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Here’s sand in your eye
November 19, 2008 8:58 AM   Subscribe


 
I love Sandman. Love the Death spin offs. Hate all the merchandising.

I think Rick Ocasek should play Morpheus if they ever do a live action movie. Imagine the tie ins and commercialization then!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:02 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see a big-budget televised version of Sandman. It would be difficult to boil down the tales of the Endless into just a motion picture. Morpheus himself bores me, it's the rest of the family that's fascinating. Especially Despair and Delirium.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:18 AM on November 19, 2008


Brilliant writing, brilliant covers, but so much bad artwork until around A Game Of You. I like to re-read the whole series every five years or so, but there's a lot of "gah!" and "oh hell no" to deal with until about the halfway point of the run. And it backslides later on as well. I wish they'd engage some sufficiently brilliant illustrator to give it a second life.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 9:19 AM on November 19, 2008


but so much bad artwork until around A Game Of You

Oh god yes. I'm a disenting voice but I really loved the art for "The Kindly Ones." The mix of cartoon-y and abstract really served the story. The art for "Baghdad" was pitch-perfect as well.

Man, that first book is almost unreadable. Aside from "24 hours", which is so creepy it gave me goosebumps. I usually tell people to start with the 2nd book and I'll fill them in.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on November 19, 2008


YTMS:

"Endless Nights" had excellent art all around and all but two of the stories are really, really strong.

The Desire story is my favorite stand-alone in the whole Sandman canon.
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on November 19, 2008


Like most people I am not as literate as Neil Gaiman so annotations are useful
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2008


Every time Borders gives me one of those 40% off coupons, I get the next Absolute Sandman. I know I could get them from Amazon just as cheaply, but I'm trying to savor here, dammit.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2008




A friend of mine introduced me to Sandman and Gaiman years ago, and I've since passed his work on to a few more.

As io9 pointed out, Sandman became part of mainstream culture. Unfortunately with that comes the commercialization (when isn't mainstream culture cross-marketed heavily?), but I think because the origin was a comic, it didn't go as far as Nightmare Before Christmas has. The parallel here is the dark themes, often adopted by pop-goths and other social misfits, but it's quicker to watch NBC than read through the 75 issues of Sandman.

Sandman is also getting the Absolute treatment, part of DC Comics' Absolute Editions "remastered" re-issues. The whole series is now available in 4 bound tomes, and if they're all as great as the first, it's very well done.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:35 AM on November 19, 2008


I kind of like Sam Keith, when he’s doing his own stuff, but he was a horrible choice for the first story (he also pretty much killed the Aliens books for me when he took on that). Mike Dringenberg does a pretty good job after that though.
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2008


You know, I love Gaiman. Love him. But I've never read past the first volume of Sandman because the art was just so wretched I couldn't convince myself to buy more. Someday I'm going to make myself do it, because I know I'll love the stories, but man, that art.
posted by Caduceus at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2008


I'd love to see a big-budget televised version of Sandman.

No, no, please no. I mean, sure, it is always exciting to see a text performed in larger than life moving pictures and special effects and all, but, as with Watchmen, part of the genius of this project its its medium.

Plus, a popular Sandman film or tv series would threaten to bring the goth subculture back to full strength. Do we really want to see a bunch of little douches dressed like Death and Delirium walking around?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:45 AM on November 19, 2008


I don't mind the art of the first Sandman issues - reading back over them today, they seem really evocative of what was going on with comics at the start of the 90s.

As Sandman starts to bring the medium into its own, the art improves as well.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:50 AM on November 19, 2008


I kind of like Sam Keith, when he’s doing his own stuff, but he was a horrible choice for the first story
Groth: My impression is you and Sam [Keith] didn't harmonize on the storyline.

Gaiman: No, we didn't. I think we started to harmonize a bit by the end, but I remember for Sandman #1 I sent him about two feet of reference, none of which got in there. Sandman #1 definitely didn't work. Sandman #2 worked a little bit better just because it was full of these Wrightson grotesques anyway. Three was horrible - #3 I knew was going to be horrible before we did it, because the idea was trying to draw a very realistic little English urban horror, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, Hellblazer-y kind of thing.

Groth: Was that "Dream a Little Dream of Me"?

Gaiman: Yep. And getting Sam to do that was like asking him to fly. It wasn't what he wanted to do, it wasn't what he was happy with, and it's a very strange little mess. By #4 I'd at least seen a lot of his work on the first few and got to write page descriptions. I'd say, "Sam, we've got a million demons here, from horizon to horizon, and they're all different," and know that that was the kind of thing he'd complete sink his teeth into - he even inked those things, he like them so much. But he also cheered up. At the end of #3, he quit, and it was a source of relief to everyone because he was so miserable. I'd have these conversations with Sam and I'd think he was going to put his head in an oven. He was by now convinced that when Sandman came out he would lose any credibility he's ever had in the industry., I remember we had to fight with him to keep his name on it. At one point he turned around, shortly before Sandman #1 came out, phoned Karen [Berger], and said he wanted it to go out under the name, "The Meat." Karen said, "No, don't be silly!" So when he phoned up and said, "Look, I'm quitting - I feel like Jimi Hendrix in the Beatles, I'm in the wrong band here, I'm out," he did another two issues after that and was a lot happier. He perked up as soon as he quit.

The Comics Journal #163, November 1993
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh god yes. I'm a disenting voice but I really loved the art for "The Kindly Ones."

Was that not popular then? That whole section of the series was always one of my favourite looking comics, really.
posted by dng at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2008


This is the first time I've heard of the art not being any good until "A Game of You" - the general concensus has always semeed to be that the first trade has terrible art but it get's into it's stride from that point on. Possibly this is people prefering the computer colouring that was coming into comics from about the mid point of Sandman onwards? except I remember Season of Mists as having some amazing colouring.

I really loved the art for "The Kindly Ones."

Nothing wrong with Marc Hempel.

I wonder if thsi is people piniong for some kidn of static, overly referenced painterly stuff which looks less "comicsy" (and consequently tends to be arse from a storytelling and flow point of view).
posted by Artw at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2008


I love the overall story, but some of my favourites were the single stories; " Three Septembers and a January" is probably the single best thing in the series for me.
posted by rodgerd at 10:15 AM on November 19, 2008


Not popular among my set, but YMMV.

part of the genius of this project its its medium.

Yes. This.

Part of the goal of the Sandman series was, I think, to explore different storytelling traditions and ways of presenting a story. He's not called the Lord of Dreams for nothing. The actual plot, Morpehus' arc toward responsibility and taking action for the lives he leaves in his wake, is approached slowly and from the sides.

The stories dive in and out between characters, explore on tangents, fill out minor characters and suddenly bring people into the spotlight. Comics and prose are perfect mediums for doing this kind of slow accretion of story. By the time we've reached the end, we've spent so much time in this world that you feel you could follow any random character and get an interesting story out of it. Movies can kind of do this, but what would be the point? It was a great use of the medium to have single issues that darted around time and space and styles to get a sense of scale and complexity to these Gods and monsters and unfortunate mortals.

That and nothing in the Sandman is solved with violence, which takes out 99% of screenwriters.
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


" Three Septembers and a January" is probably the single best thing in the series for me.

Neil Gaiman understands Joshua Norton better than most people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:32 AM on November 19, 2008


I love the overall story, but some of my favourites were the single stories; " Three Septembers and a January" is probably the single best thing in the series for me.

I loved the werewolf folktale one. At the time I’d stopped getting 2000ad and wasn;t getting any American comics (I’d previously been a big reader of the Dark Horse movie tie-ins, of all things), but happening to pick up that single issue pretty much brought me into buying comics again.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on November 19, 2008


Does anyone want to talk about Dave McKean, while we're here? Because he is pretty much the best thing ever.
posted by asspetunia at 10:52 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I adore Sandman beyond all reason. Pieced together my trade paperbacks all out of order, was like assembling a giant puzzle until the pieces fit. I've lost track of how many times I've read them, although I've held off until all the Absolutes are in my possession; I can't wait to get the last one and do the ultimate readthrough.

Most of my friends aren't nearly as geeky as me about this stuff, I've foisted the first two TPBs on many people and they haven't really stuck. Shame.

The art is weak in the first bunch of issues, it was somewhat tidied up for the Absolute versions. I had a housewarming party a few months ago and an old friend I hadn't seen in years brought his new girlfriend. I wandered over to them at some point and found them deep in argument about whether they should have been recoloured. I fell in love with both of them on the spot. After my own heart.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:55 AM on November 19, 2008


I think I hopped on board at "Season of Mists" (which is my fave of all of them, story-wise) and then got the older stuff once it was bound.

If a story is really, really good, I will generally suck up and deal with art I think is crappy, but not the other way around.

I couldn't deal with "From Hell" art, though many people have told me I should just bite the bullet there, too.
posted by bitterkitten at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2008


Stick with it. You may even end up liking it.
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on November 19, 2008


It was "A Game of You" that did it for me, but many parts of the story were great. I also found Desire's story to be one of the strongest, along with whatever that standalone Arabian Nights story in the middle was.

Overall, Sandman had one of the best build-ups to a (sort of disappointing) conclusion, too. But hey, at least it had an ending.
posted by rokusan at 12:01 PM on November 19, 2008


Endings are not really a Gaiman strength. Still, at least it wasn't as bad as Preacher!
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I loved the Sandman series, especially the one shot stories, but always thought I disliked the character of Morpheus. Then I found myself tearing up when I read The Kindly Ones and Death said "take my hand".
posted by sotonohito at 12:35 PM on November 19, 2008


Lyta's "kill it" line from Kindly Ones (I won't spoil it here) is one of the best sentences ever written on a comic book page, if only because of all the years of setup that sell it so well to the reader.
posted by rokusan at 12:44 PM on November 19, 2008


I'd always thought that some of the art in A Game of You was extremely, gratingly bad. It turns out that the penciller was good, but the inker, George Pratt, was in a hurry to go take a vacation.

The inking in the Absolute version looks much better....
posted by johnofjack at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2008


I couldn't deal with "From Hell" art,

Wow, I think the "From Hell" art is some of the best in the business. Moody, scartchy chap-book illustrations? Perfection.

Stick with it, I think it's Moore's most mature and satisfying work.
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on November 19, 2008


johnofjack, I remember that inking and tried to thematically justify it—the characters were waking from nightmares into indistinct, terrifying darkness that didn't quite go away when the lights came on. I came this close to successfully rationalizing crappy work...
posted by infinitewindow at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2008


As much as I loved the Sandman series, I still think that Gaiman's best work was done with Dave McKean illustrating. Violent Cases, Mr. Punch and Signal to Noise all blew me away and found their way into my heart. I always wished he would have illustrated one of the Sandman issues besides just the amazing covers.

Gaiman is a modern day bard, he specializes in telling stories. It's not the writing, it's not the medium, it's the story.
posted by Hactar at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Still, at least it wasn't as bad as Preacher!

Nothing was as bad as Preacher, nothing.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:03 PM on November 19, 2008


I kind of like Sam Keith, when he’s doing his own stuff, but he was a horrible choice for the first story (he also pretty much killed the Aliens books for me when he took on that). Mike Dringenberg does a pretty good job after that though.

Tell me about it. I have a framed print of Mark Nelson and I'm buying an original sketch from Den Beauvais but Keith's work... Really, who okayed that? That trilogy could have been so good...

I liked his work on Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters though.
posted by Brainy at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2008


I think Rick Ocasek should play Morpheus...

That looks lovely in my imagination, but I think we all know that if it happens, it'll be Depp.
posted by rokusan at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2008


Nothing was as bad as Preacher, nothing.

Hitman has a great ending. Punisher MAX has a great ending. But the big deal vertigo series everyone goes on about has a shitty ending - I think he lost steam with it badly.

How did his Hellblazer run end again?
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2008


Actually, com to think of it, I think Planetary might have every other comic ever beaten for shit endings. Though technically I think it may never actually end.
posted by Artw at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2008


I think Planetary might have every other comic ever beaten for shit endings.

I don't think imploding in the middle counts
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:25 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I reread The Sandman this summer. It was fun.

I was surprised at how much more I liked the short stories than the longer arcs. That, and by how much "24 Hours" didn't bother as much as it used to.

I think it's the sort of series where while there are parts of it that are good (and sometimes, often, really great), it's much better when taken as a total. I can say "yeah, I liked this part better than this and I really thought this was kind of stupid" about individual moments/storylines/etc., but I can honestly say I love the whole thing.

I still think the best starting point is Dream Country. You may have to give your friends some background, sure, but I think that's the first time where Gaiman actually figured out what he was doing.

Now, if I could just find a mysterious benefactor to give me $400 to buy the Absolute volumes, I'd be a very happy girl. Until then, I'll just be content with my motley group of mismatched collections.
posted by darksong at 3:28 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think imploding in the middle counts

Seriously, it gets worse.
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on November 19, 2008


Neat fact: It took almost two months to sell out of a whopping ten copies of SANDMAN #1 at our shop back in 1989. No one knew what to make of this weird comic book, with it's fancy arty covers and unusual story elements. The book didn't really take off until about five months in, and then it was a solid hit. By the way, there is a "new" SANDMAN DREAM HUNTERS comic on the stands as we speak... it's a full comic adaptation of Gaiman's previous Amano-iluustrated prose novel.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2008


Egads. So 20 years ago I walked into a comic shop and bought my first comic. My Sandman #1 is around here somewhere...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2008


I'm genuinely curious: what's wrong with Preacher?

Note: I've read zero comics outside of Watchmen, Transmetropolitan, Sandman, and Preacher, so if your answer is especially reference-heavy it will probably go over my head.
posted by Ryvar at 4:44 PM on November 19, 2008


I really like a lot of Preacher, but it's built on a lot of really shitty memes. It's misogynistic, uses homosexuality as a punch line (and later as a punishment inflicted upon one of the main antagonists- not just homosexual rape but homosexuality itself), and has a general John Wayne sort of thing going, where Real Men Stand Up And Fight.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:16 PM on November 19, 2008


...not that standing up and fighting is wrong, but when it's accompanied and even motivated by a very WOO AMERICA RULES FRENCH FAGGOTS DROOL attitude, that's bullshit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:20 PM on November 19, 2008


Ennis is Irish. Northern Ireland Irish. Preacher never was about America, America was just another character, and thus another metaphor, for something more intimate to the author. To accuse the series of gung-ho ultra-right-wing flag waving patriotic American self-congratulation =misses the point entirely=.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:08 PM on November 19, 2008


Yes it’s that old.

I feel so stiff.
posted by homunculus at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2008


Those may or may not be problems with Preacher according to taste, the big problem however is it's massively anticlimactic ending - I think basically Ennis got bored with Genesis and the whole god thing and so, after telling a bunch of manly man tales that ignored it as much as possible, wrapped things up in a fairly perfunctory way.
posted by Artw at 7:36 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gaimans ending, on the other hand, couldn'thelp but be low key because that's just the way he is.

For most awesome ending on a run of comics I'd have to go with the grant Morrison ending to either Doom Patrol or Animal Man, BTW.
posted by Artw at 7:38 PM on November 19, 2008


Ennis is Irish. Northern Ireland Irish. Preacher never was about America, America was just another character, and thus another metaphor, for something more intimate to the author. To accuse the series of gung-ho ultra-right-wing flag waving patriotic American self-congratulation =misses the point entirely=.

Please explain, 'cause I don't understand this at all.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:11 PM on November 19, 2008


I like the ending of The Sandman. It's very anticlimactic, but it was an interesting read and an interesting aspect of the character.

I just got the first three collections back from a friend I loaned them to about three years ago. I should really read them again.
posted by graventy at 11:09 PM on November 19, 2008


I think what Slap*Happy's getting at is that Ennis' experiences growing up in Northern Ireland probably helped him realize what a sucker's bet rabid nationalism is - he's expressed that sentiment a number of times in his war comics, his Troubles books, and very explicitly in the origin of Cassidy, who acts far more often as Ennis' mouthpiece than Custer.

It's misogynistic, uses homosexuality as a punch line (and later as a punishment inflicted upon one of the main antagonists- not just homosexual rape but homosexuality itself), and has a general John Wayne sort of thing going, where Real Men Stand Up And Fight.

Did you skip the parts featuring Tulip O'Hare, one of the better written female comic characters of the last 15 years? Sort of puts the lie to the misogynistic thing, and she repeatedly takes the piss out of Custer and his self-admitted boneheaded machoness. As for the homosexuality thing, we discussed it here at length. Everyone complains about the purported homophobia in his work - which requires pretty selective reading since Ennis has written several gay characters not only positively, but as fully realized and interesting characters in their own right - but no one ever says a peep about the blasphemous bits, which truly are savage and have been repeatedly confirmed as mirroring the author's own beliefs or lack thereof. I guess we all choose our bugaboos.

If you browse a chronology of Ennis' work, it becomes pretty obvious - Hitman started about a year or so after Preacher. As the former became more popular, its slapstick tone began to creep into the latter - as well as much of Ennis' other work at that time - more often and with less than satisfying results. The 'Salvation' storyline could have and should have been far shorter than it was, and really diluted the tone of the series.

Probably what bugs me most about criticisms about Ennis is that they're made by people who seem completely unfamiliar with stuff like the Troubles books, or, sweet god, the brilliant Heartland, which features John Constantine's former love, Kit Ryan, another brilliant female character. If you aren't aware that the guy can write something thoughtful, it leads that you're only familiar with the more gonzo aspects of his oeuvre, the gross-out stuff and sick humour and gleeful provocation. You should know what you're getting into, so why be offended?

How did his Hellblazer run end again?

With the "Rake at the Gates of Hell" story - it was a sort of satisfying resolution to the themes Ennis had been playing with through the series. There's a good read about his Hellblazer here. He returned to the series a few years later and wrote the "Son of Man" story, but it's complete shit.

Post Script: Goddamn do I love me Morrison's Doom Patrol.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:35 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think I used up all my commas.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:37 PM on November 19, 2008


Heh. I liked Son of Man.
posted by Artw at 12:15 AM on November 20, 2008


I like Neil Gaiman, and I like graphic novels. Where should I start in the Sandman series, and which editions should I acquire?
posted by mecran01 at 9:53 AM on November 20, 2008


The question of where to start, you'll get many different answers. I started with Volume 7: Brief Lives and worked my way backwards, before finishing off with the last two volumes. You definitely want to read 7, 9 and 10 in order. 8, World's End is sort of a calm before the storm and is not required for the over arching plot, but is very good.

I would recommend starting with Volume 2, 3, or 4.

2, The Doll's House, is an excellent introduction via a strong story, and introduces Desire's, uh, desire to always fuck up Dream's shit. Also, issue 8 which introduces Death appears in both Volume 1 and 2.

3, Dream Country, is just 4 stand alone stories that will give you a sense if this is right for you.

4, Seasons of Mists is also excellent but fairly self contained, I can't recall the events that transpire within having much effect on the overall plot, except to teach dream a lesson about responsibility, abdication and change.

Actually, the more I think about it, the main story doesn't really get going until Brief Lives, with volume 6, Fables and Reflections, providing some fairly important back story.

Starting from the beginning might put some people off. I would say pick volume 3 if you just want a taste, if you're looking to ease in start with 2, and 4 if you're ready to jump into a complex tale right off the bat.

Don't feel you need to start from the very beginning, the first couple of issues feature poor art, confusing stories and one issue is particularly gruesome (although it's one of my favourites!). I would definitely go back and read it prior to volumes 9 and 10 though, as Lyta Hall (introduced in the first few issues) is very important to the final chapters.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2008


Oh, and if you are only interested in the main story, you can leave out 3 and 8, and probably skip 5 (A Game of You) as well. A Game of You gets a bad rap as it's a female centred fairy tale where Dream barely appears, but it's all right. Definitely skippable, although you will wonder where Thessaly comes from in the last chapters.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:17 AM on November 20, 2008


Check your local library, as they may have it there.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on November 20, 2008


Did you skip the parts featuring Tulip O'Hare, one of the better written female comic characters of the last 15 years? Sort of puts the lie to the misogynistic thing, and she repeatedly takes the piss out of Custer and his self-admitted boneheaded machoness.

And each time Jesse fucks up she's back underneath him inside of an issue or two. I guess being good in bed makes up for being an inconsiderate ass.

Everyone complains about the purported homophobia in his work - which requires pretty selective reading since Ennis has written several gay characters not only positively, but as fully realized and interesting characters in their own right - but no one ever says a peep about the blasphemous bits, which truly are savage and have been repeatedly confirmed as mirroring the author's own beliefs or lack thereof. I guess we all choose our bugaboos.

Well that's great and all, but homosexuality in Preacher, which is what we're talking about, is exclusively in the realm of the bad guys. The Sexual Detectives are homosexual. Jesus deSade is homosexual. Herr Starr has homosexuality inflicted upon him. The fat purple French dude, IIRC, is gay. T.C. fucks everything, regardless of gender or species (which is a fairly popular stereotype of homosexuals among the homophobic). The Dirty Harry cop is homosexual. The Desert Cannibals are homosexual.

And if you can't tell the difference between homophobia and blasphemy, I dunno what to tell you. One of these things is not like the other.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:24 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't skip any. Read them all, in order. It's not like we're talking about Proust here, these are comic books graphic novels.

If you don't like specific volumes, well then afterwards lament the 30 minutes or so of your life you UTTERLY WASTED.
posted by graventy at 11:07 AM on November 20, 2008


Yeah, I’d probably just read them in order with the knowledge that the art on the first three issues doesn’t work so well. This isn’t like, say, Cerebus where the first few trades are an awful grind. If you absolutely have to skip ahead pick up one of the collections of shorts like Dream Country or Fables and Reflections.

(Ooh, it turns out that the werewolf one in Fables and Reflections which I mentioned above has art by Vince Locke, who I’ve since worked with (huge name droppy clanging sound). Which is nice.)
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on November 20, 2008


... homosexuality in Preacher, which is what we're talking about, is exclusively in the realm of the bad guys.

The Sex Detectives are gay, DeSade's a decadent freak, not explicitly gay, Herr Starr is gay - and I won't argue Ennis dropped the ball on that character, but it has less to do with Ennis writing the character as a homosexual as it does with him writing the character poorly, you recall incorrectly on Napoleon Vichy, TC is an animal fucker and you're really reaching for authorial intent on that one, the Dirty Harry cop's acceptance of his homosexuality is depicted as a positive thing albeit in an off-colour way, and the Chunt Brothers just eat Starr's leg.

So you're three for seven, and the cop actually stops being a bad guy when he comes out of the closet and becomes a leather-clad bottom. So, two depictions of villains who are gay from your examples. Does Ennis say they're bad because they're gay? Nope. Should he have to write a counter-example for every negative character of a certain race, sexuality, or creed in every book to keep things fair and balanced? Writing gay villains isn't a sign of homophobia in and of itself, and although we are talking about Preacher, using it as the sole evidence for accusing Ennis of it while ignoring positive portrayals of gay people in his other work is specious and dishonest.

And if you can't tell the difference between homophobia and blasphemy... One of these things is not like the other.

I don't remember saying they were the same thing. Probably because I didn't.

But, offensive depictions of homosexuals and offensive depictions of religion are both offensive. Again, neither are in and of themselves evidence of the writer's opinions. The point I was making was that when you encounter an aspect of his work that offends your sensibilities you automatically assume it's indicative of authorial intent, but you ignore or perhaps even enjoy other offensive depictions because they may jibe with your own beliefs or prejudices.

Do you believe that everything a writer creates is proof of their opinions or beliefs? I guess that would make Alan Moore a pedo because of Lost Girls.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:05 PM on November 20, 2008


Theres also a couple of appearances by characters from the greater DC universe in the first few issues, though that sort of thing went away as the vertigo universe (consisting of Swamp Thing, HellBlazer, Sandman and assorted spin offs) quietly split away from the DC Universe. Wikipedia may be your friend here, though it probably gives you a far more convoluted history of, say, Doctor Destiny than you actually need. I pretty much read it without knowing anything about the DC characters and followed it pretty easily.
posted by Artw at 12:55 PM on November 20, 2008


If you already like Neil Gaiman, you're going to be OK with starting from the very beginning. The first few issues are uneven, certainly (although I think the first issue is awesome in this sort of swaggering, rock-star way) and don't skip anything. While there are collections and issues that may not have anything to do with the "main" story -- it's all texture. It's all context. I think it makes what happens all the more richer and powerful. (I like Game of You -- I didn't at first, but I came around. I know plenty of people don't like it and find it unnecessary, but I think what is being said about the nature of stories, of dreams, is pretty important thematically in The Sandman as a whole, but that could just be me.)
posted by darksong at 3:45 PM on November 20, 2008


I agree that the first few issues are stumblers, both in art and in writing, but I still recommend starting there because it's actually quite interesting to see how Gaiman grasps around a bit before gaining his feet.

Also, there are a few hints dropped that turn out to important later.
posted by rokusan at 5:59 PM on November 20, 2008


America, in Ennis' work, is a complex character. There is much to be admired, and much to be reviled. America, is, in short, a real-life father: strong, confident, powerful... the locus of identity and self-confidence.. while masking a deep insecurity and insincerity.

All of Ennis' characters are thus - strength and power is always offset by weakness and need. Humility is something that comes to them only at gun-point, but always comes for them, regardless. Nobility is always betrayed by human frailties.

The women are always victimized, because =everyone= is victimized, and shit rolls down hill. Gays are made to suffer for who they are, because =everyone= is made to suffer for who they are. The large picture painted with small detail.

That said, I like Gaiman better, because using slapstick violence to overcompensate for a gloomy nihilism isn't as good as using a gloomy nihilism to overcompensate for a love of the glory of Being.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:14 PM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


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