For those of you you do not know it yet, my Internet nickname and usual avatar when out of photographs, as well as the name of my blog, come from one of the best (if not THE best) comics ever, The Sandman. Written by Neil Gaiman (in my humble opinion one of the greatest contemporary writers out there) and drawn by a myriad of extremely talented artist, with all covers made by the genius that is Dave McKean, it defined a whole era in comicdom, attracted readers that had never read comics before, won literary awards that were supposedly not meant for comics and influenced (along with Alan Moore's Watchmen) a whole generation of comic writers and readers. It also influenced me profoundly, changed my way of thinking, writing, drawing, designing, made me see the world and my life around me through different eyes. And I have never looked back since.
The Sandman was the most acclaimed comic book title of the 1990s. A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, it is also widely considered one of the most original and artistically ambitious comic book series of the modern age. By the time it concluded in 1996, it had made significant contributions to the artistic maturity of comic books and become a pop culture phenomenon in its own right.
DC Comics Absolute Edition is a series of archival quality printings of graphic novels published by DC Comics, Vertigo and Wildstorm Productions. Each is presented in a hard cover, dust jacketed and slip cased edition with cloth bookmark consisting of one or more books which include restored, corrected and recoloured versions of the original work, reprinted at 8 inches by 12 inches. Also included are supplemental materials regarding the creation of the work, including sketches, comic scripts, memos, etc.
The first of four beautifully designed slip cased volumes, The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 collects issues #1-20 of The Sandman and features completely new colouring, approved by the author on the first 18 issues, as well as a host of never-before-seen extra material including the complete original Sandman proposal, a gallery of character designs from Gaiman and the artists who originated the look of the Sandman, and the original script for the World Fantasy Award-winning The Sandman #19, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," together with reproductions of the issue's original pencils by Charles Vess. Also included are a new introduction by DC President and Publisher Paul Levitz and an afterword by Gaiman.
And here's the reason for today's post, the second volume of the series. It was waiting for me when I returned from my Netherlands trip (more about this in future posts), which was one of the best things to start the year off with! It collects issues 21-39 of The Sandman and features remastered colouring on all 19 issues as well as brand-new inks on The Sandman #34 by the issue's original penciller, Colleen Doran, and a host of bonus material, including two never-before-reprinted stories by Gaiman (one prose and one illustrated), a complete reproduction of the never-before-reprinted one-shot The Sandman: A Gallery Of Dreams, and the complete script and pencils by Gaiman and Kelley Jones for Chapter Two of "Season of Mists" from The Sandman #23.
Even if you're not a fan of comic books, this one will haunt your mind forever, once you start reading it. For those of you who want to begin, try finding the paperback graphic novels that collect the series in volumes that are easily accessible and affordable. They are also published in many languages around the world (even in Greek), although for me, Neil Gaiman's writing is best experienced in his native language. Try it, you will never regret it.