So, I have a pretty vivid imagination. When reading a book, I find it very easy to paint a mental picture of a person, place or monster for myself. Sometimes, however, I deliberately tone the picture down, blur its edges and paint certain details over with a bucket of smoky paint. Why? Mainly because it makes it easier for me to sleep at night. For example, I've just finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s novel Mistborn, and in it we meet a certain creature that eats bodies and then uses body parts to form its own body. Basically, it’s a creature consisting of a bunch of human and animal heads, arms, legs and so on. It’s slightly creepy, if I'm honest. And because of the said creepiness the picture of the creature that I painted in my mind isn't very detailed, it’s really just a black cloud with an occasional limb sticking out of it. The mental image is toned down and I stay (relatively) sane. Everyone’s happy. But there is a type of a novel where this toning down business is not possible. I'm talking of course, about graphic novels. Novels that don’t describe, but show, which tends to make them more erm, well, graphic. Who would have thought? This graphicness is of course a two sided sword. On the one hand it makes it easier to imagine things, but on the other we are limited and forced to see a character or an event exactly as the author had intended. You decide if that’s good or bad, but as you’re making your decision, may I introduce you to Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman?
I've read Neil Gaiman before and I am well aware that he has some twisted ideas in that brilliant mind of his. And it seems to me that just about every one of those ideas came out when he was working on The Sandman.
The Sandman is a series of ten volumes and each and every one of them is creepy as hell. Every volume mainly follows the story of Dream, but we also get to see glimpses of the lives of his siblings. They are Death, Delirium, Destiny, Desire, Despair and Destruction, and they are called the Endless. They are among the most powerful beings in the universe but even though they’re so powerful, they’re far from perfect or all knowing. They’re seriously flawed, vain, cruel, stubborn and at times, wonderful. In their own twisted way. Ironically enough, Death is the kindest, most lovable and down to earth character of them all. On the second thought, that’s not really ironic at all. It’s actually spot on.
The story and the art work amazingly well together, the pace is fast and the stories all different. It never gets boring and while I liked some of the stories more than others, I loved the series as a whole. The stories are incredible, engaging and gruesome. Like seriously gruesome. For example, in one of Dream’s stories we are introduced to a group of people who call themselves ‘the Collectors’. And no, surprisingly enough they don’t collect stamps or antique coins. We could say that they mainly specialise in human memorabilia. Fleshy human memorabilia. But no matter how strange, sick or gruesome it got, I just kept on reading, story after story, volume after volume. The art repulsed me at times, but somehow that made me want to keep on reading even more.
I know that graphic novels aren't as popular as the regular type, but I do think they deserve more attention. With The Sandman you not only get to read an amazing story, but at the same time you get to see some pretty amazing art. So, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want a bit more colour on your pages, why not give The Sandman a try? He’s expecting you in his realm. Dun dun dun.