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Annotated Sandman Vol. 1 Hardcover – January 10, 2012
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About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author of AMERICAN GODS and CORALINE. His other books include the novels ANANSI BOYS, NEVERWHERE and STARDUST (winner of the American Library Association's Alex Awards as one of 2000's top ten adult novels for young adults) and the short fiction collections M IS FOR MAGIC, FRAGILE THINGS and SMOKE AND MIRRORS. With Roger Avary, he is the screenwriter of the motion picture BEOWULF (Paramount, November 2007), direct by Robert Zemeckis. His illustrated novel STARDUST was released as a major motion picture Summer 2007 starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro. With Terry Pratchett, he is the author of the novel GOOD OMENS. He is also the author of the children's books THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS and THE DAY I TRADED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH. Among his many awards are the Eisner, Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy and the Bram Stoker. Originally from England, Gaiman now lives in the United States.
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Top Customer Reviews
Granted, some of Gaiman's editorials from the original print run of Sandman which document the creation of the comic are reproduced in the 'Annotated Sandman', and I respect Gaiman's decision to hand the writing of the annotations entirely over to Klinger, but the decisions to treat Gaiman as if he was dead and unavailable for comment (as mentioned in the book's introduction) was a strange decision that hamstrung the writing of this book, for if Gaiman HAD been dead, then Klinger would've been free to beef up the annotations with information about Gaiman's life and the creation of the Sandman series, but, seemingly out of respect for Gaiman, Klinger keeps his notes focused squarely on the text of the comics (which is rare for an annotated book like this) without any context about the who/what/how/why of the comics' creation, which can make for some pretty dry reading.
Much has been made of the mass of literary, historical, mythological, folkloric, and comic-nerd allusions encrusted into The Sandman like the oddments in McKean's covers. Karen Berger says there's a million things each issue that goes over her head. "Nobody was expected to get all the references", writes Gaiman. Nothing, then, could be more appropriate than an annotated Sandman. And the format-- full-size reproductions of each page, with giant margins for notes. This is a major step in comics history. Unfortunately, it's a botched job. This is one of most frustratingly failed attempts at prestige I've encountered in ages. I can't believe Gaiman would consent to its publication, let alone his name being all over it.
First of all, influences/inspirations are never discussed, and references/allusions are seldom glossed. Many specific tidbits about folktales and mythology which I've always wondered about, especially in regards to names, are not mentioned here. Another surprise for me was that many of the comic book references are barely dealt with, or dealt with not at all. In addition to that, there are some pop/lit/nerd references I happened to recognize myself which the annotator failed to catch, giving me that terrible and awkward feeling that I may have done a better job, having no background in this sort of thing. In short, this book is useless for the main thing it purports to be used for.
The occasional references that are addressed are pretty much only historical, and are presented in a very dry way (dates, ownership, etc). Some of the things which do get space are questionable. For instance, page 32 begins with a long paragraph detailing the early history of British tabloid The Daily Mail, because one of the panels shows a copy of that paper. There are notes telling you whenever an ad appeared after that page; each issues' solicitation ad copy is also given. Most of the notes are along these lines, or to mention in what future Sandman issue a character returns or a plotline is resolved. Most of the pages do not have notes at all.
As if all this were not enough, the notes are written as though the Sandman stories are 'real', from a perspective inside the fictional universe or whatever. I read: "Little is known about 'Roderick Burgess', the name adopted by Morris Burgess Brocklesby. He was born in..." this is the beginning of a long paragraph detailing Mr. Burgess' key dates and associations ("apparently", I thought, "a lot is known about him!"). I was floored to discover that Gaiman used an actual historical personage, but became confused when I read of Mr. Burgess' association with Aleister Crowley, a figure about whom I happen to know a thing or two. By the time I read the whole paragraph, I was skeptical enough to look online. We were right the first time: obviously, nobody named Roderick Burgess actually existed. He is a creation of Neil Gaiman's. But our annotator writes as though Burgess did in fact exist. This calls into question ALL of Klinger's notes: for instance, is "Jamaican bamboo", a remarkable flower that only blooms every 33 years (pg 21), real or fiction? Was the "sleepy sickness" a true historical phenomena or an invention of Gaiman's? I must use the internet to find these things out, so I am essentially annotating The Sandman myself. This book is worthless.
There is one thing that may make this book essential to Sandman nuts-- not merely the "fan" like myself, but the obsessive collector geek who feels that Sandman is the greatest work of art ever created by humankind. They will already be buying this book, but I'll mention the item anyway: Script excerpts. Klinger had access to all of the original Sandman scripts, and he has quoted from them extensively, especially when the art or final dialogue differs from them in some way. Even this was just not as interesting to read as I thought it would be.
I'll leave prospective buyers with a typical excerpt that illustrates some of my problems with this book:
"PANEL 5. The Magdalene Grimoire was probably named after Magdalene College, Cambridge, the library of which may have possessed this volume for a time before it was acquired by the British Museum. Books often acquire a descriptive name reflecting the custodian-- e.g., the Bodleian First Folio (to distinguish the volumes of other collections' First Folios of Shakespeare). A "grimoire" is a textbook of magic. Many famous grimoires were published, including [...] Curiously, the Magdalene Grimoire appears again in the mid-20th Century, in connection with the attempted resurrection of super-hero Green Arrow. Its last-known human owner was Stanley Dover; it is currently owned, according to the last report, by Thpot the Monster." (pg 22)
On display here is:
-explanation of the rather obvious (defining "grimoire")
-inclusion of irrelevant information (mention of Shakespeare folios; list of other grimoires)
-discussion of fictional things as though they are real ('Magdalene Grimoire'; the entirety of the last two sentences)
-lack of any kind of citation (even comic book titles/issue numbers)
It's a big long book, it wasn't very fun to read, and I can honestly say I didn't learn a ___ ____ thing.
I am hugely disappointed with the lack of commentary on most pages, especially as this was sold as Gaiman's way of jotting down his reasons for writing The Sandman, and his driving inspirations for the stories. Given what a landmark series The Sandman was and what an influence it continues to be, I expected more profound notes than the history of British rock bands or song lyrics to show tunes. I would much rather have had in-depth commentaries from Gaiman, the artists and the rest of the creative team. Instead, we are left with an enormous amount of blank pages with no comments whatsoever, and a plethora of the enormously profound "In Issue --, this page was followed by an ad page."
If you are buying this edition for stellar commentary and insight into the creative process, the characters and the world itself, you will be highly disappointed.
What I LOVE about this volume, is that it is presented entirely in black and white. The uncolored pages are absolutely gorgeous and add a whole new layer of depth and emotion to the story. I find it interesting that so many of the reviews I have read elsewhere are put off more by the lack of colorization than the trivial (and often absent) annotations. For me, the new visual experience was the best thing about this volume, and the primary reason for its high rating.
I could never get the hang of the lat 80's-early 90's style of coloring and always considered it a bit on an eyesore. (I know this is how things were done in that age due to printing limitations, etc, but it has still always been a turnoff for me personally). Seeing the Endless, especially Dream and Death, rendered this way almost makes it feel as though this is how the stories should've been presented in the first place. It is beautiful, and it is haunting in a way that the bold, stark colors are not. I can't wait to see future issues (Season of Mists, The Kindly Ones and Michael Zulli's visually stunning The Wake, in particular) rendered in this stark style.
On a side note: Readers may want to be careful with the pages when thumbing through this book. The black paper is highly absorbent and shows fingertip oils very very easily.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wish it was in color (no idea if the originals were or not).