There’s a lot of Neil Gaiman books that I could go into crazy amount of detail. Check out the Sandman post I made last week. I cut out TONS of crap from that one that was pretty much just geeking out. It was embarrassing and awesome. But it wasn’t necessary for the post.
Similarly, there’s Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli’s “Penny Dreadful” Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I could go on and on about this, but… there’s really not much to say. This item is fairly uncommon in Gaiman collections because it was only given away to subscribers of the horror comic zine Taboo, laid in the front cover of Issue 6.
The first page warns, “Sweeney Todd ‘Penny Dreadful’ is a limited edition and will never be reprinted in this format. Those who create unauthorized and unlawful reprints will be served up piping hot at Mrs Lovett’s in Bell Yard.”
The tone through the rest of the brief chapbook is fairly similar. Gaiman presents his text alongside Zulli’s illustrations, as well as beside different variations on the Sweeney Todd story.
In brief, Gaiman gives a brief literary history of Sweeney Todd, the character, and attempts to place the character into a greater historical context as well. It is a curious bit of work and well worth tracking down if you’re able to find a copy on the cheap.
The Penny Dreadful included in Issue 6 of Taboo and a Prologue published in Issue 7 are all that saw the light of day for this Gaiman\Zulli project. They went on to work on Sandman together(most interestingly in the story arc entitled The Wake), and a couple of other projects, but the Sweeney Todd idea seems dead in the water, killed by the disappearance of Taboo.
This is one of those Gaiman pieces that’s definitely more for the collector. It is a pretty cool idea, but never goes anywhere because the magazine folded. Part of me wants to scan it and upload it in full to my blog… but part of me can’t help but heed the warning at the beginning…