Yeah they’re about $100 MSRP in the states. A good 35% discount in Amazon. Though I guess living in New Zealand $200nz isn’t THAT bad if you bargain with the owner. I think you can get the price down.
I know the Absolute editions (what you’re looking at) have much improved coloring (though that may be an issue of taste, as I, for example dislike the new Watchmen coloring).
I’m not a huge fan of Sandman (got halfway through the series and gave up) and part of that is the art. Never really liked it. New coloring would go a long way. Of course, it has been a year since I’ve tried to read it and I’ve only been reading comics for two years now. So maybe I’ll appreciate it more now. If you love Gaiman I suppose it’s a must, but it’s nowhere near the be-all end-all of comics.
I must say though, the fourth trade (Lucifer leaving hell) was brilliant.
And yeah, I had a flip through, the upgrade to glossy stock and the re-inking (?) seem to have really helped the look. The cheapo quality of the originals never really got me going - I’m a visual slut when it comes down to it and my graphic novel purchases (very minimal) tend to reflect that.
The basic thread of the story is fairly simple - Dream, one of the Endless (a series of beings that were created at or near the beginning of time) is thinking of abdicating his responsibilities. That story tends to come and go, as Gaiman uses Dream as an excuse to do crazy one-off, self-contained stories.
The art can be variable, especially in the first ten or so issues that comprise “Preludes & Nocturnes”. Later on, though, Gaiman got to hand-pick some excellent artists for specific stories, like Charles Vess, Mike Allred, John Muth, Marc Hempel and others. The cover art by Dave McKean is really phenomenal, though. “Preludes” is also a little bit problematic for anybody not versed in DC history and characters, as the Vertigo line was still tied to the DC universe proper back then (the Sandman himself is a re-imagining of an old Jack Kirby character from the 70s, something that comes to play in the Doll’s House arc), so you occasionally meet characters where it’s assumed the reader already knows who they are.
The other main complaint about Sandman many people have is that it’s pretentious, which I suppose it is. But it’s also jam-packed with strange ideas and odd stories, written by a guy who doesn’t think a comic has to talk down to a reader.
Obviously, I don’t think you should plunk down $800 just on my say-so. Some of the paperback volumes collect single-issue stories - look for Dream Country, Fables & Reflections or World’s End - so I’d maybe pick up one of those (or maybe the first volume) and see if you like it.
The Absolute editions are, taken as physical artifacts, the best books I own. Absolutely gorgeous. The first one has much improved coloring (you’ll recall that it started off looking a lot less good than it got), the second one has an issue that was re-inked to vast improvement (and comparing it with the original will make you realize that, no, they’re not just tracing), and the later ones have subtler improvements. All of them have piles of “extras,” too.
In the US, I think these are the only editions worth buying. Amazon sells them for $63 each, which comes out to about $250 for the whole thing. Not cheap, but if you buy the vastly inferior paperback versions, you’re still looking at $130, so.
If you’re starting Sandman, skip the first 7 issues (Preludes and Nocturnes) and go straight to issue 8 (the beginning of The Doll’s House). Preludes and Nocturnes isn’t really necessary and you can come back to it if you really like the series.
Exactly. I’ve been buying them one by one (have three of the four at the moment), and they are an amazing production of one of the best comic series ever. 100% worth it, at least at Amazon’s price. Mind you, there are a lot of Absolute Editions out there of stuff that really isn’t cool enough to warrant that kind of deluxe treatment, so I certainly don’t blanket recommend all the Absolute editions. But for Sandman, and I think Watchmen, it’s -the- way to go.
For my money, I got much more enjoyment out of the Sandman spinoff, Lucifer than the whole Sandman arc in general.
That being said, Sandman featured some incredible side stories, like the Baghdad one, the one with the cats dreaming, Hob’s character, most of the stuff with Destruction, etc. Gaiman is best when he’s just flexing his short story muscle, though his epic planning is pretty good. Just nothing as magical as when he really focuses on one idea, IMO.