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Here's Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' Secret for Making Truly Experimental Comics

This week's 'Strip Panel Naked' focuses on the importance of a legendary comic's very first page.
Panel selection from Sandman: Overture #1. Screencaps via

This article originally appeared on The Creators Project.

When Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth first revived and overhauled "cool-goth-manifesto" The Sandman for DC comics back in 1989, the comic immediately set about dismantling comic conventions. It immediately became a cult hit, and went on with DC and Vertigo for another seven years. So when Sandman: Overture hit shelves in 2015, fans eagerly anticipated this new addition to the series and the ways it would continue to push the envelope. In this week's episode of Strip Panel Naked, the mini-comics masterclass dedicated to digging up all the cool stuff hiding in comics, series host Hass Otsmane-Elhaou focuses on the very first page of Sandman: Overture, and looks at how it dismantles tradition with the nature of its very first page.


Page one from Sandman: Overture #1

In comics, a page isn't normally supposed to get in the way; the structure of a page should never act as a barrier or distraction. But, as Otsmane-Elhaou explains, " Sandman: Overture doesn't abide by that rule. It almost seems to relish in its own form, practically every page is unique in the way it presents information, and it constantly asks you to learn and relearn how to read this comic."

The book's first page shows images contained in three separate circles set against a galactic view. "Even from just a glance you get a sense of something," Otsmane-Elhaou explains. "You can see immediately without reading any text or really even really looking at any of its actual contents, that this isn't a traditional oblong comic. It's still reading left to right, top to bottom, but there's something different about it."

"The panel borders are not just a way to separate the imagery for clarity," Otsmane-Elhaou continues, "but they're a way to learn more about the characters and the worlds contained within them, without needing to bog you down with further exposition."

Dig into the details of what make this page so special by watching the full video below:

To see more, visit the Strip Panel Naked YouTube page, and check out its Patreon page to support the series.