Enter Sandman!

No, I’m not talking about Metallica.

Even though I’ve been reading other books in between, I’ve really been going through a whole Neil Gaiman phase. It started when I let talks of how I would love this guy, how his writing was nothing like I’d ever read before, how positively awesome he is get to me. So I finally picked up Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett (who I have yet to read). And then I read Neverwhere. Next on the list – The Graveyard Book.

So, do I love him? Yes.

Does he write like anybody else I know? No.

Is he absolutely, positively awesome? Beyond a doubt.

Why, then, have I been avoiding Sandman? Erm.

Quite honestly, I don’t know. Usually, when I hear about a graphic novel, I look up the premise, get excited, and find some way to devour read it. And I’ve loved every single graphic novel that I’ve read to date (well, except Blankets). So, you’d expect me to jump up and down like a crazy Oompa-Loompa at the mention of a marriage between Neil Gaiman and the glorious art of storytelling that is the graphic novel, yes? No.

Before I read Volume #1, if you said the word “Sandman”, I’d picture a weird hybrid of the sand man/monster from that pathetic excuse for a superhero movie (*cough* Spiderman 3) and the actual Sandman (the dream kind) from a Powerpuff Girls episode. Does anybody remember that one? Creepy guy in striped pajamas? Broken teeth? Can you blame me for not wanting to read it, especially when Neil Gaiman can disturb the hell out of you without even trying?

I was re-arranging books in the store, and it was the comic section’s turn. Tentatively, I picked up the first volume. Turned a few pages. Started reading. Finished reading. My shift had gotten over, and I had stayed for two extra hours. Without even noticing. Lucky for me, it had been a slow day.

I was expecting it to be a whole lot of things. I was expecting the Sandman himself to be a lot of things. What I wasn’t expecting was this.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, may I introduce you to Dream a.k.a Morpheus a.k.a The Sandman- King of Dreams, and one of The Endless – He Who Wears Black T-Shirts And Leather Jackets And Does So Many Things That Leave You Blubbering Like An Idiot And You Want To Cry In Frustration Because You Don’t Know Him Personally And/Or You Want To Be Like Him?

If you’ve read my reviews (if you can call them that) of Good Omens and Neverwhere, you’ll know that I have a problem with how they both end. That I was craving that staring-blankly-at-the-wall-with-the-what-the-hell-just-happened feeling that I thought each book deserved. With the Sandman series, Gaiman hits that feeling on the head with every issue. I’ve read four volumes so far, I’m just starting the fifth (I’m not sure how many issues that translates to and I’m too lazy to check, forgive me), and it leaves me gaping like a fish every five minutes. That man is a genius, and I don’t use that term lightly.  He’s a factory of ideas, producing them in such overwhelming detail that I’m half grateful that he exists and writes like he does and half extremely jealous of his ability to.

And the illustration! *high-pitched scream* Yow! I loved the first two volumes more than the others so far, but all of them are incredible. They’ve got to be, anything less and the whole series would come crumbling down.

They’re addictive, these books. And even though you want to just gobble them all up, you realise how important it is to stop – and savour every panel, every moment you spend reading. I can stare at Morpheus’ cloak for a whole ten minutes. And after every few pages, you are forced to pause, shut the book, and think. Because this is not just a book. They are not just stories. Oh, no. You get the feeling that something of consequence is happening. That these books are changing something inside you, somehow. That you have to acknowledge the change, lest it slip away and forever be lost to you. That the way you see things is going to be very different the moment you accept that tentacle the books are extending to you and all that the invitation implies.

You know how people sometimes ask you if there was one book/book-series that you could read for the rest of your life – that and nothing else – which book(s) you would choose? And you think, “What? What is wrong with you? I can’t pick a favourite, go eat some cabbage and stop asking me these rubbish questions”? Yeah, well. I’d choose Sandman.

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23 responses to “Enter Sandman!”

  1. astarteia says :

    I couldn’t agree more!
    A couple of friends lent me some Sandman volumes they had and at first I wasn’t too keen on reading them (the only graphic novel I’d willingly read was “V for Vendetta”), but it is so amazingly complete! You really do have to stop and think during it, or your head will seem cluttered and you’ll just miss all the very-non-cliche, non-common-place ideas it suggests.
    I’ve reread some of them (eventually got my own copies), and the feeling is still the same. Haven’t found all of them, though. Yet.

    • Tanya M says :

      Non-common-place! Yes! That’s the perfect way to describe it.
      I don’t know what I’m going to do. The store has only volumes one to five, and my library doesn’t have any. I don’t know anybody who has copies of it. I could get it online, but I don’t want to. There’s something very sacred about it, it has to be read on paper. And I can’t afford The Absolute Sandman volumes. They’re huge and gorgeous, but outrageously expensive. To get all four (five?) of them? Have some mercy, publishers.

      I’m going to have withdrawal symptoms after I finish A Game Of You.

  2. pmjwillis says :

    Great article. I was only thinking about whether to dabble in the Sandman novels the other day, but thought about giving some of his books a go first. I’ve read American Gods (which I enjoyed immensely) and have no idea why I haven’t picked up more of Gaiman’s stuff since.

    • Tanya M says :

      Ah, you should. I have a feeling you’ll like them. Go about it however you think suits you best, of course. I’m glad I read those two before picking up Sandman because it makes the whole experience a lot more personal, somehow.
      American Gods is good? I’ve been meaning to pick it up, but everyone I know who has read it says it’s very..strange. Is that a good kind of strange then?

      • pmjwillis says :

        American Gods is a little strange, but that’s pretty standard for Gaiman isn’t it? It’s actually very clever and if you’re heading back into Gaiman’s novels I would certainly push this book.

        As for the Sandman novels, I think it’s only a matter of time for me.

  3. The Other Watson says :

    Something else to add to my list 😛 It sounds awesome! I really really need to read more Gaiman. But I only have one book and I’m out of money and can’t buy any books for a couple of months at least…sigh. Oh well, at least it gives me something to look forward to down the track 😛

    • Tanya M says :

      It IS awesome! (One of my tags for this is ‘awesomeness’.)
      I know what you mean, though. Every day that I go to work in the store, I end up wanting to buy something. And even though the owner is brilliant and lets me borrow any book I want, there’s nothing like buying a book and putting it on your shelf and admiring it for hours together. I’ve put up a memo on my phone’s home screen that says “DON’T BUY ANY MORE, YOU’RE BROKE.”

      • The Other Watson says :

        Hahahaha you tagged it with awesomeness, that’s so….awesome. :p
        And yeah, I would struggle with that aspect of working in a bookstore, always wanting to buy more books. I have banned myself from buying more until I am much more on top of my financial situation, which will take a little while. But I have at least 100 books on my shelves yet to be read, so maybe this is a fortuitous situation in which I find myself?

        • Tanya M says :

          A hundred! *whistles* I have..twenty. Erm. But book collecting is an obsession in itself, isn’t it? I love reading, but I love buying books, as well. There have been so many times that I’ve had to stop myself from buying a book just because it’s pretty. Or smells good. Or something like that.

          • The Other Watson says :

            Oh it really is an obsession. I buy books for all sorts of reasons – because they look nice or awesome, because they have a funny title, because they are some history book I convince myself I’ll use at some point in the future either for teaching or writing, because they’re about neurology which has always fascinated me, because somebody blogged about them….the list goes on and on. For a year or so up until a couple of months ago, I think I had forgotten the “no you can’t” button in my brain, hahaha. Now I am forced to only use that button. 😛

            • Tanya M says :

              I was blog hopping the other day and I found this blogger who vowed not to buy a single book for a whole year. And completed it.
              I wouldn’t have been able to. Knowing that you shouldn’t just makes it even harder not to.

  4. Grace says :

    I need to track down a copy. I’m hoping that the library has them, because I know I’ll be hooked and want to read them all.

    I do have a copy of “Sandman: Endless Nights” which I’m about halfway done with and love so far. I like that I can get into it but that it’s still relatively standalone. The parts I’ve read so far are genius.

    • Tanya M says :

      I’m hunting for the rest, and getting pretty desperate. You’re right, though. It’s amazing reading them in order, but now that I think about it, they’re all great just by themselves as well.

      Erm. And I just went through your book index and I love/want to read so many of them on there. Please excuse the barrage of comments you might receive in the near future. 🙂

      • Grace says :

        I’m mildly frustrated that the comic book store doesn’t seem to like keeping the first book in stock. I might have to bite the bullet and order one or two from Amazon, lol. =D

        • Tanya M says :

          Ouch. I hate it when that happens. I had to go through that with the Bartimaeus trilogy. I couldn’t find The Amulet of Samarkhand anywhere! I finally gave up and started on the second one, but felt terribly guilty about it.
          The first two are my favourites, so far. I hope you get your hands on them soon! They’re absolutely worth all the hassle of tracking them down.

  5. lynnsbooks says :

    ah, the genius of Gaiman. You already made me want to read Good Omens and now this. Stop!
    I loved Neverwhere – such fantastic escapism.
    Lynn 😀

    • Tanya M says :

      Hahaha, there’s going to be quite a lot of Gaiman coming. I intend to finish all his books. 🙂
      Honestly, though? Much as I loved Neverwhere and Good Omens, this one was simply brilliant.

  6. cherylmahoney says :

    I swear Gaiman has the universe working for him…I had the same experience where everyone around me seemed to be telling me that I should read Neil Gaiman. So I did! I enjoy a lot of his books–Sandman turned out to be a little too twisted for me (I’m okay with dark, just not so much twisted). I hear they get less creepy in later volumes, though, so I might pick it up again…

    • Tanya M says :

      Haha, he does, doesn’t he? 😀
      I have got to pick up his other stuff. I should probably finish The Graveyard Book and American Gods now, because I have a feeling that Terry Pratchett will suck me in once I start reading Discworld, if Good Omens was anything to go by. 🙂

  7. jayang says :

    Love Sandman, can we repost this on the 50/50 blog? Or maybe some variation of? I think more people need to read it! (And thanks for spreading the word about 50/50!)

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