(1999/2000) Hy Bender, Titan Books, hdbk, £13.99, 274pp, ISBN 1-84023-150-5
This book provides an excellent overview of Neil Gaimanís multi-award winning comic series, The Sandman, which ran for 76 issues between Dec 1988 and March 1996, spanning over 2000 pages (easily in the league of Japanese Manga epics). These are all available in ten collected volumes, each of which is reviewed in the Companion, which also contains interviews with Gaiman and his various collaborators. Arguably, Gaiman, even more so than Alan Moore or Frank Miller, has helped redefine the comic medium for the 21st century, bringing it to a much wider audience and gaining critical acclaim. Ideally one should read the various collections first, since the Companion inevitably gives a great deal of the story away in its thoroughness. However, after this book has been read, it should make you want to re-read the entire series, no matter how familiar with it you are. Personally, I think that Benderís book does achieve this, enhancing the experience at the same time, and all credit to him for doing so. I canít believe that there are still people out there who think that comics are just for kids but, if they exist, The Sandman is a very good place to start changing their minds and, for those people, I would hope that the Companion could stimulate their interest and curiosity. Certainly I have no hesitation in saying that for fans of the comics series, this book is a must.
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