] Gaiman sees himself as part of the age-old profession of
] storytellers, but unlike a lot of the tiresome people who
] go around referring to themselves that way, he's right.
] His fiction, in its various media (he also writes screen-
] and radio plays), induces that blissful, semi-hypnotic
] state most of us first experienced as children, when the
] power of a book seemed to erase the world around us, and
] when reading felt almost like a drug. Gaiman is
] interested in all the traditional forms of storytelling
] -- legends, folk and fairy tales, myth -- and not just in
] the stories themselves, but the ways they get told. Not
] surprisingly, the hero of the Sandman epic is Morpheus,
] the King of Dreams, who also presides over stories.
] Gaiman certainly wasn't the first comics writer to draw
] on ancient myths, but he could be the first to really
] understand how myths work, not just as motifs but as
] nodes of meaning that gain new layers as we attach new
] experiences to old stories. For example, the Egyptian god
] Osiris, the Norse god Balder, Jesus and John F. Kennedy
] are all very different figures and yet -- in some
] fundamental way having to do with how we understand them
] -- also the same. As the British writer C.S. Lewis (a
] major influence on Gaiman) pointed out, a myth is a story
] that can be told and retold in very different ways and
] yet remain essentially intact. There is no original or
] correct version of the Orpheus myth, just countless ways
] of revealing it, and even people who haven't heard the
] traditional Greek version recognize it as something
] powerful when they meet it in another form.
Anything dealing with Neil Gaiman is worth reading. Salon takes a crack at trying to explain the mass appeal of Neil, despite the fact that he continues to go back to the medium of comic books. I have been an avid fan of his since 1988 when The Sandman began and am constantly trying to introduce his works to more and more people.