Winter Break 2013 or Neil Gaiman in Three Formats

Happy New Years, friends! Trying to sum up the last year has been kind of daunting today, so I’m biting off a more manageable portion, also known as the week between Christmas and New Years.

After visiting four family units in an 18 hour period, I was ready for a bit of a rest. So I broke out the reading material for a bit. The first major recommendation I have is to check out Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman. It is an illustrated story perfect for reading aloud at bedtime. In fact, I read it aloud to Brad in two sessions. The story is about a father explaining to his children why it took longer than expected to obtain milk for their cereal. The father encountered several obstacles between obtaining the milk and returning to his breakfast-less children including but not limited to pirates, volcanoes, prophecies, clever ponies, and vampires that most certainly do not sparkle. The plot kind of reminds me of something that might happen on Doctor Who, the humor is endearing, and the characters rather whimsical. This was a highlight of my vacation.

The other reading choice I made was to pick up the first couple of volumes of Neil Gaiman’s classic run on Sandman. I finished the first volume and really enjoyed it, especially after having read Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing this past fall and familiarizing myself with shared secondary characters including John Constantine and Etrigan the Demon. I’m sure the beloved Sandman has been analyzed by many far cleverer than I, but I can tell you what I thought about it. Preludes and Nocturnes was a collection of stories told in a variety of horror genre styles that details how Sandman, one of the Endless, was imprisoned in a summoning circle meant for his elder sister Death for 70 years and how he escaped and regained his objects of power. The first thing I noticed opening the book was how much Sandman’s basic features resemble Gaiman’s own wild black hair and taller, thinner form. To me that was a neat commentary on the power of an author to inspire innumerable dreams and to offer a much needed respite from the shackles of reality.

Second, my early impression is that Sandman has mellowed out since his early years. Like a lot. After Sandman is released from the summoning circle, he tracks one of his objects of power to an Arkham inmate. Doctor Destiny does some truly horrific things and inspires terrible acts using Sandman’s Ruby in active pursuit of bringing about the end of the world. In response, Sandman mercifully returns him to Arkham Asylum with no extra punishment. At sometime prior to being imprisoned, Sandman fell in love with a mortal queen named Nada. Nada also falls in love with Sandman, but once she realizes he is one of the Endless and that a union between a mortal and an Endless could only end in suffering, she rejects him. His response at that time is to eternally damn her to hell for spurning his love. So, madman get’s sent back to a mortal prison and cautious lady get’s to suffer in hell for eternity. Someone has definitely had some anger issues in the past but I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the series and should be able to sit down and finish The Doll’s House soon.

Finally, I was treated to a final dose of Gaiman inspired media today when I listened to BBC Radio 4’s radio drama adaptation of Neverwhere. As one who had not previously read Neverwhere, I enjoyed the plot immensely as well as the voice actors. James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew and Benedict Cumberbatch as the Angel Islington were my personal favorites. This version has definitely motivated me to track down and read the book as soon as possible. It also inspired me to question why anyone who has mistakenly found themselves in a fantasy setting and inadvertently become the subject of a hero’s journey would ever consider returning to the real world. Since watching Rockadoodle as a child or reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, this choice has bugged me. That may say more about me than I realize, though. In any case, you can listen to this radio drama in six episodes online at the BBC Radio 4 website.

In summary, my winter vacation has been greatly enriched by the storytelling of Neil Gaiman in a variety of formats, literary, visual, and audio. I enthusiastically recommend each of these to my friends. You really can’t go wrong with Gaiman and no matter your preference in format, he probably has told a story in it at some point. With that, I’ll sign off of here and try to catch some sleep before returning to the Fish Room in the morning. Maybe I’ll see Sandman but hopefully not the Beast of London in my dreams tonight. Sweet Dreams!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. stacigilliam
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 06:50:28

    I usually pick up Sandman, look at it, and talk myself out of it. Now, I’ll pick it up! Never where is a great read, and I agree with your questioning why one would leave this weird, wonderful, alternative London.
    On a side note, I was listening to it on BBC4 and decided to download it from iTunes. Have a great day back in the Fish Room – and stay safe!


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