Friday, 29 April 2011

NEIL GAIMAN'S DREAM HUNTERS

Neil Gaiman's Sandman was a consistently inventive comic series, and he's since gone on to wider acclaim. But he remains a master of composing for the graphic format, and The Dream Hunters is a fine example of why. It's an adaptation of a novella, a short Japanese fable Gaiman originally wrote in prose as a book illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. Now it's presented in comics format, drawn by P. Craig Russell and captivating from the start.

Part of it is the tone, which is fine enough so one can see exactly why people think it was adapted from an actual Japanese folk tale. Gaiman has a perfect touch; his work is always fabulous, in the sense of fables, and often sentimental, as fables ought to be. But he manages to maintain the seriousness, the emotion, of the material, and by treating it with respect gets the reader to do the same. Part of it is also the art, which sometimes plays with Japanese cliche, and sometimes draws on the conventions of funny animal stories, and indeed the conventions of the Sandman series, because the Lord of Dreams has his part to play. But when Russell needs his fox-turned-woman to be convincing she is, and even better, when he needs the fox herself to convince she does.

The love of fox and monk turns into something out of O. Henry, but in a much wider, darker, and in the end enthralling context. Gaiman avoids cliche and melodrama enough to seem true to a Japanese sensibility, but the story works as a universal as well. Like all the Sandman stories, it is about our dreams, and what things exist there that we sometimes see and sometimes don't, or can't. It is exactly the thing to show someone who doesn't believe in the comics format as a means for delivering 'art': this needs no suspension of disbelief that is not required from the best fairy tales, myths, and indeed, modern novels...

1 comment :

7.3 Powerstroke Injectors said...

Neil Gaiman's beautiful tale of love, dreams and loss is no less exquisite for being re imagined -- "Sandman: Dream Hunters" is like a beautiful painting of a little prose gem. A must-see.