The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

After hearing about the Sandman series for several years, I finally decided to visit my local library and pick up the first volume. The concept of a graphic novel as an intense storyline with stellar art was, to me, intriguing.

Although I used to read comics when I was younger – mostly Marvel and DC’s Star Trek line – I’d moved away from that medium shortly after high school. I’m glad I listened to the recommendation for Gaiman’s Sandman series – arguably Vertigo’s most popular publishing – as the book to bring me back to illustrated storytelling. The art in each novel is unbelievable, and Todd Klein’s lettering is fluid and beautiful!

The premise of the first volume is this: After being imprisoned by a power-hungry human for 70 years, Morpheus, commonly known as Dream, escapes captivity and sets out to recover the objects that give him his power, which were stolen from him. As he travels, he has dealings with Lucifer (a recurring character in the Sandman universe), John Constantine (a popular comic book character), and ultimately encounters a mad-man who uses one of Dream’s objects to wreak havoc on humanity.

The storylines range from surreal to absurd,  but that quirkiness is what makes this novel so interesting. Gaiman weaves in facets of ancient mythology and religion to create a multitude of worlds through which Dream travels.

Gaiman’s unique voice comes across in each tale, and each novel as a distinct story-telling style. The issues in this first volume contain DC-character crossovers, that while interesting, tends to detract from Gaiman’s established voice.

Dream is a gorgeous character, illustrated in dark violets, whites and blacks. The stark beauty of the Dream King is haunting, and the landscapes in which he moves are breathtaking.

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes is great when simply judging it on writing alone, but when you add in the incredible artwork and detailed lettering, the novel becomes a stellar find and worthy of reading several times.

Readers should be warned the Sandman series often features graphic subject matter – sex, drugs and death being common themes – but it is never gratuitous and always serves to progress the story.

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