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Bill Willingham – The Sandman Presents: Taller Tales

March 8, 2010

23. The Sandman Presents: Taller Tales by Bill Willingham, Shawn McManus, Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, John Stokes, Neil Gaiman et al. (2003)
The Sandman Presents

Length: 224 pages

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started: 27 February 2010
Finished: 28 February 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I only recently discovered that my library had more of the Sandman-adjacent graphic novels as well as the main series, so heck yeah I’m going to read them.

Taller Tales is actually a collection of shorter pieces, some starring familiar faces from the Sandman comics, some introducing new faces, but set in the bizzare-yet-familiar landscape of the Dreaming.

Merv Pumpkinhead, Agent of D.R.E.A.M. is a James Bond-esque story starring everyone’s favorite gourd-noggined janitor. When someone breaks in and steals some of Dream’s magical sand, there’s only one person who can get it back and save the world from certain destruction with his patented mix of roguish charm and cunning courage… at least, that’s the way Merv tells it. I imagine this story would be better for someone who is more into spy movies than I am, but even I recognized enough of the archetypes to get in a few good chuckles.

The Further Adventures of Danny Nod, Heroic Library Assistant stars Danny Nod, a new addition to the library of the Dreaming, as he sets about retrieving books that have been borrowed but never returned. This one was very cute, and although there wasn’t a whole lot of story to it, most of the fun was involved in seeing and identifying the situations through which Danny wanders, cheerfully oblivious. Also, Goldie’s involved, which always makes me smile. Meep!

In The Thessaliad, the ghost Fetch has been sent to bring the powerful witch Thessaly before his masters. These masters are powerful forces from deep in time, and Thessaly knows whatever they want with her can’t be good, but of course she’s not going to go down without a fight. The Thessaliad is what I was hoping to get when I read Thessaly: Witch for Hire (out of order, as it turns out). It manages to capture the proper Sandman tone – a blend of fantasy, horror, and mythology, and add in a splash of humor, and have Thessaly get in a bit of romantic entanglement while maintaining her air of mystery and power.

Finally, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dreams… But Were Afraid to Ask is a series of short (2-8 page) pieces answering common questions like “What causes recurring dreams?” and “Why aren’t you supposed to wake a sleepwalker?”. The answers, of course, are not quite what you’d expect, although they’re pretty funny nonetheless.

Overall Review and Recommendation: This collection isn’t meant to be as serious and deep as the original, but instead to show off both Gaiman’s Sandman universe and Willingham’s writing and dry sense of humor. When they get it right, it’s good stuff, and I had certainly had a fun time reading it. I think it would probably be understandable even to non-Sandman readers, although of course it’s better knowing something about the characters and the world beforehand. (Additionally, there are some spoilers for the end of the main series casually tossed in, so I wouldn’t start here if you’re planning to read the whole thing.) 4 out of 5 stars.

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First Line: Dreams are frisky.

Cover Thoughts: Little bits of all the stories, otherwise fine.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 9:19 am

    Wait, are there more? More Sandman-adjacent comics, apart from this and Thessaly: Witch for Hire? I know I wasn’t crazy about these two but I would still be interested to see more. Do they have the Lucifer comics? I’ve been wondering whether those are any good.

    • March 10, 2010 4:35 pm

      Jenny – There’s this one and Witch for Hire, one by Mark Carey called “The Furies”, which I’ve currently got checked out from the library, and one by Ed Brubaker called “Dead Boy Detectives”, which my library doesn’t carry. Oh, and also everything here:

      I haven’t even heard of the Lucifer comics, but since Seasons of Mist was my favorite one, I’d definitely like to read those.

      Oh, man, there’s a huge listing here too:
      I don’t know how many of those are in graphic novel form, though…

  2. March 9, 2010 8:12 pm

    Oh, I’ve just discovered all these Sandman related titles and am thrilled! Hope my library has them.

  3. March 17, 2010 2:28 pm

    Nice! I’d known about Thessaly and Lucifer but not this one – guess I better get going on the Sandman series again :)

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