Page 45 Review by Stephen
Second hefty 12 x 12 black and white hardcover reprinting SANDMAN #21-39 in full, with extensive panel-by-panel annotations on either side.
You will learn secrets, direct from the horses mouth, for there are excepts here from Neils original scripts which illuminate both key moments in the comics and Neils thinking behind them, plus minutiae you may never have known were worth looking for. Little details, like the first glimpse of Morpheuss gallery as his siblings assemble all bar one whose portrait is shrouded. Go check: it really is! Also, did you realise that unlike the rest of the family, Death is never called Death by her fellow Endless, only sister? This was entirely deliberate, and I do like the explanation proffered by Hy Bender.
But its Neils descriptions to his artists I found particularly fascinating this time. Hell, for example, is far from the one presented almost ubiquitously in fiction. (Well, where else would it be presented? Ive certainly seen scant signs on Ordinance Survey maps, though I do tend to steer clear of Mansfield.) Gone are the labyrinthine, midnight caverns illuminated only by the fiery pits below.
Lets look instead at what hell means to us: for me its concentration camps endless bleak camps of flat, jerry-rigged buildings, shower rooms which are gas chambers, huge ovens for burning bodies: Hell is living there, Hell for me is knowing that one day youll go for your shower, Hell is really knowing whats going on in Auschwitz, or Dachau, or Belsen, but pretending to yourself that you dont because that makes it easier to get through the following day.
As to Delirium, there are suggestions for haircut and clothing, for sure, but these are almost parenthetical because, tellingly, Neil turns what could have been a simple series of descriptive notes
into a story! And it is no mere yarn of Delirium herself, but an extrapolation, a sideways glance of who she might be if mortal. It is a tale of underage sex, drug use and police busts; of parental nostalgia and denial. It is absolutely fascinating.
For a more detailed overview of the sort of contextual, social and literary material you can expect in these editions, please see ANNOTATED SANDMAN VOL 1.
For an overview of the series itself, please see SANDMAN VOL 1: PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES.