Searching Sandman: Prelude to Preludes and Nocturnes.

I’m betting this will evolve, but before I begin, this is how I think this is going to go. There are 75 issues in this comic and as Gaiman’s style changed throughout the series, I’m guessing this project will as well.

But at least at the beginning, I plan to work within the trade paperback structure that I was introduced to the story in. Before I write about any single issue, I’m going to write a short piece on my memory of the arc I’m going to be tackling. The first arc of Sandman is “Preludes and Nocturnes,”so I say we start there. After I complete the arc issue by issue, I’ll write a short post if my opinion on it has changed, or if anything surprised me upon rereading. 

(Remember spoilers will be revealed so read the entire series before reading these essays if that bothers you.)

My memory of this arc is that it was intriguing, but still finding it’s way. Gaiman seems to start the series writing a horror comic. It’s a good enough horror comic (the issue in the diner is brilliant), but in my opinion, Sandman starts to sing when it sheds the horror genre and morphs into a mythology-fueled fantasy. 

I doubt I’m alone in that opinion. There is a reason DC chose to end the first trade paperback with Sandman #8 “The Sound of her Wings,” and also start the second volume with the exact same issue. This issue changes the entire feel of the series for me and it changes it from decent, to great LIKE THAT!

(He’s supposed to snap his fingers, but you have to click on him for it to happen. Just like Gaiman, I’m going to have to grow into this blogging thing).

The first few issues are illustrated by the incomparable Sam Kieth. As Jon W on twitter said, “Sam is more of a mad scientist than a genius.” Interestingly almost everything Sam draws looks amazing, except Morpheus.

Gaiman has said having Sam on the book was like having Jimmy Hendrix in The Beatles. It was obviously not a skill issue, but just a fit that wasn’t quite there. 

I honestly think that the series gets better after Mr. Kieth leaves, but that his artwork is what keeps readers coming back until Gaiman finds his voice. Best for everyone he was there at the beginning. Best for everyone that he left (not least of which, Sam, as he was able to create The Maxx a few years later).

So that’s what I remember about Preludes and Nocturnes (full disclosure, I’ve already reread issue one. Didn’t think about doing this until after).

As I run through each issue, I’ll be noting how many panels per page the team uses. I don’t know if it will continue, but one quick, interesting observation. 

When you look at a Sam Kieth page it looks like there are thirty panels on it, but there are usually a very customary six. He does so many daring things visually it just seems like there’s more going on than there actually is.

Next post: Sandman #1, Part 1

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4 Responses to “Searching Sandman: Prelude to Preludes and Nocturnes.”

  1. John Edingfield II April 20, 2017 at 9:59 am #

    I love the MAXX because of Sam Keith – but I agree once he left things started to fall into place with the series.

    Side note: I love Dave McKean’s covers for the series (I know you are exploring the writing, but as an artist I just love Dave’s work).

    • Kevin April 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

      McKean’s covers always scared me as a teenager when this came out. Probably for the best, I wouldn’t have appreciated what they were doing when I was more concerned with whether Wolverine could beat Thing in a fist fight.


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