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For Your Consideration: The Sandman

 

By Eric Hilliker

Looking for something new and interesting to read or watch? Well, I’m here to help. For Your Consideration will take a look at some movies and books that will hopefully pique your interest. So, head down to Mechanicville Public Library to pick it up or use their system to order it for pick up. You won’t be disappointed.

Wake up from a dream but something’s not quite right. Of course the dream is hard to remember and trying to grasp what just happened is quickly fleeting. Impossible ideas are quickly forgotten. The library containing every book that has been thought of, the nightmare with teeth for eyes, gods, monsters, a ghost-white man with long black hair. Surely this can’t be real. Just stories and dreams.

That creeping notion of still trapped in the dreaming lingers. The surreal landscape is no longer here but instead it’s a hotel that is hosting a serial killer convention.This can’t be a real. This is just a nightmare, right? This is just the world of Neil Gaiman’s classic comic series, The Sandman. Has this Twilight Zone beginning worn out its welcome? Maybe, if read in Rod Serling’s voi-

“Wake up, sir. We’re here.”

And begins Gaiman’s story that spans ten volumes, a number of spin-offs, a narrative that covers everything from the other dimensions to mundane, earthly locations. The Sandman is an ambitious and daunting series. It would have to be when it’s a story about stories. It also has a surly groundskeeper of a dreamland who has a pumpkin for a head.

So, if Merv Pumpkinhead doesn’t interest you then I have no idea why you’re here or what on Earth will please you. Carrying on.

Gaiman’s fantasy saga about the King of Dreams grew out of a proposal about a much more traditional superhero patrolling the world of dreams, a reinvention of the seventies version. Before Gaiman’s series, there had been two previous iterations, one the superhero and the other a gas mask donning vigliante from the forties (who would later get his own series- Sandman Mystery Theatre, a Thin Man-esque crime book which also comes highly recommended). DC, though, wanted something new to introduce. Enter, Morpheus, master of dreams, lord of dreams, or as he’s more commonly known, the Sandman.

To say that The Sandman is a story about the trials and tribulations of Morpheus would be shortsighted. Many times Morpheus acts merely as a catalyst to the many stories of the large cast of supporting characters and background players. Adding to Dream’s story is his dysfunctional family of undying beings come into play. Morpheus and his kin known as the Endless, which represent certain concepts- Death, Despair, Desire, Destiny, Delirium, and the missing brother Destruction are wrapped up in a family drama that spans eternity.

Gaiman also offers a glimpse at how these beings affect the lives of normal beings, from an amazing story featuring a dreaming kitten to a man who refuses to die. Gaiman is able to peerlessly tap into the human condition using the Endless as springboards to tell fable-like tales of how these endless concepts affect the individual and the world around them.

Opening up all of time and space Gaiman uses his boundless imagination to create these stories. It seems that nearly every type of story is in play here. From two-fisted superhero tales to Shakespearean drama, gothic horror to the mythical legends of ancient gods, and realist drama to a cosmic, dark comedy in Hell, no story is left unturned in Gaiman’s series. If Sandman wanted to be a story about stories, every type of story needed to be included.

Stories are the heart of The Sandman. Stories are the shaper of everything. The Sandman shows how something like a conventionally simple fable can move the heavens. It is with these that we pattern our lives and how the world can come into being. It is what people find comfort in, or use to distort and destroy. Sandman is filled with amazingly imaginative fantasy but at it’s heart it shows how stories can shape what we are.

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