Endless Nights review – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Eric Hanson reported the following Endless Nights (and Wolves in the Walls) review in the October 8th Star Tribune:

Comic books were addressing broader subjects than superheroes before Neil Gaiman came along. But Gaiman’s immensely successful Sandman series, which ran for 75 issues in the 1990s and told stories of Morpheus the King of Dreams and his six immortal siblings, set a new standard for the form.

Gaiman, who is from England but makes his home here, works quickly and ranges widely across genres. Whatever he produces — from novels such as American Gods to smart and literate children’s books such as Coraline — is interesting and instantly snapped up by his adoring fans.

This fall, Gaiman is even more profligate than usual: Not only have Morpheus & Co. returned in the Vertigo/DC Comics graphic novel The Sandman: Endless Nights, but Gaiman also has published a new children’s picture book, The Wolves in the Walls. Expect Don’t Panic Gaiman’s biography of Douglas Adams (author of “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”), in November.

Seven years after his last Sandman tale, Gaiman teams with seven artists in “The Sandman: Endless Nights.” Each story focuses on Morpheus and his family of “brother-sisters”: Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction, Destiny and everyone’s favorite Goth-girl, Death. The Sandman series has always been a stockpot of sorts — a dash of horror and mythology here, a bit of fantasy and history there — it’s uneven but somehow together it works. “Endless Nights” is like that, too. Some of it is clever: “The Heart of a Star” imagines Morpheus attending a gathering of his family and large group of interstellar beings, including the stars themselves. Our own sun, Sol, is a clumsy kid among wizened red giants and other more mature stars.

Some of it is downright juvenile. Among the many nubile and naked nymphets tramping through Desire’s story is a sexy tattooed witch who just happens to enjoy eating sausages and suggestively licking her fingers. It’s just one of those campy things that pagan witch queens do, you know.

The best of the batch is “Going Inside,” a story that focuses on Delirium and is told in a series of insane interior monologues. It is a perfect pairing of artist and writer, a showcase of how deep the form is when it’s considered as art. Gaiman is restrained and allows Bill Sienkiewicz’s manic, moody illustrations to carry the story. Sienkiewicz’s art is a disordered melange of pencils and paints, inks and collage, both realistic and cartoonish. It is a graphic representation of crazy genius, and it’s unlikely that any pairing of these two would ever be dull.

Dave McKean contributed designs to “Endless Nights” and has collaborated with Gaiman on other projects, including Sandman covers and children’s books. The two are together again in “The Wolves in the Walls,” a picture book about conquering fears that may well instill a few, too. The story is about a girl named Lucy who hears noises, sounds that she is convinced are coming from wolves living inside the walls of her house. Unconvinced by Lucy, her family stays put.

Then: “In the middle of the night there was a howling and a yowling, a bumping and a thumping and . . . the wolves came out of the walls.” Lucy and her family run for their lives and eventually get back into the house for a happy and rather comical ending. But McKean’s dark, Gothic illustrations just might scare some kids along the way..

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FWIW, the hardcover Don’t Panic (as well as Alisa Kwitney’s Sandman: King of Dreams, and the softcover Coraline) were all at my local downstate New York bookstore when I checked this weekend; in fact, the Borders was actually featuring them (along with Endless Nights, Wolves in the Walls, and other Neil authored books) in a separate display.