Preludes and Nocturnes

Many of us turn to comics or Graphic novels as they are now called, as a form of stress relief and to escape into some 'light reading'. Though I hate admitting it, reading a graphic novel can be intense and harder than just settling down with a paperback.

With novels, our eyes move linearly, through words that become sentences and these sentences become paragraphs and then ultimately the pages of the book. While reading a graphic novel, one cannot just read the text. She must always look at the 'big picture on the page. In particular she must study the images to get a sense of context and then examine the characters who are speaking the dialogs and the 'non verbal' clues in their expressions. Sometimes the flow of the plot is horizontal and sometimes it can be vertical, sometimes even diagonal. With graphic novels like this one, the plot itself is pretty surreal and hard to absorb until you 'get into the groove'.

There was my little 101 on Graphic novels. Let's discuss this one.

I have said many times before that Frank Miller and Alan Moore are the greatest of comic novelists. I will now add a new member to this elite group, Neil Gaiman. With this book, Gaiman began one of the most popular series in comic book history. When it comes to prose, Gaiman's comic is another indication that comic books have come a long way from where they used to be in the past

The story is a page turner holding the reader breathless throughout. At times I asked myself, 'What was this guy smoking when he wrote this?'. This masterpiece is a classic amalgamation of folklore, history myth and Gaiman's fertile imagination.

The book begins with a mysterious cabal conducting an enigmatic ceremony. Their goal is to entrap the grim reaper himself, death. However, something goes awfully wring and the cabal end up entrapping not with death, but with death's younger brother, Morpheus, the god of dreams and nightmares. Gaiman portrays this entity as a strange looking man, with a bad haircut.

Morpheus escapes from his captors after languishing in his prison for seventy years. He realizes that in order to regain his powers, he must get back three of his belongings, belongings that were taken away from him, during his years in captivity.

The rest of the book is about Morpheus' adventures and ordeals as he must travel to New York, then to Hell itself and finally to the Arkam Asylum in Gotham, the city of Batman. If this is the first time you are reading this book, I can guarantee that you have not read anything like it.

The faint of heart be warned: This is not the comic book you read years ago, when in high school. It has plenty of 'adult situations', gore and violence. All in all, it is a masterpiece. Wait till you meet Gaiman's personification of the grim reaper.

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