Monday, 23 December 2013

The Last Sandman Story

"Don't judge a book by its cover."

My copy of Dave McKean's Dust Covers (New York, 1997) has a copy of Dust Covers on its cover.

Although a good cover draws us into a book, we soon learn that the interior art of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic book series is not by the cover artist, McKean, but by diverse other excellent comic book artists. However, Dust Covers not only collects all of McKean's Sandman covers but also begins with "The Last Sandman Story," a new eight page comic strip written by Gaiman and drawn by McKean. Thus, in this case at least, the cover artist's recognizable style does continue beyond the cover and indeed throughout the volume.

Gaiman and McKean had agreed that this story should be "Something that had the kind of look that was of a piece with the covers." (p. 6) So, for once, we stay with the style of the cover art instead of leaving it behind as soon as we open the book.

They had also agreed to have "More prose than comics - one or two illustrations to a page." (ibid.)

pp. 6-8 and 12-13 each have two large non-sequential illustrations accompanied by substantial prose by Gaiman, not relating a new Sandman story but recounting childhood and adult experiences that had influenced the writing of The Sandman.The strip is "...anecdotal...," not "...something that extends any part of the story..." (ibid.)

I love the dust on the empty wine bottles in panel 2 of p. 6.

p. 9 shows a folded over page of an imaginary comic book with nine panels in which Gaiman, during a Hallowe'en parade in the Village, New York, converses with a man claiming to be the demon Choronzon. This is the only page with speech balloons. The meeting with Choronzon was one of the times, during the writing of The Sandman, "...when reality frayed and thinned." (p. 8)

Make of that what you can. 

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