Thursday, July 24, 2008

REPORT :: Heroes Discussion Group :: July 21, 2008

I believe Andy is getting ready to post the announcement of our next Heroes Discussion Group, but I thought I'd post the photos from last Monday's discussion before I forget. I foolishly had my telephone's camera set to a small file resolution, so they're blurry little photos, but we had a great time and I wanted to let you know if you missed it.

I would even argue that this was the best Discussion Group, especially because not all of us (especially myself) were particularly big fans of Sandman Volume 4: Season of Mists. Rather than being dull, it actually promoted more discussion of the book, rather than the lovefests we had for Batman Year One and All Star Superman. Andy was on his toes, too, and as usual directed the conversation into a lot of areas we might not have explored otherwise.

PLUS we had our biggest turnout yet, around 12-15 people. Really good time--we expect an even BIGGER turnout for the next installment, which I'll let good ole Andy talk about. But for now, be sure to check out our Heroes Discussion Group set on our Flickr page for pictures!


Rusty Baily said...

Awesome turn-out! I probably should have been there...maybe it would have peeked my intrest for Sandman(which there is NONE right that blasphemy?) Good to see Kully showed up...finally!!!LOL!

Andy Mansell said...

What kind words!!

It really was a terrific discussion group.

For those who missed out-- we discussed the two reasons that seem to cause the greatest polarization regarding Neil Gaiman in general and Sandman in specific.

The inconsistency of the artwork and the ever (or OVER) presence of the third person narrator.

We discusssed both at great length. To sum up-- I believe the over written 3rd person is a product of it's time. For the past few years, the craftier writers have been successfully avoiding 3rd person captions by subtly alternating POV-- if you don't notice it, it is successful to at least some extent. When you are dealing with deities-- can you really be in their head? I don't think so. Gaiman tried it while Dream is heading to hell and to me-- that was clunkier than the long-winded third person. Or is the 3rd person simply Destiny's book? hmmmmmm

The art changed and was inconsistent--I believe--on purpose-- getting sketchier with less detail as we approach morning and forget our dreams and then we wake (What a great name for the last book). At least that is my take.

Plus the multiple Sandman/rock-star head shots made for some fun hands on discussion.

Note to the gentleman who left early. I hope you did not leave because I apparently side stepped your concern--that I suggested that Sandman was a indeed a dressed up superhero story and you disagreed-- I just wanted to visit the entire topic from several sides. I hope our discussions pointed the topic to answer or address your concerns, but by the time we got to it, you were gone. If you have a chance, please respond....


I just re-read Sandman: Endless Nights (highly recommended as a follow up to the discussion BTW), I missed the hint as to why Delight became Delirium-- or is it just the change from Childhood-- innocence-- to teen-- sexually aware and uncertain. I can honestly say I felt many moments of delirium in high school, but I never had to embody it like her. That WOULD be madness. Her next change to adult would logically make her.... oh.... that would be telling tales out of school.

All in all it was a blast!!

thanks for listening....

Please keep the conversations going!!!

Rich Barrett said...

It was a really good discussion. I'm not a Sandman hater like Dustin but this discussion actually made me appreciate some of the things I had previously disliked.

I really don't think the 3rd person narrative is a big deal in this book. Yeah, it's an outmoded device when you're talking about the old orange boxes that described what you were already seeing Spider-man do as he swung across the city or in an old Chris Claremont book where you had to hear constantly about how Logan was the best at what he does or that Rogue was feeling sad inside because she couldn't be touched by a boy but here it adds to the literary, storytelling nature that Gaiman is going for. I prefer my comics to not have too much of this sort of thing but it seems right for the type of story that Sandman is.

Justin M... said...

I’m just glad that we finally got to have a Sandman discussion group!!! This was defiantly my favorite group discussion since the original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen group. I thought Andy did a great job moderating and brought up a lot of good points. The part where Andy had us flip to random pages and ID what 80s celebrity the Sandman looked like was a hoot. I agree that the art in Sandman is poor in a lot of places, however I have never claimed that I read Sandman for the art, rather I read it for Gaiman’s writing, including the third person narration. Two things I did not agree with, however, was the idea that The Sandman was just a dressed up superhero book (I hold that neither Sandman or LOEG are superhero books) and that the supernatural characters in the series are hard to relate to. The gods, angels, demons, fairies and Endless that we encounter in Sandman may be non-human in power and (in some cases) appearance but they are almost hyper-human in behavior, displaying all of the worst and best traits humanity posses magnified 100-fold. Lastly, my apologies for not being able to come up with anything to add to the voting roster at the end. Most of the comics I read are pretty obscure with the exception of Sandman and Hellboy, and while I do love Hellboy (its my favorite) I honestly can’t fathom how you could make an entire discussion group out one of those books – but then again that’s not my job its Andy’s, so perhaps I will suggest a volume of Hellboy next time around.

Dustin Harbin said...

Sandman hater? Perish forfend! I just think it's dull in a lot of places, although there are some pretty cool ideas.

I would agree with and refute your points about the superhuman characters' relatability, Justin--I would even say that the very humanity you point out in their characters would make them, dare I say it, SUPERhuman. Andy's point is that superhero stories are like the old myths, where we assign mystical or extranormal powers to deities or avatars. There's little difference between the gods of the Greek pantheon and the Justice League, when you get down to it. Sandman's "Endless" are just a more dreary than normal superhero team.

Andy Mansell said...

When I suggest that the Endless are a superhero group, it is not a slam in anyway shape or form, I am merely pointing out the trappings of genre fiction: read good guys vs. bad guys. To me Sgt Rock, James Bond, Popeye, the Age of Bronze, the Invisibles are all superheroes. A creator can make the grey area between the two as murky and challenging as possible, but it is still the essence of conflict on an epic scale that makes all of the stories more alike than the way they are intellectually presented make them dissimilar.
The question always is-- how well do the creative teams create within the confines of a scheduled periodical? Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison all like to push the envelope and create books that are certainly a cut above the average monthly book, but strip everything else away and when they are working in Hero genre, they are producing superhero books regardless of how much it challenges our intellect.
This challenges readers and takes them slightly out of their comfort zone--They may step up and pick up a book about Eastern Philosphy, or Joseph Campbell; that is a good thing. No, it is a GREAT thing.

Thanks for listening

Rich Barrett said...

In Seasons of Mist, just about every mythological set of gods are represented (except the Greeks who are mentioned). Even the superheroes show up with the JSA being shown fighting their eternal last stand in Ragnarok which I guess could be Gaiman saying that the JSA (or more generally the DC Universe superheroes) are another set of myths on par with all of these others.

MarkSullivan said...

I'm really sorry I missed the discussion, but I'm enjoyed the followup posts here. I'll have to try harder to get to the August one. I'm planning to start a comics book group at University City Regional Library, where I'm a librarian (and our resident comic geek). So I'd love to pick Andy's brain a little sometime.

Seth Peagler said...

Great job again, Andy. Glad we got such a great turnout this time. Lots of intelligent conversation from everyone who attended. Looking forward (as always) to the next ones. I'd encourage all those who came to the Sandman discussion and enjoyed it to start spreading the word. Hopefully we can continue to get more and more people each at each new discussion. It's well worth the trip.

Kully Smith said...

Yo Rusty!! Yup, I finally made it to one and lemme tell ya, it was AWESOME! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to what everyone had to offer and Andy was a rockstar of a moderator. The only thing missing was good food and a good pint(or twelve). You gotta make it to the next one if you can.