Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. This week: Frank Quitely! Today’s page is from The Sandman: Endless Nights, Chapter VII: “Destiny,”, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is dated 2003. Enjoy!
Neil Gaiman and DC decided to do a Sandman graphic novel in 2003, and at this point, Gaiman could call any artist he damn well wanted, and he got some good ones. Quitely drew the final story, and he began it with this gorgeous page. In case you’ve never read a comic before, Todd Klein lettered this sucker. Gaiman doesn’t do too much with this first page, just giving us the basic outlines of Destiny – he’s blind, he’s walking through a garden, and the garden is a maze. Easy-peasy!
Quitely’s fully painted page is wonderful. The use of the white is brilliant, giving the impression of emptiness and mystery, especially as he adds fog to the ground to make the white sky even more eerie. The cross-like design of the two pictures is nice, too – the page is perfectly balanced, with the tiny Destiny right in the middle of the first “panel” and the larger Destiny at the bottom anchoring the page. The ruins are fascinating – they’re an interesting mix of Greek, secular medieval (the castle in the far right) and religious medieval (the shell of the church in the center of the page). We don’t see a sun, but Quitely cleverly places Destiny in shadow, thrown by the large pile on the left. The trees on the left and the columns on the right frame Destiny well, and we get the maze etched on the ground. Down at the bottom, we see Destiny and his book, which is chained to his wrists. Quitely puts a stone arch behind him that appears to be totally detached from any bridge above it. It adds to the mystery and to the ethereal nature of the page. Quitely painted this page, which is why it looks a bit richer than your normal comic book page (the nice paper certainly doesn’t hurt, either), and it’s very interesting to see both the similarities and differences from his usual work. It also sets the tone for the story, which doesn’t feature traditional panels but uses the white background to move people through the story. It’s a nifty device.
As we move on, we must return to the God of All Comics. Yes, he’s back tomorrow. Deal with it! Or you could get diverted by the archives!