In early December, I decided to reread Neil Gaiman’s entire The Sandman series. It marked the first time I reread the series since my initial read of the collected editions nearly ten years ago.
There isn’t much for me to say that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll keep it brief. The series, as a whole, is literature at its finest. The problem with comic books, for the most part, is that they are serialized. They expect to run perpetually, and they often change hands as new writers and artists come in. Superman, for example, has been published monthly since 1938. It is hard to do anything too substantial with a character expected to appear continuously.
The Sandman, however, does not suffer from such a dilemma, which is what makes the series so enjoyable. Though it got off to a inconsistent start due to the fact that it tried to exist within the same universe as Superman, The Sandman soon broke away into a world largely its own (thanks to its own publishing imprint). As a result, Gaiman was free to create worlds, mythologies, and, as a consequence, quality stories. Best of all? Gaiman alone wrote the series, and Gaiman clearly worked to an endgame.
That’s right. The Sandman has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and Gaiman executed each stage thoughtfully and with purpose. Lord Dream, or Morpheus, is an eternal character that impossibly changes throughout the series, and, as a result, evolves into something completely unexpected. The series is character driven—not plot driven. Gaiman had something to say, to do, with his main character, and when it happened, the story ended. Simple as that.
The scope of this series will mesmerize you. The characters will leap off the page and into your heart. The intricate plots that seem unrelated only to finally connect near the end will captivate you. The dialogue will give you chills. Honestly, nothing quite compares to The Sandman, and nothing ever will.
Sometimes horrific, sometimes hilarious, always enlightening, The Sandman will always live on in your imagination once you’ve experienced it. Whether you think you enjoy comic books or not, if you like a good story, I implore you to give this finite series a read.