Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From The Crypt, 6: ...Bring Me a Dream...

So it looks like this one was done around April 9, 1992, and this must've been around the time I picked up the fourth trade of Neil Gaiman's genre-defining magnum opus (I could write copy for movie posters, I swear), Sandman. When I first picked up the original two trades (at a comic show in the old Holiday Inn in Monroeville, back when they were locally run and filled a small room), I had no idea what to expect. I'd heard plenty of good things about it, but I wasn't sure I was ready for it- no costumed heroes, for one, although the skinny pale guy dressed all in black, so that was something. I tore through those first two trades, as fast as I could, then re-read them- not just because they were amazingly written, but because there was so much more going on than what would be seen from a single reading.

Sandman is like nothing I'd read before, and to this date still stands apart from all that have come since then. It was a comic with no real action in it (although Morpheus faces down the legions of Hell in the first story arc), but was as gripping as anything I'd ever read. Breaking down social, sexual, religious and storytelling boundaries from page one, it redefined what comics were capable of being, and elevated the art to true literature - though surely not single-handedly; Watchmen came first, of course, but this broke down the boundaries of acceptability. Goth kids everywhere found a new hero. It was the first comic book to win the prestigious Hugo Award (first and only- they changed the rules after it won), and the author, Neil Gaiman, has gone on to critical and public success with a number of novels and stories.

Anyway, one of the great things about the series was that it used a number of comic artists, with wildly varying styles- so if you didn't like one guy, wait a few months, and someone else would show. This particular version of Morpheus was heavily influenced by the great Kelley Jones. He used heavy, heavy blacks and wildly stylistic characters to define the Sandman for many people. The cloak is all Jones.

There's a good chance that you'll see more of Morpheus as time goes by- each time I would pick up a new volume, I'd invariably return to drawing the character.

For folks who aren't into superhero books, but aren't adverse to trying something different, I can't recommend Sandman highly enough.

Music: "Enter Sandman" - Metallica

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