Sandman is one of the most important comics ever published. Throughout the 75 editions of the main series, Neil Gaiman tackles a wide range of themes, traverses mythologies and explores the limits of his creativity. The stories also served to popularize the author, who, when he started working at the comic, was at the beginning of his writing career. However, after this point, it has remained relevant to the present day.
But what exactly is Sandman? Why this story became so popular that it became the first comic book to make the newspaper’s literary bestseller list The New York Times, and what do you need to know for anyone who wants to start following it before the Netflix series debuts?
What is Sandman?
Dream and his younger sister, Death.Source: Vertigo/Disclosure
Sandman is a comic book series created by Neil Gaiman from a character who had already appeared in other DC Comics stories. Its debut took place in 1974 and had a screenplay by Joe Simon and Michael Fleisher, as well as illustrations by Jack Kirby and Ernie Chua. At the time, Gaiman was a little-known screenwriter, and he was given permission to rework the characters, basically just keeping their names. The stories were released by the Vertigo label, aimed at a more adult audience in DC.
From there, he began to develop a story about seven perpetuals. In addition to siblings, they are powerful beings, and each controls a power or aspect of the universe. They are: Fate, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium. The comics follow Sonho (who is also known as Sandman, Morpheus, and other names that appear throughout the stories) and a series of adventures to better understand his own function, besides presenting his past and his relationship with his brothers.
The perpetual seven. From left to right: standing – Death, Fate, Dream, Destruction and Desire; below – Despair and Delirium.Source: Vertigo/Disclosure
the first arc of Sandman was published between January and August 1989 and tells the story of Sonho breaking free from captivity and going after his lost objects of power: the sand pouch of dreams, his helmet and the ruby of dreams. Along the way, he meets other DC characters, such as Constantine and John Dee (DC’s Doctor Doom).
Furthermore, he needs to put things in order in Dreaming, the realm he inhabits, which is made up of the dreams of every creature in the universe. However, after being imprisoned for decades, he ends up developing a certain empathy for humans, and it is from this point that the story progresses.
Sandman: reading order
All of the above is part of the “Preludes and Nocturns” arc, which features the first eight editions of Sandman. Originally, the series featured 75 stories, divided into 13 arcs. These are the fundamental stories of Sandman and, for those who want to know the story, the best option is to follow this sequence:
- Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (01 to 08)
- Sandman: The Doll’s House (9 to 16)
- Sandman: Land of Dreams (17 to 20)
- Sandman: Season of Mists (21 to 28)
- Sandman: Distant Mirrors (29 to 31 and 50)
- Sandman: A Game of You (32 to 37)
- Sandman: Convergence (38 to 40)
- Sandman: Short Lives (41 to 49)
- Sandman: End of Worlds (51 to 56)
- Sandman: Loved Ones (57 to 69)
- Sandman: Awakening (70 to 73)
- Sandman: Exile (74)
- Sandman: The Storm (75)
Other Sandman Stories
Now that you know the fundamental arc of Sandman, it already makes sense to explore the expansion of this universe. After completing the main stories in 1996, Gaiman began to devote himself to his books. However, the author never abandoned Sandman, always publishing other stories parallel to the main saga.
After completing the 13 arcs, a good comic to keep an eye on is “Sandman – Prelude”. This graphic novel takes place before “Preludes and Nocturnes” and explains what happened to Morpheus to let himself be arrested. The suggestion to read the artwork after and not before the main arc is that it serves more as a spin-off. While “Preludes and Nocturnes” connects with everything that will happen over the 75 editions, in “Sandman – Prelude”, the story only serves to kill the curiosity of fans.
From this point on, you can follow the order of your choice, as the stories will only deepen characters. In “Sandman: Nights Without End”, for example, seven stories were published, each one featuring one of the perpetual ones as the protagonist. In Brazil, the publisher Panini, responsible for the publication of Sandman, released “Death – Definitive Edition”, an arc with stories focused on the sister of Dream.
Below is the list of issues to be read and learn more about this universe created by Neil Gaiman.
- Sandman – Prelude (Vol. 1-4)
- Death – Final Edition
- endless nights
- Dream Hunters – Picture Book
- Dream Catchers – Comics
And finally, there are five publications that also use characters that appear in Sandman, but whose stories were not written by Neil Gaiman. If you have already finished the works above, and want a little more, these are good options to get to know.
- Fabulous Tales
- The Small Perpetuals (Vol. 1-2)
- the Furies
- Lucifer: Devil at the Door
You already read Sandman? What did you think of Neil Gaiman’s work? Comment!
Gaiman created an unforgettable story about the forces that exist beyond life and death by connecting ancient mythologies, folklore and fairy tales with his unique perspective in a unique narrative.