03 February 2008

Things You Might Enjoy, If You Enjoy This Sort Of Thing--Episode One

Think of this entry as the first in a continuing series. "Things You Might Enjoy, If You Enjoy The Sort Of Thing" is where I take the chance to review comics that aren't on my class syllabus. They may not be new, or obscure, or anything like that--they're just comics that I like, that I think are good, and that I think people should read.

So, without further ado:

Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days
Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days is a book Vertigo put out a few years ago, a collection of miniseries and one-shots and other things Neil Gaiman wrote for them that hadn't been collected previously. It's called Midnight Days because, according to Neil Gaiman in the introduction, most of the scripts for these stories were written after midnight, "when the world was quiet and there was no-one left to talk to." So you might be able to guess that they're fairly weird.

I promise I won't spoil anything. I won't say anything that isn't in some way already mentioned in the introductions to the stories.

The first three are Swamp Thing stories. The very first one is the second comics script Neil Gaiman ever wrote, illustrated by Steve Bissette and John Totleben specifically for the collection. There's a Swamp Thing Annual, which doesn't really have much Swamp Thing in it at all, but does have Brother Power the Geek, possibly one of the weirdest characters to ever grace a comics page. And then there's "Shaggy God Stories," which is a story about Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man. That one, besides being written by Neil Gaiman, was illustrated by Mike Mignola, though one wouldn't necessarily guess it. This is pre-chunky-awesome-Hellboy-type art, I guess.

After the Swamp Thing stories, there's one about John Constantine. It's called "Hold Me," and it's illustrated by Dave McKean, and Neil Gaiman says it's one of his favorites of his own short stories. It's beautiful. And it hurts to read, a little bit. It's mostly about loneliness.

Finishing up the book is the unnaturally awesome Sandman Mystery Theatre, which has the distinction of being written by Neil Gaiman, but plotted out by Matt Wagner, the amazing man who does Grendel and Mage. For the most part, Sandman Mystery Theatre stories are about Wesley Dodds, the original DC Sandman, this badass crime fighter in the 1930s and 40s who wore a gas mask and sprinkled sand on the people he caught.

This story, however, is about both Wesley Dodds and Morpheus, the main character in Neil Gaiman's equally awesome Sandman series, which you've probably heard of if you read comics at all. So it's by two writers who are really good, about two characters who are really interesting. Also, the whole story was painted by an artist named Teddy Kristiansen, who does beautiful work. It's like a combination of Dave McKean, art nouveau, and pure sexy detective-story joy.

Given my love of Neil Gaiman, it's no surprise that I like this collection, but don't think that makes it any less good. It's a wonderful group of stories. They're sad and funny and occasionally creepy as hell, and the writing is beautiful, and they're all accompanied by lovely pictures. The collection's also about eighteen bucks new, which isn't exorbitantly expensive, and it's certainly worth it for something this awesome.

So go. Read. Share and enjoy.

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