The Sandman Overture Absolute Edition
This arrived today. It’s a bigger book than I expected, by which I mean fatter, although obviously Absolutes are pretty big in general.
(That’s the deluxe HC next to it for comparison.)
The reason for the fatness is a huge wealth of extras, including an entire alternate version of the story - but we’ll get to that.
The story itself remains as great as ever (of course), but the art looks even more amazing at this size, with flourishes like the gatefold four-page spreads even more imposing here.
But if you’re already familiar with the story, then the real interest is what this Absolute offers over and above the original issues and collections, and the answer is: a lot.
The second section of the book repeats the entire story again, but this time without Dave Stewart’s colour contribution - just JHW3’s original art (with lettering digitally added).
It’s really educational to see the art in this state and to see how much changed before final publication. As you can see, colour was already present to varying degrees in the original art.
It’s interesting to flip between certain sequences to compare them. Much of the art is even more impressive in its original form.
It’s amazing to see how some pages were brought to life through a combination of JHW3 and Stewart’s talents.
After that, there’s an extensive selection of extras that deal with pretty much every aspect of the book. So you get art process stuff:
You get an interview with and chapter notes from Gaiman:
As well as a copy of the script to issue #1:
There’s a detailed look at Stewart’s colouring:
And at Todd Klein’s lettering:
And even at Dave McKean’s variant covers:
With even more sketch and preparatory work from JHW3 also in the back pages.
Some of this was included in the deluxe HC, but some of it wasn’t. Either way, this is the most comprehensive package you can imagine.
Still, it’s hard to recommend this book outright. It’s very expensive for what it is, and (as with other recent Absolutes like Batman Year One or the upcoming Killing Joke) the page count is essentially padded out with multiple versions of the same story.
But if you can find it at a decent discount, if you’re a fan of the story, and if (like me) you love JHW3’s art enough that you probably would have bought the upcoming Gallery Edition book containing his original art anyway, then this is well worth a look.
And collectors will be happy to know that DC have maintained the same production style for the book as the previous Sandman Absolutes (embossed black leather style cover and all) that makes it and the other five volumes a perfect set.