“Why doesn’t anyone I know sleep?
Are they all just scared of their dreams?
When they lay their heads down at night,
What are they haunted by?”
I’m not sure about anyone else, but quarantine has thrown my sleeping patterns into chaos. Sometimes I fall asleep as early as nine, and if I don’t, I’m usually up ‘til some ungodly hour stuck in my thoughts. I know my friends aren’t doing much sleeping themselves. There’s something about the uncertainty of the future that makes me want to sleep to forget about it all, yet it’s that exact desire to get away that keeps me up at night sometimes.
I’ve seen the screenshots of Sandman panels on the internet and was curious but never really committed to reading it. Dave and I got to talking about what to read for October and when he mentioned dark fantasy, it just popped into my head. I started a couple of weeks ago and I’m more than helplessly hooked on it. Gaiman’s Sandman may just be one of the best comics I’ve ever read, and I don’t throw that around lightly.
Sandman follows the story of Morpheus, the King of the Dreamland. Morpheus is one of the Endless, beings that reign over a metaphysical realm. The story begins with him leaving imprisonment with all of his power stripped from him; something that shouldn’t be possible for a being as strong as him. His first goal is simple: get his powers back and figure out who screwed him.
With Morpheus’ powers being so infinite, and his domain being dreams, the places that each issue of Sandman takes you are always unique and beyond fascinating. A convention of serial killers, a deathtrap diner, a love story in Africa, hell itself, are just a few of the places that Morpheus takes you on his journey for answers. The art takes full advantage of this varied story content to splash some pages with color, and others with a grim black and white that bleeds into grey. In the center of it all is Morpheus, the constant void of black featured in every page. Sam Kieth & Mike Dringenberg’s pencilling and inking brings out certain hues that when reflected against Dream’s endless darkness tell stories on their own.
“Why won’t anyone just close their eyes?
Would it hurt them to rest for a while?
Do they need their friends to be a lover,
Or a lover to be a friend?”
Morpheus is a very strong protagonist, since he’s a king he carries himself in a dignified manner, but he isn’t arrogant or pigheaded. Since his kingdom is the Dreaming itself, he finds himself connected to people’s inner desires and fears. There isn’t much use in lying to him, since he already knows your motivations before you even remember if you’ve met him or not. Since his domain is sleep, everyone spends a third of their lives with him, in one way or another. He can pluck a person out of their dreams, or use their dreams as a vehicle to travel places physically. If it relates to the Dreaming, he has power over it.
Since he creates both dreams and nightmares, Morpheus sees himself as neutral. He only intervenes in situations in the mortal plane when he deems them to be an emergency, which thankfully is pretty often. Even though he sees himself as neutral, Morpheus is more often a force for good than evil. He creates nightmares, yes, but he restricts them to stay in the Dreaming so they can’t actually hurt people. Whenever his subjects enter the real world, they are in direct violation of his laws, and he treats any type of offense as disrespect.
Morpheus exists in the DC Universe, but mostly hangs adrift from the rest of the cast, at least in his own book. Don’t get me wrong, you get some pretty cool cameos from Constantine, Mister Miracle, Etrigan & even Martian Manhunter in this book. It’s just that most of Morpheus’ stories are self contained, because Morpheus creates most of his own enemies, and that’s before you even get to speak about the rest of the Endless, his siblings. If Morpheus (or Dream) is so powerful, just imagine how powerful his siblings Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium, are.
Either way, if you’re looking for something riveting yet spooky yet fantastical to read, I’d definitely suggest The Sandman. Honestly, all I’ve been doing is telling people about Dream if they’ll hear me out. It’s a stunning creation and journey into one’s own dreams and sleep that I’m grateful to have waited ‘till now to read.
Oh, & there’s an HBO show stuck in development hell right now thanks to you-know-who.
My sleeping habits, coincidentally, have gotten better recently.
Maybe that’s a gift from the King.