Images © DC Comics, Inc.
DC didn’t send me volume one, so this is the first I’ve seen THE ANNOTATED SANDMAN. I wish I could recommend it to you, but I have to say I’m not impressed. The annotator, Leslie S. Klinger, has produced similar tomes for the Sherlock Holmes and Dracula stories. I like annotated fiction, I have a number of them in my library. But comics is not the same sort of thing as a novel or short stories. Klinger has chosen to focus almost exclusively on the writing by Neil Gaiman. Comics is a collaborative medium. To largely ignore the art shows a massive lack of understanding of that medium. Kind of like doing one of those commentary versions of a film with only the screenwriter talking about his script and influences, nothing from the director or cast.
This huge book reproduces each page of comics in grayscale, no doubt as a cost-savings, but the result is dull and monotonous. The notes are in the wide margins, but on many pages they take up only a small part of the page, or none of it. Quite a few pages with no notes, and a lot with the only note saying an ad page followed this one in the original comic, which I find rather pointless to even mention. Imagine if the annotator went after input from the artists, and had a deep knowledge of comics and art history. Then there would be lots more to write annotations about, and this series might be worthwhile. Hey, I could have said plenty about the lettering, if anyone asked. I’m sure Danny Vozzo could have added lots of new information about the coloring too, if it were present and he was involved.
Much of the material in the notes is available elsewhere in other books about Sandman and online. Klinger has had the advantage of reading and quoting from Neil Gaiman’s scripts, but that’s the only new source I see here. If his notes were presented alone as a book, they might fill 100 pages at most, and in that form I might have been interested in reading them, but I have to conclude this series is an opportunity wasted.