Friday, October 09, 2009

Sandman Vol1 - Vol10 - Neil Gaiman

I reread all the original Sandman volume's (thanks to Fremont library) and I am still struck by how well these volumes have stood the test of time. I originally read a few stories haphazardly and at that time my taste ran more towards say A Death in the Family or the Reign of the Supermen. But even when I didn't understand what the story of the Sandman was about, there was still a haunting lyrical quality to Gaiman's writing. As the years went by, I read more of Sandman, the turning point being the Season of Mists , where I thought I mostly got what Gaiman was trying to say ( I was wrong) but at that time I did realize that Sandman was worth reading. And then I read books written about the Sandman where Gaiman is asked to summarize what Sandman is about in a single sentence and he said something like 'In life you have to change or die and the Sandman makes his choice'. It was an epiphany of sorts. The ending which hadn't made any sense to me when I first read it , now had a different meaning. And finally after all these years after having read all the books in one sitting, it's about what Gaiman said and so much more than that too. It's probably futile to say much about the Sandman, you have to read it.
What surprises me still is that everytime I read Sandman I still find that there are nuances I have missed, but it still was amazing reading the books when I didn't know the nuances were there.
There are three books so far which have ended with what I believe are perfect endings. Calvin and Hobbes, Lucifer and Sandman (take that Harry Potter).
Gaiman has never managed to match Sandman in his other writing (Asimov's Nemesis curse) , which isn't to say his writing has been bad, just that it hasn't been epic. But I think it is a matter of scope as well. He had years in which Sandman was written, whereas his other works have been far shorter , and a necessary ingredient of an epic story is time. It's probably unfortunate that Gaiman has succeeded in other mediums (unfortunate for us), because he probably cannot dedicate the amount of time to any Sandman like comic project, but we can always be thankful that the Sandman was written.
And to quote an introduction ' if the Sandman isn't literature I don't know what is.'