Dreamers and Comics: Reading the Sky

It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I began the draft of this post.

Six, seven months of reading, moving, travelling, and growing… albeit, an inexcusable hitatus! A break without warning!

The purpose of this blog was to bring music and literature together through the power of nostalgia. Basically.

It’s news to me to discover that for once that music has rotated beneath the needle of my eye on a constant rotation while the complexities of all the premiering literature began to feel far more foreign and -gasp- difficult at retaining my full attention towards the latter part of 2010.

Nonetheless, I begin:

Baths

Mr. Baths, Will Wiesenfeld at work

I had the privilege of seeing this phenomenal artist blow away and dominate the audience with his fantastical melodies, and sweet lullaby singing vocals back in October.

Cerulean was one of my go-to columns of 2010. Songs with sound clips from anime pictures, and animal chasing little girls, -Listen to *Aminals*- provided a sound that never seized to lift me out of the humdrum of a work filled day. It also was an album that reawakened the romantic in me.

Did I mention I also hugged Mr. Will Wiesenfled himself after his performance? Way!

The conversation went like this:

My friend pushing me towards him offstage: “She would like to give you a hug.”

W.W: “Are you sure? I’m super sweaty.

Me: “So am I!

W.W: “Oh, well ok then!

*Huge Hug, HUGE HUGE Smiles*

He had been touring with El Ten Eleven, a brilliant instrumental band of whom I’ve seen several times back in NYC. What a treat it was to see them both perform together. I danced and swayed, and sang and smiled, and after the show got to see Tim Fogarty get punched in the face by a friend! It was part of a promotion for their new album, which is awesome just so you know. Buy it. Now. Ahem.

Now, given the young carefree little girl I was so clearly at the forefront during the second half of 2010, it might be less of a surprise that graphic novels became the literary drug of choice. The perfect compliment to the suspended dream state platform my musical tastes had been floating upon.

Of course, when it comes to literature in the illustrative variety I am partial to interpretations and works by the favorite, my hero, Mr. Neil Gaiman.

To say this is obvious is an understatement. Neil Gaiman’s work is a constant source of inspiration, this lifetime and the next. Punto.

Just before moving out west, one very special gift  the boy gifted me, was a story affiliated with his widely acclaimed and brilliant series, The Sandman.

 

The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and Yoshika Amano

An illustrated novel as opposed to a comic, it presents the tale in rich watercolrs and thin lines. Its a magical story, playfully showing Cain and Abel in their fateful interaction of fear and loyalty, always a personal delight to come upon.

The Dream Hunters tells the tale of a humble monk living a life of meditation and study on a quiet mountain. The monk is faced with a challenge for his place in the temple when a fox and badger set a wager of driving him out. While both creatures instantly fail in their ploys, an unexpected affinity develops between the fox and the monk. Transformed into the body of  a woman,  the monk is able to glimpse the fox’s true beauty, and the two quickly fall in love for the first time.

Meanwhile, within the shade beside the light a weathly man in Kyoto seeking relief from his lifelong fear of death seeks the wisdom of three spell casting sisters, The Three Witches. His query obtained an answer; that the same monk’s life, and thereby his ending of it, was to be his key to salvation.

The story ends in a unique fashion. Love wins, yet more in a spiritual sense, and not without leaving a tidbit of common advisement of Gaiman’s; Hope. Never neglecting belief in it. Mr. Gaiman’s stories rarely seem to lack sunlight, no matter how dark or turbulent the storms his characters sail through to reach it.

 

The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

The second interpretation, which took 10 years to reach fruition was illustrated as a comic by a familiar collaborator of Gaiman’s, P. Craig Russell. This edition unveils an interpretation of the story through the hands of a modern artist, rippled with rich colors, as well as the familiar texture of which several Sandman editions were incorporated with.

It’s refreshing to see two completely different tellings of the same story, also released by Vertigo. Both hold their own in beauty and illustrated narrative, and so really, the two are personal recommendations as opposed to one vs. the other.

To top off this colorful literary and musical dream state, the book I’d like to mention as a delicious after hours snack is this:

Mr. Russell's been around the block! Clearly, we readers (and writers) can't get enough of him.

Murder Mysteries is the tale of a fallen angel, and the murder of another, which precipitated the falling.

Having initally read it several years ago as a short story in a collection of others, called Smoke and Mirrors, it was a delight to discover an illustrated edition. Yes,  its based on the very first crime to ever take place in time. No, the religious tones do not –in any way-overwhelm the power of the story. I would personally suggest reading the literary edition first, but with some ambient music playing, the comic edition would be a likewise cerebral delight.

This story is about justice, and how well we are able to determine the difference between that and its opposite when living clothed by the initial caresses of a budding romance.

It is another tale not conditioned with the dated ‘happy ending,’ yet indisputably wonderful.

A friend once told me that he thought Mr. Gaiman’s work only tiptoed its way towards the edge of despair, before galloping back beneath the lifting gaze of the Sun. He said he thought all his work to be this way because Gaiman himself was a hopeful person. That he exuded his own gratitude into the narratives. That was years ago, and it remains to be one of those sustaining thoughts gauzed with all the love and optimism this little lady is able to contain.

In the end, it seems to be the story’s protagonist who walks away into a life of gratitude. I can’t help but wonder if Gaiman himself has met any angels. Ones who whispered stories in the dark until the the Sun sailed in and swept them away in a stream of cigarette smoke.

Perhaps it is so, and if it’s true… he may not the only one.

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There’s more. But I’m saving that for the next entry.

James Jean, anyone? How about Julia Wertz?

See you in a minute.