17 September 2009

Removed from Its Mythological Context

I loved Kristopher Reisz’s recollection of shopping for a comic book about 1991 and getting more than he bargained for:

Before I wade in, though, I should explain that there are actually two Sandmen in the comic book world. One Sandman’s real name is William Baker. He is a man made of sand. A supervillan with all the powers of sand is pretty much as useless as he sounds, except to point out the kinds of goofy stories I was enthralled with.
Coincidentally, that Sandman is showing up in this week’s Spider-Man newspaper comic strip.

I’ll resist the fanboy temptation to point out that there was another Sandman in American comics before either of the two Reisz mentions, a “Golden Age” hero with a gas mask and a gas gun. Nope, you won’t hear that from me.
Anyway, when I was thirteen, William Baker briefly turned good and had his own mini-series. That was the book I went into the comic shop to buy. By some divine accident, though, I walked out with a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman instead.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has thousands of names. He is the god of dreams and the source for every story ever told. He has existed almost since the dawn of time. He has near-infinite powers but serious problems with his siblings, the personifications of destiny, death destruction, desire, despair and delirium.

To sum it up: I was in over my head. . . .

When my mom found Sandman, she sort of freaked. Censoring didn’t come naturally to her. She gave me Twain, Kipling, and Vonnegut, but the pictures disturbed her, for instance this naked and blood-drenched Maenad kissing Orpheus’ severed head, which removed from its mythological context, is pretty twisted.
For that picture from Sandman Special, #1, and the rest of the story, check out Guys Lit Wire.

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