Tuesday, March 07, 2006


It's no surprise that I'm a Neil Gaiman fan. I have been since the late 80s when Geoff Seymour at Timemasters responded to my inquiry of "Got anything you recommend?" when I was bored one evening by thrusting the first three issues of Sandman into my hands. I was instantly hooked.

I confess I'm more fond of Gaiman's comic book work than his novels, like American Gods or Anansi Boys. They're fine, but they're no Sandman.

And they're also no StardustStardust, which is probably my second favourite Gaiman work.

There are two versions of Stardust. One is a straight prose novel; the other is a graphic novel featuring the lovely illustrations of Charles Vess. If you can find it (go to your local comic book store) I highly recommend the graphic novel version. Gaiman tells a wonderful story, but it really is missing something without the great Vess artwork.

I mention this because it's been announced that the movie is going to start filming later this month. Gaiman mentions it quickly and there is more information on the movie at Aint It Cool.

Why am I going on at length about this? As I said, I have a severe soft spot for the work. Also, the cast (Claire Danes, Robert DeNero and Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) is pretty damn impressive. Plus, one of the reasons I love the comic? It reminds me a lot of The Princess Bride, which is one of my top five favourite movies of all time. It's got that same fairy tale, adventure, humour and true love feel to it. If you liked the Princess Bride, you should like this.

The Aint It Cool article also mention something else: That Stardust undoubtedly got the green light because fantasy (see Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia) seems to be doing quite well these days. There's going to be a lot of fantasy movies in the coming years, many of them bad. And this is fantasy, a genre I normally have no time for, but I just like its heart. What can I say...

No idea of a release date. Probably won't be until next year, or this Christmas at the earliest. But I'll be there to see it. And so should you.

Currently Playing
Furnace Room Lullaby - Neko Case


Heather Patey said...

(stands up, whistles, waves arms, sits down again)

I love Gaiman's fairy tales; they have the feeling of ancient origin and brutal truth. My favourite similar to Stardust is the story of Vassily, who meets the peasant woman who carries the heart of Koschei the Deathless and has other adventures. (I forget which book it's in.) I do so hope that they do a good job of filming Stardust - a mediocre job would be worse than none at all.

Sure b'y said...

I have wanted to read them for ages now. I used to watch Gaiman getting regularly interviewed on Canadian series about Sci-fi writers (name escapes me now). Where do you suggest one start, Craig? There are so many Sandman graphic novels out there.

towniebastard said...

Heather, I recall that Sandman story...it was based on some Russian folk tales. It also had a great ending, that made you reevalute the whole story and break your heart just a little bit.

Which is why I tended to like Gaiman's shorter stories more. It focuses him. His longer stuff, while charming, tends to ramble a bit more.

As for where to start in Sandman, there are 10 trade paperbacks which collect the original comics. If you want to read them in order, they are:
1. Preludes & Nocturnes
2. The Doll's House
3. Dream Country
4. Season of Mists
5. A Game of You
6. Fables & Reflections
7. Brief Lives
8. Worlds' End
9. The Kindly Ones
10. The Wake

3, 6 and 8 are short story collections, basically. The rest are longer story arcs. There are folk tales, vaguely super hero bits, deeply scary stuff (the serial killer convention, 24 hours in a cafe with the customers being driven slowly mad) and epic, almost mythical, stories. The entire series remains one of the most important in the history of comics. It helped break comics into the main stream and let it be viewed as a serious artform.

I also recommend, when it comes to Gaiman's comic work - Stardust, Violent Cases and The Dream Hunters. You can find many of these in St. John's at either Chapters or the two comic stores: Downtown comics (next to the new hotel on Duckworth Street) or Timemasters (next to Wendy's on Kenmount Rd.)

I actually don't own the collections. I have the original issues. I found out there are plans to launch new collections later this year called Absolute Sandman. It's hardcover, better paper, corrected artwork and colouring, larger pages and extras. Each volume will be expensive (the first one will collect the first three TPBs), around $75. But I don't care. I'll be buying those babies.