Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Sandman volume 1 by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III 

What power would Hell have if those here imprisoned were not able to dream of Heaven? ~ Dream

The Sandman series, a monthly comic book that ran for 75 issues, January 1989 – March 1996, has been arranged in 10 Volumes. Volume 1 – Preludes and Nocturnes contains the first eight stories – all about Morpheus the Lord of Dream, or simply Dream, who is one of the seven Endless: Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction.

The story begins when a foolish occultist seeking eternal life, attempts to capture Death (Dream’s sister). Equipped with some mystical artifacts and special incantations, the occultist fails to capture death, but accidentally captures Dream – a powerful demigod nonetheless. Dream is robbed of three “tools”, his pouch of sand, his helm, and a magical jewel, and is himself kept captive for 70 years.

Over the decades, these tools are dispersed to various mortals and one demon, who know not how to wield them. Of course, Dream eventually escapes and sets about to recover his tools and his dominion over the realm of dreams. Preludes and Nocturnes tells of his capture, escape, and quest to recover his tools. 

Gaiman is a versatile writher with a wide-ranging repertoire. I love what he had to say in response to a claim that he doesn’t write comic books, but rather graphic novels. He said the commenter…
meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening.

Back to Dream or the Sandman – he is also called the Lord of Story, probably because our dreams are stories. And I think, because of this, Dream often refers, quite subtly to classic stories. For instance, he consorts with three witches and then thanks the “weird sisters” – which is how the witches in Macbeth are referred to, never actually as witches. There are frequent references to Shakespeare and other stories/authors; I'm sure I missed some. My favorite: the insane and creepy villain Doctor Destiny, who has Dream’s magic jewel, refers to it as “your precious”. I could just hear Smeagol saying it.

The Sandman, is part of the DC Comics universe, so there are frequent references to other DC heroes and villains.

The final story of Preludes and Nocturnes: The Sound of Her Wings is after Dream has recovered his tools, and was feeling perhaps a bit anti-climaxed. He gets a cheery little pep talk by sister Death as to what to do next.

I’m mildly curious as to what IS next for Dream. He seems a pretty decent chap, though grim and fearful. However, I’m not curious enough to continue with this series.

I’ve wanted to explore the world of graphic novels, and there are a few more titles I’ll read, but mostly – I’ll stick with dead authors.



  1. I have trouble with graphic novels (or comic books). I feel like I don't know what to look at first: the words or the picture. I'm sure it just takes getting used to. Like you, there are some of the more famous ones (Maus comes to mind) that I feel I need to experience.

  2. I agree...they're a little cumbersome to read. I'm not a big fan, but I do want to experience a few of the most notable titles of the genre. Thanks for the feedback.


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