- Series: Sandman
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Vertigo (July 3, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401280471
- ISBN-13: 978-1401280475
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.7 x 15.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Absolute Sandman Overture Hardcover – July 3, 2018
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Winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story
"Dream is a long way from his realm, but for me reading this comic feels exactly like coming home."--The Guardian
"From the first page to the last, The Sandman: Overture #1 is an eruption of hallucinogenic artwork and unreal storytelling."--VICE MAGAZINE / MOTHERBOARD
"Sandman: Overture may go down as one of the best-drawn chapters in Sandman's already legendary run."--Newsarama
"Entering a Neil Gaiman story world is like stepping into a dream, where reality unravels and gives way to an eye-popping blend of the mythical, the fantastic, and the plain old strange. His magnum opus, of course, is a story about dreams--and despite breaking every rule in the book, it's one of the greatest graphic novels ever published."--TOR.com
About the Author
Creator of THE SANDMAN and one of comics' most accomplished writers, Neil Gaiman is also the New York Times best-selling author of the novels Anansi Boys, American Gods, Stardust and Coraline, as well as the short story collections M Is for Magic and Smoke and Mirrors and the multimedia creation Neverwhere. He also co-wrote the Jim Henson Productions film MirrorMask with longtime collaborator Dave McKean, illustrator of the Gaiman-written graphic novels MR. PUNCH, Violent Cases and BLACK ORCHID. Among his many awards are the Hugo, the Nebula, the Eisner, the Harvey, the Bram Stoker and the World Fantasy Award. Originally from England, Gaiman now lives in the United States.
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What do you need to know to enjoy the series? Only that there are seven brothers and sisters who have been since the beginning of time, the Endless. They are Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium who was once Delight, and Destruction who turned his back on his duties. Their names describe their function and the realms that they are in charge of. Several years ago, a coven of wizards attempted to end death by taking Death captive, but captured Dream instead. When he finally escapes he must face the changes that have gone on in his realm, and the changes in himself.
Preludes and Nocturnes begins the series. In it, Dream, escapes his prison. He must go on a quest to find the tools of his office: his helm, pouch and ruby. The journey will take him - and us - through the gates of hell itself. It will also teach Dream an important lesson about relying on tools, and introduce us to the other star of the series, Death.
The Doll's House shows us that the Dream King has not yet resolved all of the problems caused by his imprisonment. Three dreams have escaped The Dreaming, the villainous pair Brute and Glob, and the kindlier Fiddler's Green. This story is intertwined with another about a young woman named Rose Walker and her search for her little brother. As the characters are drawn together, a vortex is discovered, a force that could destroy all dreamers and, therefore, the world. Will Dream choose mercy over responsibility? Or is there another way?
Dream Country is the first story arc made up entirely of different tales. We meet the mother of Morpheus's son, and find out what cats dream about. We also discover the origins of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. (The latter issue, number 19, is the only comic book ever to have won a World Fantasy Award.) Death has her own bittersweet story, as she attempts to help out an agoraphobic ex-superhero.
We return to the regular series with Season of Mists. In it, Lucifer has grown tired of being the lord of hell. He kicks everyone out and locks it up solid, then gives the key to Dream. Dream must decide who of the many supplicants will get the key. This is considered the most popular story arc, filled with a cast of thousands as beings from many pantheons and myths vie for this instrument of power.
In A Game of You, old witchcraft and fantasy mix together to create an adventure featuring Barbie from The Doll's House. She discovers that her vivid dreams are truly a gate to another world, where she is a princess trying to save her subjects from the clutches of the Cuckoo. Her unlikely and wonderful cast of friends, both in the world of her dreams and in the real world, are highlights of characterization, a group of people you can truly feel a connection to.
Fables and Reflections is another story collection. We meet many extraordinary characters, including The Emperor of America, a director who must choose whether to fly or fall, a werewolf in search of his dreams, Joanna Constantine in search of Dream's son, Marco Polo, Caesar Augustus and many more.
In Brief Lives, Dream's little sister Delirium convinces Morpheus to go on a quest for their missing brother, Destruction, but the price of finding the prodigal may be more than Dream can bear.
In World's End, the characters are drawn together by a reality storm, caused by dramatic changes rippling across reality. They find shelter in a tavern, where they pass the time with their own tales, both wondrous and mysterious. We find ourselves in many places: in the dreams of a city, discovering the secrets of Necropolis where burial is a way of life, joining Cluracan on a swashbuckling adventure, running away to sea. The tales never focus on the Sandman himself, but tell us about the nature of tales and dreams just as keenly as the ones where he is in the center.
In The Kindly Ones, Dream is faced with the repercussions from his actions in Brief Lives and The Doll's House. Lyta Hall's son is kidnapped and perhaps killed, and she blames Dream for his death. She goes insane, calling on The Kindly Ones, also known as The Furies, for revenge. They enter his realm and force Morpheus to make a sacrifice that will change The Dreaming forever.
The Wake is the final chapter of this landmark series. Whenever someone we care about, as we learn to care about so many of these characters, dies, we must mourn, have a funeral and a wake. This final book ties up some loose ends, and leaves us with the message that dreams never really die.
This description fails to describe the intricate twinings of story, the threads that run through each book as we revisit past characters, as past events blossom into new ones. It also does not give credit to the magnificent collection of artists that lent their talent, their own distinctive voices and styles, to Neil Gaiman's words. The scope of this series is broad, touching on aspects of our own brief lives. To read this series is not to curl up with a simple comic book, but to take a journey beyond the shores of reality and into a world we may only visit when we close our eyes.
I was twenty six when I first met Dave McKean. I was a working journalist who wanted to write comics. He was twenty three, in his last year at art college, and he wanted to draw comics. We met in the offices of a telephone sales company, several members of which, we had been told, were going to bankroll an exciting new anthology comic. It was the kind of comic that was so cool that it was only going to employ untried new talent, and we certainly were that.
I liked Dave, who was quiet and bearded and quite obviously the most artistically talented person I had ever encountered.
That mysterious entity which Eddie Campbell calls "the man at the crossroads", but everyone else knows as Paul Gravett, had been conned into running advertising in his magazine Escape for the Exciting New Comic. He came to take a look at it himself. He liked what Dave was drawing, liked what I was writing, asked if we'd like to work together.
We did. We wanted to work together very much.
Somewhere in there we figured out that the reason the Exciting New Comic was only employing untried talent was that no-one else would work with the editor. And that he didn't have the money to publish it. And that it was part of history...
Still, we had our graphic novel to be getting on with for Paul Gravett. It was called Violent Cases.
We became friends, sharing enthusiasms, and taking pleasure in bringing each other new things. (I gave him Stephen Sondheim, he gave me Jan Svenkmayer. He gave me Conlan Nancarrow, I gave him John Cale. It continues.) I met his girlfriend, Clare, who played violin and was starting to think that, as she came up to graduation from university, she probably didn't want to be a chiropodist.
People from DC Comics came to England on a talent scouting expedition. Dave and I went up to their hotel room, and they scouted us. "They don't really want us to do stuff for them," said Dave, as walked out of the hotel room. "They were probably just being polite."
But we did an outline for Black Orchid and gave them that and a number of paintings anyway, and they took them back to New York with them, politely.
That was fifteen years ago. Somewhere in there Dave and I did Black Orchid and Signal to Noise, and Mr Punch and the Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. And Dave's done book covers and interior work for Jonathan Carroll and Iain Sinclair and John Cale and CD covers for a hundred bands.
This is how we talk on the phone: we talk, and we talk and we talk until we're all talked out, and we're ready to get off the phone. Then the one who called remembers why he called in the first place and we talk about that.
Dave McKean is still bearded. He plays badminton on Monday Nights. He has two children, Yolanda and Liam, and he lives with them and with Clare (who teaches violin and runs Dave's life and never became a chiropodist) in a beautiful converted Oast House in the Kent countryside.
When I'm in England I go and stay with them, and I sleep in a perfectly round room.
Dave is friendly and polite. He knows what he likes and what he doesn't like, and will tell you. He has a very gentle sense of humour. He likes Mexican Food. He will not eat sushi, but has on several occasions humoured me by sitting and drinking tea and nibbling chicken in Japanese Restaurants.
You get to his studio by walking across an improvised log bridge over a pond filled with Koi Carp. I read an article once in the Fortean Times or possibly the Weekly World News about Koi exploding, and I have warned him several times of the dangers, but he will not listen. Actually, he scoffs.
When I wrote Sandman Dave was my best and sharpest critic. He painted, built, or constructed every Sandman cover, and his was the face Sandman presented to the world.
I never minded Dave being an astonishing artist and visual designer. That never bothered me. That he's a world class keyboard player and composer bothers me only a little. That he drives amazing cars very fast down tiny Kentish backroads only bothers me if I'm a passenger after a full meal, and much of the time I keep my eyes shut anyway. He's now becoming a world class film and video director, that he can write comics as well as I can, if not better, that he subsidises his art (still uncompromised after all these years) with highly paid advertising work which still manages, despite being advertising work, to be witty and heartfelt and beautiful.... well, frankly, these things bother me. It seems somehow wrong for so much talent to be concentrated in one place, and I am fairly sure the only reason that no-one has yet risen up and done something about it is because he's modest, sensible and nice. If it was me, I'd be dead by now.
He likes fine liqueurs. He also likes chocolate. One Christmas my wife and I gave Dave and Clare a hamper of chocolate. Chocolates, and things made of chocolate, and chocolate liqueur and even chocolate glasses to drink the liqueur from. There were chocolate truffles in that hamper and Belgian chocolates, and this was not a small hamper. I'm telling you, there was six months' of chocolate in that hamper.
It was empty before New Year's day.
He's in England, and I'm in America, have been for ten years and I still miss him as much as I miss anyone. Whenever the opportunity to work with Dave comes up, I just say yes.
I was amused, when Coraline came out recently, to find people who only knew Dave for his computer-enhanced multimedia work were astonished at the simple elegance of his pen-and-ink drawings. They didn't know he could draw, or they'd forgotten.
Dave has created art styles. Some of what he does is recognisable enough as his that art directors will give young artists samples of Dave McKean work and tell them to do that -- often a specific art style that Dave created to solve a specific problem, or a place he went as an artist for a little while, decided that it wasn't where he wanted to be, and moved on.
(For example, I once suggested to him, remembering Arcimbaldo and Josh Kirby's old Alfred Hitchcock paperback cover paintings, suggesting to him that the cover of Sandman: Brief Lives could be a face made up of faces. This was before Dave owned a computer, and he laboriously photographed and painted a head made of smaller faces. He's been asked to do similar covers many times since by art directors. And so have other artists. I wonder if they know where it came from.)
People ask me who my favourite artist is, to work with. I've worked with world-class artists, after all, heaps of them. World class people. And when they ask me about my favourite, I say Dave McKean. � And then people ask why. I say, because he surprises me.
He always does. He did it from the first thing we did together, and a couple of weeks ago I looked at the illustrations he's done for our new graphic novel for all ages, THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS. He's combined paintings of people, amazing, funny-scary line drawings of wolves, and photographs of objects (jam, tubas and so on) to create something that is once again not what I expected, nothing like what I had in my head, but better than anything I could have dreamed of, more beautiful and more powerful.
I don't think there's anything Dave McKean cannot do as an artist. (There are certainly things he doesn't want to do, but that's not the same thing at all.)
After sixteen years, some artists are content to rest on their laurels (and Dave has shelves-full of Laurels, including a World Fantasy Award for best artist). It's a rare artist who is as restless and as enthusiastic as he was when he was still almost a teenager, still questing for the right way to make art.
There's introductions and there's introductions and there's introductions, and then there's ones like this where I'm introducing a book that has some kind of connection to me, and I have no idea what I can really add to the book in your hand. Still, I need to try.
I once -- at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, in Florida, some years ago -- went to a presentation of three papers on my work (one of which is reprinted here), and after each paper was presented, I was asked if I would like to make some reply, which is honestly a bit like asking someone who has just undergone an autopsy if he'd like to talk about the experience. (My replies varied, at least in memory, from "Er, thanks. That was very nice of you," to an "Er, with respect, if you read the issue you've cited, I don't believe it actually says what you think it does". But possibly I just smiled and nodded.)
Those were, however -- with the exception of pointing out the occasional objective mistake -- simply my opinions, and I don't consider them to be privileged. Once you've written something it's not yours any longer: it belongs to other people, and they all have opinions about it, and every single one of those opinions is as correct as that of the author -- more so, perhaps. Because those people have read the work as something perfectly new, and, barring amnesia, an author is never going to be able to do that. There will be too many ghost-versions of the story in the way, and besides, the author cannot read it for the first time, wondering what happens next, comparing it to other things that he or she has read.
So while I may, opinionated myself, disagree with some of the conclusions presented here, I am quite content for the opinions to exist; after all, the people who came to them read the work for the first time, which is more than I've ever managed. Sometimes I've had my eyes opened by papers on something I'd written, and noticed that there was something else there than I had intended. I've been praised for unintentional cleverness and damned for things I don't actually think I did. And I've always enjoyed it, perhaps because I've always had a healthy respect for academia. Even when I'm puzzled by it, it treats art like it matters. And for those of us who make art, that's a fine thing to experience.
I'm always particularly delighted by academic attention to comics -- partly because I think we need the best critical minds to point to what we do and explain it to ourselves, and partly, even mostly, because it shows how much things are changing. (A decade ago I was invited to speak at one major American university by the art department, and was informed, apologetically, that the English department were, ah, boycotting my talk, because, after all, I did comics. These days the invitations come from the English departments...)
One thing I know that I can say is that Joe Sanders (there are two people of that name in this book, just to confuse you. I'm talking about the editor) is not only a fine and perspicacious critic, and an excellent teacher, but he has also proved quite indefatigable in bringing this book into the world. I hope this book will prove to be only the beginning of the printed and collected dialogue between those who do comics and those who tell us what we did.
January 10, 2006