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May 8th, 2006


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10:21 am - Cartoons? At Your Age?
Ever since my friend Angelo hooked me on comics, I have been told, repeatedly, to read The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman.

And now I finally have.

There are a few seminal masterpieces of comic literature that came out of the '80s, including The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. Both of them lived up to the hype; both were great stories well told, using the medium to its fullest advantage, proving that little panels with words and pictures could be just powerful as black-and-white text or even those newfangled "moving pictures."

The Sandman, much longer than both of them combined, is similarly fantastic. It's both grand in scope and intensely personal. It's thought-provoking and inventive. It's funny and heartbreaking. It's imaginative and derivative and imaginatively derivative. It combines multiple religions and mythoses into one all its own. It takes minor characters from one story and puts them in pivotal roles in another. It tackles themes of identity, family, change, responsibility, life, death, love, storytelling, and everything in between.

It is, to be perfectly honest, epic. Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed, epic.

Now, going into the story, I knew next to nothing about it, and I've found that if possible, that's the best way to experience a story. So I will stop here and give The Sandman my utmost approval for those of you who need one more person telling you to read the blasted thing. When you get around to it, tell me what you think.

For those of you who have already read it, continue on to my initial reactions as I went along, posted on other messageboards. Then join me in the comments and tell me your favorite stories, your favorite characters, your favorite whatevers.

You've got your head in the clouds, but you really do go to sleep to dream.



April 28, 2006

I've read the first three issues of Preludes (just finished the one with Constantine), and I'm liking it so far. A couple of people have said this wasn't a good place to start, but I'm a stickler for reading things in their proper order if I can. And I'm glad I did so because otherwise I wouldn't have really understood what was going on, would I? I didn't know anything about the actual plot of the book, so it helped to start at the beginning.

So the basic plot is "The Sandman goes around and gets his stuff back." That can't go on for seventy issues, though, so I'm sure there will be more to bringing Dreamland back to its proper order than just that.

I think the concept behind the world of dreams is very cool, the way it's a symbiotic relationship with the human world. It's both a place we go when we sleep, but we can also infuse it with our own creations. And now it's in shambles, so Dream has to bring his kingdom back to glory.

Alan Moore created John Constantine for Swamp Thing, right? Oh, criminy, that's the "green bloke" he was referring to. I can see some of the attempts to put this in the DC universe that were mentioned. Is that random guy in Arkham Asylum an important character? His scene seemed pointless. And the reference to the League of Justice felt random and out of place. Also, the witches referred to "superhumans," but the picture showed Batman. And either Robin or Green Lantern, it was hard to tell.

Cain and Abel aren't supposed to be the Biblical Cain and Abel, are they? Because...I don't remember gargoyles in the Bible. They're just dudes who live in the Dreamworld?

At lunch, I will read all about Dream's adventures in Hell!



I just read the Hell issue. Fun little Hellfire Club game. And there was Dee at the end, getting some sort of eye-on-a-chain. Wonder what that's all about.



I finished Preludes and Nocturnes. Good introduction. John Dee is a frickin' crazy psycho monster. I was sad when he killed Rosemary; she was a sweet, naive woman. And "24 Hours" was very freaky.

Death is hot.



April 29, 2006

mrbroom: Gaiman's said "24 Hours" was one of the most disturbing things he'd written to date, which is probably true.

I don't doubt it. It's completely unrelentless and unsympathetic and brutal, with no happy ending in sight. As you read it, you just keep thinking, "This can't be happening."

I like the way Dream talks in black text bubbles.



April 30, 2006

All right, I'm halfway through A Doll's House, and I'm loving it more and more. It's becoming a whole lot more epic, with the tale of Nada and the machinations of Desire and Despair and the escape of Dreaming citizens and everything is connected and important!

I wasn't surprised to see Unity Kinkaid again because Gaiman specifically mentions her in his recap of the first volume, so it was like being spoiled by a previously. I think it's amusing thar Rose's hair is about four colors, and depending on what angle you see her, you only see one at a time.

Comic books are such a physical, tangible medium. It's such a strange experience to have to turn the book ninety degrees for four pages.

Dream is kind of a badass ("I don't think you'll enjoy the next few thousand years"), but he's also kind of a jackass. What he did to Nada was asshattery of the highest degree. "You won't marry me, so here's a hot cup of eternal torment"? The hell? That's a new twist on the old "Immortal in love with a mortal" story.

I've decided that the ending of Part Three is a good stopping point until tomorrow. It's when Jed gets picked up by the Corinthian, which made me audibly say, "Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck," and, well, I love when stories make me do that.

I will not be surprised if I have nightmares about the Corinthian. Dude has TEETH FOR EYES.



Just finished Doll's House, and damn, this is good stuff.

How twisted is Gaiman to come up with a SERIAL KILLER CONVENTION and how dumb am I that it took me half the issue to figure out that's what it was?

I like Gilbert, especially because he can inspire exchanges like "What a wonderful place."/"Yeah. It was a friend of mine."

The ending felt a little deus ex angina, but it worked. And it ties in to the Big Picture of Desire trying to fuck with Dream for...some reason. The Endless are one wacky family. Dream and Death seem to get along, and Desire and Despair are tight, and Destiny seems like he might be the oldest, and there's this D who's disappeared that I don't know. I like how the final panel of Desire with her arms in the air made her look like one of the natives from the first issue.

I'm a sucker for Lost-style random connections like the fact that Rose's best friend was in the diner with John Dee.

I will wait for the time when Robert Gadley becomes important, though there was another instance where Dream acted like an ass, all, "You DARE accuse me of being lonely? I'm ENDLESS, bitch!"

I'm loving the worldview being presented here, just the way the Endless and the living interact, how the anthropomorphic characters really do represent facets of humanity, and thus Gaiman manages to say a lot of interesting things without actually saying them.



April 30, 2006

Just finished Dream Country (what, it's four issues, why put it off till tomorrow?). Good stuff, though obviously not as compelling as the last series, what with the four isolated tales.

It's hard to sympathize with the main character in "Calliope," and I don't think Gaiman expects us to. Still, the plight hits home for writers, and Dream has a very sadistic streak when it comes to punishment (I still love Eternal Waking, which I first interpreted to mean Never Sleeping before I discovered it was something more clever).

"Dream of a Thousand Cats" is very cute, and it's a neat way of taking the cliché of "Dreams can change the world" and...interpreting it literally.

"Midsummer Night's Dream" is all right. I feel like it doesn't really rise above its premise. Yes, it's clever to have the characters represented in the play watch the play being performed, but the actual story doesn't have much going for it. I liked the backseat comments from the peanut gallery ("But issa love story. Not dinner."). Puck's taking over Puck didn't really lead to anything. I like it for continuing the Shakespeare plot from the Gadling story, and I find it interesting that Faerie is a world all to itself, distinct from the Dreaming. I begin to wonder how many different realities are meant to interact with the mortal plane. Also, I can understand why Gaiman ended up writing American Gods, because he clearly has a fascination with the interplay between immortals and mortals. Finally, this story and "Calliope" are signs that he also has a fascination with the nature of stories and storytelling, and for that, I love him.

"Facade" may have been better if I had any idea who Element Girl was. But I liked that Death was "just passing through," and I was very amused that right after I had the thought, "You know, Death can't go around taking everyone's soul personally. People are dying all the time, all around the world. She can't be everywhere at once," she said, "I can be everywhere at once, so suck it, Sunil."

The included script for "Calliope" was very enjoyable. Gaiman has all these random comments about what he's watching on TV and what the weather's like, and the descriptions are very casual, beginning with "Okay" and "Right."

Tomorrow, Season of Mists. This better be as good as everyone says!



May 1, 2006

I'm halfway through SOM now, and I see why everyone loves it. This is some crazy cool shit going down here. First, it's great to get all the remaining Endless (I still can't figure out who the missing D is...Darkness? Dumbledore?) in one place, and it's rather telling that ten thousand years have gone by, and Dream never even gave a second thought to what he did to Nada (and what an ironic name, huh?). Also, I think the brother/sister relationship between Dream and Death is really cute. Especially because he's the little brother.

Dream is such a drama queen! "Bye, everyone. I might never come back. Just so you know. Here I go to Hell. Remember, you might never see me again. Because I'm going to Hell. Did I mention I might never come back?" And yet, I still don't have a sense of why he was so afraid; we haven't really seen an example of Lucifer's power, per se. What makes him the second-most powerful being in the universe.

Of course, there are other kinds of power. I enjoy Lucifer's characterization, the way he's so resentful of mankind. And I would never, ever have predicted his little gambit. The whole issue I was thinking, "This can't be for real. There has to be an ulterior motive. How is he going to screw Dream over?" And then it comes. All it takes is a key. It's a constant theme in this book, masking punishments in things that don't look like punishments.

And now everyone wants a piece of Hell. So cool! Dream should set up time-shares or something. Plus, the dead are returning! Zombies everywhere! I'm halfway through the zombie issue, and I hope it gets better than little dead schoolchildren running around.



glumpish: But the fact that Dream is afraid of him is supposed to tell you all you need to, since we know Dream's not exactly wimpy. You're not supposed to anticipate his concerns, you're supposed to go, "Gee, if even Dream is worried about this, I guess Lucifer is going to be really tough." Build up all that anticipation and then deflate it.

Oh, yeah, I gathered that was the intended effect, and I thought that myself. I acknowledged that Gaiman was using the "When scary things get scared" approach. And I loved how disappointed Dream was. "I thought...I thought that we would fight." He's so confused!



What I'm finding interesting about Sandman is that it's not as outwardly Deep and Profound as I thought it would be. I mean, there are cool plots and stuff! I'd gotten the impression that it was just some huge masturbatory string of literary and mythological references like The Waste Land.



So I finished Season of Mists, and hm. I think overall, I'm not as in love with it as I anticipated at the beginning. Various realms bitching over who gets to rule Hell is wicked cool, don't get me wrong, but I feel like there should have been more. Maybe I want more damn fighting. This is a comic, for God's sake! Where's my THWAP! POW! BIFF!

And in this story, rather than deus ex angina, we get deus ex...deus. I mean, the resolution makes a certain kind of sense, but it also feels like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan. We're teased with all these things Dream could have gotten from various factions, and in the end all he got was the relief of having gotten rid of the key. I did love, however, the angel's progression from "You can't do this! I haven't rebelled!" to "That's it! I'm rebelling!...Shit."

Oh, oh, and I must say: CHEER UP, EMO ENDLESS. "I've got this key I don't want, and it's causing me so much paaaaaain. I'm going to wear my black clothes and sit in the dark and broooooood." Of course, he balances it out every time he's like, "You're in the Dreaming, bitch! This is MY WORLD."

Also, I thought the zombie schoolchildren issue was kind of meh. It was boring and confusing. Yeah, I'm sure it will be important later, but that's no excuse for not making the setup a good read. When Death is going around cleaning up after a big mess ("When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth!"), I want to see THAT. I want to see mass chaos everywhere. Not just someone's dead grandmother talking about anal sex. Though that was good.

I think the problem is Gaiman keeps subverting my expectations, and dammit, once in a while I want him to fulfill them.



May 1, 2006

And I finished Game of You, which managed to be simultaneously satisfying and unsatisfying. It's well plotted, for the most part, and it doesn't have a random, unrelated middle issue like the two previous story arcs. As for the resolution, Gaiman embraces the comfortable familiarity of the Companion Who Unexpectedly Betrays You followed by the You Made It All Up, but then he adds the old Sandman twist (Note: I laughed out loud at "Is this where I find out I was abused as a child and I've been blocking it all these years?" because OMG IF I SEE THAT ONE MORE TIME). I wonder what Thessaly's deal is. Barbie is much more of an interesting character than I ever would have thought from her initial appearance.

Donna (as in belladonna) becomes Foxglove. Clever.

But I found it hard to really care about the fate of The Land because, for one, Dream didn't seem to care, and plus...it just seemed like it belonged in a different book. The art was deliberately incongruous with the rest of the book, with kiddie-style talking animals. And they weren't characters we really knew at all, so their presence in the Dreaming isn't very substantial. Okay, I was sad when Wilkinson died. Plus, the whole thing was internal, basically; it didn't seem to connect to the larger arc beyond being a slight side effect of Rose's vortex dream.

Dream is such a bitch. "You have trespassed! I am very displeased!" Oh, cool it. Just let them go. Have we met Alianora before?

From the Afterword, it's clear this was a story Gaiman really wanted to tell, and I think for some people, this could be their favorite one. It could hit all the right buttons; it's more human than the previous ones. But I'm ready to move on.



May 2, 2006

Oh, I like Nuala. She was so cute in GOY when Dream told her she did the right thing by warning Barbie.



May 2, 2006

Halfway through Fables and Reflections, and it's kind of a mixed bag.

"Fear of Falling" is trite and forgettable. Sometimes when you fall, you fly? Really? I've never heard that one before.

"Three Septembers and a January" made me smile. It's cute, and there's a cameo by Mark Twain. Plus, we get another teeny piece of the Desire puzzle: she wants Dream to invoke the Kindly Ones. We already knew she was trying to get him to spill family blood. Plus, more mystery about the missing brother. Man, I hope I'm not disappointed when we finally learn what went down with that. And when Desire finally wins...and given that the penultimate book is called The Kindly Ones, I'm betting she does, or at least comes close. But why? What is this all for? Oh, the Endless. You and your sibling rivalry that threatens the very fabric of existence.

"Thermidor" has a talking severed head, and that's about the best part. I think there were supposed to be important themes about the French Revolution or something, but...I didn't care.

"The Hunt" was good. I do enjoy the old grandfather-telling-a-story conceit, and the narrative is old school, which is fun. It took me too long to recognize that the tall man was Lucien. I love Lucien. He's like Dream's Alfred. I should have seen that last twist coming, dammit. It's not like it's particularly new. Again, this is Gaiman being fascinated with the nature of stories and storytelling. Trust the story, not the storyteller. Huh.

"August," like "Thermidor," seems to rely on historical context for its oomph, and I didn't really care. It's mostly interesting to note that the Greek gods do exist in this world.

The one-offs are a neat idea, although this collection is strange in its content, with issues out of order and ones from way in the future. Freaky!



May 3, 2006

I finished Fables and Reflections.

"Soft Places" is...this whole collection seems to be stories about Gaiman playing with historical figures, and I'm just not getting into them. Sure, Marco Polo is cool, but his story, not so much. There are some nice touches, like the very idea of a "soft place," where the line between dream and reality blur, I like that; I was amused by the setting of the desert, which allowed the use of physical sand; and I like Fiddler's Green. It's a decent tale, but not a favorite.

"The Song of Orpheus" is Gaimain's retelling of the Orpheus myth, and since I'm into Greek mythology, I liked it all right. It's our first glimpse of Destruction, the prodigal brother (was the special published before or after Brief Lives?). It's interesting to make Orpheus the son of Morpheus, and...was it always like that? The similarity in names can't be coincidence. I don't remember the details of the myth as I learned it. I don't recall anything about Furies ripping him apart, either. But I really liked the short scene with Charon, entranced by the song of Orpheus. It's a nice reminder that just because you serve in Hades does not mean you don't appreciate beauty. And the ending is a killer, with a biting parallel. GREAT FUCKING PARENTING, DREAM! At least he went to the trouble to get his son's severed head back a few thousand years later. Man, wouldn't life suck as a head?

"The Parliament of Rooks" is of course a winner, being a story about stories. And Matthew is now one of my favorite Dreamlings. Also, Hippolyta! Daniel! Oh, continuity. And it makes me wonder what Dream really wants with Daniel (he doesn't even appear in the issue!) because the baby's allowed in the Dreaming and gets to hang out with Dream's peeps. And oh my God, Li'l Death and Li'l Dream are SO CUTE HEE HEE HEE.

"Ramadan" was very, very nice. It reminded me of "August" in that it was about a monarch's feelings about his kingdom, but I was much more into it, I think because of the style, the use of mythical language, the feeling that you're sitting in a room and being told a great story about fantastical events. And it's so sweet, Haroun's wish to have the city preserved in dreams so that it can last forever.

I've read the first issue of Brief Lives. This is going to be good.



May 3, 2006

I am beginning to see why [mrbroom] love[s] Delirium. She's cracking me up.



alliterator: Yeah, I made sure not to spoil you with anything later on in the series. Like how DESTRUCTION IS TOTALLY THE ONE WHO KILLED LILLY KANE.
spectralbovine: OMG IS DESTRUCTION ONE OF THE FITZPATRICKS?!?!?!
alliterator: THE FITZPATRICKS ARE THE ENDLESS! Desire is Liam! Destruction is Father Fitzpatrick. Dream is, um, Molly Fitzpatrick.
spectralbovine: Danny Boyd is Delirium! Cormac is Despair! Special appearance by Kendall as Death!

And I'm out.
alliterator: Thank you for participating in the Non Sequitor Hour.



Okay, so, Brief Lives wins. Damn. That was good shit, from beginning to end.

It helped that there was a very strong narrative revolving around a clear, well-defined goal (I think this is a reason I preferred Doll's House to Season of Mists): find Destruction. What also helped is the team-up of Death and Delirium, who just happens to be fucking hilarious. Nearly everything she says in this book is totally awesome. I love that she speaks in funky colors. Her childlike mentality is even funnier in contrast to Dream's dour demeanor. And sometimes she's so adorable I want to smush her.

There's also a lot of great character stuff in here, as we get a real sense of the siblings' relationships with Destruction and what he meant to them. The Sandman, ultimately, is about family. And I think Gaiman nails the complex relationships that exist between siblings of different genders and ages.

As a sidenote, Gaiman fails at the complex relationships that exist between mortals in love. Nearly every dealing with romance comes off as very clichéd, and thankfully, there isn't a lot of it. He fares better with the immortals, though, and I love that the fact that Dream got dumped again serves as motivation for him to go on this journey with his sister, to distract him, to take his mind off her, whoever she was. That rings true.

I am a complete moron for not recognizing Destruction the first time we see him with Barnaby. His pages even end with a line about family, and what I didn't see at first was that the room with the pool had all the damn sigils. I was supposed to have figured it out then. Instead, I clued in on the family the second time he appeared, and I let out an audible "Oh my God." Because it was so fucking perfect that when Destruction quits, he embraces creation, in the form of art. Painting, poetry, cooking, etc. And I was glad that Gaiman never really spelled that out for us, which made me feel smart for picking up on it.

I wonder where the hell Barnabas the Talking Dog came from. He gets special lettering.

I love that Dream is so unwilling to recognize that he's changed. Even though it's clear by his actions that he has, he doesn't want to accept it.

It's interesting that Destruction left because of science. Because of the rise of the Age of Reason. It makes "Thermidor" more thematically relevant. I'm not particularly sure why that spurred him to leave, though Peter Straub, in his afterword, seems to interpret it as his being unwilling to participate in the sort of destruction that science would herald. I saw it more of a reaction to what he talks about at the end, the fact that the Endless are really just anthropomorphs cooked up by humanity, and a focus on reason threatens their relevance. It's as if he quit so that he wouldn't be fired.

Also, nice to see the Corinthian again.

Ever since I read Siddhartha, I've been fascinated with the concept of duality, so I of course loved the recurrence of that theme throughout the story.

I didn't expect Destruction to come back, really, and I wasn't sure what to expect from the penultimate issue, but I think it ended up working for me. What Dream and Delirium needed was closure. Dream, whether he'll admit or not, was there when Destruction was deciding to leave, and he probably blamed himself a little for not stopping him. Delirium needed to know he was okay. It was time for a check-in, after three hundred years.

Then Dream kills his son, not out of malice but out of love, a love he'd probably deny feeling. And I don't know Desire swore this oath that he'd shed family blood, but now he's done it, and she didn't even have to do anything.

Brief lives. A strange term to use around immortals, or even long-living mortals.

Random questions: what the hell is up with Dream's helm? Why does it look so weird? It makes him look like an alien. Why did Delight turn into Delirium? Why did Despair become Desire's twin? What Endless was destroyed? Who are Mary Canby and Chloe Russell?

Looks like the world ends in the next book. What fun.



May 4, 2006

glumpish: Oh, and the bit that always breaks me is Dream curled up in a chair at the end of Brief Lives.

He's so utterly depressed during that book. I mean, even moreso than usual. It's very sad. You want to read all his lines in the voice of Marvin from H2G2.



May 4, 2006

I would like to like Worlds' End more than I do because I should ostensibly love it, given how I go on and on about how I love story. And of course I enjoy the conceit of a bunch of travelers telling stories to each other to pass the time, and I am amused by the fact that these stories sometimes have stories within their own narratives (and those can have nested stories as well), and then at the end a surprise layer of narrative is peeled away. Charlene kind of speaks for me at the end with her discontent. Most of the stories didn't really grab me, and I found some a little confusing.

I really like "Tale of Two Cities," especially for the art. It's very, very different from anything else in the series, but it works perfectly for the story. And the idea that cities have dreams is rather lovely.

"Cluracan's Tale" is one I felt okay about not liking a lot because Cluracan himself kept saying it was boring and insipid. What I did like was the notion that he'd embellished the tale with a swordfight, among other things. Mainly, I couldn't make sense of the faerie politics (psychopomp? carnifex?) and thus couldn't understand the big deal.

"Hob's Leviathan" was all right, a nice little sea story with a sea monster spread. And I liked the tale of the immortality-giving fruit, especially since it was told to Hob, of all people. And the denouement touches on a theme that pops up a lot in the series, humanity's disbelief in the fantastic. Even though Jim saw the sea serpent with her own eyes, no one will believe her.

I liked "The Golden Boy," which also had very nice art. Boss Smiley is amusing. And I just liked the character of Prez, his unflagging idealism and the way it was tied to the desire to fix watches.

"Cerements" was similar to "Cluracan's Tale" in that I couldn't really understand the world, so I found the stories confusing. I liked Destruction's cameo, though.

The Chaucerian frame story was a nice one. The first thing I noticed was that the art was more similar to what I'm used to these days, with the characters much sharper and distinct (plus the color gradient in the narration boxes). Most of the art in the series has been kind of scraggly (although I really did like the original penciller who quit after a few issues). But the story itself was good too. My guess is that the reality storm is a result of Death's shedding family blood, but the funeral march of the Endless makes it seem to relate to the death of whichever Endless was destroyed so long ago. And, well, since time is all a muddle at the end of the worlds, maybe that's what it is. Unless another Endless just died, in which case...uh.

It's a strange tale, this one.



May 4, 2006

Aw, fuck. I knew I shouldn't even be SKIMMING the introductions. I mean, I had a slight inkling Dream was going to die, what with the final book being called The Wake, but I still hate being actually spoiled.



May 5, 2006

I have just finished The Kindly Ones.

Holy motherfucking Jesus Christ on a stick wow.

I'm not sure I should even try to write a coherent post about everything because it's so frickin' long. But let me first try a list of all that is awesome.

The hot blonde Fate. Lucifer as a nightclub singer. The framing of Lyta's half-crazed wanderings through the city and other realms. The pretty colors and sharp, chiaroscuro-tastic artwork. The very first panel we see of Dream remaking the Corinthian. Matthew. The Corinthina. Matthew and the Corinthina. Lucien. That Lucien was the first Raven. That Delirium's entire plotline is searching for her doggie. Rose Walker. Nuala. That Puck, of course, stole the baby. The old woman's story that ends with a giant worm eating a man's face. The structure of Part Eight, which spans one week in the life of Dream. That the Corinthian cuts Loki's fucking eyes out. Merv Pumpkinhead's last stand. The visual shock of seeing Dream bleed. Matthew, again. Death. That Daniel becomes Dream. The framing device...that ends in cleavage.

No one I've talked to has listed this one as a favorite, which frightened me at first because I thought, well, if the series peaks at Brief Lives and Kindly Ones is ginormous, um. This is definitely one of my favorites; it's so damn epic. It's the culmination of so much that's gone on in the last eight books.

You know, looking back, Rose's storyline didn't seem to serve a larger purpose, especially because the whole thing with Desire leaving her realm was never explained. I mean, I like Rose, so I didn't mind, but it's only now that I realize it never connected to the main plot. Oh, wait, she was the babysitter, but that was in the first couple issues, and she didn't have to go on her big journey to England and be taking care of Zelda and all that. Although her little fling with Jack was one bit of relationshipness that actually worked for me.

But the main plot, geez. You've got Lyta wandering around and joining the Furies, Matthew and the Corinthian searching for a baby, Loki setting people on fire, the Furies rampaging through the Dreaming and killing people who shouldn't be killed, and Dream going out in one big self-flagellating flash of glory.

We harken back to Brief Lives, and Dream finally admits he has changed. As you may well know, one of my pet themes is identity issues, and Kindly Ones hits it much better than A Game of You tried to. You've got the Corinthian trying to come to terms with his own new existence despite having shades of his old self still around. Matthew struggles to understand his past to better understand his future. Nuala chooses to be without her glamour because she feels more comfortable as her true self. Thessaly has changed her name but not her game. And Dream, Dream contends with the age-old notion that it is our actions that define us. He has certain responsibilities; he does what he must do. (A slight tangent: this is a being who has put parts of himself into precious stones, so does he even feel complete?)

It's a fabulous tragedy, this. Dream kills his own son, and despite the fact that he did it on his son's wish, he is prepared to accept the natural consequences of that action. Those years of imprisonment really fucked him up good. He is so tied to his responsibilities that he cannot abandon his realm like Destruction did; he finds another way out. It's all so complicated and complex and depressing.

And of course, it all comes back to stories, even in this installment. It was Orpheus' stories that made the Furies cry, that brought about his death. The Fates spin the tale enclosed between the covers. Destiny carries around the story of existence. Stories and songs abound, shaping the fabric of the universe.

As I move on to The Wake, I still have so many questions. Why did Desire want Death to shed family blood, and why did she leave her realm? Who manipulated Loki and Puck into stealing Daniel? Who is the other inhabitant of the Dreaming who was once a Raven? Shit, Desire didn't fuck Rose in her sleep and impregnate her, did it? And other questions I'm forgetting right now.

Very clever, Gaiman. Dream is dead, and thus now it is time to Wake.



May 8, 2006

And I finished The Wake. I really liked the art; it was like colored charcoal.

It, appropriately, had a very denouement feeling, and I liked the way it dealt with some of the consequences of having a new Dream, in that it's hard to accept him. It's hard to accept the other denizens of the Dreaming who were brought back as well. Their very existence pokes at the nature of identity and the idea that death defines life. Poor Fiddler's Green, who merely wants to rest in peace.

I love Delirium. And the word "forgettery."

Matthew is awesome. Best talking bird ever!

So the first Despair was killed a long, long time ago, huh? I wonder how that happened. Now I understand the bit about Despair "becoming" Desire's twin: they were always twins, of course, but the "becoming" part was referring to the new Despair taking over.

Ha! The chick who dumped Dream and forced him into Brief Lives was THESSALY?!

And oh! Aw! Destruction showed up!! I mean, he didn't show up, show up, but he stopped by. I like Destruction for some reason, even though we don't see much of him.

The wake and funeral were both very lovely. I think it was exactly what the story deserved, if that makes any sense. It felt right. Even the breaking of the fourth wall to include the reader in the ceremony.

I don't understand why Gaiman wrote two extra issues after it, though. "Exiles" was better than "Soft Places," and I must say, it was nice to see the old Dream again for a bit, but "The Wake" closed things out so nicely it didn't feel necessary. "The Tempest" was better than "Midsummer Night's Dream," even though I don't really care for The Tempest. And I do wonder whether the Guy Fawkes thing was a V for Vendetta shout-out. Since I am a Shakespeare fan, it was cool to have an issue with him as the main character. Still odd as the final issue of the series, though. Or maybe not so odd. It's a bittersweet tale because we see that Dream, even 300 years ago, was so very trapped by his sense of responsibility. He will never leave his island. And it takes 60 years of hardcore captivity to give him the perspective that leads to his way off the island.

I have now read Sandman. I feel enriched and cool.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Gimble - Way to Mandalay [in my head]

(58 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
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You are a simple girl with simple desires, Cimmy.
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From:jeeperstseepers
Date:May 8th, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC)
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Hooray for Neil Gaiman love!

Death is hot.

Yes. Yes, she is. And I love that she's the cheeriest of the lot.

CHEER UP, EMO ENDLESS.

Hee! Dream really is such an emo boy, isn't he.

One day I'll read all of Sandman. I have to, as Neil's future wife. I just wish it were all in prose or animated mini-series format. Like I've said, I get too frustrated following panels, speech bubbles, and pictures at the same time. I'll never have a problem with my kids reading comics; I think it'll sharpen their attention and observation skills.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
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And I love that she's the cheeriest of the lot.

There is something delightful about the personification of Death saying, "Hiya, big brother!"

I just wish it were all in prose or animated mini-series format.

It wouldn't be the same! I mean, obviously, but.

Like I've said, I get too frustrated following panels, speech bubbles, and pictures at the same time.

Yeah, sometimes it gets confusing because you don't know what direction to read, or you end up reading the bubbles out of order, but once you get used to it, it's easy.
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From:punzerel
Date:May 8th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
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HURRAY! I haven't read them all yet but they're on the list.
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From:dachelle
Date:May 8th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Hee. Emo Dream. So true.

I *heart* Matthew.

I really, really wish I had all my Sandman books with me so I could re-read right now. Damn them being in storage in Austin.

Glad you liked Sandman. Now you must read Mike Carey's Lucifer, which is just my favoritest series ever.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
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I *heart* Matthew.

I know! I think he and Lucien are my favorites in the Dreaming.

I liked that Lucifer and Mazikeen were at Dream's funeral.
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From:ashfae
Date:May 8th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Why did Desire want Death to shed family blood, and why did she leave her realm?

There's a book you're missing that helps explain a little bit of this; Endless Nights. It's mentioned in that one that Desire and Dream used to be particularly close, until Desire mischeviously decided to play a trick on Dream and his lovelife (always comes back to that...I suppose Dream's tragedy is that no one can stay in love with the same dream {Dream} forever, and he refuses to change). He was Not Pleased. She resented his being Not Pleased. It escalated from there, I imagine.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
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Ah. Desire is such a bitch.
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From:sisterjune
Date:May 8th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
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I must admit Death and Delirium were always my favorites. Death cause she's funny and hits dream with a piece of bread and Delrium cause she's CRAZY.
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From:sabra_n
Date:May 8th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
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Oooh Sandmanyay! *glee* I think a lot of people don't like The Kindly Ones because of the frustration of watching Dream die in his own realm. He's Dream! He's not supposed to do that! But yeah, it makes perfect sense, and heaven knows it packs an emotional punch.

And Destruction is great because he's like this giant Viking who's somehow related to a bunch of pasty goths. :P

-blue
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
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I'll bet Destruction and Thor went out drinking every now and then.
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From:ocvictor
Date:May 8th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Things I can say now:

"Thermidor" has a talking severed head, and that's about the best part. I think there were supposed to be important themes about the French Revolution or something, but...I didn't care.

It's still one of my favorites, and of course now you can see that this is the place the entire endgame is set up. Well, here and in "Calliope," but in both cases the reader is distracted by shiny A plots when you should be looking at the B -- how Orpheus' fate has profoundly affected Morpheus, and how it took his being held prisoner to let him understand that well enough to change him. And of course, as the Endless represent points of view (as pointed out by Abel) that change can only be represented by death. (Thus, he can't really just "get over" his whiny emo-ness, because that, too, would be change.)

Because it was so fucking perfect that when Destruction quits, he embraces creation, in the form of art. Painting, poetry, cooking, etc. And I was glad that Gaiman never really spelled that out for us, which made me feel smart for picking up on it.

And of course, creation is what he defines, extrapolating from Delirium. Just as Dream defines reality.

Then Dream kills his son, not out of malice but out of love, a love he'd probably deny feeling. And I don't know Desire swore this oath that he'd shed family blood, but now he's done it, and she didn't even have to do anything.

Doesn't she? His desire for Thessaly eventually proves her undoing, as Thessaly is the one that prevents him from simply stopping Lyta Hall. There's a level where you have to take their names extremely literally. Moreover, consider that he "travels with Delirium to seek Destruction to distract himself from desire."
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
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Well, hell. He was seeking Destruction. How very apt. Wow. See, this is the shit Gaiman just ends up making happen without even trying.
From:wee_warrior
Date:May 8th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I'm so glad that you like the series! I love Brief Lives so much, too, for it is a quest, and Dream and Delirium and Matthew (!) are great together, seeking Destruction and basically finding it at every turn. And Destruction himself has always been one of my favourite characters of the Sandman. I like it that he often has these strange little moments where he assures someone they don't need to be afraid, usually while holding something very sharp in his hand. (He does that with Daniel in The Wake, and once or twice in Brief Lives)

Because it was so fucking perfect that when Destruction quits, he embraces creation, in the form of art. Painting, poetry, cooking, etc.

What I found interesting is that he doesn't seem to be very good at it. Not necessarily the cooking, but his poetry sucked, and his paintings must have been horrible, too, at least according to Barnabas. So, he can't really get rid of his nature, he can't really change, even if he tries to.

[User Picture]
From:silentsiren47
Date:May 8th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
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Sandman is definitely on my list of things to check out. I just started reading American Gods, and it's pretty incredible.
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From:adelynne
Date:May 8th, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)

Part I

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In order as these come up, and I've not read the other comments yet:

A great deal of Preludes & Nocturnes is a trip around the DC universe. John Dee is a villain main, who, if I recall correctly, had the power to invade people's dreams and fuck with them royally.

And yes, 24 Hours is incredibly creepy. Foxglove's ex isn't the only one in that diner who is referenced throughout the series, but I can't recall the others as it's been too long.

If you pick up The Sandman Companion, I'm pretty sure there's discussion of how the artists/letters developed each of the Endless's unique speech bubbles.

It comes up in A Doll's House first, so I'll mention it now: Desire wants Dream to spill family blood because of what occurs in one of the Fables & Reflections stories - Three Septembers and a January. When Desire is unable to make Norton his creature, he swears to make Dream spill the blood of the Endless, thus bringing the Furies down upon him.

Apparently there once was a text box at the end of the chapter prior to the Hob Gadling one (which I believe is titled Men of Good Fortune, but I may be mistaken) explaining the complete detour we're about to take. It was deleted for the graphic novels.

A Midsummer Night's Dream actually ties into the core story arc much more than the rest. Having read the series you can probably infer the relevance of Puck's escape (and Loki's, a trade later), and Titania and her relationship with Morpheus becomes more important. Do you know of the World Fantasy Award thing regarding this one?

Regarding the dead walking in SoM, you might want to seek out Jill Thomson's Death manga - which deals with this very issue (and stars the female Endless).

GOY is the only time we meet Alionora. Which is sort of annoying, but also not. And I must have been the only one who saw the Thessaly thing coming from the end of that trade.

All gods exist in the Sandman mythos - I forget whether it's Destruction or another one who broods on the subject of the intransience of the gods. In Brief Lives Ishtar reflects on it as well, and that's why she works in the strip club - worship.

Dream's Helm is something of an artifact of the previous, Golden Age, Sandman. It was one of the things Gaiman had to keep, and he explains it's "origin" in A Doll's House if I recall correctly - the skull of a god Dream killed to build the Dreaming.

Delerium tells you why she turned into Delirium - because she recognized that things changed, and having done so, she could no longer Delight in them. Destruction hints that there's another change awaiting her. And yes, Despair was the previous Endless killed. The first Despair is seen in the Dream story of Endless Nights.

Cerements is a great bit of foreshadow - especially coupled with the funeral at the end. It killed me in The Wake that Destruction didn't go with the rest to the Necropolis. It fit, but it still hurt.

I think many find The Kindly Ones an exercise in sheer pain, which is why it doesn't get listed as the favorite. I think it's even better than Brief Lives but I'd never list it as a "favorite" unless we're discussing "favorite ways to kill off your characters."

What I find gorgeous with the deaths at the end of Brief Lives and The Kindly Ones is that Dream knew what he was doing when he granted Orpheus's wish, and did it anyway because he wished to rest as well. It plays into his depression and the self-knowledge that it takes to make that ultimate choice.

Rose's storyline ties it back to the beginning (as do some of the characters in The Wake). Desire gives her her heart back, and with it shows how he (odd, I've always thought of Desire as "he," sexless though it is, whereas you reference it as "she." Exactly the desired effect, I think) has grown and changed. Dream gives the son he loves the death he craves, and Desire gives his grandaughter the heart she's missing.
[User Picture]
From:adelynne
Date:May 8th, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)

Part II

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To answer your unanswered questions: Dream told Loki & Puck to kidnap Daniel - it was the favor referenced at the end of Season of Mists. Desire did not sleep with Rose in any incarnation of the term. :) See above about family blood (Death never sheds blood, niether does she kill - she merely collects after the fact).

Exiles was meant to show the differences between Daniel!Dream and Morpheus!Dream, I think. "Soft Places," by the by, references Dream & Thessaly walking about Fidler's Green.

And "The Tempest" is an excellent showcase of how long Dream had resisted change. I think it's an excellent epilogue, what with Prospero's speech at the end.
[User Picture]
From:toughcookie42
Date:May 8th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
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1. I knew immediately that it was a Serial Killer Convention. This makes us even for many things, including The Shirts.
2. I did tell you The Kindly Ones was my favorite!
3. Did you ever come across the references to (more like the aura of) Tori Amos? She's a very good friend of Neil Gaiman, as you probably know, and it is said that she was sometimes the inspiration for Delirium. Also, somewhere in Preludes, I think, are Tori Amos lyrics. I forget, it's been a long time.

So now I want to go and read it all again.
[User Picture]
From:adelynne
Date:May 8th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Vice versa, actually. Some of Tori's lyrics were inspired by the Sandman - Niel heard of her because a fan brought some of the Little Earthquakes songs to a signing.

Though in Stardust she appears as a tree, and writes one of the introductions to the Death volumes. :)
[User Picture]
From:lonesomepioneer
Date:May 8th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
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Woohoo! You've read them!

I find it interesting that you (and ashfae, up a bit) refer to Desire as "she." I know s/he is both, but I always think of her/him as a him. I'm not sure why, except maybe that he's such a prick. ;)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
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adelynne made the same comment. I posited it was a gender/sexuality thing since I associate desire with women, and she thought it was a hair thing. But that is rather interesting.

SHE'S MAKING LITTLE FROGS!
[User Picture]
From:beeker121
Date:May 8th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
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It's so much fun to read someone's reactions to discovering this whole thing in less than two weeks, instead of over seven-ish years. I started collecting them at A Game of You and went back and got the novels before it.

My two favorite arcs are Doll's House and Brief Lives. Another reason I think Kindly Ones isn't on many people's favorite list is that it was harder to read episodically than many of the other arcs. It being as long as it was made it harder for the tension to sustain once a month for nearly a year.

I love A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was my first real experience with an author playing in someone else's creations, and at the time I was working on a production of the show which just made it more personal. Oh and not only did it win the Best Short Story award, but TPTB immediately rewrote the rules so a comic book couldn't win again. Sore Losers.

And Lucifer as a nightclub piano player is possibly my favorite thing ever!! Especially when he plays "Sit down, you're rocking the boat". So fucking clever.

Mostly this post makes me want to reread everything. Also, given that I'm seeing you tomorrow I could loan you Endless Nights if you didn't get it from the library. You're a book person, you'll take care of it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
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Ooh! You rock like a monkey!

The library did not have it, but it did have Vol. II of League, which I am reading right now. You wouldn't happen to have the two Death trades too, would you?
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 8th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC)
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I feel the need to announce here that my laptop's name is Lucien. Best. Librarian. Ever.

Ho now. Don't forget Giles. But Lucien is pretty awesome, and man am I glad he didn't "die" in the Furies' attack. It was hard enough watching Fiddler's Green bite it. (And Cain's righteous indignation that someone besides him killed Abel is very amusing, as a side note.)

half-remembered bits of awesome

Heh. I love that phrase.

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