Some stories you never want to end.

Sandman is one of those for me. The original run contained such a font of imagination that its possibilities are as endless as Dream’s family. Whether penned by Neil Gaiman himself or a cadre of equally inventive creators, the Sandman Universe delivers entertaining and enthralling tales. From the Sandman Presents minis through to today’s Nightmare Country and Dead Boy Detectives. Though there’s nothing as special as when Gaiman comes home.

What’s your best one?”
My best what?”
Story. You’re prince of stories. Tell me a story.”

Sandman Overture is something special.

From Gaiman, JH Williams III, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein, the series is a prequel to the original and a bit of a sequel. Although it does deal with what happened before Morpheus found himself caged by Roderick Burgess, it’s something that you do want to read after the original. It mainly deals with the strange death of an aspect of Dream, a quest to the City of the Stars, and the question of responsibility and consequences of action and inaction.

And family. And a cat. Because there must be cats.

It’s fascinating to see the themes and motifs of the original series brought up here, condensed, played with, hinted at, giving a glimpse of how to possibly re-contextualize and re-frame understanding the narrative that is to come. As an ending and a new beginning.

There’s a cat with him? I wasn’t expecting that, my truffle-dumpling.”

All beautifully realized through the artwork from JH Williams III, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein. Like with Promethea, Williams really crafts a masterpiece here. The thought and attention to detail in how he tells the story, how the visuals change to suit the themes and content, the shifting styles, are absolutely exquisite. From pages shaped like the Corinthian’s mouth eyes through pages out of Time, a gathering of Dreams, the City of Stars, and the breakdown of reality, it’s very easy to see how Williams earned himself another Eisner here.

The line art is wonderfully embellished by Dave Stewart’s colours. Like Williams’ shifting styles, so to do the colours change. Working with the washes, the scratchy bits, and the intent of some of the pages. Like becoming flat during the sequences with Time.

And there’s Todd Klein’s letters. Lettering, in general, is an intrinsic part of the design of a comic. Sometimes more than others. Here it’s a shining example of the artform. It captures the fluid nature of the characters incredibly well. Klein develops unique word balloons and fonts for a variety of speakers. And it rotates and changes itself as part of the narrative.

It begins, as we all begin, in darkness.”

Sandman Overture from Gaiman, Williams, Stewart, and Klein is a treasure. It’s a shining jewel representing just how magical comics storytelling can be. It provides a compelling fantastical quest adventure on the surface and a treasure chest of meaning hidden within. It marvels in the complexity of a twist in the tale, with a story changing years down the road with a retelling.

Sandman Overture


Classic Comic Compendium: SANDMAN OVERTURE

Sandman Overture
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: JH Williams III
Colourist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC Comics / Vertigo
Release Date: October 30 2013 – September 30 2015
Available collected in Sandman Overture – Deluxe Edition, Sandman Overture – 30th Anniversary Edition, and Absolute Sandman Overture

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!