The Sandman - Creative Arts

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

The Sandman
Creative Arts

DC Comics/Vertigo, first appeared in 1988.

There have been several comic series featuring a character named the Sandman, dating as far back as 1939. These characters and series are, at best, tangentially related. Our “The Sandman” refers to the series that ran from January 1988 to March 1996.

The “Sandman” makes reference to the nursery rhyme character who enters bedrooms bearing “sleepy dust” and enables people, especially children, to sleep and dream. “Sandman” is the nickname for the protagonist of this comic series who is also called Dream, the Lord of Dreams, perhaps more familiar to lovers of Greek mythology as Morpheus, Lord of Dreams and grandson of Nyx. (See DIVINE WITCH: Nyx.) When the British writer Neil Gaiman was requested to revive the comic-book hero the Sandman (and it is important to note that comics aren’t necessarily comedic) he was allowed to take the character in directions that interested him. His interests were obviously shared by many readers. What was initially intended to be limited to perhaps seven issues became immensely popular and led DC Comics to create their imprint Vertigo, which publishes comics directed toward a mature audience, frequently featuring occult-oriented themes and more sexually and violently graphic than its child-friendly parent DC Comics. (See also Books of Magic, Hellblazer and The Witching.)

According to the basic plot line, in 1916, the magician Roderick Burgess attempted to trap Death but instead catches Dream (our “Sandman”) instead. Burgess resembles an Aleister Crowley-style magician. His devotees address him as “Magus.” His magical goals are, like those of the medieval sorcerers, selfish and purely for personal benefit. Having caught Dream, Burgess attempts to pry his secrets from him but can’t. Rather than freeing him, he keeps Dream imprisoned under glass while attempting to negotiate with him. (Dream finally escapes in 1988 as the series begins.) In the meantime, Dream’s absence has stimulated worldwide sleep disorders and spiritual havoc.

The series is heavily influenced by Greek mythology and has been collected into graphic novels.

The character Thessaly first appeared in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman story “A Game of You.” Described as the last and most powerful of the legendary Thessalian witches, Thess intrigued many readers. In 2004 she starred in her own four-part mini-series, published by Vertigo Comics, entitled Thessaly Witch for Hire.