I have to admit that The Sandman was an interesting journey to say the least. I haven’t read many comics (despite knowing many comic characters and stories [no, not just Marvel ones]), but it is a unique medium that is worth looking into if you have been hesitant to do so. Of course, there are tons of stories within the medium and you simply need to find one you are interested in. I decided to begin Sandman for various reasons: I’ve heard friends talk about it, I’ve seen it show up several times in circles of interest, and one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, wrote it. Granted, a comic is a product of much collaboration and creation and each contributor deserves their due. Some contributors changed throughout the series, but here are those who created the first issue titled “Sleep of the Just”: Neil Gaiman (writer), Sam Kieth & Mike Dringenberg (artists), Todd Klein (letters), Daniel Vozzo (colors), Art Young (assistant editor), and Karen Berger (editor).
I acquired the Omnibus Editions which contains all 75 issues of the Sandman series within two volumes. Volume I contains issues 1-37 and Volume II contains issues 38-75. There is a Volume III which contains the Overture and additional stories contained within or expanding the Sandman universe.
The Sandman is a chapter (or chapters) in the life of Morpheus, the master of dreams who has many names. He is one of the endless, or immortal beings that have existed since the beginning of everything. He is the younger brother of Death and the older brother of Desire and Despair. It is impossible to sum up this entire series in once sentence, but when put to the question, Neil himself said “The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.”
This series goes to some places I did not expect and I definitely feel the need to provide a content warning for anyone interested in trying the series. The story goes into some rather dark territories of humanity (for example serial killers, rape, etc.), so I definitely would not recommend this for children or those wishing to avoid such topics. The darker content is used to investigate aspects of humanity and less so used as mere shock value so it is not gratuitous. However, I do not want to recommend something like this without the content warning for anyone who is easily impacted or adversely affected by such topics in fiction.
The physical existence of Hell is visited on a few occasions, and it is the center of conflict for issues 21 through 28 titled “The Season of Mists” which I particularly enjoyed. Especially after knowing that part of this storyline set up the creation of the show Lucifer which my wife and I enjoyed.
The art style changes drastically for “The Kindly Ones” which spans 13 volumes or roughly 300 pages in the second half of Omnibus Volume II, but there are various artists and creators who worked through this series and brought it to life. If you are that far along, I doubt the changes will deter you from continuing.
Despite the darker material, I do believe the series is worth reading. The hints that there are realms beyond our own that work in ways completely outside the reality we know could be a bit overwhelming for some or go beyond their ability or desire to comprehend, but for anyone interested it is a fun journey through the many worlds and fabrics of existence and beyond. The concepts contained within these large volumes (or many smaller volumes) are fun to consider and are a great example of what fiction can do.
There are many who love this series and have cosplayed their favorite characters or have gotten tattoos of images, characters, or quotes (there are some great singular lines within the text). It’s not difficult to say that this series has made an impression on thousands of readers if not more. Obviously I found the series through word-of-mouth and decided to give it a shot. Netflix is adapting this comic into a series and the trailer was released recently with an expected debut in August 2022. It looks to be a great adaptation and I am excited to see it on screen. I’m certain the adaptation will draw more attention to the comics as the source material and will create new fans to the already large fanbase.
If this is a story that interests you, then check it out in whichever way you like. I doubt the Netflix series will cover anything beyond the core storyline of Morpheus, so if you try the show first and like it you may find yourself ordering the comics (perhaps the same Omnibus versions I have) to dive further into the world of The Sandman.