The Sandman was more than just a comic

The Sandman was more than just a comic

Sandman, the comic book saga created by Neil Gaiman, ended - at least for the most loyal readers - more than 25 years ago: more precisely in 1996, when DC Comics released Sandman # 75, the final issue of a critically acclaimed work that not only consecrated Gaiman as an outstanding author, but helped give prestige (Norman Mailer once described it as "a work for intellectuals") to comics as a medium. After seven years, seventy-five issues (plus a special edition) and a storyline that spans millennia, Sandman ended its run: a rarity in the world of mainstream comics, where characters often outlive their creators.

Adaptations and spin-offs The Sandman is a love letter to comic fans, with only one problem The Netflix adaptation of the British bard's dark fantasy comics is in many ways remarkable, but not 100% convincing. We tell you why without making spoilers Except that, of course, Sandman wasn't really finished. More than thirty years after writing the first screenplay, Gaiman returned to work on the opera, changing the means of communication through which he tells the story. The TV series based on the comic that debuted on Netflix on August 5th and is not the only transposition of Sandman currently in circulation. Audible has been making an audiobook of the story since 2020, with a cast that includes actors James McAvoy, Kat Dennings and Brian Cox from Succession, and which features Gaiman himself as the narrator.

Even the DC has not abandoned the character of Morpheus (also known as Dream, the Sandman and in many other ways). In addition to the two sequels written by Gaiman - the graphic novel The Sandman: Endless Nights and a six-part prequel miniseries, The Sandman: Overture - the publisher has released various comic book spinoffs written by various authors. Currently, the acclaimed James Tynion IV of The Nice House on the Lake is writing The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country, an on the road horror film about the return of Morpheus' worst nightmare, the Corinthian.

Put simply, it seems that it is very difficult to say goodbye to Sandman and leave the Dream Kingdom of which he is the Lord. In a world where they can indulge in countless other comic universes, studios and publishing houses often end up returning to Morpheus. But why? Putting aside the laconic and somewhat cynical answer - to make money - the real reason may lie in the concepts behind the story of Gaiman and his characters.

The reasons for the long-lived fascination of Sandman The Man of sand is literally the Lord of Dreams, the being who makes it possible to travel to the worlds we visit when we fall asleep. He is part of a family of characters called the Eternals, each of whom is an anthropomorphized personification of an abstract concept. Each with a name that, in English, starts with D: Dream, Destruction, Delirio (Delirium), Despair (Despair), Destiny (Destiny), Desire (Desire) and, of course, Death (Death) . The latter has become a true icon of popular culture, especially for that slice of "goth" fans who have grown fond of the unmistakable figure created by the artist Mike Dringenberg and inspired by the model Cinamon Hadley.

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The Eternals are the key to Sandman's success. They bring an element of humanity to stories that might otherwise drift away into an aseptic abstraction. Furthermore, their dysfunctional relationship dynamic is extremely familiar, regardless of what readers think of the more general plot.

Furthermore, these characters represent a decidedly fascinating concept for both readers and creators, because they suggest the existence of a certain level of cognition and intention behind the forces that influence the daily life of human beings. The very concept of "eternal" is somehow capable of calming souls. It suggests that what happens to us is not entirely random, or worse, malignant, but that there is some pattern or higher order to the work, even if we are unable to decipher it and understand its meaning.

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More than the broad narrative arc of the central story - which, despite all its pleasant excursions and detours, is surprisingly linear - are the Eternal who made the comic so intriguing even after its conclusion. Sure, we get caught up in Dream's misadventure - imprisoned for decades by a greedy human - and what happens to him after the years of confinement, but what makes us unable to leave the Dream Kingdom and surrounding worlds is the idea that it all makes sense, somewhere, to someone. That we are not living a cruel and merciless existence without a reason.

Sandman reassures us about things we cannot give a name or a rational explanation. Transform our existence into a story that we can understand and in which we can see ourselves again. It comforts us about existence itself.

This article originally appeared on UK and has been supplemented with information in collaboration with Lorenza Negri.

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