Comics and More (was Re: Best of 2001) (OT)

The Venkarel venkarel.geo at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 15 17:26:55 EST 2002


--- "Dorian E. Gray" <israfel at eircom.net> wrote:

*snip*

> And I have the lot!  Including "Brief Lives" in
> hardback, signed by
> Mr. Gaiman himself where he did a sketch of Dream. 
> <preen>  <show
> off>

Me too ^_^  I had to have all the volumes before I
would sit down and read it.  I have "The Dream
Hunters" in hardcover, signed during his "American
Gods" tour.

There are a few spinoffs as well, though they're not
written by him.  There's a Destiny mini-series and the
Dreaming series, which has come to an end, I think. 
There are a number of Sandman Presents titles as well.
 I would like to read more of the Lucifer series, when
I have a chance to pick up the TPB.  I picked up
"Lucifer: The Morningstar Option" mini-series--three
issues--and was very impressed.  I like the writing.  

*snip*

> Be warned though:  if, like Hallie, you don't much
> like dark stuff,
> you will probably not like Sandman - I lent her
> "Preludes and
> Nocturnes" and she didn't like it at all.  There is
> some pretty
> graphic violence in this and other Sandman books. 
> (Not to mention
> creepiness...)

Actually, there are three short-story collections
which can be read outside the main story arc.  "Dream
Country", "Fables and Reflection", and "Worlds' End"
which have a range of stories, some dark, some not. 
"Dream Country" only has four stories, a really dark
and creepy story about a writer and his muse Calliope,
an interesting story about one cat's dream and the
nature of reality, a really cool story involving
Shakespeare performing "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in
front of the Faerie court, and a somewhat bizarre
story, IMO, about a really obscure DC character. 
"Fables and Reflections" is my favorite because there
are so many interesting stories--like a true story
about the first and only Emperor of the United State,
a fairytale about werewolves, a folk tale involving
rooks, a really cute anime-style one about Cain and
Abel, a retelling of the myth of Orpheus.  One of the
best stories is a tale of Arabian Nights called
"Ramadan".  I also like "Worlds' End" which is written
in the style of "Canterbury Tales" where a bunch of
people are stranded at an inn, telling stories...and
sometimes, there are stories inside stories.

But I recommend "Sandman: The Dream Hunters" which is
like a Japanese folktale that happens to feature the
Sandman, who has many names and many faces, depending
on who perceives him.  It's an illustrated story
rather than a comic; the artwork is done by famed
Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano using a lot of
different styles.  My sister, who normally could care
less about Neil Gaiman or Sandman, hijacked my copy,
and bought me another one.

If you really like Sandman or are just curious and
don't mind spoilers, I highly recommend the "Sandman
Companion" by Hy Bender.  There are lots of interviews
with Neil Gaiman and other people who worked on
Sandman, and he does a great job of summarizing,
analyzing, and giving background details for all the
issues.

By the way, if you want other comics recommendation,
try "Thieves & Kings" by Mark Oakley, published by I
Box.  Unlike most American comics (actually, it was
published in Canada), it's black and white.  Panels
and word-bubbles are interspersed with pages of
narration. It's like a young adult fantasy story
involving a thief and a princess, pirates and
soldiers, and a mysterious Lady.  I haven't read past
the first tpb because I'm waiting for more books to
come out so I can devour them in one gulp.

And if you liked the Marvel superheroes like the
X-men, Spiderman, and the Fantastic Four, you might
want to look at "Marvels" by Kurt Busiek and Alex
Ross, which gives you a photorealistic look at the
Marvel universe from the point of view of a journalist
from the 1940s onwards, when the age of marvels
started.  Imagine yourself in the middle of one of
these superhero fights, and you'll no longer be
thinking of the quips the heros exchange, but of
running for your life.

There's also Alan Moore's "Watchmen", which I really
need to reread.  It's a dark, gritty story that asks
the question: "Who watches the watchmen?"

> > Ob DWJ: One of the other comics Neil Gaiman worked
> on
> > was The Books of Magic, and in the front of the
> first
> > volume he mentions Diana as one of the four
> witches
> > (the others being, iirc, Terri Windling, Patricia
> C.
> > Wrede, and Jane Yolen).
> 
> And DWJ, in turn, dedicated "Hexwood" to Neil
> Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman leads me to DWJ who leads me back to Mr.
Gaiman, it seems.  I remember him mentioning in his
journal that American Gods was inspired by The Eight
Days of Luke--well, more like he had this great idea
and then realized that she'd already done it.  And I
read a review of "Deep Secret", I think from the
Charmed Lives fanzine, which said that a certain
zombie-before-breakfast scene was actually based on
Mr. Gaiman.  And "Howl's Moving Castle" led me back to
Mr. Gaiman's "Stardust" because someone mentioned
there was a DWJ influence there. And a Neil Gaiman
poem led me to "Hexwood"--well that, and I noticed a
lot of threads about "Hexwood" and didn't want to be
spoiled.

Speaking of "Hexwood", for the longest time, I kept
associating the book with that short story "Dragon
Reserve, Home Eight".  There's even an Orm in the
story who deals with dragons.  I think that's why it
took me so long to read it because I didn't really
like that story.  And the cover was scary--a Halloween
zombie in a cape.

Venkarel
(who is now listening to the audiobook of "Wild
Robert" because none of the libraries own the book)

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