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The Return of the Sandman

mysandmanlibrarySo, the new Sandman series, Overture, premieres tomorrow. First issue of five or so, I believe, shipping bi-monthly. Which means almost a year of new Sandman comics, albeit ~8 weeks between issues instead of 4 (or in the case of ridiculously over-shipped Marvel titles, 2ish).

DC‘s already gonna get my money twice on this, barring something REALLY ticking me off a la Action Comics #2 or such. I’ll certainly buy the issues as they come out–I’m not waiting a couple years to get to read this! And I’ll of course want the paperback collected volume to shelve with the rest of my Sandman paperbacks.

I have a bit of “history” with the Sandman comics, certainly plenty of sentimentality to the experience of acquiring the books as well as real-life stuff going on at the time.

The earliest I recall “hearing of” the series outside of “house ads” and other DC/Vertigo-produced promotional materials was late in high school–my senior year, I believe (though it could have been junior year). A classmate who I never would have pegged for having any interest in comics was talking about this phenomenal series she’d read–something called The Sandman.

sandmanvol3dreamcountryFlash-forward a couple years, to the summer of 2001. I was working as a camp counselor in Michigan, and found out one of the other guys working there was a comics fan…though he had a preference for the non-superhero stuff. One of his favorites was Hellblazer, and through that summer he loaned me all the Hellblazer he had with him (thoroughly getting me hooked on the series, but that’s another post entirely). He’d also told me about this other series, The Sandman, and highly recommended it. Amidst the various issues of Hellblazer I read that summer, I saw plenty of house ads for Sandman stuff, which kept it on my “radar.”

Not long into the new school year, dealing with some frustration and heartache, I came across a quote that a friend had posted on his webpage that perfectly fit how I was feeling with stuff that was going on. I wound up tracking down the quote’s source, which turned out to be a volume of The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman.

Have you ever been in love?  Horrible, isn’t it?  It makes you so vulnerable.  It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up.  You build up all these defenses.  You build up this whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life.  You give them a piece of you.  They don’t ask for it.  They do something dumb one day like kiss you, or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. […] It’s a soul-hurt, a body-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain.  Nothing should be able to do that.  Especially not love.  I hate love. [Rose Walker, The Sandman: The Kindly Ones, Neil Gaiman]

So I was interested in the source material if only for context of the quote…but “the hunt” for the volume and my interest in the series as a whole actually caught my parents’ attention.

sandmanvol6fablesandreflectionsTheir notice in my interest led to them giving me a couple volumes for my birthday (Dream Country and Fables & Reflections). Meanwhile, my friend (who’d inadvertently introduced me to the quote) picked up Season of Mists…and as I’d let him read my books, he let me read his.

Dad specifically had me confirm on the other volumes at the comic shop shortly before Christmas–I “suspected” from that that I was getting a couple more; that they were completing the series was a memorable, meaningful shock. (My parents have virtually never gifted comics/graphic novels for any occasion as they don’t keep up with all I get on my own; THAT the series was a gift from them given that makes it that much more a sentimental thing to me beyond the stories themselves).

It took me a few weeks to read everything; I read a couple volumes at my grandmother’s in early/mid January 2002 while sandmanvol11endlessnightsDad and I were there; and once back at school got to share the rest of the series with my friend, which gave us loads to talk about (also a great experience: SHARING the reading experience and having someone IMMEDIATELY to talk to who also was only reading any of the books for the first time).

I don’t recall exactly when, but I’m pretty sure I acquired the two Death volumes (The High Cost of Living and The Time of Your Life) via ebay that winter/spring.

Then in 2003 when Endless Nights was announced…it was quite the thing to look forward to. But, I recall being rather disappointed at it being an oversized hardcover…making it really stick out like a sore thumb from the rest of my volumes. But it was Sandman, it was Gaiman, and I quite enjoyed the volume.

So now, we jump an entire decade. Late 2003 to late 2013. And there’s new Sandman. By Neil Gaiman.

Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes…when you fall, you fly!

Can you tell that I’m excited?

Christmas as a comic person

This is my 23rd Christmas since being introduced to comics.

supermanchristmas1992 And yet, comics have been a pretty rare “gift thing” for me. Which is quite understandable for a number of reasons (I’m resistant toward birthdays, and gifts, when they’re mine and I’m on the receiving end) and of course…when someone owns tens of thousands of comics…unless they’re vocal about some certain (probably highly expensive) issue they’re missing…what CAN you really get them that they don’t likely already own?

So, I don’t have very many comics-associated Christmas memories. But there are a few.

wolverine77 Christmas 1993, I remember Dad taking me to Capp’s Comics in Mentor, OH on Christmas Eve. In addition to the “usual” comics that week (whatever the new Superman issue was, among others), he bought me a number of other comics I had my eyes on. And then we “qualified” for some “free” comics the store owner had behind the counter. (For every so many dollars spent, one would (cumulatively) “qualify” for certain “free” comics—I remember the silvery and black Magnus: Robot Fighter #25 from Valiant, and other such overstocked “collector’s item” issues.)

And for some reason, I have this strong memory of Wolverine #77 from that year. Can’t forget to mention the “Christmas issue” of Superman that year, part of the “Funeral for a Friend” storyline.

sandmandreamcountry I’m pretty sure one year, my parents gave me a gift card to Capp’s; and though I don’t recall specifics, I am pretty certain they gave me a few comics one year.

Probably the most significant comics-related gift, though, was in 2001. For my birthday that year, my parents gave me The Sandman vols. 3 and 7 (Dream Country and Fables & Reflections). For Christmas, they gave me the other 8 volumes.

On a slightly different note: I recall back in 2006 or so, DC Comics solicited an “Infinite Christmas” one-shot/holiday special…something I found amusing enough, playing off the “recently”-concluded Infinite Crisis event’s title. infinitechristmasspecial However, when the book shipped, they changed the title from “Infinite Christmas” to “Infinite Holiday,” which I didn’t catch til I got home and went to read it. (Which, being incensed at the title change, I opted to NOT read, and have not bought/read any DC “holiday special” since.)

Of course…it should be noted that while this is all materialistic and self-indulgent…

Gifts do not—to me—represent Christmas. Even with the gifts of comics and such I’ve received…I associate them more with the time of year, and stuff going on—personal memories and feelings and such—at the time.

But I’m not going to get into my feelings over the perversion of the true meaning of Christmas in contemporary society, here.

I hope you’re having—or had—a very merry Christmas…comics or no!

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