Monkey business

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.”

Good stuff.

4 Responses to Monkey business

  1. Faith says:

    My entryway comic was Bone. Years before I picked up Bone (on my own, I’d like to add), a few people aggressively recc’d Sandman to me. To this day I can’t get through it. However, my 19 year old brother has pretty much the entire TPB collection. I looked at them the last time I was visiting my folks, and still couldn’t get through the first couple pages.

    Sorry.😦

  2. davidpwelsh says:

    Have you read Death: The High Cost of Living? It’s a self-contained spin-off, and I thought it was one of the friendliest books in the Sandman canon. (Not trying to convince you to like the main book, obviously, but that’s a neat little side story.)

  3. JRBrown says:

    The main problem is that Volume 1 sucks eggs, and convincing people to jump in at the middle of a series is a tough sell. The Dream Country volume (#3) is four standalone stories, two of which are excellent, and makes a good introduction.

  4. Heather says:

    Finding an issue of Elfquest, Marvel edition, at my local 7-11 was my entry into comics. I had suddenly found out one of my favorite fantasy novels was actually only a small piece of a larger graphic novel story. I also then spotted the Robotech comics at a local shop. Sandman began when I was in my heavy gothic phase and made a perfect fit. The Doll House and Season of Mists are my favorite storylines, but I do think it takes a person interested in fantasy to enjoy him. I would offer Stardust or Murder Mysteries if I was going to introduce someone to Neil Gaiman, before Sandman or Death.

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