Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Sandman Library ~ Neil Gaiman

Vol. I: Preludes and Nocturnes
Original Date: June 19, 2003

My first comic book! Even with a familiar author like Gaiman, it was a strange and unsettling experience. What with the non-linear structure, the visualized sound effects ("PHWOOM! C-C-KRAK!")--felt like I'd fallen down the rabbit hole. The fact that it's such a visual medium meant I couldn't detach myself as easily--and it was a little disturbing as a result. With an ordinary novel I can choose not to picture certain scenes or skim over the words, but not with a comic book. I can't say it was an enjoyable experience so much as a challenging one. It's more like paper television than a graphic "novel"--very episodic quality, almost like a miniseries. Morpheus and his sister Death are intriguing enough characters to keep me interested in the series.

Vol. II: The Doll's House
Honestly, the things I do for people. I only hope Mr. Gaiman appreciates my efforts. Here I am reading a horror comic book when horror is the one genre of literature I genuinely dislike. I just can't handle it. Suspense, thrillers, the gothic, even the macabre, sure I enjoy all that--things like Poe or Hitchcock, or the older, darker versions of fairy tales--but I can't take straight up gore and terror, slasher violence. And I don't see the point of it, what's more. It disturbs me. In one of my classes this semester a student read us a murder scene from American Psycho, which left me feeling almost physically bruised. Bret Easton Ellis is one twisted motherfucker. I just wish I lived in a world where it wouldn't even occur to someone to write shit like that. In The Doll's House, the issue "The Collectors" gave me something of the same feeling that Ellis did (that sick bastard), though not nearly as intense. I mean, on one level it's dark humor (it's about a convention for serial killers) which normally I like well enough, and the Sandman does punish them in the end, but still. I don't need to waste my time reading shit like that; and there's so much real horrific violence in the world, why do people invent more, for entertainment?

So if I hate horror and graphic violence for it's own sake, why am I reading The Sandman series?
Because Gaiman is a master story-teller and I want to know what happens. I want to meet the rest of the Endless, and keep following the tale of Morpheus as he rebuilds his kingdom of the Dreaming. Because so much of it draws on mythology and fairy-tale and gothic convention and things I'm interested in. So far it seems only one issue per volume is pure horror, and I feel Gaiman includes it for a purpose. Because every now and then it's good to read something that makes you uncomfortable. Because I trust Neil Gaiman, I trust he'll take care of me as a reader, and so far he has. So far it's been worth it. And I don't know anything about comics so I figure The Sandman is as good a place to start as any.


Post a Comment

<< Home