Sunday, January 3, 2016

Graphic Novel Review: The Sandman Volume 6- Fables and Reflections
This is the 6th book in the life-changing series written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by some of the most brilliant artists on the planet.  If you're unfamiliar with the series but even remotely into... well, pretty much anything creative then you owe it yourself to check it out.  Start at the beginning, knowing that it warms up pretty quick, and let your imagination revel in this alternate reality that Gaiman has crafted.

By now, this series has firmly inserted itself into my psyche and with this volume Gaiman succeeds in sneaking it into memories where it previously wasn't.  The more I read, the more indistinguishable these characters and stories become from what I understand of history (which is the point, of course).  This dream king has now made his way into the old Greek Myths, added a taboo factoid to Roman history, inspired the endlessly popular Emperor of the United States (who I know from Christopher Moore's works even though he's found just about everywhere), jump-started Mark Twain's career, slightly altered the French Revolution, inserted a chapter into Slavic folklore, created a catalyst in Marco Polo's career, added to the pantheon of biblical characters and forever immortalized the golden age of Baghdad.   And all in one volume.

Each of the stories is steeped in the setting they invade with appropriate alterations not only in artwork but also language, theme, and character.  It's not just that Gaiman is a chameleon; he's the king of chameleons.  And all of it maintains the same dream-like quality he's weaved so subtly into the stories since volume 1.  It's very easy to drift off while reading a chapter, lose touch with reality.  Even while siting in a quiet, well-lit room on a weekday with all of its tasks and chores it's easy to look up at the end of a chapter and wonder if you've been dreaming.  It all has that same not-quite-real feel to it and it seriously screws with your senses.  (Which, again, is totally the point.)

The further I get into this series the more I wonder how I ever lived with out it.  It's so ingrained in my imagination now I consider it a part of me.  It's changing the way I imagine, allowing me to believe that all these stories were always in there, I just forgot them.  Just like a dream: you realize you've seen it, heard it, felt it before.  But you forgot, because you woke up.

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