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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Send me a dream

Well it's been a while, but I decided to put some distance between me and my collection for a while, not that I'm not interested anymore, but as I'm still in a no-spend-zone, there's no need to make it harder on myself by looking a books I'm not allowed to buy anyway. The good part about shelving the collector part of me is that the reader in me has more time now.
Oh and I've passed the 35-day mark and am now halfway my self-imposed ban.Theoretically I've 25 days left to go, but I think I'll try and hold out a little longer till July 4th which is my birthday.Would be nice to celebrate my birthday with the purchase of some books again :)

Anyway, the white whale of my collection, the book which took me longest to find was not an expensive book at all..it wasn't even an old book.It was released during that age of overprinting we remember as "the nineties" and it was put out by one of the big two. It's not a key book, nothing specials happens, it isn't a variant or a recalled issue. It's a bog-standard comic book and it still took me 4 years to find it.

I'm taking about Sandman Mystery Theater #29. The final issue I needed to complete the, in my view second best DC/Vertigo, series.
As most of you know I've been busy completing most Marvel series for the past 5 years and I waited over 9 months to buy an FF#1 and over six months for an ASM #1.
Were these books eluding me ? Certainly not, you can buy one every day if you want, but I was looking for a low to mid-grade book that presented better than the grade on both occasions...so I needed to be patient.
Same for my AF #15...

But the only book I have never seen on eBay, never in any dealer store and never offered on this board was Sandman Mystery Theater #29...
Most other books in the series are on perpetual discount on Mile High for about $1.00 - $2.00...but this book has been on my want-list from day 1 and stayed there for ever
I ordered it twice from Mile High and both times they didn't have it in stock...but it was on the website
I saw it on eBay a few times but lumped together with at least 20 other books from the series and I really didn't want to spend $50.00 just to get a single book that had zero demand and was worth $2.00 at most.
Finally 3 months ago I got a tip from a friendly collector that it was on the Newkadia website. Much to my surprise he was right, they had a NM copy for $3.00 which I bought right away, they also offered a discount . Only catch (there's always a catch) was that they had a minimum order of $25.00. So I was forced to buy some other books from my want list which were overpriced.

So why was this book so important to me ? Well mainly because the series is just so damn good. It has nothing at all to do with the more famous Gaiman Sandman universe, which also released by Vertigo put the other Sandman title (Mystery Theater) completely in its shadow and did more harm than good sales-wise because of the name-association.
It's not the kind of book you'd pick up on a whim in a comic shop and there was only one TPB (with just 4 issues) available for over 10 years. A book that truly slipped under the radar.

Before I start hyping it, it must warn you that it isn't for everyone, the art isn't pretty...it fits perfectly with the "pulp noir" theme of the book but it's understated, a rather dull color pallet, lots of line-work and small panels. Plus the book has some VERY adult content. Explicit language, very graphic and shocking scenes with lots of misery and poverty.
But it does make me want to jump in a timemachine and head for New York in the 30's. Rarely has a city been so celebrated and so authentically replicated as in this series. If you like New York as a city, as a cultural icon you'll get a lot of enjoyment from the series as well.

The Sandman (the original one, not Gaiman's Morpheus) is one of the original heroes of the Golden Age. This series retells the adventures of Wesley Dodds a millionaire-vigilante whose main weapons are a gun that fires sleeping gas and his brain..Unlike most other superheroes, the Sandman possesses no superhuman powers and relies on his detective skills and gas gun. He does have strange prophesying dreams (the only link with the 'other' Sandman) which torment him and make him go out at night and fight for justice.

But Dodds isn't your typical superhero, he's rather small and somewhat overweight, plus he's pushing 40. His sidekick/love interest is Dian Belmont, a New York socialite who's also pushing middle age, doesn't have a double D-cup or can kick bad-guy ass but is a smart and charming "real world" woman who actually helps the hero solve the case. There are no supervillains, just really evil crooks, deranged rapists, serial killers and corrupt businessmen.

You don't really need to collect the entire series (but you know how it is with me) to enjoy the stories. Each arc consists of 4 issues, with a typical slow start ending in a blistering climax. It's more fun to read all 70 issues in order , but it's not really necessary which is a rarity for a Vertigo series.

So give it a try, visit 1930's New York from the newly erected skyscrapers to the seedy underbelly where the Sandman prowls, I'm sure you'll enjoy the ride in the wonderfully mature and intelligent comic book.
Oh and yes I'm aware that Vertigo put out a revamped SMT mini during the first months of 2007...I did read it, but didn't like it at all. In the mini Wesley and Dian are in their late 70's and the Sandman mantle is passed on to a 20-something war-photographer, action man. They took the Sandman out of the Golden Age, out of NYC...and it doesn't feel right.

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