Beautiful Books (Inside and Out)
Ever since I started reading comics, I was told I had to read Sandman. If there was one comic series I had to get in to, it would be Sandman by Neil Gaiman. In 2009 I bought The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1 in an Ebay auction. When I received it in the mail it was brand new still wrapped in plastic. I opened it slowly and was dumbfounded by how gorgeous it was. Beautifully bound in leather with a fully illustrated slip-cover, I couldn’t bring myself to read it. I wanted to preserve such magnificence. It still sits on my shelf, unread.
Maybe I’m being a little unreasonable, but five years later and I’ve still only opened the book twice. There are a few other books on my shelf sharing the same fate. Books are works of art, nobody would argue that. I find that often it is what’s inside that is the art, contained in an attractive but functional shell. However, sometimes the beauty on the inside is mirrored by beautiful works of craftsmanship on the outside. I think absolute editions put out by DC are one of the latter instances.
So rather than read my Absolute edition, I purchased a digital copy of Sandman Vol. 1, Preludes & Nocturnes. Five years of hype have built up for me over this single comic series. I didn’t think it could possibly live up to that level of pressure. And I was very happily proven wrong. The writing is sharp, the world that Gaiman has created is both beautiful and terrifying, and the artwork makes your mouth water. It really is the perfect package. The story follows Dream, the king of the dream realm, as he is captured by mortals and held against his will. After his eventual release, he has to get the missing tokens of his powers from humans, hell, and the superpowers of the DC universe. I won’t spoil anything here, but there’s an issue in this first arc that is possibly one of the most disturbing I’ve ever read. It’s called “24 hours” and you’ll know it when you read it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t wait five years to read this masterpiece. Read it as soon as you’re able.
On the science fiction front, I’ve finished reading Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. It’s the first PKD book I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and it has motivated me to read some of his more science oriented works. This is an alternate history tale of the United States after the Allies lost World War II. There are a couple interweaving storylines here and, while they’re interesting, I didn’t feel they really paid off in the end. The story is fine, but the most interesting part of this book is that PKD, like the characters in his book, often consulted the I Ching for answers to where the story should go. The I Ching is an ancient text that contains a divination system. I find it fascinating that PKD used this system to lead to his character’s futures. Even if the book wasn’t completely up my alley, the backstory makes it worth a read.
I also had a chance to read the first volume of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth. The story here is… well honestly I’m not a hundred percent sure. There’s a military group that fight Kaiju, aliens are invading Earth, and Godzilla is in Hawaii. However, if you’re reading a Godzilla comic, you’re probably not in it for the story. You’re probably in it for giant monsters battling it out for supremacy. On that front this volume delivers. Godzilla versus Zilla, the kaiju from the 1998 Godzilla disaster, was particularly rewarding. The characters call it Zilla because the rest of his name is lost in radio static, which is a great reference to Shogo Tomiyama naming it so (because Tristar had taken the God out of Godzilla). It’s not a good book, but it’s a fun book and I enjoyed my time with it.
So that’s where I’m at currently. If you have any books that are too beautiful to read or you just wanna chat about the awesome new Godzilla trailer, feel free to send me a message or tweet me @left4turtle.