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Comic Review: Sandman #1

 

Let me start by saying that I’m way behind on reading Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I’ve read many comics over the years, seen a lot of different styles and stories. My main focus had always been super heroes. I really enjoyed Batman and Spiderman as a kid and as I grew older I was more into Spiderman and the Marvel titles and strayed from the Batman titles. I had read many independent comics over the years such as Stray Bullets, Cerebus, Strangers in Paradise, and the like, but mainly I read superhero comics.

I had read about the Sandman in very early comics so I had assumed when I saw the title with its weird covers that it would be that superhero and had no idea what it was really about. It was from the DC Vertigo realm and I was far behind on the story. From what I’d heard it was basically one long story and I’d need to pick up the back issues to get caught up. My wallet wouldn’t afford that.

That brings us to the world of digital. I now have a copy of all the sandman titles. I’m going to read through them all and post my thoughts. I have read all (I think) of Neil Gaiman’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I’m trying to go in without any stars in my eyes expecting to love every word on every page.

I’m not sure how often I will be putting this out, but as I finish an issue I’ll write up a review while it’s still fresh in my mind and get it out there.

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Issue 1 is a long comic. The Sleep of the Just is the first story. Knowing Neil’s storying telling style, I was expecting to get the lay of the land before I got any story. I got a lot more than that. I got 70 years worth of story in one comic. A 40+ page comic, but a lot of story to begin with.

We start out in the 1920s with a group that’s trying to summon and trap death so they can achieve immortality. They don’t get death, but instead get someone they weren’t expecting. They strip their captive and lock him away in an unbroken circle and demand things from him that he cannot deliver. He stays stoically in his cell waiting for a time when someone will make a mistake. Over the years people falling into dreamless sleep. It starts out as a mild case of sleeping too much but grows to where people don’t wake except for once or twice a decade. These people are committed to mental institutes, one has a child and sleeps through the entire ordeal. All suffer from this sleep and have no dreams.

The son of the man who summoned the captive grows old and begins to demand the same things his father did. Once he is old and in a wheelchair he makes a mistake and rolls one wheel across the unbroken circle. This is where the story really starts. We now know that the captive is Lord of Dreams. We don’t know his real name, we just know that he controls dreams and nightmares. This is what’s causing people to have dreamless sleep. It’s what’s causing the sleeping sickness. Yet he won’t speak to his captors which only makes them more infuriated.

Over the years the items taken from the Lord of Dreams are bought and sold. I’m sure this will become important in books to come.

The Lord of Dreams escapes and takes his revenge on the son. Rather than curse the man with nightmares he instead curses the man to never allow him to sleep again. His life becomes a living nightmare and he is committed. Dreams then escapes back to his own realm, weakened and nearly powerless.

I can say that this comic was nothing I was expecting. Let’s start with the artwork. Are you can see by the cover of this comic, it’s not your standard comic. There’s no action pose by our hero. There’s no flash or splash. It’s a rather disturbing cover. From what I can tell this continues on in the series.

Inside the comic we don’t find clean lines and standard panels. Instead we find a scenes that flow from one to the next and don’t follow the normal panel to panel I’ve grown to know from a comic. It took me a bit to get used to this, I’ll admit, but it adds to the dreamlike quality of the book. Rather than have a linear flow it feels different as you read it. The art also is reminiscent of the early horror comics like Weird Tales. Things aren’t hard edged in this book at all. The people and faces aren’t handsome or perfect. There are moles, scars, deformities. Even though it’s drawn this way, it’s still very disturbing.

I like that.

Beyond the art, the story, to me, felt a little weak to start with. I know we’re getting a lot of background and we’re still laying things out. I get that. The 41 pages really relied on the images to show us a lot of the story. We get some back story, but we’re still in a realm where I’m not sure what’s going to come up next. Obviously there is a long way to go in the series and I’m anxious to find out what happens next.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: Music and more.

A while ago I had posted my frustration about the mp3 players on my tablet. Winamp was showing between three and five of each song, Google took over my music player and forgot where all my music was even though all the music was listed twice. I had finally downloaded MixZing and had been happy with it. The main reason for my happiness was because I could select where my music folders lived instead of having everything that was an MP3 show up. Due to the large amount of music I’ve accumulated over the years (endless hours of ripping CDs) has given me a huge library of a couple thousand songs.

Some upgrade happened at some point. Now MixZing doesn’t allow me to select a specific folder, but only a “top level” folder. So it was only playing music from the core memory and not from the SD card. Now Google Music shows only one version of each song and it remembers where those songs are. I still can’t tell it where the music is and where the audio books are so that’s a minor frustration, but I’m back to where I was before. I have a working MP3 player, but I can’t easily set up and manage playlists. I’d like to just add a folder of music to a playlist and set it up rather than add one song at a time. Perhaps I’ll take some time to review playlist generators again and see what I can come up with.

I’m saddened that I cannot count on MixZing to do what it was doing so well before. *pout*

In happier news, I’m writing again. My fingers are still getting used to typing out words, but it’s happy to be back at the keyboard. My current goal is to get back to 50,000 words over my annual goal before the end of the month. I’ve got a lot of writing to do and I need to get working on it. These posts may become shorter in the coming days.

I’ll be doing some new blog posts in the coming days as well. The things I’ll be adding, Daily Duck (This will be a picture of a duck each day until I run out of photos), Daily Writing prompt (this will be a sentence or paragraph to help spur some writing creativity in others), and I’m going to do a read through of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. I’ve never read this before and before you start gasping and sucking all the air out of the room, I was more into superhero comics as a kid and kept reading them through the 90s and into the Naughties. Yes I read things like Stray Bullets and Cerebus, but my main focus was Spiderman and most of the Marvel lineup. I had heard about Neil Gaiman and Sandman, but it was too expensive at the time to pick up all the back issues. So here I am, I have a digital version of the Sandman books and I’ll be reading them and posting my thoughts on each one. Not sure how long it will take me to read through them all, but we’ll see how it goes.

Beyond that I have a short story on submission with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. It’s a great slush pile process as you can see where you’re at in the list. I’m currently the second in the first round. If you’d like to follow along you can go here (http://www.andromedaspaceways.com/submissions/track-submissions/) and my story is 19174. I’m hopeful this one will move along in the process and we’ll see what happens from there. I’m excited about this story. I’ve submitted to them many times but I don’t think any of my previous submissions was up to the caliber of this story. I honestly think this one has a shot. If it gets rejected, it’s on to the next market.

Last night was a lot of fun as ‘the kids’ I mentioned yesterday surprised us all and came down for the week. Everyone was at the in-law’s house and there was much swimming in the pool and eating. My Favorite Daughter got her surprised returned and it was quite funny.

There is a lot to do. Not only do I have a lot of words to write during my free time, but I’m also writing a large number of technical documents for work this week. It’ll be a lot of writing that I need to do this week so I’d better get at it.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!