Monday, December 22, 2014

The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2014 Day 22: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes

Aside from Sandman: Overture, I haven't written much about Sandman on this blog. Frankly, if you haven't read Sandman and you're reading a comics blog, the odds are you don't need me evangelizing. You either just haven't gotten to it, or it's not your thing. But if I'm writing about the specific comics that have affected me, this one ranks in the top three.

The summer before going away to college, I had a job that paid me well enough that I was able to indulge my comic habit a bit more liberally. One light week, I bought Watchmen, and I finally understood what all the hub-bub was about. And around the same time, Grant Morrison wrote a two part story in JLA featuring Daniel, the new incarnation of Dream of the Endless. So having touched on Sandman in my regular comics, and having read my first really mature comic, I decided it was time to try Sandman. I had read all about it, how smart it was, how it featured mythology and literature (two things I love); my main concern was it wouldn't live up to the hype. So the last Wednesday in July of 1998 was a fifth week, so my stack was light, and I added the first volume to my stack. I got home, and decided to break my normal reading order and start Preludes and Nocturnes. And I was done for from that moment.

Sandman was everything I had heard and more. That one trade stretches the gamut of genre from horror to fantasy to action to a melancholy philosophy. I met Dream, Death, Lucien, Cain & Abel, Lucifer Morningstar, and John Constantine (who guest starred from over in his own book, Hellblazer). "24 Hours" gave me the same chills Stephen King's novels do. "The Sound of Her Wings" made me think about mortality, yet not in a fearful way. And "Hope in Hell" was a story of demons that was my first taste of Gaiman's unique brand of mythology. I had a new favorite author pretty much from the get go. Since then, I've met Gaiman a handful of times. I met my wife because we were both fans of Gaiman. And I had my eyes fully opened to exactly what comics and graphic novels could be. Season of Mists is my favorite Sandman story, but Preludes and Nocturnes is the one that started it all.

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