I finally did it! I finished the original Neil Gaiman boxset, Sandman. It was an endeavor I started in August of 2012 and I am glad I finished its ‘original’ run. Of course, there are several side comics and two new(ish) volumes that weren’t counted toward in most of the boxsets, but I have finished the major players and I am free. It took me so long since the series aren’t necessarily just about Dream, the Sandman himself, no… its a series of stories about stories that sometimes have stories in them…
Some of the stories presented were a lot to take in or had concepts that I couldn’t understand without having to stop to think about it first. Some of the stories were really easy to digest. Most of the stories were very engaging and I found myself wishing to hear more about the characters, but other stories were things I simply skimmed, because the characters weren’t interesting at all.
Its hard to recommend Sandman to any particular group of readers, whether they are Neil Gaiman fans, Graphic Novel fans, or otherwise… Your mileage may vary as to whether you find it to be a high work of art or a pretentious bore. The only advice I can offer anyone when it comes to trying on Sandman is to read it slowly, read it with an open mind, and don’t be afraid to take notes on the different characters you will meet during its course. There were more than a few times I had totally forgotten a character from a previous issue and had to figure out which story they came from.
Another hardship readers might find is the inconsistency of the art and character design since each section of every volume is drawn by different illustrators. You might find some art styles you love and others which you loathe. In terms of art, I think the first volume has possibly the worst art while the nineth volume had really easy to see art… of course, that is all personal preference! The best advice I can give about how to handle the shifting art style is to take it in as being apart of the stories being told. The art usually seems to reflect an element of the story. For character designs, its best to remember what individual characters look like in general, since there were a few characters I couldn’t recognize without a lot of context, such as their names.
Sandman is an adventure worth trying despite its varying levels of accessibility. While I may not have liked a couple of the stories and artists, I really enjoyed the series overall and found myself tearing up more than one time. Its definitely a crazy ride!