display | more...
The eighth trade paperback in the excellent Sandman books. My copy is autographed by Neil Gaiman on page 93 in silver.

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Pencillers: Bryan Talbot, John Watkiss, Micheal Allred, Micheal Zulli, Shea Anton Pensa, Alec Stevens, Gary Amaro Inker: Dick Giordano, Mark Buckingham, John Watkiss, Michael Allred, Vince Locke, Alec Stevens, Tony Harris, Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Daniel Vozzo
Color Separation: Android Images, Digital Chameleon
Covers: Dave McKean
Introduction: Stephen King
Previously published in single magazine issues as Sandman #51-56

Contains the excellent short stories World's End, Sequences at the Inn, A Tale of Two Cities (not the Dickens), Cluracan's Tale, Hob's Leviathan, The Golden Boy, and Cerements.

The title refers to an inn much like the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, where divers people from various times and realms can meet for a mug of ale and a warm place to stay. They pass the time in the invariably bad weather with storytelling, until a strange procession makes its way past outside. The meaning of storytelling and the identities of the passersby are debated, and then most of the assembled company depart.

It's one of the best Sandman collections, and easily the best of the short story collections, because it's all held together by the framework of the Inn, and because of the depth. In Hob's Leviathan, part of the story is the telling of a tale by one of the characters--a tale within a tale! And Cerements contains four tales within itself, the third of which contains four more tales, the third of which is described in one panel, thusly:

There was a story about a coach-full of prentices and a master, swept away from Litharge by dark magics, who took their refuge in a tavern, where the price of haven was a tale.
In case you lost track, that's a tale about the book you're reading, within a tale, within a tale, within a tale, within the book you're reading. Now, show me any other comic book that can achieve that intense, interwoven, self-referential depth without sounding pretentious, and I'll say, "But I've already read The Watchmen".