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Subject: [Sandman] January - P&N first time readers. NO SPOILERS . . . rss

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Well, it is January the world around, so here we go with our Chit Chat Sandman first read. In this first monthly thread, feel free to discuss the events, stories, words and art of Issues 1 through 8 (as collected in Volume 1, Preludes & Nocturnes).

As this thread is a first read, PLEASE avoid any spoilers. For anything discovered in the current month's issues, please use the
Spoiler (click to reveal)
spoiler tags.


If you are a Sandman RE-reader wanting to join in the fun, there is another (likely spoiler filled) thread here.

I expect the Rereaders will probably end up frequenting both threads - please be mindful not to post anything spoiler-y in this "first read" thread.

So, off we go to begin a journey that will hopefully last until Halloween. I'm jealous of all of you reading this for the first time!
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I'm going to start tonight and tomorrow. Back to work on Tuesday so maybe I'll have something to say then.
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For people reading this for the first time - one thing to note is that Sam Keith did the pencils for issue #1. You may recall seeing "The Maxx on MTV?" Same guy doing the art... He has a very distinct style which is infused into this issue. Pay attention to back grounds and how he creates mood. Really amazing stuff.
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Yup. I am really interested to hear what first time readers think of the art, without the preconceptions of later artists. What do you like? What do you not like? Anything that is not clear (that you think should be)?

Did I mention I am very jealous of you all?
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Just put in a request at the local library. Should have it by the end of the week.
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I began my reading this afternoon, and I must say that it's a bit freaky for me so far.
You see, my own surname (Burgess) matches the main character's!
And my own father's given name was Morris (he went by Jim, instead, though) and my grandfather's given name was Alex! So it is more than a little strange to read familiar names being assigned to "evil" people.

I stopped reading at page 28, and decided to see what anyone else is doing with whatever knowledge that they now have.
I'm still unsure on how things are going to shake down, over the month.
Is Avri going to pop in and give us questions to consider and discuss? Or are we supposed to just post what we find confusing/ unclear and let others come to our rescue?

The one thing that I will say here, now (again about the names), the name "Ruthven" is properly pronounced "Riv-uhn", in Gaelic.
Rhymes with "driven".
It's a very small point, but I get in the habit (when I'm reading) of "pronouncing" character names when I first read them and then I have a hard time changing them in my mind when a "proper" pronunciation is later discovered.
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MABBY wrote:
I began my reading this afternoon, and I must say that it's a bit freaky for me so far.
You see, my own surname (Burgess) matches the main character's!
And my own father's given name was Morris (he went by Jim, instead, though) and my grandfather's given name was Alex! So it is more than a little strange to read familiar names being assigned to "evil" people.

I stopped reading at page 28, and decided to see what anyone else is doing with whatever knowledge that they now have.
I'm still unsure on how things are going to shake down, over the month.
Is Avri going to pop in and give us questions to consider and discuss? Or are we supposed to just post what we find confusing/ unclear and let others come to our rescue?

The one thing that I will say here, now (again about the names), the name "Ruthven" is properly pronounced "Riv-uhn", in Gaelic.
Rhymes with "driven".
It's a very small point, but I get in the habit (when I'm reading) of "pronouncing" character names when I first read them and then I have a hard time changing them in my mind when a "proper" pronunciation is later discovered.


Wow, funny about the names. Also thanks for the "riv-uhn" I had no clue and that makes a lot of sense.

BTW - I don't think the Burgesses where evil per se... Nor some characters that will be showing up ... soon ...

But then I don't consider Aleister Crowley evil, so I suppose YMMV.
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I read the first chapter today. Definitely freaky. I'm very curious to see what will happen to the characters introduced so far. Especially since
Spoiler (click to reveal)
a lot of them are already dead.
Will they be minor characters, not seen again for the rest of the series, or is there still a very important role for them?

I have no experience with graphic novels. In my mind, comics are for kids, so this was kind of a rude awakening.

Also, in books, when something dramatic happens, like
Spoiler (click to reveal)
rape, children in a war, demonic magic, suicide
, you usually get fair warning. A lot of words are used to describe the scene, character motives, &c. Not just one hard-hitting sentence and a little picture. Heavy!

So yeah, definitely still getting used to the format. In a book, you can sort of get into the scene, make a complete picture in your mind, and here you only really get one viewpoint, where you have to extract a lot of information from. I'll have to get used to rereading chapters, I think.

I do really like the drawing style. The layout, backgrounds, and especially the facial features and expressions are great.
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MABBY wrote:
I'm still unsure on how things are going to shake down, over the month.
Is Avri going to pop in and give us questions to consider and discuss? Or are we supposed to just post what we find confusing/ unclear and let others come to our rescue?


Again, this is Chit Chat. The only rule is "Wait! What?" But Crowley might have it right in this case with "Do what you will". (With or without the "Buster" . . )

Do whatever you want here to enhance your reading experience - everything is better with company!
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vandemonium wrote:
For people reading this for the first time - one thing to note is that Sam Keith did the pencils for issue #1. You may recall seeing "The Maxx on MTV?" Same guy doing the art... He has a very distinct style which is infused into this issue. Pay attention to back grounds and how he creates mood. Really amazing stuff.

I'm interested to hear what others think of the art. I tend to disagree with Van on this one.

Also, I'm reading "The Sandman Companion" by Hy Bender along with the comics. He talks for a few pages about why we should read comics and what they can do that other mediums can't. You can click on the Amazon link above in this paragraph, then click on the book's cover to look inside. Go to the First Pages, and you can read what he (and Alan Moore and Scott McCloud) has to say about reading comics in general!

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And for anyone trying out comics / graphic novels in general for the first time, Scott McCloud's first book, Understanding Comics is wonderful. Albeit written in sequential art = comics . . .
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great series....


I followed this and others when I actually collected comics back in the day. Great writing art etc.

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I just purchased the book on Amazon. I may be a little behind, but look forward to participating at some point.

edit: Just arrived! My first "Graphic Novel," although I read Where the Wild Things Are when I was younger.
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I am ordering this now. It will take a while to get to Australia though, so hopefully I can finish it within January.
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amwiles wrote:

I'm interested to hear what others think of the art. I tend to disagree with Van on this one.
So far, the art for me in Sandman is "adequate".
Well, that may be a touch harsh, so bump that up one notch.
The whole reason that I bought comic books in the mid '80s was because the artwork (Miller, Sienkiewicz, Sim/Gerhard, Smith, Adams, Grell, etc.) was absolutely mid-blowing.
Nothing has blown my mind (yet) but the layouts are creative and the perspectives are all well done.
I am enjoying the work of the colorist on this story, however, since the oranges and blues used help to create a mood of darkness without resorting to a ton of black.
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The first three trades are on the way via Amazon.

My comics history: I'm a lifelong reader, stating with the usual superhero fare as a kid (favoring Marvel). Later I moved into indies and undergrounds. However, there are been periods of my life when I wasn't buying/reading comics, and from wiki-research it looks like Sandman's run was 1989-96, so I'll guess that my lack of exposure to it was that the early run would have been when I was in college, and was flat, flat broke. Later I worked crappy jobs and was flat, flat broke. When I started buying comics again in about 1995 I would have passed on the later issues because I'd already "missed the boat."
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MABBY wrote:
my own father's given name was Morris (he went by Jim, instead, though)


So that would make you Jim Morris' son?
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jeffwiles wrote:
So that would make you Jim Morris' son?
This is the end...

laugh

Actually, dad was Morris James Burgess but he went with the middle name, from university forward. My mom went by her middle name, too, from quite a young age.
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MABBY wrote:
Nothing has blown my mind (yet) but the layouts are creative and the perspectives are all well done.
I am enjoying the work of the colorist on this story, however, since the oranges and blues used help to create a mood of darkness without resorting to a ton of black.

Apparently the way Neil writes comic scripts is like Alan Moore, who introduced him to writing comic scripts. Alan developed his technique back in the day when the writer never knew who they'd get as a penciler. So they both write a lot of detail. All the words and a fairly detailed scene description. Often they will write panel progression and layout on the page, too.
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It's enlightening to me that there are more people following the first read thread than the reread thread. I guess I always assumed that "everybody" had read The Sandman already. Like I assumed that "everybody" has read Dickens or something.

I really hope people stick with it and continue to share and discuss as the story unfolds. In just three issue of rereading, I'm blown away by the care and attention to detail, the subtle and clever little touches, the wonderful wordplay, the use of characters from both traditional mythology and from the history of comics. And this is the part of the story generally considered the weakest!

Sad that I can't get jojopi to join in the first read . . .
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I'm going to have a hard time not reading ahead. I'm already on issue 8, and it's only the 4th. Perhaps I'll go back and reread them again before the end of the month.

I find that I have to force myself to slow down and really look at the art in each panel, otherwise I tend to blast through the text and just kind of gloss over everything else.

I'm really enjoying it so far, and even more now since Sam Keith's involvement was pointed out - I *just* finished reading The Maxx a few weeks ago (Enjoyed the main series, underwhelmed by the "Friends of Maxx" spin-off series.)
Anyone know why he didn't continue on with Sandman after issue 5?




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Quixote171 wrote:
I'm going to have a hard time not reading ahead. I'm already on issue 8, and it's only the 4th. Perhaps I'll go back and reread them again before the end of the month.

I find that I have to force myself to slow down and really look at the art in each panel, otherwise I tend to blast through the text and just kind of gloss over everything else.


I'm feeling the same way, but it is forcing me to read closely and carefully, spotting things I've never seen before. A reread of P&N within January wouldn't surprise me.

Quixote171 wrote:
I'm really enjoying it so far, and even more now since Sam Keith's involvement was pointed out - I *just* finished reading The Maxx a few weeks ago (Enjoyed the main series, underwhelmed by the "Friends of Maxx" spin-off series.)
Anyone know why he didn't continue on with Sandman after issue 5?


Keith has been quoted as saying he felt like "Jimmy Hendrix playing with the Beatles". There was talent aplenty in the project, but his style just didn't quite work with Gaiman and co. He sets the tone nicely, though . . .

The art teams change regularly throughout the series, especially as Gaiman became a name and was able to pretty much cherry pick whoever he wanted, writing to their strengths as the story demanded.
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nycavri wrote:
Quixote171 wrote:
I'm going to have a hard time not reading ahead. I'm already on issue 8, and it's only the 4th. Perhaps I'll go back and reread them again before the end of the month.

I find that I have to force myself to slow down and really look at the art in each panel, otherwise I tend to blast through the text and just kind of gloss over everything else.


I'm feeling the same way, but it is forcing me to read closely and carefully, spotting things I've never seen before. A reread of P&N within January wouldn't surprise me.

Quixote171 wrote:
I'm really enjoying it so far, and even more now since Sam Keith's involvement was pointed out - I *just* finished reading The Maxx a few weeks ago (Enjoyed the main series, underwhelmed by the "Friends of Maxx" spin-off series.)
Anyone know why he didn't continue on with Sandman after issue 5?


Keith has been quoted as saying he felt like "Jimmy Hendrix playing with the Beatles". There was talent aplenty in the project, but his style just didn't quite work with Gaiman and co. He sets the tone nicely, though . . .

The art teams change regularly throughout the series, especially as Gaiman became a name and was able to pretty much cherry pick whoever he wanted, writing to their strengths as the story demanded.


The Wileseses poo poo'd poor Keith which makes me sad. I don't necessarily disagree that his art was the best of the Sandman run, but IMHO he did a **GREAT** job with tone (perhaps that was due more to the colorist?)
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OK then, I'm most of the way through and I'm going to introduce a topic to everyone who is at least a third of the way into reading--storyline inconsistencies.
(I increased the size of my text in the spoilers because I find them easier to read that way)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The biggest one is the age of Roderick Burgess (not that I know yet if it makes any difference, but I like things to be tight in my stories):
In the newspaper article on page 14, it states that Roderick was born in 1872. That would make him 44 years old when he first got his hands on the Magdalene Grimoire, in 1916. Which looks and sounds about right. Yet, ...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
...on his gravestone, it says he was born in 1863 (or possibly 1865; the clarity in the art isn't quite there). That would make him 53 years old in 1916. To me, this version is the more "reputable" one, but why mention the other date (and the other surname) in the newspaper article if you're not going to get the facts correct? Sloppy.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
After the occult ceremony, a glass encasement vessel is only hinted at artistically (page 9, and again on 12) and it appears to be spherical/ round.
When you finally actually see the outside of the glass with demon inside, much later (page 22), it is sitting atop of a gold base! Where was the base in the original ceremony, let alone the original glass case at the ceremony that Roderick could reach into, to remove the magic items?
For that matter, how can he reach into the "seeing" glass, showing and conversing with him during Hathaway's suicide, and start the note on fire? Where did all of this power come from?

I figured that the circle on the floor was a metaphysical bubble, only real to the creature inside of it. Turns out that it was a big piece of blown glass, that the master can reach through, and cast spells through.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Why mention Wesley Dodd in 1939? Completely out of the blue, a new character--and a seemingly important one-- is dropped into the story for two panels, then forgotten.
I can only guess that he will show up in future installments. Otherwise he's merely confusion, added for the sake of weirdness.

For the sake of conversation here, how should we refer to The Sandman character?
Spoiler (click to reveal)
King of Dreams? Demon? Being? Because he's been summoned, I vote for demon. But, in a bigger question, does that automatically make him evil? I'm saying yes.

Finally, one other note to all of the above:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The most important element to the story so far, is the protection imparted by the unbroken magical circle. It is cleverly shown being disrupted, on page 26, and yet there is no acknowledgement of it by the demon (and to the reader through the demon's thoughts that have been shared so far)! That is giving your audience a lot of credit; assuming that most people would understand about charms, enchantments, pentagrams, and demonic ceremonies.
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Good stuff here, MAB. I'll have to take a look at the date inconsistencies tonight.

Wesley Dodds:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
was a Golden Age (1940s) superhero called The Sandman. This is a subtle nod to readers, many of whom in the mid-80s would know this "original" Sandman character.


Very interested in your first take on the nature of the title character (who is generally called Dream.) I would love to be looking at this through "clean" eyes, and am enjoying doing so vicariously by way of you and the other first time readers.

As for giving a lot of credit to his readers, there is a reason that we are reading this work 25 years later . . .
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