Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book: Sandman (The Dolls House)

This is volume 2 of the Sandman series. I was told that it was better than the first volume, and lo and behold, it definitely was.

I'm still relatively new to reading graphic novels (I loved, loved, loved Strangers In Paradise, but that's the only one I've ever read with any regularity) so the structure takes some figuring out.

Also, the entire arc of this volume was rather dreamlike, which I'm sure isn't an accident.

So, rather than 'reading', I just sort of wandered through this volume, enjoying the story, trying to figure out the pictures, attempting to keep all the various storylines straight.

The story unfolds slowly. I can't even attempt to summarize it. Dream (the Sandman) is attempting to regain hold over his realm after being imprisoned (as we saw in the first volume). There's a young girl. She is, unbeknownst to her, something called a vortex. I don't really understand what that was about, but the climax of the story was gripping and moving.

I feel like reading these graphic novels is a little like listening to a really good full album of music. If you really sit down to listen to the entire thing, you get a sense of a story being told over the hour or so it takes to listen to every song, in order. If you listen to the individual songs, you still get some great music, but they are fragments of the whole. It is like that with graphic novels (I think, so far, in my limited experience). I think there were six or eight actual comics in this collection, and each one told a miniature story, but you have to read it all over one big arc to get the full picture. And the full picture becomes very rich and nuanced, and you notice more things the more you linger over them.

Let's talk about the illustrations.
I love the illustration of Dream himself (shown at right). Very moody, shadowy, Gothic, very 90s. I love his drama, moodiness, grimness. I also love what I've seen of Death, and the other Endless.

However, the rest of the illustrations I'm not so much into. Maybe I'm a wimpy girly, but they are just kind of hard on my eyes. I can appreciate the illustrations, but they aren't pretty. I don't love them. However, I do like the grittiness of some of the illustrations and I certainly love the imaginative, dark, rather scary scenes. Except for the fact that I hate the colors and it's rather too sharp-edged for me, I think they suit the story very well. Maybe I'm still getting used to them. By the end of the volume I was liking them more, I guess.

So, I'd like to read the next volume. The story is terrific, of course. Love that Gaiman. I'm trying to keep an open mind so I can really see what they are trying to do with these comics. I mean 'open mind' in that I'm trying not to make too many assumptions along the way -- I have the feeling that there is much more to come and if I just try to keep a beginner's mind while reading, I'll enjoy it more and get more out of it.

Is this RIP? Sure. I'll count it as such.


Nymeth said...

Yeah, for the most part I'm not a huge fan of the art in Sandman, though that too gets better as the series progresses (Dream Hunters is a big exception to that "For the most part). But the story, of the story!

If you ever decide to try another comics series, I really recommend Fables. The art is just something else.

Daphne said...

I've heard that Fables is really good -- in fact, I think I may have read an issue or two. I'll put it on the list!

Tammie said...

i really enjoy graphic novels. reading them is a sort of instant gratification for me.

by the way: have you ever picked up any of Neil Gaimans books for kids? a few months ago I checked out a book for my daughter called Crazy Hair. it was fantastic and just a wee bit dark. my daughter loved it and we had to read it every night.

Daphne said...

I need to get into reading graphic novels more. They are fun. I have flipped through a couple of Gaiman's kids books but I need to examine them more closely. I just adore his writing!

Stefanie said...

I'm glad the second one really is better. I have my name in the hold queue for a copy at the library and will probably have it sometime in November.