#SummerofSandman — Because #EndlessSummer is Taken Already

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

Diana, David, Holly and I started discussing a run of Sandman posts for Comparative Geeks back in February, and those are coming soon.  Since we’re publishing so many Sandman posts this summer, here’s an introduction to the series for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

The Sandman is a comics series by Neil Gaiman with various artists published by DC Vertigo between 1987 and 1996. It defies categorization. Fantasy-Horror-Supernatural epic is the best I can do for a descriptive label. The original run was 75 issues. It spawned various spinoffs, derivative works, etc.

Dream of the Endless, known to the Romans as Morpheus, is the central character. He is one of seven anthropomorphic personifications. He has two older siblings – Destiny and Death – and four younger ones – Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. The Endless are aware that they are anthropomorphic personifications. They are as powerful as gods and demons.

Dream of the Endless. Image via comicvine.com

Each of the Endless has a realm, which is also an aspect of themselves. So, for example, when Dream has a bad breakup and shuts himself away to wallow in self-pity, his realm is wracked by storms. The realms of the Endless are bounded but infinite. They are omnipresent and virtually invincible in their realms.

Time flows for the Endless the same as it does for the rest of us — they don’t do the timey-wimey jumping back-and-forth through history thing that Doctor Who does. They experience every moment in order. But in this series, future events echo into the past. Confused yet? Good!

The series itself is a collection of multi-issue arcs interspersed with 8- to 12-issue runs of stand-alone stories. The whole thing is woven together into coherent narrative that spans the history of the universe, but is set mostly in 20th Century Great Britain and the U.S. The Book Wars has a brief synopsis that covers the basics of the series with a discussion of its literary and social significance.

This is a story with loads and loads of characters, including not only the Endless, but many gods of the ancient pantheons, angels, demons, faerie, a few superheroes, normal humans who have gained supernatural longevity in various ways, and many historical figures. It’s a delicious concoction of folklore, modern tropes, and shoutouts to various classic fantasy, horror, and comics works.

The Endless have the ability to travel to any world or plane, except the Silver City, and to manifest visibly or invisibly in the waking world. Their appearance changes – sometimes from one panel to the next – based on their situation and  on who is observing them. They function at three distinct levels of reality.

  1. The macro level: Each of the Endless defines, and is defined by, their opposite concept. There is no free will without Destiny, no life without Death, etc.
  2. The paranormal political level: The Endless are nobility, and are recognized as such by Asgard, the king and queen of Faerie, the rulers of Hell, etc. They have diplomatic relations, alliances, and conflicts with various other entities.
  3. The family level: They don’t just call themselves siblings. They act like siblings, and the birth order makes sense. Like most families, they are a bit dysfunctional when it comes to relationships with one another.

Dream is the tallest. Clockwise from Dream: Destruction, Desire, Delirium, Despair, Death, Destiny. Image via Comicvine.com

Diana and I will each have three Thursday Thirteens covering our favorite Sandman characters, places, and stories here this summer. We didn’t consult one another in the building of the lists, so the similarities and differences should prove interesting. I also have a run of four character studies of the Endless in the works – one for Dream, one for Destiny and Death, one for Desire and Despair, one for Destruction and Delirium.

Want to join us for #SummerOfSandman? Here’s how: Write a blog post about Sandman between now and Aug. 1. Long or short, any format. Share your link with us on a Sandman thread here at CompGeeks or on Twitter using the hashtag #SummerOfSandman. It’s that easy.

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22 responses to “#SummerofSandman — Because #EndlessSummer is Taken Already

  1. Yay! We’re rolling. We don’t want to hashtag any more of the headlines. I hashtagged this one mainly to make it easier to track the retweets and see how I did with a surprise intro.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been meaning to read Sandman for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to it yet! Sounds like it’s a good time to get some reading in 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent…I just borrowed Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturnes from the library. I’ve been looking forward to reading this series. It’s been recommended by so many friends that I couldn’t pass it up! I will have to be sure to blog & tweet along this summer!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ohh That would be very cool if you blogged and tweeted along.

      Unless you have a problem with adult-themed comics, you will not be disappointed. Sandman made Vertigo.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No problem at all with adult-themed comics – I’m super obsessed with Saga, The Manhattan Projects, and East of West right now. I was never really interested in reading the superhero comics (except Batman, because…it’s Batman), but I love the darker storytelling that is found in the non-Marvel/DC comic world.

        I’m going to start Sandman this week!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not familiar with this series but it sounds fascinating. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s as inexhaustible as Tolkien, in my opinion. And it is the Rosetta Stone for decoding contemporary comic novels, as an art form unto itself.

      (We have huge private debates about using the term graphic novel” in my house, because it privileges the text over the art, and leaves the “comic” part out entirely. “Comic Novel” is a sort of compromise, is why I just coined the term. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh. 🙂 Well I think they are using the term “Graphic novel” , because so many adults also read these books, and comic may sound just too child like.

        i.e it is just a marketing thing.

        Like when adults were also reading Harry Potter, they could buy the book with a different cover. 🙂

        Like

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  8. Sounds really interesting. Sandman does seem like one of those stories I would enjoy more going in with a framework. I have the first volume, and remember trying to read it was very difficult (my impression at the time was that ‘this is a comic that wants to be a novel, and I almost wish it was’)

    Looking forward to following along!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Sourcerer and commented:

    Just in case you missed this last week.

    Like

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