Not every comic is made for kids (The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes)

 

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People say comics are for kids. That at some point you outgrow them. Plenty of grown adults who would disagree wholeheartedly with that statement. Blending visual and literary storytelling can lead to some of the most compelling stories out there. I’ve reviewed 2 Sisters, and I’ve read V for Vendetta before. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Sandman.

No, it’s not about the shape-shifter made of sand from Spider-Man 3. Published by Vertigo, which is owned by DC Comics, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes is the first book in a series about Morpheus, a powerful entity with dark hair and even darker eyes. Stripped of his powers, Morpheus must reclaim his rightful place as the Master of Dreams before the world plunges into chaos. Sounds like a fairly typical comic plot, I know, but I refuse to give anything substantial away. Gaiman’s comic isn’t hailed as the greatest comic of all time for nothing. You’ll have to read it yourself.

What can I tell you about The Sandman, you ask? It’s bizarre in only a way that Gaiman can pull off. Granted, he only writes the stories. A team of illustrators brought all the creepy, twisted monsters to the page. Everything originated from Gaiman’s imagination, though. The ooze dripping from the walls, the riddles of Hell and all the demons under Satan’s command, even the interactions with other DC characters are all Gaiman’s ideas.

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Plenty of classic DC characters and locations are referenced, and some even make an appearance. John Constantine receives a visit from Morpheus Arkham Asylum serves as a setting over several issues. Even Batman shows up, if only in a vision.

That being said, Morpheus’ journey takes him to the fringes of the DC Universe, primarily venturing to new territories where few of the classic DC characters would stand a chance. In no way, shape, or form do you have to be a DC fan to appreciate The Sandman. Think of it as more of a bonus.

There’s not much of the classic comic-book style BANG or POW in this. Gaiman opts for a darker, more terrifying vision, with very little physical conflict. Everything is either intelligent wordplay or mysterious, supernatural powers. Morpheus’ abilities are never spelled out for us, leaving us with a sense of wonder as to what he is capable of. There is one moment near the end where my eyes widened and I couldn’t help but whisper, “Whoa!” The buildup to it makes it even more powerful.

If you aren’t a comic fan, I feel that The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes will prove to be beyond entertaining, if not downright captivating. Most importantly, it proves that comics are one of the greatest media for storytelling.

 

If you’ve read The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, let me know what your thoughts are.

I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I hadn’t read it, I’ll add it to the list!

No Review This Week

Life gets in the way sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some writing and gotten some terrific feedback on Elements, but writing around a day job with highly varied workflow makes for an interesting challenge.

In the interest of planning my NaNoWriMo book, I’ve decided to skip the review for this week and focus more on developing one of my characters. I may even share it here at some point, who knows?

I’ll be back to regular reviews next week with another of Neil Gaiman’s works. Enjoy your weekend, y’all!

Stardust

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I’m on a Neil Gaiman kick, I suppose. He wrote the novel this movie is based on, and because of that, it’s been on my radar for years.

Stardust harkens back to the wonder of The Princess Bride, but with a little more magic in it. It’s a hybrid between a fairy tale and a fantasy adventure geared at children, and I couldn’t help but revel in nostalgia as I watched this movie. It truly is reminiscent of classic Disney fairy tales.

In a small English village that lies near a wall bordering a magical kingdom known as Stormhold, Tristan Thorn promises to bring a fallen star to the love of his life in return for her hand in marriage. When he finally finds the star, not only is she far different from what he expected, but now he has a target on his back. Danger lurks around every corner, from princes squabbling over their father’s throne to witches seeking their lost youth to flying pirates.

Stardust is picture-perfect in so many ways. The hero is a lovestruck underdog. The ruthless captain has a secret double-life. The witch is maniacal. People get turned into animals as punishment. It’s traditional, European fantasy in so many ways, yet Gaiman’s style is all over this: diabolical games amongst princes, a clever, intelligent companion for the hero, and just enough bizarre inhabitants to keep you on the edge of your seat.

To be honest, this movie isn’t quite as nuanced as Gaiman’s usual work. The characters are fairly straightforward, and you don’t have to look much below the surface to fully appreciate them. That being said, this is a film made for children. With a (mostly) light-hearted soundtrack, fun action pieces, and a perfect ending, Stardust’s slight twist on fairy-tale tropes helps make it more accessible to a wider audience. It’s definitely worth watching, but I’m even more excited to read the book. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

 

If you’ve seen Stardust, let me know what your thoughts are.

 

I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I haven’t checked it out, I’ll add it to the list!

Fragile Things

I could write a thesis defense about why Neil Gaiman is one of the best living authors out there. I probably won’t write a review of American Gods or Neverwhere, since I’ve already read them, but I recently read Fragile Things. It reminded me of just how wonderful his writing is.

 

Many authors started out writing short stories before they write a novel. They’re the perfect medium to develop an understanding of succinct, driving, and focused stories. Dozens of magazines publish short stories. They’re a popular medium for aspiring writers and veterans alike. Stephen King wrote many, many short stories before publishing Carrie. One of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut books is his collection, Welcome to the Monkey House. Since Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, it makes sense that Fragile Things is one of my absolute favorites.

 

This is a collection of several dozen short stories and poems he wrote over the years, including the Hugo Award-winning short story “A Study in Emerald” and Hugo Award-nominated “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” Every single tale reads with an effortless grace that descends into a slightly mysterious realm that captivates the imagination in a way that no one else can. His prose blends the everyday world with something magical that lies just below the surface.

 

The other incredible thing about his writing is the literary depth every single story possesses. This holds especially true for his short stories, which pack so much into only a few thousand words that, upon first reading, you only skim the surface. Every word from October’s story carries immense weight. You’ll feel the tingling realization that the girls at the party aren’t what they seem. At the end of each story, you’re left with more questions than answers. Gaiman’s work shines in a way that can only be matched by writers who have been writing their whole lives.

 

I think I’ll leave it at that. There’s far too much brilliance in this collection for me to do it justice in a review such as this. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about it and delve into some of my favorites from the collection. All I can say is this: go read this book. It’s fantastic.

 

If you’ve read any of the pieces from Fragile Things, let me know what your thoughts are.

 

I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I haven’t checked it out, I’ll add it to the list!