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The Sandman (DC Comics Modern Age)

The Sandman is a comic book series published by DC Comics, often cited as one of the most important titles of the modern age in comics. It ran from issue #1 (January 1988) to #75 (March 1996), with several ancillary publications, and has been collected into a number of graphic novels. The series is noted for making a literary star out of writer Neil Gaiman, and also for the covers by illustrator Dave McKean.

The Sandman is also the nickname of the protagonist of the series. In reality he is Dream, one of The Endless, the king of dreams and a personification of dreams and storytelling.

Table of contents
1 Collections
2 Related books and series
3 Storyline
4 Related articles
5 External Links


The main Sandman series comprises the following volumes:

  1. Preludes and Nocturnes
  2. The Doll's House
  3. Dream Country
  4. Season of Mists
  5. A Game of You
  6. Fables and Reflections
  7. Brief Lives
  8. Worlds' End
  9. The Kindly Ones
  10. The Wake

These are joined by three more books:

Related books and series

The Dreaming is a series set in the world of The Sandman but featuring none of the Endless. It was written and illustrated by a variety writers and artists, and was edited by Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Lucifer is a series featuring The Sandman's version of Lucifer.

Gaiman wrote two stories featuring Dream's sister Death as the central character. These were collected as Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life.

Additionally, a series of manga-style volumes starring Death began with Death: At Death's Door by Jill Thompson, which is a sidebar to Season of Mists.

Two prose books relating to the Sandman series have also been published. Hy Bender's The Sandman Companion is a non-fiction work providing extra information about the series. Its first section discusses the ten Sandman collections sequentially, analysing their meaning, explaining some of Gaiman's myriad references and sometimes providing information on the writing of the comics. It also features a lengthy interview about the series with Gaiman himself.

The Sandman Book of Dreams is a collection of short stories featuring the world of The Sandman in some way. It contains work from some notable contributors, among them Caitlin R. Kiernan, Tad Williams, Gene Wolfe, Tori Amos and Colin Greenland. Publisher DC Comics allegedly improsed restrictive terms on contributing authors, leading to a few authors withdrawing their stories.


In 1916, small-time wizard Roderick Burgess is attempting to entrap Death, but instead he captures Dream, whom he imprisons for decades. Dream's absence results in a worldwide sleeping sickness. Dream finally escapes, in 1988, and sets out on a quest to regain three artifacts of power which Burgess had stolen from him, and to rebuild his kingdom. Along the way he makes an enemy of Lucifer, the Lord of Hell.

We also meet his sister, Death, who is a perky young woman dressed in black and wearing an ankh, but who has no patience for Dream's melancholy once he has finished his quest.

Dream spends some time cleaning up problems which have cropped up during his imprisonment. Two of his creatures have escaped and set up their own world where they toy with the Silver Age Sandman. Disposing of them, Dream lays claim to that Sandman's son, Daniel, who was born in dreams. This makes an enemy of Daniel's mother, Lyta Hall, formerly the superhero The Fury.

Dream has always been a brooding and self-centered individual, but after his long imprisonment he finds different feelings stirring inside him. He finally realizes some of the wrongs he has committed during his existence, and attempts to rescue a lover who had once spurned him from Hell, where he had condemned her. This leads to a confrontation with Lucifer, and Dream becoming the master of Hell for a time.

Dream also helps his sister, Delirium, hunt for their long-absent brother, Destruction, which further illuminates Dream's relationship with his immortal family.

Peppered among these lengthier tales are many short stories which explore the realm of dreams and how it touches on the lives of mortal men and other beings. These tales include that of Hob Gadling, a man who refuses to die and becomes a friend of Dream's; the secret story of Joshua A. Norton, Emperor of the Unites States; and Shakespeare's pact with Dream to inspire his great plays.

Dream's undoing comes when Daniel disappears and Lyta Hall gives herself over to the Furies of Greek mythology, seeking to avenge herself on Dream whom she believes has killed her son. Daniel's disappearance is a ruse, and two of Dream's helplings rescue him, but it is too late, the Furies are not to be stopped. Death takes her brother Dream into her own realm, and Daniel replaces him as a new aspect of Dream.

Ultimately, The Sandman is about Dream's efforts to grow from what he was into a more complete person, but his inability to let go of some of his essential character flaws - such as his pride - lead to his undoing. The series ends on a note of irony: When Shakespeare asks Dream why he wanted him to write The Tempest, Dream responds in part that as the lord of dreams he has no story of his own, and yet Dream's story became a pop culture phenomenon in the 1990s.

Related articles

External Links