Into The Vortex
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its sixty-second choice, The Sandman: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
The Sandman: The Doll’s House
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Mike Dringenberg & Malcolm Jones III with Chris Bachalo and Jones III and Michael Zulli and Steve Parkhouse
Colours: Zylonol Studio
Letters: Todd Klein and John Costanza
DC’s The Sandman launched back in 1988. After the success of adult horror books Swamp Thing and Hellblazer, Gaiman’s The Sandman took the name of an obscure Simon and Kirby creation and stripped everything else away. The Sandman was now a mythic character, part of a pantheon of godlike creatures called The Endless.
The Doll’s House is the second collection of Gaiman’s The Sandman run and is here rather than the first one because, while there’s nothing wrong with Preludes and Nocturnes, the book which kicks off the whole run, The Doll’s House is a far more nuanced and subtle affair. It tells the story of a young woman Rose Walker, who discovers just who she is and how she fits into the fate of Morpheus aka The Sandman. Leading on from the first book, Morpheus is also determined to track down the four dream creations who have escaped from his domain: the idiotic Brute and Glob, the avuncular Fiddlers Green (based on real life author GK Chesterton) and the most dangerous of them all, the venal killing machine The Corinthian.
The Doll’s House is a rich and evocative tale. As well as the main story, Gaiman introduces Hob Gadling in Men Of Good Fortune, which acts as an interlude to the rest of the action. The story shows England throughout its history from the 15th century to the present day while pointing out that Morpheus is far from a cold invulnerable figure. Drawn by Michael Zulli and Steve Parkhouse, Men Of Good Fortune possesses a warmth and a humanity that shows Gaiman at his most versatile and his funniest.
At the other end of the spectrum is the fifth chapter, Collectors, which is a rather scary portrayal of a serial killers convention which takes place in a small hotel in the US. It also manages to act as an eerily accurate satire of comic conventions with its cliques and its themed panels.
The regular artists here, Dringenberg and Jones III, are the ideal partners for Gaiman’s dark fantasy tale and fill-in artist Chris Bachalo on chapter three slots into the story without coming across as an incongruous choice because he suits the chapter he was picked to illustrate.
The Doll’s House is a clever, witty and imaginative dark adventure with enough flourishes and twists and turns to keep the reader occupied. Gaiman, Dringenberg and Jones III with the assistance of Zulli and Bachalo show just what you can do with comics if you put your mind to it. Dave McKean’s covers here are also as magnificent and as visually striking as they always are. There is a reason why people still talk about The Sandman thirty years on.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far