A Thought About Sandman

A Thought About Sandman 150 150 Paul Levitz

I don’t think anyone likely to be reading this website isn’t going to check out the new SANDMAN series when it drops on Netflix this Friday, and based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.  I’ve known and enjoyed working with all three of the key creative folks: Neil through all the years of SANDMAN and his other DC work, David Goyer both from his comics and our conversations during BATMAN BEGINS and other adaptations, and Allan Heinberg from his time on the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES cartoon series.  And I’ve admired much of what they’ve done in all the media they work in.

Maybe a decade or so ago, I convinced Neil to do an evening for Columbia University, where I was ingratiating myself into teaching.  He was, as he always is, both generous and gracious about it, and did a splendid performance to the crowd at New York’s Symphony Space, including both a reading, discussion and q&a.  I don’t recall what prompted the moment, but I was up there with him, and perhaps we were talking about my then-recent book, 75 YEARS OF DC COMICS: THE ART OF MODERN MYTHMAKING.  I mentioned that I really don’t think the super heroes are truly mythology, notwithstanding the title that Taschen had attached to the book.  Mythology exists to explain the forces beyond our understanding, often the forces that terrified us (weather, seasons and other natural forces particularly for the pre-scientific societies, for example).  The super heroes are more like modern folk tales, a theory I’ve come to embrace even more as continuity has been discarded in favor of multiple versions, much like the way folk tales grow and shift in the telling, especially from one country to another.

SANDMAN, on the other hand, is built on a true, modern mythology.  Think about the Endless.  They represent forces that continue to mystify and terrify us, especially people in the core ages that fell in love with the series.  What twenty-something hasn’t wondered about their Destiny, been tortured by Desire for a new love, had a moment of Despair fearing for the Destruction of civilization, or tasted a bit of Delirium as they experimented in an age-appropriate way?  How can you not Dream of your future and all its possibilities, pleasant and terrifying at that age?  And it’s also the time of life when you’re likely to be confronted by Death taking a loved one or even a friend, even if you’ve avoided understanding mortality to that time.

Neil’s response, in his magical British tones, was simply, “I was just thinking of words that began with D.”

Pardon me, if I Disagree.