Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman #1): A Graphic Novel Review

Preludes & Nocturnes (Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III

Sandman 1: Preludes & NocturnesThe Sandman series doesn’t need much introduction at this point. Dream and his journey have become an iconic and canonical piece of comics history.

I came to this book after hearing about it from friends and having it recommended very by one of my favorite security officers at my place of employ. Preludes & Nocturnes is a bind up of the first eight issues of The Sandman. It’s also worth noting that it was published before Vertigo existed as an imprint and as a result things get a little weird.

Everyone I knew who had read Preludes & Nocturnes told me to be kind and give the series at least until the end of this volume. Truth be told, it’s a rough start to the series. Part of this is because the comic text is very small and the pages are very glossy. It’s also just a really strange story.

After being imprisoned for decades, Dream breaks out of his cell and goes on a quest to find his missing tools and reclaim his kingdom. This brings him to Hell where he negotiates with Lucifer Morningstar, to England where he works with John Constantine, and even to Gotham and the Justice League.

Preludes & Nocturnes makes a lot more sense after reading the author’s note from Gaiman at the end explaining his vision for each comic. It’s also clearer in the final volume when Dream and his sister, Death, spend some time together that there is a set direction for the rest of the series.

There’s no way around the fact that Preludes & Nocturnes is a rough start to the series. It’s strange and uneven and all over the place with tone and characters. But Dream is a fascinating character and the final story in this issue is enough to suggest that something really interesting is in store for dedicated readers. Comics readers and fantasy fans who have not read this series already should definitely check it out. (But I’ll give you the advice everyone gave me: Make sure you commit to at least the end of this book before you make any decisions about how much of the series you’ll be reading!)