Tag Archives: Japanese

Thoughts on “Sandman: The Dream Hunters” by Neil Gaiman

This book feels like an adaptation of a Japanese fairy tale, but as artist P. Craig Russell points out in the Afterward, it was all a creation of Gaiman’s imagination, so well executed that even Russell believed it was a traditional Japanese tale when working on the illustrations.

The story is about a fox who falls in love with a monk, and while it is not possible for them to consummate their love, their feelings for each other cause each of them to make sacrifices for the other. It is a wonderful and moving story, and one can read it without knowing the background mythology of the Sandman. So without spoiling the story for those who want to read it, I figured I’d share a few passages that stood out for me.

The monk unfolded his token to show it to them, and it was then that he knew for certain he was dreaming, for he could read the characters on the paper he carried. They were simple characters and they described one who transmuted things from formlessness and shapelessness into that-which-was-not-real, but without which the real world would have no meaning.

(p. 72)

This is the way in which art is created, particularly stories and poetry. The mind taps into the vast sea of the subconscious and draws from the wellspring of inspiration. As the story takes shape and becomes an expression of the collective consciousness, it evolves into something that is not “real,” but expresses what is real about the human experience. In other words, stories provide life with meaning. A world without stories would be meaningless.

I serve the king of dreams … and I do his bidding. But you are correct … once I was a poet … and like all poets … I spent too long in the kingdom of dreams.

(p. 79)

I totally relate to this passage. As someone who has written poetry, I know that, for me, poetic inspiration comes from going deep into my subconscious, to draw on the symbols and metaphors that express that which is impossible to convey through plain language. But, there is a risk of spending too long in the realm of inspiration. One can become ungrounded, and that can lead to its own set of personal difficulties.

But dreams are strange things. And none of us but the king of all night’s dreaming can say if they are true or not, nor of what they are able to tell any of us about the times that are still to come.

(p. 125)

Dreams are strange things, but what would life be without them? Our dreams and stories and creative expressions are what define us.

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Monstress: Issue 1

Monstress_01

I saw this comic advertised in the back of another comic I read recently, and it seemed like something that was right up my alley. I went to the comic store and picked up a copy from the shelf. The woman working there said it is an amazing graphic tale and that the first printing sold out so fast, they are already on the second printing (yes, I bought the second printing). Anyway, I read this first issue and was totally blown away.

The comic works for me on many levels. Firstly, the writing is excellent. The story immediately draws you in. I felt a strong connection to the characters, even in the primary development phase. This is a sign of impeccable craftsmanship.

Secondly, the artwork is breathtaking. This is some of the most vivid, beautiful, and creative artwork I have seen in a graphic novel. The intricacy and detail are magnificent. I cannot praise this enough.

I also love the blending of adventure and mysticism. I am intrigued by the story so far, very much intrigued. I love stories that incorporate the mystical, and I can see already that this is one of those stories.

Finally, I really love that this is written and illustrated by women. The central character, Maika, is a strong female character, and she is not sexually idealized as is too often the case with heroines in graphic novels. I did a quick search online and found out that the writer, Marjorie Liu, is an American New York Times best-selling writer, and the artist, Sana Takeda, is an acclaimed Japanese artist. Together, these creative women have come up with something unique and impressive. I for one am eager to follow this arc.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this comic, particularly if you have read it. I’d love to hear what you think.

Cheers!

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