Unless you were abducted by aliens decades ago and have only just been deposited back on Earth, you’ve no doubt heard of the iconic Sandman comics series, for which Neil Gaiman is credited as the principle architect. The Sandman, which ended in 1996, is one of the most acclaimed titles in the history of comics. The basic premise, following the adventures of Dream, ruler of the worlds of dream and member of the family Endless, blends myth, dark fantasy, contemporary fiction, and historical drama. One reason for its enduring legacy and popularity must be due to the sheer flexibility of the concept and how that allowed Gaiman’s imagination free rein.
Now Vertigo has released volume 1 of
The Annotated Sandman in an oversized hardcover. Edited (some might say “curated”) by Leslie S. Klinger, this first volume covers issues 1 through 20. Special extras include a preface, an essay entitled “The Context of the Sandman,” and a foreword by Gaiman himself.
In that introduction, Gaiman remembers reading other annotated books like Annotated Alice and The Annotated Hunting of the Snark: “I loved feeling I had been given a key, or a succession of keys. I loved having jokes I had missed pointed out to me. I loved feeling that there had been scholarship and thought put into something, and that I had been made a gift of it….It’s like going around a museum with a knowledgeable guide, someone who can point up into the rafters, where you might not have looked if you were walking around alone, and point out the gargoyles.”
He also notes that from the beginning Sandman was being annotated: “I was being sent copies of the USEnet annotations being assembled by a group mind.”