Recently, I read the first volumes of two long-running comic book sagas: Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Bill Willingham's Fables. Though I'm not a huge comic book fan (compared to, say, Jane, for example), both series appealed to me so I gave them a shot. Here's what I thought.
As a Neil Gaiman fan, I've wanted to start this series for a long time. I've read one other Sandman book, Endless Nights, and found the Endless siblings fascinating. So I picked up volume one...and was mildly perplexed. It's a difficult series to get into; while I'm positive the stories get more interesting, I had a hard time connecting with the first volume on an emotional level. I do know that Gaiman himself has admitted that the first few Sandman issues read like a work in progress, but they do a decent job of introducing the universe, even if I'm still not entirely sure what was going on...plus, since I've never really been a DC fangirl, some references went over my head. I did, however, love, the final story where Death showed up for the first time (side note: you can't be friends with Jane and not know who Death is), and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the volumes, if only to see more of the other Endless.
Fables, on the other hand, was a lot easier to get into. The first volume reads like a noir mystery as the Big Bad Wolf tries to find out who (apparently) murdered Rose Red. In this case, I was a lot more familiar with the characters, all of whom are pulled from fairy tales. There's even a hint of Oz and Narnia being part of this particular universe, as well as other fantasy lands. Rose Red's murder is a traditional story with a beginning, middle, and end, but it's also a good introduction to the Fables world as it leaves enough loose threads (or breadcrumbs, I guess) for you to follow onto other stories. I also think I liked the artwork a little more in this one, though I appreciate how Sandman's Lucifer looks like David Bowie (RIP).