I would give this 100 stars if I could! Gaiman’s six-part story, a direct prequel to his classic SANDMAN series, is nothing short of mind-blowing. In addition, Williams’s art is heart-stopping, Stewart’s coloring is breathtaking, and Klein’s lettering, including dozens of different, unique fonts for dozens of different characters, is nothing short of an astonishing labor of love. All this, and a giant, talking cat! I can’t recommend this trade collection highly enough. I loved Gaiman’s SANDMAN comics, but sometimes when you love something you read a long time ago you forget why you loved it so much. THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE reminded me exactly why, and in some way even surpasses the original’s brilliance. If you loved SANDMAN too, you’re going to eat this up with a spoon!
Great characters, great writing, a combination of noir and supernatural horror that should be right up my alley — so why didn’t this resonate with me more? I wish I knew. All I can say is that it didn’t feel fresh to me, that there was a sense of having seen it all before. Admittedly, these comics were published four years ago, in 2012, when the idea of mixing classic noir tropes with the supernatural might have seemed newer, and to judge them with 2016 eyes is perhaps unfair. After all, I did enjoy it. Brubaker’s writing is very good, the story is well plotted, and Sean Phillips’ art perfectly complemented the narrative. But it just didn’t grab me, and unfortunately I don’t find myself eager to read the rest of the trades in this series.
This latest collection in Mignola’s ongoing HELLBOY saga is essentially a tour of Hell by way of Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. There’s not a lot of drama to be witnessed, it’s more spectacle than story in these five issues, but Hellboy is such a great character and Mignola’s concept of Hell as a place is so compelling that I kept turning the pages with mounting interest. The art is some of Mignola’s most evocative, especially in Hell’s capitol city of Pandemonium, and each panel succeeds in offering something spooky or beautifully rendered (or both). I look forward to more adventures of Hellboy while he’s in Hell, although I hope future issues will be less episodic and offer stronger, more definitive storylines.
I went on a Kindle e-book-buying spree with the last of my Amazon gift certificates from the holidays! Here’s what I bought:
The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Seven edited by Ellen Datlow. The latest in the long-running and always high-quality annual anthology series. I read these not just as a fan of horror fiction but as a writer who’s always looking to learn from the best.
Cold To the Touch by Simon Strantzas. This is the only collection I didn’t already own by the weird fiction maestro, good friend, and frequent convention roommate. (Yes, I called you a maestro, Simon! Deal with it!)
X’s For Eyes by Laird Barron. The new novella from another favorite author and friend. Actually, maybe Laird is the weird fiction maestro. Sorry, Simon!
The Girl on the Glider by Brian Keene. An acclaimed novella from the award-winning horror author that’s reputed to be a departure from his usual fare, more M.R. James than Richard Laymon. He’s also a friend of mine. God, I have a lot of friends in this business, don’t I?