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Sandman: The Dream Hunters

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the continuing-the-legend dept.

News 58

cacl, who's racheting up the ranks of book reviewers, has returned with a review of the latest Neil Gaiman work Sandman: The Dream Hunters. He and Yoshitaka Amanos produced this work together, which is Gaiman's first return into the Sandman story in several years. You may remember the name recently from our review of Princess Mononoke, a recent anime film. If you've read Sandman before, you know the art of it - and if you haven't, you should.

The Scenario

In researching his writing for the movie Princess Mononoke, Neil Gaiman ran across an old Japanese fairy tale called "The Fox, the Monk and the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming" in a compilation by Rev. B. W. Ashton. For the tenth anniversary of the first edition of the Sandman graphic novel series, Gaiman had been asked to write something, and he decided to retell this old story in his own way. The twists of fate that combined the desire to write this story with the artistic talents of Yoshitaka Amano need to be roundly thanked for the beauty of the work that resulted.

As I greedily unwrapped this book, a little like one of the bad children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the illustrations on the inside of the cover presaged the treat that was going to be the reading of this book. The inside covers and fly pages are illustrated with these simple, elegant ink drawings that at one time flow and define the pages between them.

After starting the book, I did not stop. I walked on sidewalks, slamming into people, stubbing my toes, stopping in my tracks occasionally, until I could find a bench to finish the reading. I sat there, with my rear growing cold, and my hands red from the chill, devouring this lovely story. When I finished, I sat for several minutes, watching people walk by, until I shook my head and resumed the dirty details of my daily life.

These pages are an archetypal story of love, heroism, evil, magic, faith and revenge. A fox sacrifices herself to save the monk with whom she has fallen in love. The monk, in turn, sacrifices himself to save the fox, who then seeks revenge on the evil mage who caused the death of the one she loves. "The onmyoji who did this to you will learn what it means to take something from a fox."

Several characters from the Sandman universe appear here, old favorites like Cain and Abel, Fiddler's Green and the Gryphon, among others. Gaiman wisely chose not to saturate the story with other characters, even though a part of me cries out for Death to have at least made a cameo. Still, having tried to squeeze too many recurring characters in would have detracted from the original beauty of the tale, and I was glad to see such wisdom in this writing.

What's Bad?

If you don't like mythology, folklore, fairytales, or art, you may not enjoy this book. Because there are so many illustrations, as one might suspect, the price of the book is fairly high. If you've read Gaiman before, and absolutely hated him, avoid this book. If you've seen Amano's work before and hated it, avoid this book. If you meet either of these two prior conditions, go to your doctor and ask for enough drugs that you become human again.

What's Good?

The most impressive part of this book is that Morpheus becomes a central character without overbearing the framework of the original tale. This makes sense, since Gaiman had picked this story carefully for having a Sandman type character already in it. His inclusion of other Dreaming elements is also relatively smooth and they take on an Eastern tenor that is convincing and elegant.

Amano's illustrations are breathtaking. I'm not a serious fan of Japanese animation. I watched Voltron religiously, but that was pretty much it. I realize now I just wasn't seeing the right Japanese artwork. Amano has created a series of images that are as varied as they are beautiful, and the depth they add to the story is irreplaceable. Stark grey images with flat, monochromatic landscapes can appear on one page, while the next is a brightly colored, magical hodgepodge of elements that quicken the pulse. Delicate strokes and dainty pastels make way for violent brush marks with somber, solid colors on the next page.

So What's In It For Me?

A great book. This is something to give to the next idiot who says, when you tell them you sometimes read graphic novels, "Oh comic books." It's not a computer book. It will not explain how to hack Perl code or tell the difference between GPL and SCSL. However, as a human, you need to grow, and this is food for the brain and soul. This is the type of work that will help you in ways that you cannot measure, but are perhaps more important than those you can.

Buy this book and read it. Buy a copy for a friend, or a family member. This is a great tale with gorgeous art. You cannot lose by having this around you.

Other important links...

Buy this fine text at fatbrain.

You should also read Good Omensbecause both Hemos and I think it is one of the funniest books out there.

Visit the Vertigo Site

And for good measure, spend some time again with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

cancel ×

58 comments

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odd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525745)

This could be interesting, tho the effects would be unknown... FIRST!

Yoshitaka Amano interview (2)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525746)

http://209.35.126.38/squaredge/cgi-bin/viewnews.cg i?newsid941604391,39281,

here is a very recent interview with the man himself. It revolves around his relationship with Squaresoft and the Final Fantasy series.

For all of you that are not in the know, Mr. Amano created the character designs for the Final Fantasy series up until number six. He is now back in the saddle and working actively on number nine. Yay!

--

Dead-horse flogging (3)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525747)

I don't want to sound like a master flame baiter, but I don't think I'll be getting this. I've got the original 75 comics at home, and they were great. But the spin-off comic is dubious at best, the short story anthology was just plain bad. Then there's the Dave McKean covers, and the Death statuettes... I could go on.
Everyone applauded when Gaiman wrapped up the series without being tempted to stretch it on forever. Let it die.
Looking for a comic? Preacher used to be the best, but that was before Warren Ellis brought out the too-wonderful-for-my-pathetic-words Transmetropolitan.

Neil Gaiman's Book, Neverwhere (2)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525748)

Neverwhere [barnesandnoble.com]

I really enjoyed this book. You start with the feeling that you don't know what's going to happen, and when you finish.. you can't really believe what happened. Truly a trip into the 'Alice through the looking glass' side of life.

Aghg... decisions... (2)

Mandoric (55703) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525749)

This or Project Majestic Mix? Uematsu or Amano? Agh... *punches wall* Wait! I know, Both, and don't eat lunch! ^_^

Good Review -- Great Book, Great Author (2)

Asmodean451 (71567) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525750)

I'm an avid Sandman fan. In fact I'm an avid Gaiman fan. When Harlan Ellison of all people calls someone a genius, one should stop and listen. Neil Gaiman's characters are brilliant, witty and provocative -- and Sandman shines for it. The series is chock full of wonderful little references and tidbits. If there is any candidate to prove that the comic medium can tell just a good enough tale as the written medium -- this is it.

This new book is worth it. I had it on pre-order from buy.com for a month but eventually couldn't wait and ran out and grabbed a copy from the local comic book store. Amano first off is a brilliant illustrator, his style works with the essence of a picture and focuses on only the elements neccessary to convey meaning. This sort of subtle minimalism goes hand in hand with Gaiman's flair for protomythology. Some might argue that the tale is too simple, but having read most of Gaiman's work, it is the elegance of the simplicity that puts the seal of approval on this book.

Go read this book, heck, go read the Sandman. You won't regret it.

How can anyone hate Gaiman? (3)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525751)

If you've read Gaiman before, and absolutely hated him, avoid this book. If you've seen Amano's work before and hated it, avoid this book.

I'm gonna sound like a raving fanboy here, but how can anyone hate Neil Gaiman? I've seen people who are indifferent to his tales, but hatred?

Truly, Gaiman is one of the greatest fantasy writers ever. The fact he writes comicbooks usually distracts people to that fact, but let it not be said that geniuses are recognised by the mainstream while alive.

That's not to say I liked everything Gaiman wrote, but I never hated any part. The Sandman series in its entirety is a moving, magnificent story; a story for adults, and not a story for violent, sex-crazed children in men's bodies as most so-called "adult" stories are. I'm proud to say the ten hardcovers spanning the story of the Sandman sit on my shelf and are a delight to read to this day.

For those who don't know Neil Gaiman: for gods' sake, do yourself a favour. The Sandman is available in softcovers, so picking one every two weeks or so will definitely not break your budget. I suggest you either start at the beginning ('Preludes and Nocturnes'), although the style was not as defined back then. (The stories remain great, though, just not entirely mature.) Otherwise, try picking Fables and Reflections or The Doll's House. If that doesn't hook you, nothing will.

To get you in the mood for Gaiman's style, here's a short story [whatisthematrix.com] he wrote for The Matrix [whatisthematrix.com] . Too good to be true? You bet.

Finally, Yoshitaka Amano. This guy is a god. Check out his artwork [amanosworld.com] . I have to say, he has to be the best artist to come to the Sandman world ever, and that's saying a lot.

"The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

Just About the Best (1)

hobgadling (106652) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525752)

This was my favorite sandman story with the exception of Season of Mists...plus I got the book signed by both Gaiman and Amano, after standing on line for two and a half hours, of course. My favorite is the fold out picture of Morpheus in the middle of the book.

Re:Dead-horse flogging (1)

Zan Thrax (53693) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525753)

Your right, the original 75 were great. The spin-offs, anthologies, merchandise, et al, were DC trying to milk Gaiman's creation for every possible cent. I haven't read any of them, and don't intend to. But I will get this as soon as I can afford it. Gaiman isn't the type to do this sort of thing because DC begged and begged (they did), but only because he had something worth writing.

Oh, and Preacher is still great (and almost done. The final arc starts next month.) Transmet is, of course, the best comic being published. Best near-future I've ever read.

Original Amano Works (1)

Spax (84516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525754)

Does anyone from the vast /. readership know an address or phone number for Mr. Amano's are dealer? I'm honestly interested in purchasing one or more of these paintings, but have had no luck reaching anyone at Vertigo about this.

As a note, this book is fantastic. I couln't reccomend it more, although many of you might want to wait for a trade paperback version rather than the cher hardcover.

--Max

Re:Aghg... decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525755)

Majestic Mix is not from Nobuo Uematsu. It's more like a fan project.

Re:Neil Gaiman's Book, Neverwhere (1)

cyberr0ach (73021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525756)

I had the good fortune to take the hardcover of this book with me on my first trip to London. It certainly made the whole experience seem very mystical and made a new place very familiar.

That same trip to London I learned a new word: palimpsest. To me, that word best surmises what makes Gaiman's worlds so wonderful.

What's amazing about Gaiman is not just his understanding of existing mythologies, but his insight into how mythologies evolve. He recognizes that real mythologies borrow both from history and the world around us. The world of Neverwhere (or Sandman for that matter) is a world of the totally new and layered on top of the extremely familiar, which for me makes them incredibly believable.

Re:Aghg... decisions... (2)

Mandoric (55703) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525757)

I know. However, it's based on his stuff. Therefore, like a doujinshi, it fulfills the otakuness requirements.

Re:Dead-horse flogging (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525758)

rde, I understand your reaction. However, this is not the case, I think. The Dream Hunters is no a comic per se, but rather an illustrated story. It's just a way to mark the 10th anniversary, and I think it's a nice touch. There's a lot of stories that can be told, within or without the Sandman mythology, and it's obviously a preferred vehicle of Gaiman.

Neither the anthology, the spin-off or the statuettes are Gaiman's work. Gaiman has kept telling Karen Berger (editor of Vertigo) 'No' every time she tried to convince him to come back to Sandman. He's said yes this time because he was genuinely inspired. I respect that.

"The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (2)

Redhawk (28794) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525759)

Easily.

I don't like Gaiman. I never have. It's my belief that he's vastly, vastly overrated. I could tell when he started writing in Good Omens, because Pratchett's otherwise excellent prose started dropping in quality.

Obviously, I'm in the minority here. That's OK.

The main reason I dislike Gaiman's works is that I don't like dealing with cosmic entities and vast melodrama in my comics. I can't relate to them, they hold no interest for me. Not my cup of tea. This is the same reason I vastly dislike Green Lantern and the Silver Surfer, to pick on Marvel and DC both.

And his portrayal of Death _offends_ me. I mean, c'mon! A Goth chick? What's next, a bouncing beeble? I happen to think the visual representation he's chosen is really an insult to the personification of Death.

I _LIKE_ the skeleton-in-a-black-robe-with-a-scythe. It works, it's universal, and it doesn't drag the whole Goth angle into it.

This may also be impacted by my vast dislike of Goths.

Ah well. Lots of people like Gaiman and his works, and the man has sparked a renaissance in thinking, intelligent comics.

More power to him.

Redhawk



Re:Aghg... decisions... (1)

frankie (91710) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525760)

I'm waiting for the TPB. Hardcover comics are just painfully expensive. But meanwhile, are there any other Gaiman goodies now?

Another Nice Story After Ten Years (2)

ravenskana (30506) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525761)

The Sandman was always an interesting series, covering a wide range of genres and styles. A recent book, The Sandman's Companion, states that the major arcs alternated between "boys' tales" such as the first arc and Seasons of Mist and "girls' tales" such as The Doll's House and A Game of You.

Manga also divides among "boys" and "girls" styles (although the respective names escape me at the moment), and The Dream Hunters appears to me more of a girls tale, focusing as it does on relationships.

However, it also resonates with themes found consistently in Sandman -- mythologies, choices that lead to unexpected outcomes, duty and responsibility, and probably more.

I enjoyed The Dream Hunters and look forward to more of Gaiman's work.

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525762)

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion... though I have to say the reason I like Goths are the facts that they do have imagination . And Goth CHicks??? Ne'er has there been a more suitable bed mate!

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

pnkfelix (14173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525763)

Well, "hate" is a strong word, but
I do know that one of Peter David's "But I Digreess..." articles in an old issue of CBG
(we're talking like four or five years ago) totally railed one of the issues of Sandman's The Kindly Ones storyline

But, Peter David was looking at the issue from the viewpoint of a "single issue reader", not a reader of the whole collective storyline. So it makes a lot of sense that he wouldn't appreciate the work.

My point is that I bet there's a lot of people out there who think Sandman was crap. They probably also collected Youngblood.

-Felix (aka Omega Red)

Re:Dead-horse flogging (1)

shinma (106792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525764)

When was the last time you picked up The Dreaming? Up until about 17 it REALLY sucked... After Caitlin R. Kiernan took over it started to get really good again, and recent developments caused Neil to come back into the fold, if only to over see an appearance of Dream.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525765)

I'd like to hear what those people have to say. I mean, honestly. I hate some stuff with a passion yet I know people who consider it brilliant; so I can accept the opposite.

As for Peter David railing an issue of The Kindly Ones; I think this is the kind of stuff that happens when you're not reading a story with the proper perspective of time. I have been reading Sandman as it came out since issue #35, and at times I felt as if the story was going nowhere, or that it wasn't as good as it used to be. Now, when I reread all 75 issues more or less in a row, they form a cohesive whole, and it's as pointless to pick at a single issue than it is to pick at a single paragraph in a novel.

Any people out there who think Sandman is crap? I won't flame. Let's say, I'm looking for perspective.

"The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

cian (31559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525766)

> My point is that I bet there's a lot of people out there who think Sandman was crap. They probably also collected Youngblood.

A fair few of them collected Acme Novelty Library, Love & Rockets, Cages etc. The more you get into comics as an art form, the less impressive it seems. Just as if you've read widely, his prose seems a little ordinary.

now Nausica on the other hand...

Cian

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525767)

Ah! The kind of opinion I was looking for. :) Thank you.

I won't pick on your opinion, because I respect it. I don't agree with it, but I respect it.

I must say I somewhat agree with you on Good Omens. I think Neil Gaiman is not that good of a writer of pure written fiction... Yes, he writes well, and his flair is for the overall story arc. He's also good with short vignettes, and all that stems from the fact he's written for comics from the get-go. Quite simply, I don't think Gaiman's imagination translates that well into the purely written medium. That's alright; I never expected Mozart to write fiction to save his life, for instance.

Pratchett, on the other hand, masters the written word, and it shows. Often. It makes sense that Prachett's prose would be somewhat dragged down by Gaiman's.

However, I find it interesting to see these two authors work together. It's obvious they had a lot of influence on one another; there's recurring themes that always come across in both their works: very somberly in Gaiman, and out-there ludicrous in Pratchett. Contrast Gaiman's Death to Pratchett's Death: both incarnations are meant to give more 'meat' to the concept of an anthropomorphic death. Gaiman chose to play Death as the exact opposite of tradition (and I think it's fine), and Pratchett designed Death to be a traditionalist; even if he ends up cooking hamburgers in Ankh-Morpok.

Which is better? Bah... I just enjoy both without asking that silly question. Alright, a cat- and curry-loving Death with a scythe and a pale horse named Binky has more of an appeal to me. :)

"The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525768)

AFAIK, Gaiman wrote the first half of Good Omens, then sent it off to TP to finish off because it was more TP's kind of book than NG's. If the quality of writing drops, it's TP taking over, not NG.

PS. I like both TP and NG, so I don't think this is me being biased.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525769)

I liked the Sandman when it came out, but living in Minneapolis as I do, I have to just avoid the bubbly crowds of Minicon flakes who kiss the ground Gaiman walks on. I was in DreamHaven last night (the Dinkytown branch, not the ugly purple revisionist hellhole/porn-shop on Lake Street, which I boycott) and was apalled at the big heap-o-Sandman reprints and book editions that is out. They've numbered the spines on the book reprint series. It's appalling.

I am thinking it's time for me to cash in on the big heap of the comix editions of that series that I own (every issue past number 11, mint duplicates of many issues) because, frankly, I am tired of the series, and it looks like the early issues are now worth big bux. To e-bay I should go, I guess.... Or maybe cash over the counter at the College of Comic Book Knowledge (is that still in Uptown?).

In any case, Sandman was cool... in about 1994...

Of Geeks and Goths (3)

vlax (1809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525770)

The power of mythology derives from the archtypes it portrays, and sometimes, the archtypes need to be dusted off and portrayed in a new way. Archtypes never die, but sometimes have to be reinvented.

I discovered Gaiman and started reading Sandman about a year ago, long after he had ended the series. My reason? I saw an image of Gaiman's Death on a website, and the first thing that occured to me was "My God! I know that girl!"

My last roomate before shacking up with my permanent partner was not only the splitting image of Death as portrayed by many of Sandman's various artists (short, skinny goth girl with pitch black hair and clothes and almost bleached white skin), but had the same kind of voice. She made all the same kinds of remarks and responded to situations in awfully similar ways.

The next thing that occured to me was to wonder how many of us know someone who could pass as a character in Sandman. Although Death brought up the strongest associations for me, most of the other characters could have fit in my life at one time or another.

That is what mythology is about, and it's Sandman's great strength.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525771)

I liked "I Want To Be Your Dog" by Ho Che Anderson. Still haven't located one of the seven issues in the series, though. And I am still trying to track down extra copies of HCA's graphic novel "King" to give away as Christmas gifts.

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525772)

Except, of course, the Goth chicks who are exploring the erotic potential of vampirism, of course.

More than a few out there, mind you.

Tell us, does drinking your lover's blood turn you on??? We wanna know!

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525773)

Sorry, man. I tried to sell my own issues, dating back to #7 (I bought the hardcovers, and they deserve a place on my bookshelf - the "best of" one, not the other two.) They're a no-sell. Reason is, everyone buys the softcovers or hardcovers, like me. Good luck on selling them, because they're worth less now than when the series was running.

"The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

Re:Dead-horse flogging (1)

zagmar (20261) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525774)

You make a mistake (both of you) when you fail to distinguish between spin-offs that Gaiman came up with and wrote, and spin-offs that DC came up with and hired some hack to write and another to illustrate. I also think the review very adequately assuaged my concerns that this would be an excuse to show all the old favorites. Instead, it sounds more like "Stardust" with some recognizable faces.

Missing the point (1)

GuavaBerry (50743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525775)

To dismiss this as 'just another spin off' does absolutely no justice to the beauty of this book. It is in the spirit of Stardust (another excellent tale, I might add), a four-part illustrated book that came out about two years ago, and tells a story that isn't found in Grimm or Aesop. Most importantly, it is not a comic book. It is also not a 'graphic novel.' It is a book, with a beautiful story, and beautiful paintings inside, and should be judged as such.

Indeed, if you are looking for a comic, look elsewhere. Don't read this and expect a comic book. It is much, much more than that.

Re:Dead-horse flogging (1)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525776)

The spin-offs, anthologies, merchandise, et al, were DC trying to milk Gaiman's creation for every possible cent. I haven't read any of them

Well, that last part sort of says it all, doesn't it? You're judging things without knowing anything about them. If Vertigo really just wanted to milk things, they would have assigned another writer to Sandman and continued the series. But they didn't. They've actually been quite respectful of Gaiman's creations, and most of their Gaiman-related projects have been well done. John Ney Reiber's Books of Magic was excellent, as is Caitlin R. Kiernan's The Dreaming. (Kiernan's miniseries The Girl Who Would Be Death also deserves notice.)

Wow! Where should I start reading Preacher then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525777)

All this talk makes me want to start reading Preacher from the beginning. With all of the confusion comic companies come up these days...is it as simple as finding a Sandman #1 and starting from there? Or maybe some TPB's?

Not Preacher...my bad. SANDMAN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525778)

Sandman!

Gaiman and comix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525779)

I find it interesting that the review didn't bother mentioning the format of Dream Hunters, which is not a comic, nor a graphic novel but rather illustrated prose. No biggie to me (I'll get it anyway) but I imagine this is important to some folks. Like the writer of several Vertigo titles I had dinner with last night (she was in town because she attended Gaiman's Guy Fawkes party). She was bemoaning the fact Gaiman hasn't been working on comics because he does them so _well_. I concur, I find his writing entertaining, but Sandman (with the exception of the first seven issues)was sublime.

Re:Wow! Where should I start reading Preacher then (1)

gomi (57888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525780)

Get the TPBs -- they're conveniently numbered so you know the sequence, although this seemed to bother someone elsewhere in this discussion (god only knows why).

Personally, I'd say you can skip 'Doll's House' and 'Game of You,' which were really slow and unclear, but your mileage may vary. I really enjoyed 'Season of Mists,' which as a stand-alone graphic novel is equal to legendary works such as 'Watchmen' or 'Dark Knight Returns.'

Single issues will be (a) hard to find, and (b) more expensive, even at currently deflated prices.

gomi
and get all the transmetropolitan you can find RIGHT NOW.

Imagination? I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525781)

How can a group of people that dress all like each other with the express intent of pissing other people off be called imaginative? Dressing a certain way to get a reaction out of others is stupid, whether you dress like others to make them like you or hate you, it's the same thing. I know lots of goth types and the last thing I would call them is imaginative.

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (1)

gomi (57888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525782)

While I find the caring, un-grim Gaiman Death a good deal more comforting than the traditional depiction, I can certainly see how it would tork some people off. I don't find Gaiman to be uniformly Godlike, but "Neverwhere" was quite good, albeit strongly British in flavor, and "Good Omens" benefited from the occasional injection of serious High Theme into the non-stop barrage of Pratchetty ludicrosity. Nothing against Pratchett -- lots of people like him, and I suppose he's funny in a broad, Three's Company sort of way, but too much of that sort of thing wears thin really fast. Good Omens got the silly/serious mix Just Right, and remains one of my favorite books to date.

Both Marvel and DC, to go on a tangent from the Cosmic Theme thing, really handle Cosmic Themes poorly -- it's hard to say who does it worse. Some good Cosmic Theme Melodrama can be found in anime (Grey comes to mind), or (for a closer shore) Watchmen.

gomi

Re:Dead-horse flogging (1)

Zan Thrax (53693) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525783)

I don't exist in a vacuum. I don't have to read it myself to know the opinions of others. I probably would have read The Dreaming if I'd had the money to start in on it, but I try to keep my continuing series purchases to a bare minimum. As far as continuing Sandman rather than doing spin-offs, The Dreaming pretty much is exactly that. I'm not entirely sure that Books of Magic is so much a Sandman spin-off as a general Vertigo universe project. I'd love to read all the Vertigo U stuff, but there's simply too many Swamp Thing and Constantine stories that I don't know.
Oh, and a small nit: DC does try to milk every cent out of anything that does as well as Sandman, but Vertigo is the one's who ensured that Gaiman's work was respected.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (3)

AMK (3114) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525784)

I've moderated my opinion on Gaiman over time; though my opinion about specific stories have shifted, I still think Sandman is excellent. (For example, while "Brief Lives" was coming out month-by-month, I thought the arc was far too scattered and diffuse. Re-reading the TPB, it hung together better.) But nothing of Gaiman's other work has been anywhere near that level; Angels and Visitations, while some of the stories were reasonably good, left me cold, and most anthologized Gaiman stories have been unremarkable, Signal to Noise was underwhelming, etc. The faux-Dunsanian prose of Stardust was a notable exception that I loved, and I haven't gotten around to Neverwhere, though I really should.

So, I think of Gaiman the same way I think of Mike Oldfield or Peter Greenaway -- they're all people who can do incredibly good work, but who seem to have moved in directions that I don't like much. Oldfield tries to write pop tunes; Greenaway turns his back on characterization; Gaiman writes stories that rarely have much emotional impact.

OT: Buy.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525785)

I had it on pre-order from buy.com for a month but eventually couldn't wait and ran out and grabbed a copy from the local comic book store.

I had a bad experience with Buy.com too. I ordered a 19" networking rack that ships in two pieces and only received one. I tried to explain this to them for about 4 weeks and finally gave up. They are the most unresponsive company I have ever dealt with. Of course, I'm not buying anything there again no matter how low their prices are. It's not worth it. Anyways, just saw that comment and had to vent!

You might also like (1)

marshall11 (115730) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525786)

_Dictionary of the Khazars_ by Milorad Pavic. Pavic wrote a fascinatingly complex book about the power of fate and dreams. Scholars have often cited Pavic as _arguably_ the first "hypertextual" author. The book is actually three dictionaries of bizarre mythological entries. Each entry is a tale that follows the path of dream hunters linked to each other through time. When one is awake, the other dreams what he sees and vice versa. They are all connected in the search to reconstruct the body of Adam and learn more about the ancient tribe known as the Khazars. The book offers you the chance to skip around and read individual tales or it can be read straight through. Noting the readership of /. I thought people might like to check this out. English translation from Serbo-Croatian by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric First Vintage International Edition, 1989 You can read more about Pavic here: http://www.khazars.com/index-e.html

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (1)

Llamedos (22050) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525787)

ISTR that Gaiman and Pratchett wrote the plot/characters/etc. together, but Pratchett did the majority of the actual writing that went into the book.
I may be wrong, though.

Re:Aghg... decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525788)

You have a long wait. I was told that they would wait a year before paperback. Also, the paperback will probably still be 20 bucks as opposed to 30 bucks now. I didn't think it was worth waiting.

Re:How could anyone dislike Gaiman? (1)

Skip666Kent (4128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525789)

And his portrayal of Death _offends_ me. I mean, c'mon! A Goth chick? What's next, a bouncing beeble? I happen to think the visual representation he's chosen is really an insult to the personification of Death.

What's a 'bouncing beeble'? Will goth chicks dig me if I own one?

And I don't think that the Personification of Death is too easily offended, so I wouldn't worry about that.

Unless of course *you* are the Personification of Death, in which case I apologize profusely, (backs away slowly), and can only express the utmost humble agreement, and, and um, Respect, and, uhhhhhh, (wets self), Fear, and ummm...Bye! (bolts)

Re:Another Nice Story After Ten Years (1)

Toothgnip (25730) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525790)

Manga also divides among "boys" and "girls" styles (although the respective names escape me at the moment)

The words you're looking for would be "shojo" and "shonen."

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

boojumsnark (75347) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525791)

I personally feel that the quality of writing in Sandman dropped of precipitously after "Brief Lives" and that Gaiman's best work in the field was Signal to Noise. Your mileage may vary.

But, oh man, Acme Novelty Library. I can't take a concentrated dose of Ware's worldview, he's mastery of the craft of illustration is incredible.

And hell, I'll add Richard Sala's Evil Eye to the list of comics what should be read by folks. And Moore & Campbell's From Hell is, imho, possibly the best work ever done in the medium.

Vertigo, Shade, Cerebus (1)

Skip666Kent (4128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525792)

The whole Vertigo line, and comics in general, died for me a long time ago. When Gaiman left Sandman, there was still Shade, The Changing Man, but that got torched as well a few (?) years back. Preacher never looked appealing. It seems too 'dark' and 'serious' for me, as those two words together generally (for me) spell 'boring'. I have trouble loving a character I can't laugh at or with now and then.

Cerebus was enormously entertaining to me for a long time, but mostly, I later discovered, due to everything *but* the story line. I bought the mag religiously for the author's intro at the beginning and the reader's letters at the end. I found both enormously entertaining, and enjoyed the story as well, but as these elements were later removed, I found I was not as 'loyal' as I thought I was and soon stopped buying it. I left out the third reason I bought it, which was simply the over-all look and feel. It's one of the most tastefully produced books ever put out.

Now I use 'em for coasters.

Go figure!

And Furthermore... (1)

Skip666Kent (4128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525793)

And what's with American re-prints of Japanese manga? In Japan, these things are printed on newsprint and sold in volume, with as many as a dozen stories/chapters in a single gloss-covered magazine. Over here, a single story gets translated and printed on heavy, glossy paper, as if it was a religious relic or something, and then they wonder why no one is buying. "Gee, I guess American audiences don't get/respond to this stuff like the Japanese. Oh well!" So sorry, but I'm not going to pay $15.95 for one lousy story, even if it is printed on the hide of a Siberian Musk Ox with gold ink and a charming 3d 'wiggle-button' cover. They market these things only to 'kollektors' and I fucking hate that!

I don't buy Cerebus any more as I mentioned above, but I'll always respect Dave Sim for sticking to his guns about keeping Cerebus reasonably priced. I think the phonebooks are too pricey, but hey that's me.

Publishers:

Try putting out some manga at working class prices. That's right. You heard me. Price 'em to sell. Get off your high and holy Art Fag horses and crank that shit out. They're buying Pokemon, aren't they?

Wake up!

(belch!)

Excuse me.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (2)

Skip666Kent (4128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525794)

I'm gonna sound like a raving fanboy here, but how can anyone hate Neil Gaiman?

It's easy. You picture him in your mind, take a really deep breath, hold it and push, until steam comes out your ears and you look like one of those crazed monsters from the old Hot Rod t-shirt cartoons.

It doesn't make for a very serious or long-lasting sort of Hatred, but it's the best I could come up with on short notice, and clearly shows that it's at least technically possible to hate Neil Gaiman.

Re:And Furthermore... (1)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525795)

They market these things only to 'kollektors' and I fucking hate that!
Back in the good ol' days when I worked in bookshops and a couple of comic shops, I was continually astonished by the twelve-year-olds who'd buy any shit with a glossy cover and a #1 on it. When X-Men #1 came out with five covers, I was working in a cool shop called The Alchemist's Head (RIP), and watched a steady stream of kids coming in and buying three copies of each over.

On this side of the atlantic, you can get (relatively) cheapo British reprints of the US reprints of the japanese originals. They're not worth it. Really.

You might consider checking out Pulp, a mag that publishes a chunk of stories -- including the rather excellent and hilarous Heartbroken Angels for a (relatively) reasonable price. It's published by Viz; more details here [pulp-mag.com] .

Re:And Furthermore... (1)

Skip666Kent (4128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525796)

Viz-u Ichi-ban! Arigato!

Don't mistake a few losers for the rest ... (1)

morven2 (5718) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525797)

Being a (twenty-six year old) Goth, I'd disagree with that. I personally have never dressed to piss anyone off. Neither has my wife (also Gothic) nor most others I know. Some, I'm sure, do, but even then you'll generally find that pissing off someone was just an added bonus of a look they would have liked even so.

There are, as in any group of people, some real losers in the Goth scene, and again as normal, they're often the most noticeable. Think of the way outsiders view us slashdotters, for example.

Re:Another Nice Story After Ten Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525798)

Yes, but you inverted them. Shojo is girls, shonen is boys.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

cian (31559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525799)

I thought Brief Lives was awful. From the dreadful art, to the meandering pointless story. Didn't really hang together, and nothing really happened. Plus it concentrated too much on the endless, and when you look at them closely they don't hang together (are they people, or concepts. How do the two inform each other. Never really touched in the series. Sure Delirium was a bit whacked, but Dream hardly personified dreams did he).

But compared to stuff from Vertigo that was coming out at the time (Shade, Doom Patrol) it was pretty shallow.

I prefer his non Sandman work. I thought Mr Punch was really good, though Cages (Dave McKean's solo work) is far better written than anything Gaiman has ever written.

Neverwhere the series was awful. Cliched characterisation, unlikely dialogue and acting (admittedly not all his fault, but his script can't have helped) at a Kiddie drama level.

Re:How can anyone hate Gaiman? (1)

cian (31559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1525800)

Brief Lives was awful. I liked Mr Punch a lot, but I haven't read it in, dunno, five years. I thought Signal to Noise pretentious, opaque and derivative. Your milage may vary, etc.

The last ACME book was superb. Desperately sad, but brilliant.

From Hell was stunning, as was Cages (comic done by Gaiman's sometime collaborator, Dave McKean). Both put Gaimain's entire work to shame imho, and stand up to any work from any medium in the last ten years.

Richard Sala's okay, but I'd rate Love & Rockets, Eightball, or even Edward Gorey over him.

Based on a Japanese Myth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525801)

I read a transcript of a Neil Gaiman talk in the 1999 SD Comic convention about Dream Hunters. Basically at one point Mr. Gaiman says, "...When you get to the end of DREAM HUNTERS, there's a very convincing afterward from me about the sources of the story and the ancient Japanese legends that I've based it on. I'm lying..." (Transcript available at Mr. Amano's webiste http://www.amanosworld.com/fandom/panel_home.html) This is the only source of information I have on this matter. So which is true, is it based on the Rev. B.W. Ashton's adaptation or is it something that Mr. Gaiman assembled? Thanks.

Re:Based on a Japanese Myth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1525802)

No, the above stated is totally erroneous. Mr. Gaiman made this saga up as he has stated in various interviews (check out http://www.holycow.com/dreaming to learn more).
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