Halloween saw the return of one of comics' greatest storytellers to the award-winning series that redefined the medium for generations to come. Neil Gaiman and Todd Klein, with J. H. Williams III along for the journey, returned to "The Sandman" in "The Sandman: Overture #1." Thanksgiving saw the release of this "Special Edition." It is the first of a series of special editions to follow each issue in the six-issue run.
When "The Sandman" first reached shelves in the late 80's, I was a teenager enthralled by superheroes: Batman, Detective, the Uncanny X-Men, Justice League International. These were the books that I read back then. I'd tried to get into the horror-fantasy genre before with a new volume of "The Spectre." The mature-themes and price of that book eventually became uneasy and cost prohibitive for me. So I dropped it. I knew nothing of Neil Gaiman and assumed that "The Sandman" was about the Golden Age hero. So I didn't bite. Besides, the book was pricey for the money I earned cutting lawns.
Through the years I realized from reading the solicits and from the occasional perusal of the book that it had nothing to do with Wesley Dodds aka the Sandman. That was a different book altogether. Rather it had more to do with the dreamscape of Neil Gaiman's imagination and the lord of that realm: Dream. More than two decades later, I finally find myself diving into Gaiman's abyss that is "The Sandman: Overture." I still have yet to actually read a volume of "The Sandman." My curiosity of the book was perked anew by the kid who worked at my local shop.
"The Sandman: Overture • Special Edition #1" was a welcomed introduction to Gaiman's world and to the craft of this book. His narration was rich and poetic. The mastery with which he commanded voice and dialogue was enhanced by Todd Klein's letters and balloons. Klein provided insight into this process in a foreword that explored his relationship with Gaiman's writing and the decision-making behind the evolutions of those unique voices. It was a great piece. The annotated notes that J. H. Williams III lend to this edition also revealed the communication process between he and Gaiman via the script. It was an inside look into character development, creating scenes and how all of it should look on the page. Williams' art was beautiful. The best features of the book were the cover and the gate-fold insert at the end of the story.
The main story is presented in B&W. Readers more focused on story should pick up the main cover or the Extra-Sized Issue to read it in color. Writers interested in craft should explore this book. I suspect, though, that after the end of "The Sandman: Overture" all of the Special Editions will be published into a graphic novel in addition to a collection of the six-issue run. So $5.99 for each Special Edition plus $4.99 for each regular issue is steep. That's $54. Fans of "The Sandman" may believe "Overture" is well worth it since there hasn't been a new published story in quite some time.
As a writer, "The Sandman: Overture • Special Edition #1" was an encouraging invitation into their craft and process. Unless you're willing to spend a lot of money to learn more about that process, stick with the regular version.
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