Author Archives: Matthew Cheney

About Matthew Cheney

Matthew Cheney has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of venues, including One Story, Weird Tales, Locus, Rain Taxi, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and elsewhere. A collection, Blood: Stories will be published by Black Lawrence Press in January 2016. He is the former series editor for the Best American Fantasy anthologies and currently a co-editor of the occasional online magazine The Revelator. His blog, The Mumpsimus, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2005. He is working toward a Ph.D. in Literature at the University of New Hampshire, where his research focuses on the work of Virginia Woolf, J.M. Coetzee, and Samuel R. Delany.

The Wake Chapter 3: In Which We Wake | Sandman Meditations

sandman

The King is dead. Long live the King.

I couldn’t help it: I thought of Elvis.

It’s not the first time when reading The Sandman that Elvis came to mind, but it was the most instinctive and in some ways the least appropriate such moment. We’re at the end of the wake for Morpheus and Matthew says to the new Dream, “Just remember what the French say. No, probably not the French, they’ve got a president or something. The Brits, maybe. Or the Swedes. You know the one I mean?” Dream does not. Matthew says, “The King is dead. Long live the King.”

And my free-associating brain did its annoying thing of sending out random names and words: “Elvis!” it screamed into my consciousness.

Not quite a random name, of course. Elvis was, after all, called The King. I don’t really care about Elvis, though. So why, brain, why are you yelling this?

I realized that, like so much else that bubbles up out of my unconscious mind, it was my father’s fault. He loved Elvis, collected all sorts of Elvis records, and so Elvis was the first musician I was ever aware of. More than that: Elvis’s death is the first one I remember. Or, more accurately: Elvis’s death is the first death I remember remembering. I had to look up the date: August 16, 1977. I’m skeptical that I do remember it as I remember remembering it, though, because if that date is accurate, then I was not quite two years old. How can I have a memory from such an early age? And yet I do: I remember my father’s shock when he heard it on the TV news that night. I remember the words: Elvis is dead. The King is dead.

Maybe my memory is a dream. Or, more accurately: the memory of a dream.

(Of course, plenty of people insist that Elvis is still alive. You’ll still see bumper stickers and t-shirts now and then: Elvis Lives! Maybe he does. Who knows. Maybe we need him to. Or not we — because I don’t — but you. And so the story goes on.)

Stories are like that, like dreams and memories, like memories of dreams, like rumors we decide to believe.

That’s part of what’s going on at the wake for Morpheus, isn’t it? This isn’t just a memorial service for a character in a story; it’s a memorial for the journey we’ve been on, and a memorial for so many other journeys through imaginary tales, too. All the old familiars show up. They’re familiar from The Sandman, yes, but also elsewhere. They’re familiar from older tales, from other comics but also from stories older than comics, stories older even, perhaps, than the English language or written words. They end, and we must stop to remember their end, but they also don’t end. Dream is not dead. Daniel waits in the wings, but he’s not Daniel now. Is and isn’t. Dead and alive. Neither nor, either or.

At their core, good stories are like good proverbs. We remember them for the moments we need them, and in those moments we might not remember them exactly, we might be hazy on whether they’re set in France or England or Sweden or somewhere farther beyond, but we know they’ve got something we need, the thing we need now. That thing we need — a perspective, an angle, a resonance, a whiff — may not be something there originally. It may be something we added ourselves, something we remembered into the story because we needed it to be there, and now it is. Call it Elvis. Call it Dad.

Or call it family, because that, too, is central to what we’re talking about here. Morpheus’s family includes people he seemed to like (dare we say love? I don’t, but you might) and others he … had his problems with. But what the wake shows is that “family” is a shallow concept if left to blood.

The older I get, the more important I think it is to find your family and build it up. I first came to this idea when I went to college in New York City and started participating in AIDS activism. This was in the early and mid-1990s. So many people had been cast out of the families they’d been born into, and they survived by building new families, families that would love them less conditionally, families that would seek beauty in even the most terrible moments rather than something terrible in any beautiful moments. But even those of us lucky enough to have wide, wonderful families of relations still need to seek out other affinities and communities. Families ought to expand.

The family that finds its way to the memorial for Morpheus is a kind of family for us, the readers. As we’ve read along, we’ve allowed these characters to bloom in our imaginations. We’ve judged them and embraced them, been repulsed by them and fallen in love with them, maybe been embarrassed for them now and then and proud of them at other times. Sure, they’re just ink on a page, some words and images, but with the steady accumulation of words, images, pages, and books our imaginations have filled in the blank spots, extended the lines, built on the words. We’ve dreamed these characters into being.

you woke up, the narration says at the end.

You?

Me?

The shift in perspective on that last page is so powerful because it is so true. We have become Dream. He lives in us, and he transforms in us. The new stories are not only the stories of the writers and artists who keep telling them — obviously, they are that, but for each of us the stories are, in the end, what we make of them. That’s been true all along, but now we get reminded of it. Gently, not thumpingly. There’s no need to get all metafictional. (Most metafictional conceits feel hamhanded and clunky if their only goal is to remind us that we’re reading a story. We know that. It’s not an interesting insight. To be interesting, a metafictional move must show us something about fiction or about ourselves or, preferably, both.) But a gentle twist can be explosive, and I found the final image of Chapter Three to feel like a fireworks show in my head, because the image, too, reflects the shift in perspective: we’re seeing from Dream’s point of view.

“Fighting to stay asleep, wishing it would go on forever, sure that once the dream was over it would never come back … you woke up.”

That you does so much work! It’s the giant, blinding, deafening, multicolored chrysanthemum exploding across the darkness at the end of the show on the fourth of July! What seems like a simple shift in point of view is not so simple here. It provides us not only with something to think about, but with a fitting conclusion. (Finding a conclusion to fit the sprawl of The Sandman is no simple feat.)

There’s a great and wondrous play by Len Jenkin called Dark Ride. (I saw a great production of it at SoHo Rep in New York when I was in college, back when I was learning about families, about expanding them.) It ends with all of the characters chanting, “I’m not interested in philosophy. Just tell me how it ends.” When writing, I often say this to myself, because I struggle with endings. My tendencies are meditative, philosophical, academic, pedantic. My tastes are more for the open and ambiguous (something else I learned in New York in the ‘90s was how to read Chekhov, king of the open ending. Long live the king!). But just because I like such things in other people’s work doesn’t mean I’m able to achieve those things in my own without gritting my teeth and working against my worst inclinations. And so I chant: “I’m not interested in philosophy! Just tell me how it ends!”

Chapter Three is an end to The Wake, though an epilogue and more stories follow. But it is an ending. Or, more accurately: an end in the middle, an Endless end that doesn’t end. An end that means begin. But still an end. Yes. Let’s call it that.

Anyway, this ending, whatever we want to call it (this end-for-now), for me at least, seems just right. It’s rhythmic, it’s reflective, and like so much else in The Wake it’s beautifully drawn — all hail penciller Michael Zulli, whose praise I meant to offer more fulsomely here, but I got distracted. (I wanted to get to the end.)

We’ve been set up for the final moment gloriously with the awakening of the dreamers, again and again: “And then she woke up … and then he woke up… and then…”

And then you. Me. Us.

I don’t care about philosophy.

The readers, the dreamers.

The King is dead.

The story, the dream.

Just tell me how it ends.

The death, the life.

Long live the King.

A wake.

Awake.

The Wake: Chapter Two | Sandman Meditations

neil gaiman

Three years have passed. Not in The Sandman, but here between these meditations. Within only a few installments of finishing the central series, I couldn’t go on. I read chapter two of The Wake and could think of nothing to say. Characters from all the books were coming back, congregating, ready to pay respects. I wasn’t ready.

What has changed? Everything. Nothing. Years have passed. Can I think of something to say now? Perhaps. Is it worth saying? I don’t know. (But then, I never know.)

The second chapter of The Wake is transitional. It assembles the cast and crew. (It’s good that I’m returning with it and not with a more eventful chapter, because I should probably say some words before we resume, and a more ostentatiously complicated narrative would tempt me to tangle with its knots.)

For all their many flaws, the first set of Sandman Meditations preserve a continuous reading. Picking up now after three years away will create a different kind of text, because I am a somewhat different person, as we all are somewhat different people three years down the line. I thought about re-reading all the previous issues of the comic so that The Wake would resonate more fully, but I decided not to, because then I would want to go back and rewrite all the old Meditations, to fix the misapprehensions, misprisions, and mistakes. Were this a series of essays about a different comic, I would reread and recalibrate. But this is Sandman, and a certain haze of memory isn’t a terrible thing here. It lends the stories and images a new vastness, a new depth that results from the effort to remember how all the dots connect. Now, with the early issues especially quite hazy in my mind, I must dream my way back through it all.

A figure seems familiar but you can’t quite fix on how … words evoke a feeling of something previous but not an exact reference … ideas and emotions bubble up the stairs of the subconscious and shine for a moment in the light of now before evaporating. An hour or two after reading, you remember a bit more, and a bit more, and a bit more…

It all must be assembled, re-assembled, re-membered…

Everybody’s here the narration tells us on the first page of this chapter.

But no, they aren’t. Three years have passed between these readings, and we have all lost people in that time, all had to think of death, if not Death. I felt a special melancholy on reading Chapter Two because a friend with whom I’d had many conversations about comics and The Sandman and these meditations died only a few weeks ago. David Beronä was a scholar and a fan, author of the volume Wordless Books and numerous articles on early 20th century graphic narratives. He was the head librarian at the university where I was working part-time when I started this series, and unlike me he’d grown up with comics and read them all his life. He was friends with other scholars and creators, and he encouraged new and young talent by lecturing at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. For all his scholarly tendencies, he never lost his child-like wonder with the way images and stories could work together. We had planned to have lunch together eighteen months ago, to catch up after both being too busy to chat much, and I got a quick note suddenly that we’d have to put it off, he wasn’t feeling well. A few days later, he couldn’t speak or write. Doctors diagnosed a brain tumor. Treatment brought some of his speech and writing back, but never to where it was before. He couldn’t return to work. He and his wife moved away to be closer to family. David said it was okay, there was a good comics shop nearby. He returned to an old love: painting. He walked through woods. He spent time with people he loved. Friends, including some folks whose names are legendary, sent him books and comics. But the tumor was aggressive. And now David is gone.

Everybody’s here. No, not quite.

We hold wakes, funerals, and memorials to pay tribute. It’s like the end of Death of a Salesman, a play I must admit I don’t much like, but the ending always gets me: Attention must be paid.

Have we paid attention? Have we seen each other, heard each other? Can we stand at a memorial and testify to what we witnessed, these lives other than our own, lives sometimes gone in seconds, lives so often over before it seems just?

Lives bring other lives together, and a moment like a wake demonstrates that. Strangers unite through the knowledge of the dead. Chapter Two shows that vividly, and shows again how lives and stories are similar: they both have plots and subplots, character arcs that intersect with other character arcs, moments of epiphany, of echo, of escape. Worlds collide, and we are each worlds amidst worlds.

The end of Chapter Two offers a vision of expansion, even infinity: the Endless come to find Matthew, they tell him they are all now in the heart of the Dreaming, and Matthew says he thought the castle was the heart of the Dreaming. But where Fiddler’s Green was, it turns out, is also the heart of the Dreaming. Two hearts? More than that: “Many, many more than that.”

In some ways, perhaps, that is what remembrance allows: many, many more than one heart. One life, even a life so far beyond mortality as to be Endless, is a node in a network of hearts. We are each the heart of our own dreaming, and by living we welcome other hearts to see our dreams, and by remembering the dead we keep their hearts alive alongside ours.

A friend of mine’s mother, now deceased, used to say, “I don’t mind being forgotten, but it’s nice to be remembered.”

It is, indeed. And nice, too, to remember.

 

The Wake: Part 1 by Neil Gaiman | Sandman Meditations

Sometimes, the English language plays along. A god-like king of dreams has died, and so there is a wake. Dreams, in the literal sense at least, die upon the dreamer’s waking, and so, too, in The Sandman when Morpheus is no more: the dreamers wake.

There is a sense of quiet throughout this chapter, a quietude. And more so: gravity. Not for lack of words; there are plenty of words throughout these pages. Instead, the quiet, grave, pensive sorrow filling each panel seeps from the pencil lines and muted hues, the scored shadows along most of the edges, and all the downcast eyes. Though the chapter is not rich with plot, it gives an inescapable sense of motion, an undercurrent — the characters are all drawn toward the last page, the last panel. It’s the greatest, grandest view of the Endless we’ve yet seen, but also in many ways the coldest, for they look like stone monuments against a slate sky. “They are the family,” a character says.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 13 | Sandman Meditations

The King is dead. Long live the King.

Those sentences have been rattling around in my mind’s ears ever since I finished reading the thirteenth, and final, chapter of The Kindly Ones. They’re traditionally said at ceremonies of monarchical accession, but mostly they remind me of E.M. Forster’s distinction between a story and a plot. In Aspects of the Novel, Forster maintained that “The king died, and then the queen died” is a story, while “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot. A story is a narrative of events; a plot is a narrative with causality.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 11 | Sandman Meditations

You will be relieved to learn, I know, that I survived the suspense of the cliffhanger at the end of Part 10. And as with so many of the surprises (and suspenses) of The Sandman, it was less and more than it appeared. We might have expected Nuala’s luring of Morpheus at the end of the previous part to lead to a story of great explosions back in the Dreaming, or we might have guessed Part 11 would give us an epic attack by the Furies, or we might have feared a giant climax of gigantic giantness to lurk around the corner, with Nuala as a devious double-agent of the forces of evil.

Instead, we learned that Nuala is perhaps best described as naive, and that the destruction heralded by the Furies will be slow and steady and insidious. They have no need for speed. They are the most patient creatures in the universe. They are the masters of revenge, and revenge is best served slow.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 10 | Sandman Meditations

Dear Reader, see me squirm. After watching Nuala insist that Dream come to her to grant her boon, and after reading Dream say, “As long as I remain in the Dreaming, no real harm can occur,” and after then reading Nuala say, “My Lord … you are no longer in the Dreaming,” and Dream reply, “No. I am not,” I turned the page only to discover that I had just read the last words of Part 10, and thus must stop.

Dear Reader, I work hard to stick to our agreement about this experiment. I do not read ahead before I write down my meditations. I do not consult reference books or Wikipedia. I risk bushels of blunders. The purity of the experiment is what matters, and I have kept the purity I promised you at the beginning, Reader.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones Part 9 | Sandman Meditations

By the end of the ninth chapter of The Kindly Ones, some characters may have found things they were looking for: Rose Walker may have found her heart, and the Corinthian may have found Lyta Hall’s son, Daniel. I say “may have found” because only a fool proclaims certainties about a Sandman story before it is finished (if then!), and I aspire to be less of a fool.

Rose’s heart is left behind by Desire after their conversation. The heart is in the form of an Art Deco lighter, something cold to the touch but full of fire when sparked to life. The Corinthian finds a lot of fire when he and Matthew track down Loki and Daniel: a fireplace fire and a fire that seems to emanate from Loki as a shield and weapon. The Corinthian is strong enough to overpower Loki’s fire, to knock him out and steal his eyes and see Daniel concealed above like a balloon on a string.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 8 | Sandman Meditations

Travels and transgressions. Emigrations and imbrications. Diffusion and osmosis.

The eighth part of The Kindly Ones suggests that borders are breaking down, that walls once seemingly sturdy may be more rickety than we supposed, that to be Endless is not to be free of the threat of an end.

The first page gives us five children who travel to the King of Dreams in search of their lost mother. The second and third pages portray Dream traveling through his realm, encountering a variety of states and citizens. On the fourth page, he returns to his castle. “The heart of the Dreaming is as large as the Dreaming itself,” the narrator tells us. Throughout these first pages, space and time are delineated: we know the days (Truesday, Wodensday, Thirstday) and their approximate hours (“In the afternoon…”, “When this day was almost over…”); we know the places outside and inside the castle.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 7 | Sandman Meditations

In the seventh part of The Kindly Ones, the growing sense we’ve had that Lyta’s story and Dream’s will intersect climactically is solidified by this chapter’s many parallels and apparent omens.

Ominous parallels and forboding omens.

Forced to find a simile for this chapter’s structure, I’d hem and haw a while, then, reluctantly (because of impossibility, because of imperfection) say Part 7 is like a quilt, and every few pages we get a new square, and all the squares are threaded together with the strings of past stories. (You have noticed by now, I’m sure, that each chapter except for the prologue and Part 6 begins with a string across the first panel.) The past stories are stories out of histories and mythologies, and, more and more, past Sandman tales. There is, for me at least, a sense of gathering — gathering characters, gathering plots, gathering stray props and loose ends and spare change.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones Part 6 | Sandman Meditations

We have reached a sort of middle: the sixth part of The Kindly One’s thirteen parts. Thirteen, of course, being an odd number does not split evenly in two. Fans of Part 7 might find it more comfortably middle-ish, being for all intents and purposes the beginning of the second half, while fans of Part 6 might argue fervently and ferociously that their part is really the middle because it’s the end of the first half. Fans of Part 8 might then dispute the fans of Part 7 for the title of Beginning of the Second Half, invoking all sorts of ancient statutes requiring that second halves be shorter than first halves if the halves are not equal halves.

So there you halve it: the halves and halve-nots.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 5 | Sandman Meditations

sandmanGiven how complex the narrative of The Kindly Ones is revealing itself to be, I would be a fool to pretend to be able to come to any conclusions about it yet, or even to pretend to any knowledge of quite what is happening beyond the immediate events of each chapter. This is by far the most difficult of the Sandman volumes to proceed through in an issue-by-issue way; every time I reach the end of a chapter, I groan with the effort of restraining myself from turning the page. While such restraint fulfills the goals of this experiment in reading, and somewhat mimics the experience of the original readers who had to wait between issues of the comic, it’s still unavoidably frustrating.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones Part 4 | Sandman Meditations

sandman

When Carla comes to visit Rose in the fourth chapter of The Kindly Ones, Rose is getting ready to videotape an episode of the sitcom Roseanne. She tells Carla that she is hoping to write something about three sitcoms in particular: Roseanne, The Addams Family, and Bewitched This information comes as she and Carla discuss, among other things, the difficulties and weirdnesses of families. (And from A Doll’s House we might remember that Rose knows a thing or two about weird families.)

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones Part 3 | Sandman Meditations

sandman

The sadness of Hob Gadling is, for me, among the most poignant recurring elements of The Sandman. In the third part of The Kindly Ones, Hob’s sadness stands in counterpoint to Lyta’s growing anxiety and, then, horror and hatred.

Previously, we have learned that all lives are brief, but what we learn now is that the pain of death comes from those lives suddenly losing synchronization. As Hob stands at Audrey’s grave, he says, “I thought we’d have longer.” This is what anyone who loses a loved one is likely to feel. I and some of my closest friends all lost parents when we were at very different ages, and yet our feelings of that experience were more similar than different. Prolonged illness may dull the response to death a bit as we feel grateful that the sufferer is no longer in pain, but even in those circumstances where we feel relieved to reach the end, the combination of death and love collapses time. We always think we’ll have longer.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Part 2 | Sandman Meditations

The second chapter of The Kindly Ones develops two stories: the story of Lyta, who has now called the police because of her missing son, and the story of Cluracan and Nuala, who have gained Dream’s permission for Nuala to leave the Dreaming and return to Faerie.

But I’m not going to write about any of that.

We’re still just starting this story, and so I’m going to pause and discuss something tangential, though it begins with this story. Or, rather, it begins with me deciding not to read this story in a particular setting.

Continue reading

The Kindly Ones: Prologue & Part 1 | Sandman Meditations

The prologue to The Kindly Ones contains an image that is pure pornography for someone like me: an endless library. A library of books not written, of books that authors and readers have only dreamed. We’ve seen it before in The Sandman, and come to recognize the librarian, Lucien, but it is here in Kevin Nowlan’s art that the wondrous scope of the place is most enticing to me. We see Lucien standing at the top of a library ladder, pillars of shelves all around him, floors of stacks leading to the unseen, infinite horizon. There’s an M.C. Escher quality to the image, given all the symmetrical lines. We might imagine that the stairs of one floor lead in a loop to the stairs of another floor, creating an ouroboric space without entrance or exit. There’s a particularly wonderful detail in the image: the bottom right corner of the panel shows a cluster of books lying as if on the top of a shelf. They’re in the foreground of the picture, tantalizingly close to us, all come-hither look and attitude of, Hey big boy, don’t you just wish you could open me up and have a peek…

Continue reading

Worlds’ End: ‘WORLDS’ END’| Sandman Meditations

Worlds’ end and words’ ends; end as conclusion and end as purpose. We’ve reached the finishing line of this story arc, and the stories within stories reveal by the last page what seems to be their outer shell.

This conclusion does what the best conclusions do: it ties up some loose ends while heightening the overall sense of mystery. We might say we like stories that have clear, unambiguous endings, but do we? Depends on the we, I suppose. No-one who likes such endings is likely to last through many Sandman volumes.

Continue reading

Worlds’ End: “Cerements” | Sandman Meditations

The word necropolis etymologically means “city of the dead”, but its everyday definition is “cemetery” or “burial ground”. In the penultimate chapter of Worlds’ End, the necropolis of Litharge is more literal — a city built from the dead and devoted to the dead, a metropolis of morticians.

It’s an evocative, strangely beautiful idea. Certainly, it’s efficient: with all the corpses and their detritus contributing to the creation and maintenance of the city (once the appropriate rituals have been attended to), Litharge provides a model of sustainability, with one of the best recycling programs in all the Sandman stories.

Continue reading

Worlds’ End: The Golden Boy | Sandman Meditations

The tale this time is a mystical Manichean parable of an alternate America, and it’s a story that uses severe simplification to highlight our governing myths.

(Let me pause here first to say that an inn with a library full of many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore seems to me the perfect rest stop in a storm. The Worlds’ End becomes a stranger building with each chapter, but the addition of a bibliophile’s wing seems eminently civilized to me.)

Continue reading

Worlds’ End: Hob’s Leviathan | Sandman Meditations

Stories within stories within … how many withins are there in this story? There’s the story Jim tells, which is the primary one in the Sandman story called “Hob’s Leviathan” — as with all the Worlds’ End tales, at least up through this one, it is a story-within-the-story. But there is also the stowaway’s story, which is told within Jim’s story and so is a story-within-the-story-within-the-story. And then there are the various allusions and references, from the punning title (cf. Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan) to Jim’s final statement, which echoes Moby Dick‘s first sentence. Traces of stories within all the other stories…
Continue reading

Worlds’ End: Cluracan’s Tale | Sandman Meditations

I have to admit, I was dreading this one.

My reason for dread isn’t even a reason, not in any reasonable way — it’s nothing more than an irrational prejudice.

I hate fairies. Everything about them. The glitter, the glamour, the glow. Most of all, I hate the word itself. Fairy. (Or, worse, faerie. Ugh, it hurt just to type that.) Continue reading

Worlds’ End: Sequences at the Inn & A Tale of Two Cities | Sandman Meditations

Worlds’ End begins with a prelude illustrated by Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham in which two people get in a car crash during a mysterious June snowstorm and find their way to a magical inn, the Worlds’ End.

That plural apostrophe is easy to overlook, but the plurality of worlds at the inn is immediately apparent to the viewer from the first panel on page seven, which offers our initial sight of the other characters who are waiting out the storm, or storms — characters of such physiognomic variety that they might be ready to attend Mardi Gras or a particularly good Halloween party. We’re experienced enough by now with The Sandman, though, to suspect these aren’t costumes.

Continue reading

Brief Lives: Chapter 9 | Sandman Meditations

All lives are brief. That is what we learned early in Brief Lives, and now, in the last chapter, the lesson is offered again in various guises. Stories have conclusions, even stories of the Endless. They are Endless, but not Immutable.

Death is feared by all, even those, like Orpheus, who yearn for it for a thousand years. When she arrives, bringing a last border to life, she opens up a vast unknown. (Or perhaps it is not vast. The unknown is, by definition, unknowable until it is known. It could be narrow, tiny, crushing, nothing.) Death is the one constant in an ever-changing universe. (That sentence lies. If the universe is ever-changing, then change is also a constant. Death and change dance together in the ever-changing universe.)

Continue reading

Brief Lives: Chapter 8 | Sandman Meditations

Were Sandman a conventional story, this chapter would be the climax of Brief Lives. But Sandman is not a conventional story.

And in many ways, chapter eight is a climax. Events have been building to bring Delirium, Dream, and Destruction together for the first time in 300 years, and that meeting is portrayed here. The meeting does not explode with screaming and yelling, it features no hostage attempts or murders or giant exploding squid. For the most part the characters just chat, then Destruction goes off to another universe.

Continue reading

Brief Lives Chapter 7 | Sandman Meditations

One panel in particular stands out in this chapter of Brief Lives. On page 23, the bottom left panel gives us a sihouetted figure, bright yellow eyes his only visible features, standing against a dark blue-purple-red sky. This is an anomalous panel in a chapter that has been mostly bright, or at least neutral, in color tone, with no other character entirely silhouetted in a panel.

Continue reading