Monday, July 7, 2014

The Annotated Sandman, Volume 1

Or "That SANDMAN book with the big vagina on the cover"

 Talk about your missed opportunities.

 I bought this when it was first released in 2010, because, if any comic ever cried out for annotations, it was Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN. I consider myself a fairly intelligent, well-read person, but in those pre-internet days when THE SANDMAN first appeared, I'm sure that there was quite a bit that I missed when originally reading the series.

 Turns out not so much.

 First off, if you're looking to actually READ this series, and save a few bucks, this MASSIVE (Both in dimensions and page count) hardcover is ten bucks cheaper, for the suckers that pay full price, than buying the three collections that it gathers (PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, THE DOLL'S HOUSE, and DREAM COUNTRY). It also doesn't suffer from the (Sometimes significant) gutter loss that the new editions of the trades do. So there's that.

 The art is in black-and-white, and, in all honesty, doesn't look good on the cheap paper that DC chose to use.

 The comic is presented on about 2/3rds of the page, with the annotations, by Leslie S. Klinger, presented in the margin. The annotations are presented in a quirky manner: Klinger writes as if all that is presented in this book is fact. So that immediately casts doubt on everything he's writing. Is this fact a "MY world" fact, or a "SANDMAN world" fact? Plus, how can I believe anything you're telling me when you get soooo many basic comic-book facts wrong? And how could DC let these incorrect annotations slip through? Her are a few that I wrote down before I lost interest in keeping track:

From the Introduction- He says that Frank Miller's THE DARK KNIGHT was about an old, beaten Batman battling alcoholism. Wha....?

Page 95- Klinger confuses Swamp Thing's "American Gothic" story arc with the (MUCH later...) HELLBLAZER arc that found John Constantine battling Papa Midnite in America. He also totally misrepresents the actions of The Brujeria from "American Gothic." He then goes on to refer to Constantine's infamous "Newcastle incident" as "Newgate." Sloppy, sloppy stuff.

 Page 121- Klinger confuses "Crisis On Infinite Earths" with "American Gothic".

Page 129- He erroneously credits Darkseid as being the power behind both "American Gothic" and "Crisis On Infinite Earths".

Page 145- Calls JLI villain "Lord Havok" an alias of Max Lord.

Page 164- Confuses the "Anarchy" symbol with a Satanic symbol.

Page 177- Says that "The Addams Family" TV show was about a family of "Monsters, Ghouls, Witches, and Warlocks".    ???????

 (There are a LOT of annotations that are on incorrect pages, as well.)

 That's just the tip of the iceberg. This is just a sloppy mess that seems mainly calculated as a way for DC to present THE SANDMAN in another format. They've had floppies, trades, digital, Absolutes, Omniboo, annotated versions...sometimes it seems like THE SANDMAN is single-handedly keeping DC Comics afloat.

 The stories themselves are great, but if you're buying this for the annotations...don't. Save the money and use your friend Google.