I was hoping that the Sandman Companion wouldn't be too much of a repeat of the Sandman Annotations online, and, happily, it isn't at all. There's definitely enough new stuff to make it worth the cover price. Besides that, some things many fans are already familiar with from rumors and/or interviews are clarified here, like the origin of Death, and the connection between Delirium and Tori Amos. Each Sandman collection is discussed, one at a time, with insightful essays by Hy Bender, and then the Neil Gaiman interviews. There really is a lot of new information. For every issue, almost, there's some neat fact you didn't know before, or a comment from Neil. (For example, it's no coincidence that "Three Septembers and a January" sounds like "Four Weddings and a Funeral", although the comic was released before the movie!) Even if I had known everything in this book already, Neil's interviews are always fun to read. The book includes an excellent introduction and "Frequently Asked Questions", with questions such as "Why should I read a comic book?" The answer to this question is the perfect thing to show someone who turns their nose up at comics. Yes, comics can be worthy literature, and not only that, they have potential for artistic effects that can't be achieved through film or words alone. The Sandman Companion is also well illustrated. With the text, there are black-and-white illustrations by Sandman artists, including panels from the comic, trading card art, and proposal sketches--early ideas for what Dream should look like.Read more ›
Okay, The people at DC Comics are sqeezing the Gaiman/Sandman phenomenon to the last drop. Toys, posters, spin offs - and now an Official Companion? ARGH! Well, actually its a very interesting and readable book. It works both as a sort of Neil Gaiman biography/interview and as an definitive overview of one of the most important graphic novel series of the 90'ies. Most people will need this guide if they want to fully appreciate all the weird details and in-jokes in the series. Oh, and the HUGE Gaiman interview could also work as a sort of introduction to some important story telling techniques of the comic book medium.
When Neil Gaiman set down his pen and brought the saga of the Sandman to an end several years ago, it left a huge void in the comics market. Since the 80s, the trend in comics has been to diminish the role of the writer and bring the artist to the fore (check out Todd McFarlane's track record if you don't believe this to be the case.) Thus most of the comics on the rack will have gorgeous artwork and incoherent plots, a la The X-Men. Neil Gaiman fought this inexorable tide almost single-handedly throughout his run on the Sandman with thought-provoking, intricately layered tales which simply could not be confined by genre or medium. The Sandman Companion gives even casual readers a sense of how deep and how complex Gaiman's stories were and provides a fascinating window on the comic business and the creative process to boot. Author Hy Bender opens with background on how Gaiman got his start and how the Sandman came about, none of which will be very new to those fans who've followed Gaiman's interviews in fanzines. Then we hit the meat of the book. Bender takes us through every Sandman story, providing a detailed synopsis of the plot, then deconstructing the story with the aid of insightful interviews with Gaiman and others. Even those of us familiar with The Annotated Sandman on the Web will find this fascinating. The collection wraps up with 3 interviews/essays and a detailed list of credits for the original Sandman comics.Some have criticized DC for trading on the Sandman allure to make a buck. (Given the puerile garbage they put out for comics today, who could blame them?) The Sandman Companion is no marketing ploy, however. It is a solid addition to the Gaiman canon and will be a welcome gift for fans of the author or his immortal creation.
As a true and loyal fan of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic book series, the Companion was a must buy. The book is divided into three parts: 1) overview; 2) the Sandman Collections; and 3) back story. The format is a combination of researched facts and direct transcripts of Bender's interview of Neil Gaiman over a five day period. The overview discusses what the sries is about, the various collections, its origins, its influences and how it has influenced the Goth movement. It also provides some insight of who Gaiman is, his past writing experiences, his relationship with artist Dave McKean and how Gaiman was "discovered." Part Two provides a detailed summary of each collection followed by an in-depth interview of Gaiman regarding various aspects of the collection intersperesed with various pieces of information about the artists involved and their feelings on their collaboration. Part Three discusses the origins of the Endless, Sandman, the series most character, Death, and the menagerie of folks who populate the Dreaming and the series. It gives a rare glimpse at a comic scriptand how Gaiman presents his work to his editors and artists. The book includes three appendices 1) a list of every penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, and editor involed in every issue of Sandman; 2) other Sandman related works; and 3) a list of references the book utilized and other works by Gaiman. It should be noted there is a fair amount of artwork in the book including 16 pages of color photos. True fans of the series will not be too surprised by the information and will woder wy Bender didn't ask certain questions as only crazed fanatics would. At times, Bender's lack of knowledge can be glaring, however, the book remains a must for every fan of the series. After reading it, I was ready to pull out each pristine copy I own and read them again!