During last week’s round of perfectly justified disdain over the latest list of comics you can use to convert your female significant other to the one true hobby, Neil Gaiman also turned a year older, and I almost posted something in the Birthday Book category about how people who like comics should really read his Sandman series (Vertigo) when they get a chance, but is it really the first comic you’d hand to someone who’s never read a comic before? (Sandman almost always shows up on these lists, and it could be a good choice with the right victim. If the unwashed is into prose fantasy, chances are that person may have read one of Gaiman’s novels, and noting that Gaiman has also written a highly regarded, widely available comic book that covers many of his usual themes seems like one of the fairer conversion gambits out there.) I decided not to write it, because it seemed like too much work and not in the spirit of the Birthday Book shout-out, but I remained sorely tempted to simultaneously sing the title’s praises and express skepticism about comics evangelism, because how often do you get to do both at once?
Over at NPR’s excellent Monkey See blog, Glen Weldon has done precisely what I’d kind of thought about doing last week, but with much more rigor than I would have managed:
“But here’s the thing you don’t often hear about Gaiman’s series, which ran for 75 issues, helped establish and grow the marketplace for comics aimed at adults, and remains one of the most literate, imaginative and intricately plotted accomplishments in long-form comics storytelling out there:
“Its barrier-to-entry is remarkably high.”