It's difficult these days to discuss a television show when all of the episodes drop at once and everyone watches at his own pace, but the Paper Girls discussion (short as it was) went all right, so let's try one for Sandman... let's say an episode a day, clearly labeled. SPOILERs allowed, but please don't get ahead of the discussion.

EPISODE ONE:

I wasn't even planning to watch this one until one of Tracy's friends (who knows we read comics) texted her today and asked, "Have you guys read Sandman?" We recommended Paper Girls to her and she liked it, but she discovered Sandman on her own. She's already watched all the episodes. (I think there are ten.) We just watched the first.

So far, so good... very much like the first issue. What few changes they made were acceptable, and probably improved the story for a TV audience. My expectations for a Sandman TV show are high, but my expectations that they'd be able to pull it off were low. I show some photos of the guy playing Dream but he didn't look convincing to me. He played the part very well, but I would have preferred his skin to be alabaster white. Very well-done overall. 

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We have plans to meet our friend (and her nephew) for lunch a week from Saturday and possibly go to a comics shop as well. She took a look at Sandman online and only got as far as the second page of the first issue. She found it too... "jumbled" was the word I think she used. I don't know if that's because she was trying to read it on her phone or what.

I don't know what "jumbled" means, either, but I was surprised to discover when I got married that one reason my wife didn't read comics ... is that she didn't know how. She didn't know the comics shorthand of speed lines and blurgits, grawlix were a mystery ("How do you pronounce that?") and so forth. Once I explained a few of these things, she made a breakthrough and enjoys comics now.

It had never occurred to me before that experience that anyone might not understand how to read comics. It came to me naturally. Of course, so did swimming, and that's not true of everyone either. Does your friend read other comics, or is this her first?

As for my wife and I, we got around to watching the "bonus" episode, "A Dream of a Thousand Cats/Calliope." They were both so excellent I have nothing to say about them. Just a great experience.

"I was surprised to discover when I got married that one reason my wife didn't read comics ... is that she didn't know how."

I remember you posting about that once before and have been cognizant of it ever since... and even before that, really. back in the '90s, I had a co-worker who was a big fan of Star Trek, both the movies and TNG. the hardcover graphic novel Debt of Honor by Chris Claremont and Adam Hughes had recently been released. I enjoyed it and I thought she would, too, so I loaned it to her. She returned it with a complaint similar to Joan's, that she couldn't figure out in which order to read the word balloons and captions. 

The best comics lead the eye from panel-to-panel via text placement and other visual techniques. I will usually make note of unique page design when I encounter it. For example, I remain unimpressed by the new Captain America series' story, but the page layouts have been inventive. Ideally, if the artist is doing his job, the layouts will go completely unnoticed by an inexperienced comic book reader. In Sam's Keith's case (and for all comics AFAIAC), each page is a composition and the reader should be able to experience the whole thing at once, which just can't be done on a phone screen.

"Does your friend read other comics, or is this her first?"

This is her first. She was even reluctant to go to a comics shop by herself (not because of the reason most women are, simply because it would be an unfamiliar experience). That's why I had hoped to talk to her first. In another week I'll have my chance. 

In 1979, when I dropped out of buying comics until 1989, there was still parallel distribution of comics at newsstands/drug stores and comic stores. In the early 70s the only comic book store I ever saw was in Long Beach, California. It was stocked with TPB collections of newspaper strips and foreign comic books. No current periodical comics. Let's say that the direct market really took off (just in time) in the early to mid-80s. Looking at the galleries on GCD, newsstand editions were still being published well into the 90's. As these markets dwindled, there were fewer and fewer opportunities for a casual or new comic reader to even see the covers and be enticed to buy. Also, the genres of comics gradually decreased to mainly superhero titles.

The mid-80s were forty years ago! Chances are slim that someone aged fifty or younger ever read a comic book. it's not surprising that many or most kids grew up never having read a comic book. If comic books were mentioned at all in the media, it was as a "remember when" thing, as if comics were no longer being published. Gone were the days when a kid could easily encounter comics at a sidewalk newsstand or a comic book shelf/spinner rack in a drug store. A boy or girl used to see a variety of humor, mystery, love and adventure titles with covers designed to grab a kid. They could get started reading comics this way, whether or not they had already been reading newspaper strips. Today, no matter how enticing the cover is you have to go to a specialty shop to see it.

When Neal Adams and others began odd-shaped panel designs the audience was prepared to deal with that innovation and, of course, the visual shorthand developed along the way. As the phrase goes, he was preaching to the choir. Instead of being sucked in by an intriguing cover seen on a sidewalk or in a regular store, today the potential comics reader has to (want to) seek out a comics shop (which in some areas are non-existent), get past being overwhelmed and get past the prices. If they actually buy a comic for $5 they are likely buying only part of a story. Depending upon what they buy, they are suddenly hit with the panel designs and visual shortcuts that we all take for granted. This may partially explain the movie-goers not becoming comic readers. Maybe some tried a comic and were confused or disappointed.

As wonderful as Sandman is, I think the lettering style as well as the panel layouts may be off-putting to a new reader. They probably have to start with more conventional comics and work up to it.

Early on, I bought most of my comics at either Ahmann's Newsstand or Droste Drug Store (although very early on remember picking some up at the Hedges & Hafer grocery store as well). 

Regarding the page layout, remember how the pages often had little arrows indicating which panels to read next? When's the last time you saw those? By now, creators have mastered other "tricks" to lead the eye: text placement, borders, etc

And the word our friend used to describe the layout of Sandman #1 was actually "chaotic"; "jumbled" was the word Tracy used to explain how she saw it to me. I'll get more details next week when we get together face-to-face. 

Some speculation and wishes of a writer at DC.com about what season 2 might look like.

Seasons of Mists and Other Sandman Season Two Predictions | DC

Get a load of this: "Netflix Not Renewing Sandman Season Two Because Fans Watched It Wrong?"

The article says its "on hold." The implication is that Netflix can still be swayed by public reaction.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

It's difficult these days to discuss a television show when all of the episodes drop at once and everyone watches at his own pace, but... let's try one for Sandman... let's say an episode a day, clearly labeled.

I blame myself. :(

I keep thinking what if DC stopped publishing the monthly series because they wanted people to buy the tpb.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I keep thinking what if DC stopped publishing the monthly series because they wanted people to buy the tpb.

..... like they recently did with the latest series of Lucifer.

They'd be idiots not to renew it.

Not that they aren't idiots.

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