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Monthly (Comic) Book Club - May - The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes14547

COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
The Sandman #1-#8: Preludes & Nocturnes

Wk1 (5/3-5/9): Sandman #1-2






Wk2 (5/10-5/16): Sandman #3-4
Wk3 (5/17-5/23): Sandman #5-6
Wk4 (5/24-5/30): Sandman #7-8


Discussion topic ideas:

* Thoughts on the story or artwork
* Details in the story, artwork, or presentation
* References to outside events or other works of fiction
* Making of/Behind the Scenes details
* Editions you will be reading from
* Items in your collection pertaining to this week’s selection
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COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
So I don’t have a ton of Sandman stuff but I did have some cool pick ups last year. I think the biggest is a full set of Absolute Editions, including Overture and Death. I’ll primarily be reading from the Absolute edition but I’ll also refer to my sister’s Annotated edition (pics to come) to help get an idea of the various references that I’ll probably miss.


Last year, I think, I also picked up this signed Sandman #1 raw. I did a bit of research and even asked here on the board for their thoughts on the signature before buying. I got it pretty cheap, probably due to the personalized signature but it was cheaper than even an unsigned copy. The signature came back verified and it graded pretty high as well, so I’m very happy with it!

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COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
I’ll be reading issue #1 tonight but wanted to post a couple more pics.

First is my sister’s set of Annotated Editions. These books reprint the issues in black and white with wide outside margins that it uses for notes. Vol 1 covers issues #1-20 just like the Absolute Edition so that’s kind of neat





The second is another of my sister’s books, Sandman: King of Dreams which is something of a making-of/behind the scenes book so I’ll probably check it out as we read through this month

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COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
So I read through issue #1 and then went back through the annotations.

I’ll start off by saying that I absolutely love Dave Mckean’s covers. The mixture of textures, mediums, and styles from abstract to photographic combine to create a something whose individual elements are recognizable but but taken together is strange. I think that sets the stage perfectly for the story.


The story starts in 1916. An old man, driven by the death of his son in the Great War, visits a wealthy man, Burgess, with an interest in the occult and the arcane and gives him an old grimoire he has been seeking. Burgess claims that with the book he can make it so no one will ever die again.

I really love the art throughout this issue. The book is soaked in shadow and the heavy line work and crosshatching makes the art feel like it an old woodcut contributing to a feeling of timelessness.

Sam Keith does an excellent job with exaggerated and otherworldly characters and locations and his style is incredibly appropriate here. I mostly know him for his Batman covers during the 90s, particularly in the Knightfall saga where he would draw Batman with long, exaggerated ears making him feel unnatural, almost vampiric and clearly conveying the emotional and psychological nature of the story in a way I can’t imagine an accurate representational style accomplishing nearly as well.

We are quickly introduced to four children across the world, a young girl being read a bedtime story, a boy dreaming of a castle in the clouds, a young boy fighting in Verdun, and a girl dreaming of a man. The story is careful to mention the dreams of each of these characters.

The leader of some sort of spiritual cult or occult society, quite fashionable in those times, Burgess leads a ritual to capture Death within a summoning circle. Their ritual is successful in trapping something but apparently it is not Death as they intended. Still, the being they summoned brought artifacts with it and the society help themselves to them.

I’ve not read the series before but I had seen images of the helmet the being wears and thought that it bore a striking resemblance to the Space Jockey from Alien. Apparently it wasn’t a mistake since the script mentions the helmet should be Giger-eaque. Considering that H. R. Giger was the designer of many of the most memorable parts of Alien, it was bound to look familiar.

Once the being is summoned we return back to the four children we me briefly before. Something is different now. Something is wrong. The girls are now asleep, not to reawaken. The boy in Jamaica, the castle of clouds in his sleep vanish startling him awake and he refuses to go back to sleep. The boy in Verdun is traumatized. He can’t go to sleep. The story is clearly connecting the events but it is unknown to the characters in the story.

Despite not having captured Death, Burgess still holds the being prisoner, apparently wanting something in return for freeing it.

We are told of the epidemic of sleepy sickness, formally know as encephalitis lethargica. This form of encephalitis left its victims in form of catatonia; statue-like and speechless. The condition, first identified in 1917, became an epidemic ending in 1926 in which over a million people contracted the disease and directly cause the deaths of over 500k

The boy who fought in Verdun, unable to sleep, kills himself at 16.

We get a glimpse at some dysfunction in Burgess’ society. They mention the being they captured is one of the Endless and name some in its ranks, Death, Destiny, and Desire.

The second in command at the society runs off with Burgess’ mistress as well as the artifacts from the being they captured. Fearing supernatural retribution from Burgess, the second-in-command trades the helmet to a demon for protection. Unfortunately, when Burgess’ mistress walks out on the SIC, she takes everything of value, including the being’s relics and the demon’s protective necklace and Burgess brutally kills the SIC, the captured being’s artifacts now lost.

The sleepy sickness and the general malaise that seems to have enveloped the world still over 20 years later continues to affect the remaining children, now adults and others. Inspiring one young man to become the hero we know as the Golden Age Sandman.

Burgess, now and old man, continues to demand a random from the being he has kept imprisoned for decades only to be denied until he dies. His son, Alex, inherits his father’s position in the society but also wrestles with inheriting his father’/ prisoner. He seems conflicted, bot thinking it’s right to keep it but but also tempted, as his father was, and afraid of what revenge the prisoner might seek if freed.

Alex soon, too, grows old and still the prisoner is kept. Through the sixties, the seventies, and finally into the eighties, over seventy years after he was first imprisoned, when a guard casually falls asleep near the prisoner. The guard dreams of a sunny beach. From that beach the prisoner grabs a handful of sand.

The guard awakens to the sound of the prisoner collapsing. Is he dead? The guards open the prisoner’s glass cell to investigate but the prisoner blows the sand unto his captors, disabling them and he is now free. He wanders dreams, nourishing himself after decades of deprivation, and as he does so, the children we met so many years ago, begin to wake up from their stupor.

The old Alex dreams. He follows a black cat through an old castle becoming younger and you after every turn until he is the little boy he was when his father captured the prisoner. On an empty throne the black cat transforms into the prisoner who reveals himself to be the master of the realms of dreams and nightmares.

Frightened, Alex explains that it was all a mistake. That they had meant to capture Death. The lord of Dreams tells him they were lucky they failed and only caught Death’s younger brother.

If the capture of Dream lead to the suffering we saw, what would have happened had they caught Death?

Dream demands Alex return the tools that were taken from him when he was captured, the ruby, the pouch, and the helmet. Alex explains that the items had been lost for years. That nobody knows where they are now.

Infuriated, Dream curses Alex to an unending nightmare.

So this first issue covers a lot of time and what we’ve gathered is that Dream is incredibly powerful and vital to humanity but he is not all-powerful, nor is he the most powerful being in this pantheon. Also, two of his artifacts are now lost in the world of man and one is in the hands of a demon. There are practitioners of the occult on Earth that can be a threat to Dream and presumably to mankind.

The story has a great sense of mood throughout. Though it feels like this issue is mostly backstory, I think it sets up Dream well not by directly telling us or by spending time with him but showing what effect his absence has on mankind. It also leaves is wondering what his tools are for exactly since he seems plenty powerful without them. I imagine his search for these tools will be a major if not the primary driving force going forward but I also feel like this story could easily change direction and surprise us with something completely different.
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Collector xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
I have a regular TPB collection that I'm hoping to get into tonight. I've read it in the past but it's been long enough that I don't even remember what issues it covers! But the annotated edition sounds awesome; for something with all the references and depth that Gaiman writes, it would be pretty nice.
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Collector Jsmead1 private msg quote post Address this user
I let a friend "borrow" my series run about 25 years ago. Still waiting for them to be returned. ~sniff~

I'm currently listening to the audio version on Audible & highly recommend it if you're into that sort of thing. It's fantastic.
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Collector xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
Sam Keith does an excellent job with exaggerated and otherworldly characters and locations and his style is incredibly appropriate here. I mostly know him for his Batman covers during the 90s, particularly in the Knightfall saga where he would draw Batman with long, exaggerated ears making him feel unnatural, almost vampiric and clearly conveying the emotional and psychological nature of the story in a way I can’t imagine an accurate representational style accomplishing nearly as well.


I mostly know Keith from a couple of issues of the Maxx I bought back when they were new, and his run on Marvel Comics Presents. I'm not really a fan; I don't like his style overall, and I really don't like his Wolverine. But he is really good here. Faces are exaggerated in sort of a caricature way but it feels appropriate. The mood is spot-on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
If the capture of Dream lead to the suffering we saw, what would have happened had they caught Death?


I always wonder things like that in stories like these. I feel like when someone says they're out to capture a god, or capture a conceptual deity like Death, at this point its short-hand for saying that the person thinks awfully highly of themselves but hasn't really thought things through in a meaningful way.

A related part that stood out to me is that Burgess, and eventually Alex, knew who they had. They knew their names and knew they were The Endless. Why would you assume that an eternal being would give in? Do anything other than play the long game? To entrap something like that and then assume it would roll over and give you what you want is the height of hubris. Given how (relatively) easy it was to trap one of them, you also have to imagine that the Endless have been trapped before and know what to do about it.

I did enjoy this more than I remember enjoying the story previously. I think, given that it's so heavy on mood and atmosphere, you have to be ready and able to get into that headspace. I'm hoping the feeling stays through the rest of the arc.
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