Neil Gaiman's Sandman series ran for just 75 issues from 1989 to 1996, but left a lasting impression on not just me, but the world of comic books in general.
Even though the torch had already been lit with such modern-day classics as Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore's wondrous Watchmen & Miracleman, it wasn't until Neil Gaiman was given the go-ahead from DC to revive & re-invent Kirby's 1970 Sandman-series that the comic book as a medium finally outgrew it's child-friendly image & showed the world that not everything had to be about spandex-clad superheroes fighting for truth, justice & the American way.
The Sandman was not an easy read - it twisted & turned & dumped everything on its head when you least expected it - the characters were morally ambiguous, neither black nor white but residing somewhere in between - and Gaiman's prose was sometimes overwhelmingly intellectual, filled with long-lost myths, obscure literary references and a British verbosity that couldn't be further from "hulk smash".
But the Sandman was also an incredibly rewarding read - it was obvious that Gaiman very early on planned out the entire series, and even though the road to issue #75 never seemed straight-forward, his skill as a writer made sure that even when you might be tempted to stray from the yellow brick road, he was always there to guide you back onto the path.
As a graphic designer, I'm still awestruck every time I look at Dave McKean's magical covers - as a literature student, I can't help but marvel at the intricate world that Gaiman's words have created - and as a comic book geek this set is my tribute to one of the finest comic book series ever created.
This set is now complete - huzzah!
My personal favorites in this set include:
- the #1-4 all signed by Neil Gaiman
- double-signed copies of #8 and the #19 Error Variant
- the lone CGC 9.8 copy of the #18 Error Variant
- the #34 signed by the late Dick Giordano (and Colleen Doran)
- double-signed copies of most of the issues in the Jill Thompson/Vince Locke "Brief Lives" run
- the #50 and #56 beautifully sketched by Tony Harris
- the #50 Platinum Edition signed & sketched by Neil Gaiman