The Dream Hunters is a most excellent Sandman story written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame. It was published in 1999, which, of course, was after the Sandman comic's run finished, however Gaiman produced this new story for Sandman's tenth anneversary. It isn't crap. Unlike so many spin offs or stories produced after a book's run has ended, The Dream Hunters is really great.

It isn't really a comic; it is more like an illustrated story. The reason was that Gaiman wanted to do a comic with Amano, but though Amano likes and respects comics, he doesn't draw them. But they really wanted to work together, so they to do it as an illustrated story. It is very similar to the way the illustrated edition of Stardust was done.

Do not read it with the expectation of seeing a great, new, sexy story about Morpheus and company. Rather, it is mostly set in Japan and it tells the story of a monk, a fox, and dreams. Dream does show up, and the Dreaming does show up, but the book isn't ostensibly about Dream.

Amano renders everything in a wonderful and refreshing Japanese style of art. The pictures are absolutely beautiful, and most could stand on their very own merit without any words to back them up. It is particularly interesting to see a Japanese style Dreaming with a similarly styled populace, and I got a real kick out of seeing Cain and Abel portrayed in such a manner. It was quite refreshing and quite beautiful. . .

Gaiman's words are as strong as ever. He has started to cultivate a kind of fairy-tale style of prose: it is child-like without being childish, constantly brimming with wonder and imagination. Such a style was very much evident in Stardust and to quite a lesser degree in Neverwhere.

An interesting thing about The Dream Hunters is that Gaiman actually derived much of the story and plotting from an old Japanese myth, a myth that had some startling similarities to characters in the Sandman comics.

In his dedication, Amano mentions that he immensely enjoyed working with Gaiman and that "This is only the beginning." I certainly hope that they partner on other works, as this one is excellent.

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