The main character of The Sandman is Dream, also known as Morpheus and other names, who is one of the seven Endless. The other Endless are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, who was once Delight, and Destruction, who turned his back on his duties. The series is famous for Gaiman’s trademark use of anthropomorphic personification of various metaphysical entities, while also blending mythology and history in its horror setting within the DC Universe.The Sandman is a story about stories and how Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, is captured and subsequently learns that sometimes change is inevitable. The Sandman was Vertigo’s flagship title, and is available as a series of ten trade paperbacks, a recolored five-volume Absolute hardcover edition with slipcase, in a black-and-white Annotated edition, and is available for digital download. Critically acclaimed,The Sandman was one of the first few graphic novels ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list, along with Maus, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. It was one of five graphic novels to make Entertainment Weekly‘s “100 best reads from 1983 to 2008,” ranking at No. 46. Norman Mailer described the series as “a comic strip for intellectuals.” The series is noted for having a large influence over the fantasy genre and graphic novel medium since then.
To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Sandman, Gaiman wrote a new tale involving the battle that had exhausted Morpheus prior to the beginning of the original story. Written by Gaiman and with art by J. H. Williams III, Overture tells the previously hinted story of Dream’s adventure prior to Preludes and Nocturnes, which had exhausted him so much that it made Burgess’ actions capable of capturing him. The limited series had six issues. Issue #1 was released on October 30, 2013, and although it was planned to have a bi-monthly release schedule, issue 2 was delayed until March 2014, which Gaiman explained was “mostly due to the giant signing tour I was on from June, and me not getting script written on the tour, with knock-on effects”. Special editions were released approximately a month after the original editions, which contain interviews with the creative team, alongside rare artwork.
The Sandman of the 1970s was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Issue #1 was intended as a one-shot, but five more issues and an additional story followed. After the first issue, the stories were written by Michael Fleisher. The second and third issues were illustrated by Ernie Chua. Inks were by Kirby, Mike Royer and, in the sixth issue, Wally Wood. All covers were by Kirby, and the fourth issue noted his return to the interior artwork on the cover.
This Sandman was originally intended to be the actual Sandman of popular myth, “eternal and immortal”, despite his superhero-like appearance and adventures. The Sandman is assisted by two living nightmares named Brute and Glob, whom he releases from domed cells with the help of a magic whistle. They are nuisances who beg for release, who are intent on hand-to-hand combat, but are implied to be relatively harmless and well-intentioned once freed. Using security monitoring devices, the Sandman can enter the “Dream Stream” or the “Reality Stream” (in which he acts like the superhero he looks like), and he carries a pouch of dream dust with which he can cause anyone to sleep and dream. The Sandman’s main task is protecting children from nightmare monsters within their dreams, especially one young boy named Jed, who lives with his grandfather, Ezra Paulsen, as well as to ensure that children have an appropriate level of nightmares rather than dealing with such anxieties in real life.
In 1999, Gaiman wrote The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, a novella illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. As in many of the single-issue stories throughout The Sandman, Morpheus appears in Dream Hunters, but only as a supporting character. In Gaiman’s afterword to the book, he describes the story as a retelling of an existing Japanese legend. There is no trace of it in the primary source he cites, and when asked, Gaiman has stated that he made up the “legend”. The novel was later adapted into a four-issue miniseries by P. Craig Russell and released by Vertigo from January 2009 to April 2009.
Lucifer was the main character in an eponymous series that ran for 75 issues and the Lucifer: Nirvana one-shot, from June 2000 to August 2006, the entire run of which was written by Mike Carey (this series was preceded by Carey’s work in 1999, The Sandman Presents: Lucifer mini-series). To Carey, the essence of the character was:
We play safe. Most of us do, most of the time… but Lucifer doesn’t know the meaning of safe, and he never bothers to look down at the tramlines. He goes wherever the hell he likes, picks his fights where he finds them and generally wins… following [his] own will and [his] own instincts to the very end of the line, no matter what the obstacles are star.
In the series, Lucifer runs a piano bar (an element introduced in the Sandman story “The Kindly Ones”) called “Lux” in Los Angeles, with the assistance of his mistress, Mazikeen who is a Lilim, one of the race descended from Lilith. Lucifer is portrayed as a sophisticated and charming man, in accordance with the stereotypical gentleman-devil.
A movie based on this series has been in the works for several years in various stages of development and until recently was in the works at New Line Cinema. Gaiman had previously confirmed that this movie was in progress and that he was planning on writing the script and directing it, with Guillermo del Toro as executive producer. The film, which is currently on hold, was operating under the title Death and Me.
The Dreaming was a monthly comic series that ran for 60 issues (June 1996 to May 2001). It is set in the same dimension of the DC universe as The Sandman and the stories occurred primarily within Dream’s realm, The Dreaming, concentrating on characters who had played minor roles in The Sandman, including The Corinthian, Matthew the raven, Cain and Abel, Lucien the dream librarian, the faerie Nuala, Eve, and Mervyn Pumpkinhead (janitor of The Dreaming). It also introduced a number of new characters, most notably Echo and a new (white) dream raven, Tethys. There were brief (but often important) appearances by The Endless during the series, including cameos by Dream (both Morpheus and Daniel), Death, Destiny, and Desire.