, powers that might be at the heart of their own essence but will play a surreal and unforgivable role on all who live and breathe, whether it’s love, pleasure, pain, fear, or death. There is one being whose grasp might extend beyond humankind, leading gods, demons, muses, and mystical creatures to enter his realm: Dream. Established as one of the greatest series of graphic storytelling, legendary writer Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is an unparalleled foray into a hallucinatory landscape brimming with standout figures from all kinds of periods and realms.
What is The Sandman Omnibus (Vol. 1) about? This extraordinary hardcover omnibus collects the first 37 issues (first five volumes) of the groundbreaking masterwork, as well as Sandman Special #1, and follows Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming. After his 70-year imprisonment due to an occultist mistakenly capturing him instead of his older sister Death, he is now off to reacquaint himself with his otherworldly realm while hunting down ancient and lost relics possessing his power. His journey also leads him to discover that his universe of dreams and nightmares leaked into reality, forcing him to venture to the human plane to take matters into his own hands and make difficult decisions. As if matters could not get any worse, The Endless, formed of his immortal family, invite Dream to fix a wrong he once committed as he’s forced into an expedition to Hell where reigns the fallen angel Lucifer, with whom he has a shaky relationship. The intervention of Dream is, however, eternal and absolute, as the omnibus wraps up on a deadly tale that sends unlikely heroes into a mysterious dreamworld. There is simply no story in life where Morpheus does not play a quintessential role in its denouement.
Without an overarching story-arc tying together the many stories delivered in the first half of this franchise’s saga, it is the metaphysical nature of the narrative that carries the weight of this story to the end. By simultaneously exploring Morpheus’s personal and divine facets of his persona, writer Neil Gaiman allows readers to be immersed in a story where the celestial elements take over and where the emphasis is especially put on the mythological and philosophical accord. While at times you learn more on Dream’s raison d’être, exploring his very purpose among other entities, you’re also invited to tag along on his most challenging quests pertaining to his domain, weighing the faiths of all against their respective destinies. The variety of tales recounted in this omnibus allows the reader to grasp the complexity of dreams and their role on a personal, social, and historical level that only a creative mind like Neil Gaiman’s could ever fancy.
Despite the choppiness of the narrative, especially when the omnibus gets to the story-arcs collecting short stories, there’s an attractive and mesmerizing quality to writer Neil Gaiman’s incredible world-building that keeps you around. The characters he progressively introduces to this world all come with a shining and unforgettable personality that will also leave you craving for more of their presence. From Death to Lucifer, this omnibus sees to the birth of icons that will always leave a lasting impression on the reader. The artwork, unfortunately, will require the reader to let it grow on them. It is rough, it focuses on characters, and unleashes the illustrators on a creative frenzy that ultimately gives readers a psychedelic reading experience. Nonetheless, the artistic vision of this series is incredibly cohesive and consistent, making it easy for readers to be immersed in this universe.
The Sandman Omnibus (Vol. 1) is a foundational tour de force demonstrating the art of creation through the exploration of mythology and storytelling.
I think where this book shines the brightest is when Gaimen explores concepts like the Endless and Lucifer closing Hell down for good. The rest of the stories weren’t bad, but they just weren’t really good either.
I’ll still continue with the series, mainly for glimpses of the Endless because I think it’s such an interesting idea, but the other stories are of little interest to me, really. Also, I want to read Sandman Overture and Death: The High Cost of Living.
I'll get the bad shit out of the way first: this book is ENORMOUS. >__< It is as hard to transport (or even hold up for any extended period of time) as it is beautiful to look at. I found myself often wishing as I went through that I had a permanent, safe and clean surface I could leave it on and come back to it always, as it is, I am amazed and delighted that the book survived my audience with no chicken nugget splotches or barbecue stains.
That I had to read it in this glorious, but extremely cumbersome format is my own fault. My cousin had given me many of the comics years and years ago (on loan) and urged me to read them. I didn't. (Why God? Why?) Then he came back after several years and asked for them back. I returned them unread and it was almost a decade later that I got this Omnibus edition----an extraordinarily pretty book and definitely worth the wait (but rude to transport)!
Anyway, the book is fukkin huge. Moving on :p
Morpheus (the King of Dreams) is trapped by a group of shady spiritual quacks who were actually aiming to capture his older sister, Death. Imprisoned like a genie for many years, the world's psyche fabric starts to unravel as people's dream patterns are interrupted. Once Morpheus gets out, he must go to Hell and back (literally) to set right all of the disturbances caused by such a long absence of Order in dreaming...
The book has quite a few longer arcs, interspersed with many individual one-sitting tales that go into the future---far back into the past----into the minds of the living, the dreaming, and the dead, and the ones who control all of these functions, with their own surprisingly human flaws. I will be honest, the art (while exquisite, and impressive) was not always my thing, but that is a stylistic quibble.
My absolute favorite sections focused on the dynamics between the siblings--called the Endless, who were not quite gods or devils, but living manifestations in charge of Death (possibly my favorite individual character), Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, Delirium, and Dream (or Morpheus).
Fantastic storytelling and beautiful art. When I wasn't worried about ruining such a beautiful presentation, it was glorious to read.
To be able to read this collection of comics continuously was simply wonderful. The way that Gaiman is able to build these stories and weave mythology and human histories is quite impressive!
I even had dreams about some of the stories, some awful and quite scary and others wondrous and fantastical. I'd highly recommend this comic series to anyone who likes history, mythology, and just the way humans have lived.
I'm looking forward to acquiring and reading Vol 2.
I realised reading this that I had actually read more Sandman comics than I had thought, but that was many years ago and I enjoyed returning to the world of the Endless. I love the characterisation of the Endless and particularly of Dream. He's the hero, but he's not perfect. He's distant and proud and short tempered and he can be cruel when his pride is stung. But he can be merciful, and he can love. I really enjoyed these stories and look forward to the chance to read the rest of them.
All right, after years of hearing about the greatness of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, I decided to read through it. When I discovered that a public library in my network actually owns the Omnibus edition, I thought that would be a good way to get to know the series. I put in a request to pick it up at my local library (which technically shouldn't have worked, since the Omnibus is catalogued as "non-circulating"), and read through one story at a time over the past few weeks.
For me, The Sandman was one of those experiences where I read something that has been lauded, and I think "Really? This is what people were so excited about?" I suspect that some of this reaction is simply because I'm reading it for the first time so many years after its initial publication. In the same way that I don't think Frank Miller's Batman stories or anything by Alan Moore are very good, I think I'm missing the effect this series had in its original time. What was originally groundbreaking is now not nearly so interesting--partly because the times have changed, partly because of so many books and films in the years since, many of which have been influenced by Gaiman's series.
Even so, I expected more of Gaiman's writing than this. He is one of the great literary and pop culture icons of our age, beloved by so many fans all over the world, but when I read The Sandman, I'm disappointed, and puzzled at the popularity. Throughout the series, Gaiman tries to create a faux-mythical tone, which means writing in a sort of highfalutin, high-speech manner, giving sacred import and emphasis to every panel. I find that kind of silly, but it could work (I love Tolkien, for example, and though his high-speech is sometimes over the top, the overall effect is just fine for me). What was more jarring for me, though, was the register switching between that ethereal, mythic voice, and the grungy 1990s slang. That didn't work for me at all, as I felt that I was constantly being drawn out of the Sandman world and into 1990s UK and USA.
Gaiman often seems to be grasping at any mythological or historical influence he can, cramming it all together into a bizarre jumble of whatever's on his mind at the moment. Like the language he employs, this mix of influences could be interesting--but instead I thought it was more random than planned, more distracting than useful. Gaiman is at his best when he is shifting from one time and place to something radically different, and back again. When he tells one sustained storyline, the result is weaker. He needs the plot crutch of fragmented times in order to show his storytelling to best effect.
I was also very disappointed by the artwork in all the Sandman stories. I understand that graphic novels of the 1980s had a much different look than they do now, but the style used in The Sandman does no favors at all to the stories. The colors are bland and washed-out, the dialogue placement within the panels is sometimes confusing, and the portraiture is just ugly. Look at page 923, for example. It looks like an episode of King of the Hill all of a sudden. I don't think this is just a stylistic choice that I don't prefer--it's just ugly. This is a shame, because Gaiman's world-building could have been beautiful (even though I don't care for his writing) if it was realized through fantastic art.
Writing that I don't like, artwork that is awful . . . and here it is, packaged in this beautiful, classic-looking, weighty tome. It doesn't make any sense to me. The care put into the production of the Omnibus strikes me as laughable, given the content within the book. Beautiful as the book itself is on the outside, what's inside has very little to do with beauty. Instead, Gaiman is constantly (and exclusively) drawn to the deviants of society (whether our world or a supernatural world). Love is almost always cruel and broken; people treat each other badly; hopes are shattered; confusion is ever-present. There are glimmers here and there of true beauty, but they are rare, and I didn't feel that they had the power to overcome the darkness and grunge of almost every other page of the book. I don't believe Gaiman is celebrating the varieties of horrible death, abuse, and pain that he puts into his stories; but the incessant presence of these elements is disturbing. I'll be glad to get this book out of my house.
I guess I'm glad that I know first-hand about The Sandman now, and can speak more knowledgeably about it when it comes up in conversation. But I certainly can't recommend the series to anyone. If anything, I think it's best to acknowledge its influence on a generation of a certain type of creator, and move on to better creations.
The Sandman comes with a weight of expectation - you can't find out about it without discovering it's reputation as one of the best graphic novel/comic series ever written. There's Gaiman's name and wicked imagination behind it as well. You know it's going to be epic and weird and bursting with mythology. In a world of fingerclick knowledge, expectations play a dangerous game with our true perceptions of a piece of literature. The Sandman perhaps doesn't live up to them, but it also doesn't really conform to them which is certainly not a bad thing.
Gaiman explores one of his favourite themes, the modern pantheon of ancient beliefs and ancient gods and goddesses in cool, slick, modern settings. Like American Gods, human belief systems play an important role in this tangle of stories and legends surrounding the Eternal, 6 omnipotent entities beginning with D who share many qualities with the deities that also populate these tales yet are separate from them. In many ways they echo the Greek Pantheon, as does the form of storytelling. A lot of the Eternal spring from Greek legends and the titular Sandman, a droll, angst Morpheus (aka Dream) who looks a lot like the author at times is of course part of ancient Greek mythology. This similarity with ancient myths is both intriguing and frustrating - a lot of the story arcs end disappointing easy based on the omnipotent essence of the protagonists. These are not human problems. Gods solve things in relatively simple, emotionally uncomplicated ways.
The Sandman is certainly a collection of narratives rather than one epic story; there are more tangents than main plot lines and the amount of characters is difficult to keep track of. Sometimes it seems hard to imagine it has become so popular because it is not an easy read. The pace is slow and the artwork is not pleasing or clear, mixing realism with fractured, twisted images, like a gruesome Gothic cut out collage. The storytelling is thin and leaves the reader plenty of work to do, and the style is poetic and full of obscure references to lesser and greater works of literature. It is a patchwork of dreams that lays over the literary consciousness of our knowledge. It stretches from ancient, lost mythologies to Shakespeare to modern horror. Yet there is also an undercurrent of something otherworldly, something insidious and disturbing, a kind of Lovecraftian invasion of our consciousness.
Some clear, longer plot arcs in the second half give the work more structure and direction, as well as slowly building Dream into a character of graspable human qualities. It begins with his captivity and the restoration of his realm, there is a long, horribly violent plot with a human vortex and some rebel nightmares who have taken advantage of his absence and there is Lucifer's abdication from the throne of Hell and Dream's dilemma as to who should receive the key to the gates of the Underworld (perhaps the best part of this first half of the Sandman as it also weaves in a previous story about his love for a human called Nada and gives him some true moral decisions to make - although again the angelic solution is easily presented to him in the end). Behind all this there is the shadow of the missing Eternal and the machinations of the less pleasant D siblings, Desire and Delirium, building up the tension for the second half of this megalithic piece of work.
For fans of mythology and its modern twists, The Sandman is very intriguing. Gaiman shows the versatility of his writing skills and of the myths and legends he loves to work with. It also shows the limitations of myth in building tension and presenting humanity. As in the stories of ancient Greek human qualities, morals and lessons are often implied and show metaphorically rather than show through character's action which seem restricted by superhuman heroism. There is an element of empathy missing in these incredibly stylish stories, something fundamental lost behind the flashy artwork and mega-cool god-characters. It's only part one though and I wouldn't go without discovering what Gaiman chose to do next in this epic sequence of fantasy acrobatics. Style without substance it is not, but unearthing the true thrust of the story underneath the glamour requires time and patience. 5
Sandman has always been one of my favorite comics and it has been YEARS since I first read it. I've been way over due for a purchase/re-read. After deliberating, I bought the omnibus bind-up of the books and I am very excited to delve back into this world! I read the absolute edition last time and I remember the binding being a mess, which is why I went with the omnibus this time. Guess we'll see!
You don't read this. It's more like falling head first into this dark universe Gaiman and his collaborators created. Everything is rich with lore and at the beginning it's quite overwhelming. There are the seven endless, beings older than anything else. They are not unlike gods, with great powers, but they don't need believers to exist. These seven are a sort of basic structure for the whole universe: Dream, Death, Desire, Destruction, Destiny, Despair and Delirium.
We follow Dream, a character of many names, depending on time, place and culture: The Sandman, Morpheus, the Lord Shaper and so on. Early in the 20th century he gets captured by British occultists and is kept hostage for 70 years before he manages to free himself. He returns to his realm, ruined after the long absence and starts to rebuild. From there the story really takes of. Shortly after, it leaves the linear path and branches out. The narrative becomes episodic, jumping through times, places, cultures, realms. Bit by bit, the world and its ways are revealed. One should imagine it less as a novel, but more like an antique cosmos of sagas - Greek, Roman, something like that.
It's not a coincidence that we follow Dream. His realm is the world of dreams in all forms: Dreams while we sleep, but also ideas, creativity and wishes that shape life when we're awake. The influence of the imagined, the dreamed, the subconscious on our existence is the central theme in the series. And Gaiman is very clear: There is a reality, sure, but it is only one of many realms and by far not the most important. There are other realms, different dreams, individual ones like the adventure worlds kids have in their heads or the illusions of a madman, but also collective ones like tradition or religion that are as real as reality and far more influential. Therefore the stories also heavily reference literature, myths, religion and so on.
Gaiman reflects the potentials and the costs of dreams and manages to put his thoughts in very personal stories of individuals whose lifes are somehow influenced by Dream(s). Some are saved by dreams - like the failed businessman who escapes Dream's sister Despair by imagining himself the Emperor of the USA (one of my favourite episodes) - some perish or have to pay the cost of a dream fullfilled - like William Shakespeare: "The price of getting what you want, is getting what once you wanted". Some stories are happy, some tragic, funny or sad.
There is not one clear message to take away from this book (and that is not only because it's just the first volume). It's a broad meditation on the power of imagination and dream and about the role stories play in our world. It's for sure not an easy digestable work, but if you like to be challenged by the stuff you read and if you like comics even just the tiniest bit, you should give it a shot.
I will start off this review knowing that it's going to be sacrilegious, as the rating I'm giving this is more of a personal one than an overall general acknowledgement.
I do not like Neil Gaiman. There, I've said it. I've read his works from "Coraline" to "Good Omens" to "Stardust"... and, I do not like Neil Gaiman. Somewhere in my brain, Neil Gaiman has been lumped in with and morphed into the literary version of Tim Burton... and, I do not like Tim Burton. If I haven't yet lost all of my nerd credentials, I would be shocked. Shocked.
Getting beyond my personal distaste and on to the actual story, I would say that the book is visually stunning, but the artwork does show it's age. At times, I felt transported back to teenage me in the 90's, lying on my belly and reading this comic book while pondering which all-black ensemble I was going to wear the next day. Hating all authority (naturally) and turning to "The Sandman" as yet another way to be alternative.
Perhaps I just came to it too late in my life. Instead of The Sandman, as a teen aged kid I poured over "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac". I do not recall "The Sandman" being sold en masse at Hot Topic, and the suburb I lived in had no comic book store. And more's the pity.
What I did like about the story is not a lengthy list. I found the characters to be unrelateable, (but that is likely all my fault, now that I'm a square) however, I enjoyed the visual setup, the stark colors, and the fact that Dream looked different to differently cultured people. The "villains" in the novel were... interesting, and maybe a touch too human to be frightening. I found most of them to be more depressing than fear inducing. And yet... I put the book down and did not pick it up again after I had a particularly vivid nightmare about Dr. John Dee....
This is clearly the foundation of Gaiman's reputation. I have read many of his novels, and though they were all well-written and enjoyable, they were also all very lightweight (and YES i'm including American Gods and Good Omens in that unpopular but honest assessment!), often to the point of being emotionally flimsy, and i have never understood why people rave about him so much. unless they just wanted 100% pure feel-good brain-candy with nice sentence structure and imagery, and little content. (except for Anansi Boys; that book is considerably more real, and IMO, Gaiman's best novel).
But I'm finally figuring it out: Sandman is why. It's a huge team of people that created these books, not Gaiman alone, but he is clearly a good collaborator -- and clearly also this is where he has expressed lot of the darker, more intense, more emotionally chewy, writing.
the art is great, too -- that's also part of it. for a graphic novel to work, the art has to be at least good, so this matters. this is better than good; the art is frequently absorbing. rich, detailed, complex. and the story lines are literary, smart, amusing, emotionally complex, and frequently compelling. though also often violent; the work is unflinching in its exploration of the rougher sides of the human psyche. there's a lot of strong character development over the story arc, and also a lot of strong story-development; it loops back and explores loose ends regularly and to good effect.
no kidding they won a World Fantasy award for one of these. it was clearly well deserved.
finished this first omnibus today, i see the hype, love the personifications of the Endless and really would like to see the last Endless that hasn’t been shown so far, my favorite besides Dreams is Desire for sure. Don’t know which volume is my favorite but i’ll have to think about it, Season of Mists was really good tho. Love the art and Gaiman is incredible man, what a story so far.
(Zero spoiler review for the series as a whole) 4.25/5 Having devoured the entire 5 deluxe editions over the last few weeks (and done reviews for each individual edition). I've given it a few days to let my final thoughts marinate before I wanted to write a quick little complete review to cement my feelings on this series and help bring a sense of conclusion and closure to this much heralded series. I had held off on reading this series for around a year or so, because I don't like to burn through all of the best reads all at once. It would be a fairly dispiriting endeavour if your reading followed a continual downward spiral until you were left with nothing but the dregs at the bottom of the barrel. That said, sometimes you just have to go for gold and creak out the big guns. So now that its all over, what do I really think about Sandman? Well, it was really good, but I don't think I hyper loved it as much as others. Here's why: Morpheus, the Endless and the Dreaming were some of the most memorable, most well fleshed out characters I've had the pleasure of reading in comics thus far. Where this series stumbled, and occasionally fell flat on its face, was when Gaiman drifted too far from this world, instead indulging his love for historical fiction and fairy tales. The man can write some, regardless of what he's doing. But too often, his overly long, somewhat pretentious, bland and boring stories got in the way of what could have been a flawless, much more concise story if you cut out a good dozen or so issues. Don't get me wrong, some of the stand alone stories were great, but there were always one or two each Deluxe edition that were bloated, went nowhere, didn't really tie in to any of the larger mythos in any meaningful or necessary way, and basically, sucked the momentum out of the experience. That's really my greatest criticism with this series, and was enough to rob it of a whole point, taking it from a five to a four. That and some of the art wasn't always as good as I would have liked. You really get quiet an assortment here, and not all of it as good as others. When Sandman is on point, which it usually is, it is some amazing storytelling, and some truly memorable and magnificent comics. When its not, it really got on my tits far more than I would have liked. So yes, of course you should read Sandman. Everyone should, whether you read comics or not. I went in with pretty high hopes. It mostly met them, sometimes fell well short. Still bloody great though. Just don't watch the Netflix show. I'm calling it early, its gonna be shite. 4.25/5
3,5 stars. My expectations were very high, because I heard it's considered one of the best comics ever written and an absolute masterpiece. When I read it though, I often found myself thinking "Is that it?". It's good, don't get me wrong, but it's not amazing.
Some of the arcs were very engaging and dealt with interesting themes like the Shakespeare storyline and it's musings about how stories last longer than truth. Some of the others were just kind of okay, nothing more. I think I also just prefer linear stories that follow the same characters rather than this strange meandering short story format with some recurring characters.
I liked Morpheus as a character. He's the powerful personification of dream, but also a lonely figure who is acutely aware of his responsibilities and who can be merciful and even loving to humans. I didn't really care about the other characters though, mostly because many only appeared very briefly. Also, sometimes it felt like Gaiman was trying too hard to fit as many gods, historical and literary figures into the stories as possible without giving them anything beyond basic characterisations and almost nothing to do.
I wasn't really blown away by the art either. Some of the frames looked kind of unfinished. Also, a lot of the characters (especially women) had very similar faces. At other times though, the same characters' face could look very different in different frames. I know nothing about comics, but it just seemed a bit off at times. Also, is it really necessary to have so much (mostly female) nudity and sex? It was just a bit much.
Overall, it was pretty good. I probably won't continue reading this series, though I'm curious to see what Netflix does with this material. I'd still recommend people to read it so they can make up their own mind about it.
One of the most painful reads of my life, I hope Vol 2 of this omnibus collection will be easier on my eyes and brain.
They said Neil Gaiman was a great writer, all I see is a bootlegged Shakespeare. Dialogue was absolutely brutal.
The way Morpheus was drawn, he looks like Tim Burtons “Edward Scissorhands.” Couldn’t imagine him to be the controller of my dreams. Some gothic looking dude having the fortitude for stature and something so imperative?
I can maybe see why this was great when it came out during the British writer comic craze but reading this for the first time in 2022 doesn’t prove to be a classic. I’ve never came across a story which I wanted to end so much, and I unfortunately have Vol 2 left of this in omnibus format. I am dreading to start that.
The only reason I gave this 2 stars was because the Lucifer character seemed interesting and the entire “Hell” storyline was the only thing that kept me entertained. I’ll have to pick up those Omni’s in both volumes.
Did I mention how brutal the side stories in this were? Rose, Barbie, Barbra? Who cares? And I’m also not sure why they were relevant to the main story line, if there even is one?
Looking forward to this hardcover collecting dust on my self for the rest of its life.
This is the only thing written by Gaiman I had left to read, so it's bittersweet to get to it. I am looking forward to the Neverwhere sequel, but considering he's been so busy with tv shows recently, I doubt it will come out any time soon. I'll have to re-read something.
This is as gruesome as American Gods and it follows similar themes, with ancient deities heavily featured. While I really like the mythology aspect, the gore is a bit too much for me sometimes (surprisingly, it's bloodier in the audiobook. The gore in the comic is really stylised and not particularly upsetting). I find Cain's character particularly awful in that regard.
I read this from the physical Omnibus and the audiobook, and in case you were wondering, they're not really compatible. They're the same story, but not quite in the same order, and you can't really listen to the audiobook and follow along in the comics. Gaiman's narration is delightful and the sound effects are really well done, but only if you're just listening to it. Otherwise, they're a lot of additional words to explain the illustrations and my brain couldn't deal with all of it at the same time. I recommend you pick one or the other.
When I first read Sandman I was by no means a comic expert. Oh of course I knew about the Alan Moore's, Garth Ennis', Frank Miller's etc etc of the comic book world. And I knew how to clearly avoid the trash too. And yet Sandman was something that always eluded me. So when I finally did get a chance to pick up a copy at my college library I was blown away. The minute attention to detail that is always called back upon, the existential discussions that number every arc, a main character who is both very distant from understanding and yet oddly relatable. The Sandman is truly a masterpiece and Neil Gaiman wrote something that will always have a spot in the pantheon of great comic books. (Not too much of a big feat for him to be honest)