I’ve written about the Absolute Sandman volumes before—their gorgeous heft, the bonus material, and of course the “re-mastered” corrected pages with fresh coloring that brought an excellent story to even brighter life. Their price tag, though, was pretty prohibitive for most casual readers who might want to check out the lovely new pictures.
No longer must those readers pine and suffer!
Vertigo has recently begun re-releasing the trade volumes of Sandman, which isn’t a surprise; comics publishers generally update trade editions on a fairly regular basis when they feel the old covers and versions have been on the market too long. (Transmetropolitan recently got a fresh reissue, also.) Usually there’s nothing new on the inside. This time, though, Vertigo has the right idea.
Having held them side by side and compared the differences in the art (there’s a comparison picture here) I can safely say that the new editions are of much higher quality. The colors are vivid, the shading is perfect, and the illustrations come to life with a much greater vivacity than before. The new trades are priced at $19, which will run you (by the end) about $200 for the complete set, assuming you don’t employ coupons at the bookseller of your choice. To compare, buying the four Absolute editions to have the same re-colored and corrected pages will run you $400, which is, obviously, fully double what you would pay for the trades.
Comics are a damned expensive medium, but these re-issues make it slightly more affordable. Plus, the Absolutes only came with McKean slipcovers and leather covers—the new trades have freshly designed Dave McKean covers, swirls of color and strangeness that truly seem to encompass the dream-worlds that are contained between their pages.
If you’ve been waiting to buy Sandman, have never read it, or already own the older trades but couldn’t justify shelling out the cash for the Absolutes, now’s your chance. These re-issues will continue well into 2011, so it is with deep regret I inform you that you can’t go buy them all right this minute, but imagine: it’ll be like waiting on Sandman all over again, discovering every month a new chunk of the story in such perfect colors as you’ve never seen it before. (Or am I the only one who finds a book sweeter after a long wait and building anticipation?)