The Sandman, Volumes 1–10
written by Neil Gaiman
After the success of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing created a mini British Invasion in the comics world in the mid-’80s, fellow Brit Neil Gaiman created the astoundingly literate Sandman. Loosely tied in to the superhero mythos of the DC Comics brand, Sandman inhabits a universe all its own. Its title character, named Dream, is one of seven siblings known as The Endless (his sister Death is largely responsible for inspiring the Goth look of the early ’90s). Other members include the delightful Delirium (based on Gaiman’s friend Tori Amos), Destruction, Despair, Desire, and Destiny.
Gaiman begins his series by establishing Dream’s place in the world as he returns to his post after years of imprisonment. With his realm in disarray, he begins to rebuild, while in the background, classic elements of horror and mystery play out. The story has conveniently been collected into 10 separate volumes (other larger collections also exist) that can be read as standalone pieces are, even better, as a complete unfolding work. Sandman contains some of the best works of fantasy to ever grace comics’ pages. The tension of the drama playing out is all too real for the reader as Dream fights to maintain his rightful place in the Endless against deceit and treachery.
Gaiman’s work was recognized in 1991 with a World Fantasy Award. His characters are aptly named—the series is endlessly entertaining. Each rereading reveals something new and invigorating. These are great tales smartly told.