Which Occurs in the Wake of What has Gone Before
Sometimes, the English language plays along. A god-like king of dreams has died, and so there is a wake. Dreams, in the literal sense at least, die upon the dreamer’s waking, and so, too, in The Sandman when Morpheus is no more: the dreamers wake.
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The Kindly Ones Part 1
The prologue to The Kindly Ones contains an image that is pure pornography for someone like me: an endless library. A library of books not written, of books that authors and readers have only dreamed. We’ve seen it before in The Sandman, and come to recognize the librarian, Lucien, but it is here in Kevin Nowlan’s art that the wondrous scope of the place is most enticing to me.
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Sequences at the Inn and A Tale of Two Cities
Worlds’ End begins with a prelude illustrated by Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham in which two people get in a car crash during a mysterious June snowstorm and find their way to a magical inn, the Worlds’ End.
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Brief Lives Chapter 1
Now, opening the first pages of the seventh collection of The Sandman, some of the fun comes from knowing right where we are in the first panels. Disorientation has certainly been an element when beginning these stories, because they could be anywhere or anywhen, but re-orientation is also an important component — at first, the stories re-oriented us to narratives and characters from outside the Sandman universe, tales that began as myths or legends or novels or other comics, but now that we have hundreds of pages of this comic itself behind us, the re-orientations can be gloriously Ouroboric.
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Fear of Falling
I’ll admit it: I’m cheating. This iteration of the Sandman Meditations will discuss two Sandman episodes instead of the regular one.
Fables & Reflections collects a group of Sandman stories that appeared in a variety of venues over a fairly wide range of time. Having read only the first two at this point, I don’t know if there are linking threads, themes, or threnodies among the stories, but we can revisit the idea at the end of the book.
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Slaughter on 5th Avenue
A Game of You is the first Sandman story of which I had any prior knowledge before plunging into it. That’s because the introduction to the book is written by Samuel R. Delany and was included along with two other essays about Neil Gaiman in Delany’s 1999 collection Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts and the Politics of the Paraliterary.
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Season of Mists: Prologue
One of the most famous stories by the great 20th century Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges is, it seems to me, echoed via allusion in the first two panels of the prologue to Season of Mists. “Walk any path in Destiny’s garden, and you will be forced to choose, not once but many times. The paths fork and divide.”
The first Borges story to appear in English was “The Garden of Forking Paths”.
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I could have been really cheeky and declared that I couldn’t come up with an idea for this column.
That, after all, is the situation of Richard (aka Ric) Madoc in “Calliope” — he’s a writer who has published one novel, The Cabaret of Doctor Caligari (a title that would be, I must admit, just about enough to make me buy the book without knowing anything else about it), but who has run into total writer’s block. From an elderly writer, Erasmus Fry, Madoc gets a muse. Literally. He gets Homer’s muse, Calliope, the muse of heroic poetry. Fry has held her captive for decades, and trades her to Madoc for a bezoar.
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Tales in the Sand
“Tales in the Sand” is the prologue to the second set of Sandman stories, The Doll’s House, and it’s utterly different from anything in Preludes & Nocturnes right from the first panels. The title page is almost abstract in its imagery: the pastel yellow and red of a desert fills a background of triangles and trapezoids; two small figures carrying spears and wearing traditional garb walk in the middle ground; the foreground is dominated and bisected by a black spear.
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Sleep of the Just
Prolegomenon – You should not expect expertise. There are other sources of that, encyclopedias and annotations, websites and Wikipedia entries, oracles and seers. I’m here for an experiment: to see what happens when someone who has only basic experience with comics and graphic novels encounters one of the classics of the field.
Wake up, Sir. We’re here.
Continue reading “Sandman Meditations – Preludes & Nocturnes”