Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bring me a dream

The Sandman number 73 from 1995. Written by Neil Gaiman, with art by Michael Zulli and colours by Daniel Vozzo.
This may be my favourite issue from Neil Gaiman's 75 issue Sandman comic. A series that, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Miracleman, I can proudly say that I was there from the beginning to the end. How can I sum up what Sandman is about? In a nutshell the King of Dreams is captured and held prisoner for 70 years. After he escapes he has to deal with his family, his loves and his kingdom. Along the way it is established that as a result of a bet between Dream and his sister Death a human called Robert Gadling has become immortal and meets up with Dream once every 100 years. They have also become friends.

This issue was part of the last story arc called the Wake. Gadling and his girlfriend visit an American Renaissance fair where she is one of the costumed participants. There is a fair bit of humour about Gadling's comments about the real middle ages and renaissance that he actually lived through. Then his girlfriend goes off to do her dressing up part while he gets drunk and falls asleep in a barn. He is then visited by Death, who in the comic is portrayed as a pretty, young woman who dresses as a goth. She confirms what Gadling had already suspected, that Dream has died.

And that's pretty much it, but the whole thing has a lovely, elegiac feel to it. It's a book about someone mourning the death of a close friend. It looks beautiful, it feels terribly sad and yet is also raises a smile in the same way that thinking about an old friend can. The whole series is really worth reading but this last story arc may be the most powerful of them all.

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