Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes. 1989.

After hearing good buzz about this book, and knowing the legendary Neil Gaiman wrote it, I decided to give this first volume of The Sandman series a go. I absolutely hated it.

In fact, I just don’t get all the hoopla about NG. I admit I haven’t tried enough of his books to get a broad enough feel for his appeal. While I am a big fan of short stories, I did not care for Fragile Things, and his short story/graphic novel for youth The Sleeper and the Spindle was just ok. I loved Marvel 1602, but when paired with this book, my opinion of him still tilts downward. Please don’t hate me for admitting that NG just doesn’t do it for me 😉

Graphic novels live and die on their illustrations. If you read a regular book, you imagine the characters and setting in your head. Your image is your own, and that is why there is often outcry when a beloved book doesn’t match up to the reader’s expectation if turned into a movie or tv series. But in a graphic novel, the pictures are there in front of you, for that is what the author and/or illustrator planned for it to look like to everyone. And it looked like crap. I don’t need or want everything to look pretty, but come on, the drawings were sketchy, blotchy and weird. Does anyone else think Morpheus looks like NG?

At first I did not realize that The Sandman series resided in the DC universe. So I was a bit taken aback when Dr. Destiny (aka John Dee-how I hated him!), Scarecrow, Martian Manhunter and John Constantine showed up.  These characters seemed just thrown in, with no continuity with the rest of the storyline. The first chapter had started out promisingly with an explanation of how Dream/Morpheus was called into existence, but after that the rest of the book became very episodic, perhaps to match up with how dreams are fragmented and elusive in our own minds. I felt this book had promise in theory, to be introduced to a dream world that could be in turns enchanting or macabre; but the blend of mythology, fantasy and contemporary violence was all too muddled for me.

I had a talk about this series with some college students and co-workers last night, and while they promised the series gets better, I will not be reading further volumes. However, I have not given up on Neil Gaiman entirely. Because of his stellar reputation, I feel I need to give him another chance. But only one. Any suggestions, readers???