Thursday, 26 February 2009

Death : The high cost of living - Neil Gaiman, Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham and Dave McKean

I haven't read Sandman properly, and I'm looking forward to the day I will. But this comic was a great prelude. It's dedicated to Death, a character that has always fascinated me, although I had ever only seen pictures of her. The top hat, the black hair, the little kohl spiral below her eye. It's as if I had always known her but never met her.

In this story I find out that she is just as wonderful as I imagined. Smiley, friendly, quirky and a bit naive. She is immortal, but every 100 years she has to live the life of a human , to experience what the lives she takes away feel like. Instead of as a curse, she takes it as a chance to savour every little bit of her 24-hour life: breathing, chewing an apple, meeting people and even saving them.
One of these people is Sexton Furnival, a bored and disillusioned teenager, who doesn't think life is worth living and hence decides it's time to kill himself. The same day his mother decides to have a spring cleaning, in July, and kicks her son out of the house for the whole day. He ends up strolling in a rubbish dump, where he falls from a rubbish mount and gets stuck beneath a fridge. Thanks to his luck, Death is there to help him get out, and then invites him to her house to clean up.
It's the start of a long day for both of them.

Reading Death felt like reading a Charles De Lint's short story, for some reason. Just this is enough to qualify as a great read. The fact that it was in graphic novel form gave it an extra appeal.
Just look at this page:

Beside Death, or Didi as she's called here, I loved the character of Hettie, who's this loony 250-year-old witch who says things like "You knock on that door or the sun will be shining on places inside you that the sun doesn't usually shine", and who's looking for her lost heart. She has hidden it somewhere to escape Death, but now she needs her to find it again!
Actually this story is filled with great characters who could have their own story. For example I'd love to read more about Foxglove, the singer/writer and her girlfriend, who is expecting her first child. They are a lesbian couple, and Hazel, the expecting one, is wearing a badge saying "I chose to have a baby but I'm happy I had a choice". It's these little things that made me fall in love with this story. These, and a simple but profound message: to appreciate life at its fullest, and live every moment of it. Because Death can wait.

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Debi said...

Oh Valentina, what a wonderful review of a wonderful book! You've seriously made me want to pick it up and read it again!

Nymeth said...

Mad Hettie! There's more of her in the Sandman. I love her too :) And I'm very happy you enjoyed this so much!

valentina said...

Debi, I'm glad I had this effect! it was really a great story.

Ana, that's cool! I really can't wait to read more of Sandman!

Darla D said...

My library does have this one - I just put it on hold. Thanks for the review! Did you know that Charles de Lint has a new book coming out? I just found out and put that on hold, too. Now if I can just get a few of these books off my library card before those come in... :-)

Rhinoa said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this too. Last night I read the third Sandman Dream Country and am looking forward to reading more as the year goes on. I love that you compared it to a Charles de Lint short story, I love his writing so much.

Anonymous said...

I also love this story. I am currently searching for the second part "The best day of your life!" You should read it too. Death is one of my favorite characters in comics

valentina said...

Yeah she's pretty cool:)