Posted November 6, 2015 by Paul Ramos in Comics

THE SANDMAN – Some Random Thoughts on DREAMS…


After all said and done, master storyteller Neil Gaiman fulfills his/our dreams, the prequel of his much beloved, seminal, influential, a bit controversial and most significantly, trailblazing The Sandman series — The Sandman: Overture. Why is it beloved? The Sandman breaks the reading comic demographics by having women as its core audience since its inception in the late 1980s. Plus, in the two visits of the British writer in the Philippines, fans and serious comic book readers really lined up from morning until evening just to have their copies signed. Why is this series influential? Gaiman’s magnum opus in the graphic novel industry still inspires writers and even artists to transcend their respective crafts in the fantasy genre, including surrealism. Even so, I am aware there are some serious academic papers, including master’s theses, focus on The Sandman’s multi-faceted themes, symbolisms, representations, and even critical issues. If a religious scholar can make a very dense and comprehensive book all about the Bible, why not demand this kind of intellectual treatment to Gaiman’s 75-issue long series? Controversial in the sense this saga touches so many sensitive and taboo matters. Religions and their illusionary iconic symbolisms are aplenty here, so does to sexual matters as Death herself talks readers how to practice “safe sex” during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Sure, many conservatives and myopic types rail this series, but Gaiman (and to most extent, Vertigo founder and former editor-in-chief Karen Berger) sticks his guns and does what he thinks is appropriate. And, The Sandman is unquestionably a trailblazing and seminal work of visual literature due to it opens the door for wider readership, gave way to the Vertigo Comics imprint, became the paradigm of the fantasy visual narrative genre, to some degree the creator-owned model relationship between the creator and the mainstream publisher, and personally say provided one of the few positive illuminations in the decade of artistic bombastic style over story narrative substance in the comic industry (proof, The Sandman and Gaiman won multiple Eisner’s awards in the 1990s alone, even so from other prestigious and critically-acclaimed literary and comic-award giving bodies). Gaiman presents the possibility of merging some of the best mythological, legendary and iconic literary and popular culture figures to modern-day sensibilities, even to the point of re-inventing certain archetypes and stereotypes, just like how transformed the concept of medieval DEATH into a fun-loving and gothic lady and turning LUCIFER into a sympathetic and principled (yet prideful) misunderstood representation. Such is the power of words and imaginations in the mind and hand of this wonderful libertarian! And, whenever we see and read the adventures and responsibilities of Morpheus/Dream, we are actually glimpsing shards of the writer’s thoughts and naturally, his face that demands our utmost attention.

Moreover, he makes sure his designated artists are given their respective artistic freedom to extend beyond his original thoughts, as proven over and over in the various volumes and short series of this highly acclaimed masterpiece, including the Overture prequel run. Thus, the entire Sandman series provides readers so many references, Easter eggs, multiple artistic (and literary) innovations and gems, and the artists’ height of illustrative excellence, which undoubtedly require audiences to go back and reread this saga not twice but multiple times to attain this kind of aesthetic, literary and intelligent reading experience rarely seen, executed and accomplished in the graphic narrative genre.

Henceforth, Neil Gaiman’s stature in the pantheon of great comic writers is already secured, so as his entire The Sandman saga. He may be done with Morpheus, but his body of works helps us to inspire, aspire and dream to create, innovate, and think inside and outside the box, especially in this period of uncertainty and anxiety our environs confront us nowadays. DREAM ON!

Paul Ramos