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The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

Posted by RB Kollannur on March 30, 2014


Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 08/12/2012

Publisher – DC Comics; Year of Publication – 1989; Pages – 239; Cost at the time of purchase – Rs. 845

“Preludes & Nocturnes” begins with a mysterious old house; a house so old that it is guarded by gothic gargoyles. A doctor arrives, steps over the creaking steps, rings for the creepiest looking butler you may ever see and hands over a visibly old book to the master of the house. A ritual follows; a summoning of a demon of sorts, eventually captured and imprisoned in a bewitched circle.

The Sandman is a creature of mythology; a weaver of dreams. He uses his mystical sand to bring good dreams to good people. There are many variations of the character in folklore, including one by the acclaimed fairy teller Hans Christian Andersen. DC Comics, the publisher of Batman and Superman, introduced Sandman as a superhero as early as 1939, but he lost his place in the ensemble of superheroes with the end of the Golden Age of comic books after the Second World War. DC reintroduced Sandman over the next few decades under different characters, but was met mostly with mixed success. It is only in 1989 that Sandman would let go off his superhero cape for a higher calling.

The captured wraith is the king of dreams. For three scores and half years he is imprisoned in the circle like an animal in a zoo. When he finally escapes he finds his kingdom desolate and destitute. He is out for revenge. The Sandman is not just the creator of good dreams, but also the purveyor of the scariest nightmares you can imagine.

Neil Gaiman revitalizes the story of Sandman with his ten book series of graphic novels (of which Preludes & Nocturnes is the first). With the help of the long array of artists, inkers, letterers and colorist at DC, Gaiman is able to give image to his dream of a Dream. He makes Sandman the personification of dreams and his series a journey of Dream as he recovers from his imprisonment. With “Preludes & Nocturnes”, he creates a setting for the series to follow and introduces the dreamworld and its master’s eccentricities.

It is a dark graphic novel, with grim thoughts of misery embedded into its leaves. The artwork expands the theme and gives life to the novel. It plays with your mind convincing you of its existence all the while reminding you of its fiction. The rest is for you to dream it.

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One Response to “The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman”

  1. […] Published on 23/11/2012 37)  The Bonfire of Vanities by Tom Wolfe – Published on 01/12/2012 38)  The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman – Published on 08/12/2012 39)  The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester – Published on 16/12/2012 40) […]

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