Saturday, May 04, 2013

Neil Gaiman: The Early Years Black Orchid’s Passive and Impassive Universe Part 1 - Hannah Means-Shannon

"Neil Gaiman, like Alan Moore, is someone working in comics who seems to need no introduction. Their influence and impact is so pervasive that they’ve practically become a household name. But there’s a danger to the hype that results in a kind of stereotyping of their work and career that leaves little room for the changes they’ve made along the way to their styles and subject matter. When an author becomes known most widely for a single work, the rest are interpreted in the light of that work, a perspective that may skew both where they have come from, and to some extent, where they are going. That’s not to say that works like Watchmen and Sandman should be left out of the account of their prolific writing careers; that would be a disservice, but any Gaiman fan who reads only Sandman is missing out on a universe of interesting comics and prose that they would, most likely, find equally appealing. Each work should be taken on its own terms, and examined in the context that produced it. Black Orchid is one of those works. Of Gaiman’s earlier works, it is comparatively well known since it was published by a major comics company, DC, and has never been out of print since its original printing in 1988 and 1989. Black Orchid’s position in Gaiman’s career is seminal from a historian’s perspective, and from a literary standpoint, it’s a gold mine of material that shaped the future of Vertigo and reveals a great deal of Gaiman’s developing concerns in his work. It also stands as a major collaboration with the comics art giant Dave McKean, whose recurring work on many Gaiman books set the tone for reader expectations for years to come." 3.5 out of 5