Death: The High Cost of Living

death the high cost of living cover trade paperback tpb
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10

Classic comic collection


Comic Info

Comic Name:  Death:  The High Cost of Living

Publisher:  DC Comics/Vertigo

Writer:  Neil Gaiman

Artist:  Chris Bachalo/Mark Buckingham/Dave McKean

# of Issues:  3

Release Date:  1993

death the high cost of living #1 cover

Death: The High Cost of Living #1

Reprints Death:  The High Cost of Living #1-3 (March 1993-May 1993).  Sexton Furnival is tired of life.  He lives in New York City with his mother and is contemplating ending everything.  When he meets a strange girl named Didi in a dump, Sexton soon finds himself on an adventure.  Didi claims to be Death, and that she gets to live as a human for one day on occasion and that this is her day.  Tasked by Mad Hettie to find Hettie’s missing heart, Sexton and Didi are travelling the city…and Death could teach Sexton the meaning of life.

Written by Neil Gaiman, Death:  The High Cost of Living is a DC Comics limited series printed under the Vertigo imprint.  The series is a spin-off of The Sandman series and features art by Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, and Dave McKean.  Issues in the collection were also included in The Sandman Omnibus—Volume 3.

I fell in love with The Sandman in college and snapped up all the collections as the series was reaching its end.  Death:  The High Cost of Living might be a side note to The Sandman, but it is also one of the best Sandman stories ever told.

Death was the big breakout character from The Sandman.  First appearing in The Sandman #8 (August 1989), Gaiman switched up stereotypes and made Death a character that had a love for life because of her job.  Eternally perky and optimistic, Death’s job could be seen as the worst job in the world…but she sees herself as the best friend a person can have while making an important transition in life.

death the high cost of living #3 cover

Death: The High Cost of Living #3

Death’s love of life is explored in this collection.  She sees the little things in the world and revels in them…from fruit, to air, to experiences.  In exploring the character through Sexton, Sexton realizes that despite the tragedy of Death, that life has meaning that can be enjoyed.  It is a simple approach and a riff on the classic Death Takes a Holiday storyline (as it admits even in the story), but Gaiman makes it new and fresh.

The series also dips into The Sandman effortlessly by exploring the lives of Foxglove and Hazel who had bounced around The Sandman Universe for a while.  It is what makes The Sandman unique since the human aspect of The Sandman has always been an important part to the storytelling.  You don’t necessarily need to read Death:  The High Cost of Living if you are reading The Sandman, but there is no reason not to.

The Sandman is a great series, and the small excursions like Death:  The High Cost of Living is what makes it work.  With The Sandman finally being turned into a TV series, I hope that Death can get her day…and a movie (even a short movie) adapting this story would be a great turn.  Death:  The High Cost of Living was followed by Death:  The Time of Your Life.

Related Links:

Death:  The Time of Your Life

Sandman 1:  Preludes and Nocturnes

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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