Neil Gaiman - the Index Page

Introduction and Stories and Stuff

Neil Gaiman

A Gentle Introduction

Some stories are more than just entertaining - they paint worlds and landscapes in brushstrokes of words, myths and legends emerge from the deft strokes of the artists hand. Lord of the Rings is a book like that, every new chapter paints in a whole new legend, a new realm, a new history. The times and places of Tom Bomadil, the Ents, and the Elves to name just a few.

And its not just the detail that comes across but the mythical quality. You feel like you are almost remembering things you had always known - but forgotten you knew. This is mythaeopia - the half felt, half imagined dream realms of the human soul - the thin barrier where the dream world gently nudges the fragile borders of what we like to call 'reality'.

Gaiman is a master of this field and his work (particularly the Sandman comics) is full of these characters that seem to be part of the common human soul, that speak deeper than the words and images themselves... what Jung called archetypes of the communal consciousness.... and this is the realm that Gaiman explores so well.

"-People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes."

- John Dee, in Preludes & Nocturnes


The Dream Hunters

Gaiman Resources

Lost Hearts

Introduction to Sandman

Neil Gaiman has written a large number of graphic novels, various short stories and a tv series. His most famous creation though is The Sandman, a long running comic series with a story arc that spans right from Issue 1 to Issue 75 (the final issue).

The " hero " of the series is Dream, the Sandman. He is one of the seven Endless. The others being (in no particular order) Destiny, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Death, and Destruction.

Although the series is called The Sandman, the character is generally referred to as either Dream or Morpheus. He has other names too though. It is his job to send out dreams into the world. He lives in the Dreaming, a place populated by figures of myth, legend and horror.

Dream is one of the older Endless and believes very firmly that he has a duty to perform. He does not understand the behaviour of his brother Destruction who went missing.

As time passes Dream find himself increasingly restricted by what he sees as his duties but can see no way around them. He is a rather pompous character something which Death, his sister cheerfully points out to him.

Although brothers and sisters, the Endless are definately not a big happy family. Desire in particular would be glad to see Dream suffer a bit. Destruction is the black sheep of the family having left his duties and disappeared.

The History of The Comics

The Sandman was a color comicbook published by DC Comics for 75 issues. Each issue was written by Neil Gaiman with a cover by Dave McKean. The inner artwork was drawn by many different artists over the 75 issues.

Sandman was one of DC's first "Mature Readers" titles. This line started during the 80's when there was a push to make comics more interesting to adults. The comic was origianlly envisaged as a horror title following from " Swamp Thing" successfully revamped by Alan Moore in the eighties.

The first few issues are firmly set in the DC universe, complete with superheros. The horror element is also quite strong. Starting with the second story arc The Doll's House though, Neil Gaiman changed the emphasis dramatically.

While technically still part of the DC Universe, that fact was rarely if ever mentioned. Horror was no longer the emphasis, rather character studies and literate explorations of personal subjects. The Doll's House also introduced many of the recurring Sandman characters for the first time.

Neil Gaiman has a substantial knowledge of historical and literary subjects. This knowledge, or references to it frequently found its way into the pages of the Sandman. Where many comics might be primarily about looking with only a little reading involved, the Sandman was very much a comic to read.

Gaiman followed this up with Dream Country a series of single issue stories including the award winning "A Midsummer Nights Dream" which is about the first production of Shakespeare's famous play. This story won the World Fantasy Award and is the only comic ever to have done so.

The Dreaming

When Neil Gaiman drew the Sandman to a close with issue 75 DC comics respected his decision and chose not to continue the series even though it was they who owned the copyrights.

Instead they created a spin of series set in the Dreaming and using the many secondary characters created by Neil during the Sandmans run.

Where To Start

Although the series has finished you can still buy it as a series of graphic novels. Due to the continuous nature of the story arc some of the stories are better starting points than others.

One obvious possibility is to read the series chronologically. Thus one would start off with:

The disadvantage of this is that the first collection of Sandman stories is not characteristic of the later ones so you may not get a clear picture of whether you like the series or not.

My suggestion for those new to Sandman would be to read either The Doll's House or Dream Country both of which are an excellent introduction to Sandman and good stories.

Dream Country which features stand alone short stories is a great way to dip into the world of Sandman and see if you like Gaiman's style.

Doll's House on the other hand is the real start of Sandmans plot arc and introduces most of the recurring characters.

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Last edited Sun Oct 01 18:48:54 2006.