The second selection read in this month's What Should Kester Read? was Neil Gaiman's Preludes and Nocturnes, a compilation of the first eight comic books in his Sandman series. When I read this month's first selection, Essex County, it was because I expected to like it the least. It ended up being one of the best graphic novels that I have ever read. Preludes was my second choice, and for similar reasons. I am not a Neil Gaiman fan.
And yes, before you ask, I read American Gods. Yes, I also read Neverwhere. Yes, Good Omens too. No, none of them did it for me. I don't hate Neil Gaiman. I just sort of "meh" Neil Gaiman.
But I like this. I didn't at first, but I'm used to not liking a series at first. Ever seen the original Seinfeld? Yeah, I didn't like that either. It takes time for a story to find its direction and a character to find his voice. That's true of some of my favorite stories and it is true of Sandman. But by halfway to two-thirds into Preludes, Gaiman is hitting his stride. When you consider that there are 75 total issues in this series (10 collected works), you realize he's got a long way to go. Which means he's got a lot of time to do a lot with this story. Or to blow it. Which he could. I thought I was going to like American Gods too.
For now, at least, I am very much enjoying Sandman. It's just the right mix of dark and comic, it's wry and weary title character the perfect blend of lights and darks, as shadowy as the story he finds himself in. It feels weird to say a story this dark is "fun," but it is. I'm having fun with this story and this character and I am looking forward to reading more.
Fortunately for me, my forward thinking friend and co-worker, Joe Turner, has already picked book two, The Doll's House, as one of his five What Should Kester Read? selections for January. I'm pretty sure I can wait until then.
The fact that I'm not completely sure should tell you something. This series will hook you. It certainly has me.