Neil Gaiman Month #2: The High Cost of Living, Death Talks About Life

The High Cost Of Living

Literary concept of death as the protagonist has been one of the most used for centuries. From ancient tales, fables, all the way through sci-fi novels and TV shows, every new culture and subculture had to say something about how the good old Grim Reaper does his never-ending job. Some creators dealt with the matter lightheartedly, as Terry Pratchett did, and there is the other faction that used a more grim approach. One of these people is Neil Gaiman, and his series “The High Cost Of Living” asks one question- what if Death was one of us, even for a day? This series is a spin-off from Gaiman’s magnum opus “The Sandman”, and its premise is very simple- Death decides to step down every now and then (actually once in a century, but that is every now and then for Death) among the ordinary folks and see how it affects society. Each time it takes a human form, this time a young goth girl named Didi, who walks among people who are not aware of who she really is, even though she is not keen on hiding it. The plot deals with the ways Didi interacts with people who are soon to become her customers, as well as people in general. The series was written in the mid 90’s, hence it should not come as a surprise that characters are made as bleak as possible. That was a trademark of the period. Characters are drawn nicely, though, with Didi/Death stealing every panel she is in. Death sure can be attractive sometimes, as characters and most of the readers will find out while reading this series. It may be considered as too dreamy and some readers may say that some of the plot points tend to go nowhere, but hey- it is Neil Gaiman, and you should have been prepared by now.

Death Talks About Life

Neil Gaiman is one of those authors who have the ability to persuade you to embrace their world no matter how weird it can look like at one point or the other. No matter what you read, if you do not catch this sensation in “The Sandman”, “Stardust” and “Coraline”, you will definitely feel it when you catch yourself reading about the human representation of Death who informs readers about STDs and a right way to use a condom. This is exactly what happens in six-page comics “Death Talks About Life”, part of the “Death” spin-off. This episode is short and quite educational, but it is impossible not to see well-known facts about AIDS from a different angle when Death in person informs you about it. We get to know about the origin of AIDS, how it is transmitted, and what to avoid in order not to meet with, well, our narrator. There is even a hilarious scene when Death or Didi, reaches out for help to explain how a condom is used from certified bad-ass John Constantine, who is ridiculously embarrassed by the fact that he has to bring a banana to Didi as a model for the demonstration. All in all, this is a fun, yet educational take on the education about STDs, and it is possible it will have more impact than most of the pamphlets.

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