Monday, January 6, 2014
The Sandman - Preludes and Nocturnes
I have read a few of Gaiman’s stories now and thought it a shame I had never looked at this collection of graphic novels sitting on my husband's shelf. I have long been enjoying graphic novels and appreciating what they do for reluctant readers, but it is not just that. There is something about the graphic novel which is to be admired, and I have often been happy to read what was once a novel in graphic form, and been absolutely thrilled at how the graphic version has incorporated ideas from the written page. It is like an I-spy book, where you hunt and seek the images that ‘tell’ a page or two of text, an idea, which is fun and exciting all at the same time when you spot the reference, all in one small window of illustration.
The Sandman of course, is not like that, as this is an original story with elements of the familiar (references from other comics and popular culture naturally), but there is a lot to be seen on every page. I always find myself poring over each one seeking that little clue to help or enhance my understanding of the story being told.
My first experience with this story is a feeling of being overwhelmed (of course, in it‘s initial form as a comic you would experience things in dribs and drabs and maybe that is a good way to get in a bit of a ‘breather‘ before going back in again for more of the nasty). It is a fascinating story, but dark, and there are parts I choose not to think about again. After reading American Gods, I was prepared a little (thankfully) for the content of Preludes and Nocturnes, and after reading something as dark as Alan Moore’s graphic novels, I have been prepared, so to speak, for the darkness (there must be another word besides dark to describe this world of graphica that both Moore and Gaiman have imagined! Black, cloudy, dim, dingy, drab, dull, foggy, gloomy, murky, shadowy, somber, dun, faint, aphotic, caliginous, cimmerian, crepuscular, dusky, grimy, inky, pitchy, lurid, sooty, tenebrous…to name a few).
It brings back for me the age old question of what makes a good novel. The particular question of “If it is horrible, does that make it a classic?”. This is not typical of just modern literature (there is plenty of the awful in the old stuff as well, just read Hardy’s Jude the Obscure if you don’t believe me). Neil Gaiman put it best in his speech for literacy so I will just direct you here for a better written and well thought out explanation which I am unable to give you.
Taking a break before I tackle reading volume two.