Witten by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III
OCTOBER 30, 2018 • 6.64 X 10.17 • 240 PAGES • 978-1401284770
The Sandman is a graphic novel with dark and unique visuals of gore and fantasy. Flipping through the pages and rough panels made me feel like I was in the eye of a tornado, watching mayhem unfold, knowing I would inevitably get pulled into the chaos– and looking forward to it.
The protagonist of this story is Dream, or Morpheus, who is mistakenly summoned and trapped by a cult seeking eternal life. His imprisonment results in a deadly disease of unwakeable sleep that paves the way for nightmares to actualize and violent events to take place. When Dream is freed decades later, he goes on a quest for his lost possessions, objects of great power that have gone missing in his absence.
As far as villainous motives go, a cult seeking eternal life is far from unique and almost played out. But, this doesn’t detract from other more interesting narrative choices like the way Gaiman interweaves mythology and folklore in a unique story or how he explores the idiosyncrasies of his characters. (For instance, how odd is it to read about Morpheus, a thoroughly competent and eternal being, confessing to his sister that he’s in a funk about his own life and purpose).
Admittedly, I came into the world of comics late into the game with the only other graphic novel I’ve read was Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), so reading this text was a bit disorienting for me. With the abrupt change in panels and graphic playfulness of the illustrations, this novel is much like a dream sequence: surreal and fantastical.
Death seems to break out of his stoic and serious demeanor towards the end of the book and the progression of this development didn’t seem natural to me, but it was comical (in a good way) to know that an eternal being like Dream can also have his angsty teenaged moments. Additionally, the quests Dream went on to reclaim his lost items don’t pose much of a challenge– meaning that I felt no tension from the conflict or ever had to wonder if the protagonist would come out on top.
BUT NONE OF THAT MATTERS. This novel is not about complexity and twisted plots. Its story, its world, and its characters are far more strange, beguiling and wondrous to worry about all that.
Don’t debate with yourself about getting this novel. Just do it.
Leave a Reply