Gary C.W. Chun reported the following in the September 14th Honolulu Star Bulletin:
It’s time to rediscover the wonder of the Sandman. Neil Gaiman’s tales of the somber Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, and his colorful siblings, helped set new standards for comic books as literature in the early 1990s and afterward. The richly told and illustrated stories of myth and fantasy that have rightly been praised as being among the greatest triumphs in the popular art form.
During its 75-issue run, The Sandman reportedly sold more than a million copies a year. The subsequent 10-volume collections have also sold several million copies in both hardback and paperback, and remain in print due to their popularity.
Gaiman also won several industry and genre award accolades for “The Sandman” and beyond. Throughout his storied career, he’s collaborated on other graphic novels (most notably with his fellow Brit and favorite artist, Dave McKean); created a hit BBC-TV fantasy series, Neverwhere (just released on DVD); written the English-language script for the Japanese anime hit Princess Mononoke; and become a best-selling author with his adult novel American Gods and children’s novel Coraline.
Still, new stories of the Endless family and their world have continued to be published by DC/Vertigo. Other established writers and illustrators have offered their own unique takes on the Sandman and his siblings: the androgynous Desire; her burdened twin sister Despair; the elder seer Destiny; the stout and hearty Destruction; and the youngest, the flighty Delirium, who “smells of sweat, sour wine, late nights and old leather.”
But none have been more popular than the sister Dream is the closest to, Death. The oft-described “pragmatic and perky Goth girl” has had two well-received graphic novels done on her, The High Cost of Living and The Time of Your Life. And even as recently as last month, the whimsical Jill Thompson pulled off a fun, manga-styled version of the character in Death: At Death’s Door.
Gaiman’s previous Sandman project was ’99’s prose book The Dream Hunters illustrated brilliantly by Japanese fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano.
BUT THAT was then, and now, hitting stores on Wednesday, will be Gaiman’s first comic-book-related project in seven years. The Sandman: Endless Nights is an oversize, hardcover collection of much-anticipated short stories by Gaiman and a select group of better comic book artists from around the world.
“I’ve finally had the chance to write for my international dream team,” Gaiman said in a promotional interview. “I’ve always wanted to write a Desire story for Milo Manara. And Bill Sienkiewicz, whom I’ve known for 15 years, I finally get to write a Delirium story for him. I met Miguelanxo Prado in Spain, and I was astonished by how cool he was. I wrote him the Sandman story, and for Barron Storey, I wrote Despair.
“We’ve got some new people on the team: Frank Quitely is drawing the Destiny story, which comes at the end, and Glenn Fabry gets Destruction. The only artist whom I’ve worked with before was P. Craig Russell, who drew possibly the most beautiful ever Sandman story. We do a Death story that takes place in Venice, and Dave McKean does the amazing cover and book design.”
The book will also include a contributors’ biography section and, more important, a summary of each of the 10 volumes in the Sandman Library.
Gaiman said the “Endless Nights” book makes for a great introduction for new readers, and I agree. In fact, one of the tales, “Heart of a Star,” is set up to be, chronologically, the first Sandman story, and sets up the characters and subsequent mythos nicely.
As evocatively drawn by Prado (who is also an architect), Dream introduces his paramour Lady Killalla of the Glow to his family while conference guests at a friend’s expansive and magnificent palace floating in space. At the end of the eventful visit, Dream meets the young Sol, whose still sleeping Earth will be the site of the Sandman and his siblings’ tales.
“The Sandman: Endless Nights” should both awaken and reawaken new readers and old fans to Gaiman’s haunting genius.