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w York Times Best-Selling a NE TL —G_A_I_M_A_N TESST AIAN SPECIAL een hes card) Plus: Pea rete] f yi Exclusive bonus Trew xe Rc :. f ee ean) Rann canal onsite MeO TT ma 8 een) By the Author: Neil Gaiman ‘Age 28-1/2 AT became of 1957 wa a important ime for me. Iwas scaly seven, and 1 was given a box of delights — actually a large cardboard box. full af comics Files of DC and Marvel goodics. qaulty and wonderful tales-of strange people In garish. colorful costumes. and I was. for all Intcats and purposes. lost Forever. ‘My favorite was [USTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. #47. I have a copy in Front of me: TO TOUCH ANTE:MATTER MAN WAS TO RISK INSTANT DESTRUCTION. warns the cover. showing Batmoan risking instont destruc ‘an by giving AnthAlatter Man a sob right hook to the jaw: Insel, the plot concems a life-rdeath battle en the back of the Spectre, who 4s holding apart Earths One and Twa, (Yes. Virginia. there is an Earth Two, Or there was hack thems anyway.) AntkMatter Man, who is some ‘where between 100 fet and 501000 ries high (sale being a move point here} s being peevented from destroping the Esrth by the Superdleroes ‘of Two Worlds. who have divied into foams and are thumping him ‘You will ll undoubtedly be pleased te hear that the various super heroes managed fo defeat the AnteAlattcr Man and blow the two worlds ack to their respective dimensional orbits in a scant 20 pages. leav- ing the final four pages far Solornon Grundy and the Blockbuster to Incek each ather senseless and far Batman and Green lantern to deliv cr the final mocal homily to the Atom (who had just wondered aut loud sebether the scientist who has arcentally almost brought about the complete and utter destruction of practically everything should ‘ive up her space-warp experiments).Batman: ‘Na, Atom! Risk is a necessary—and ralculated—risk ofall scentifc research” Green Lantern: “Besides—we superherors are always around to make the world safe! Right, everpbady?™ Right. everybody? Sorry. | hadn't meant to burble on at leagth about this forgotten ‘masterpiece. Its only real importance in this column is that that was the first time I ever saw the Golden Age Sandman: the guy with the 48 mask, Fist he pats glass footcalfs on the Anti Matter Maw fect, then he got buried in a pile of sand. 1e wasnt a big role. but there was something strangely attractive something bizarrely different about the character. Passi it was the sit hat, gas mask, and purple cape. That must have heen it. That an the ability to ereate glass fontcuffs and piles of sand from nowhere, [read everything else in the bux of comics. A few weeks later it was taken away from me ond returned to its owner. but I eontinoed to hunt down and read American comies: the damage had been done, And in che cries U read, the Golden Age Sandman was conspicuous by his absence. Yau cant have everything. Right. Lets fastforward about cight years here to 19?Sish, fen about faurteen, and I'm planning on diseavering qirls as soon as my spots go away. tn che reantime Fm back inte comics, fe would be good copy but completely untrue to say 1 was a big fan of the [974 SANDMAN, looking back over those six comics I still have strangely mixed ec ings about the ttle This red and yellow guy living in his dream home, surrounded by TV sexcens. rescuing young fed fram the cell Dr. Spicer The Brain that Blacked Out the Bronx (and is qoritis) aliens, frog rien, and the like. | liked the Kirby covers. and the bizarre Fleisher scripts, but it was a peculiar, tonguein-eheck offering. and I felt. um: uncomfortable with Stl. there was something fasinating about the character. Somebody who lived in dreams it had potential. ‘And then ifs summer 1987 and fm writing the First draft of BLACK ORCHID #1. ('ve long since left schoo! by this point. and the spots are Fine. thank you.) I wrote the following note to Dave heKean. while drafting a dream sequence; Incidentatly—semnething 1 sort of ike te idew of but you might think is too hobey is if ever, as here. we bare @ THE ORIGIN OF THE COMIC YOU ARE NOW HOLDING (What Fe Bs and How Te Game To Be} crowd seene within a dream. we incfuie characters from DCs “Dream Stream.’ Which is te say. most dreams are full of ron sequiturs aay tens. s0 boving Cain and Abel as waiters. or the Sandmen. Brute. and Glob standing om a street corner ot a weird angle as the taxi posses fy would mate @ certain amount of convoluted ond cockeyed ence They wouldn't be Bighlighted, they just be there, Ted gane by the secand draft. but the Seed of om idea was gerrainat Ing in the muckfilled morass of the back of my mind. Nothing you ‘auld put your finger on. But. sill. I began fo make notes for a possible treatment of the 1974 Sandman and mentioned thera iv passing to Karen Benger when she was in Landon for the September 1987 UK Comic Convention, | didn’ think any more ‘of it, and when Karen phoned me a-couple of months later to ask if swrite a monthly book, the Sandiman wasnt even on the list af charac ters I suggested to hee. Afterall, L ranted to do a horror tthe. Haren phoned hock a fow week late: folowing one of DCs Editorial Retecats (when the DC editorial staff disappear off to the Overlook Hotel and get together with the Gnomes of Zurich, the Eklers of Zion and che Grand High Counal of the Mluminati to plot the fate of the ‘world for the coming year. Buddy Holly: Elvis Presley. and Jira Morrison play in the hotel band: Ambrose Bierce Is the headwaiter Uhear is @ real gos} and she said. “iowld you like ¢6 de the Sandman?” | sald “Umayes. Yes definitely. Whats the eatch?’ “There's only one, Wed like a new Sandman. Keep the name. But the rest is up to you" | put the phone down in a alight daze. and spent the next day 30 bumping into things. while | thought about the Sandman, later that week we haul the first hurricane to devastate the South ‘of England in 500 years. but [hardly notived, Iwas thinking about 3 thin. young foaking. roven-haigra being in black dothes, imprisoned for seventy years in an ailess cage: I twas wondering how Death dressed, ‘what was in the ribbon-wrapped Box that Cain gave Abed (it wasnt socks: [ was fairly sure of that) wondering why Wesley Dodds really ‘wore a gas mask: I was phoning lamic Delano to ask if I could borrow. John Constantine: thumbing through books of dreams and nightmares (including Oliver Sacks! Awokeniags. which tells you 'most everything {you wane to knew about the pecullar epidemic of Sleepy Sicknest" that hit the Western Woeld earlier this century) f was thinking about the Burgesses digging up material about an old JLA villain who might fit nicely inte the landscape that scemed to be emerging — Tras imagining a comic that wasnt strictly horror. wasn't fantasy. ‘wasnt a superhere title, bt was a strange amalgam of all three. comic in which the boundaries were as distant 95. the frontiers of dream. When. posthursicane. we gat our electricity bork (and after Td run / around the house turning the lights on and off, just to be sured. dashed to my computer, wrote about thirty rambling. single-spaced ‘pages (much like this stuff) and sent them to Antcriea— aren lked them, Bick (Giordano) and Jenette (ahi) liked thee We were in business ‘and that was basically that Except for writing the seripts, And, with Karen, picking the artists, ‘And persuading DC that the world was ready for a postrait gallery of axe Makcan covers with shelving up the sides. And the transatlantic conversations with Sam and Mike. And wondering what to wame the terter column ‘As | ite this, SANDMAN #F has Just come out, and fim surprised and pleased howe many af you seem to like it (thank you, Marlon. Thask you. all of you All the letters are really positive. Now we only necd tename the letter column and we ean all go home. {stil dont know who that 1967 box of comics actually betonged to, | sconder if whoever t-was knew it wasn't just a box oF comics. Th was a Box of Dreams. Nell Gaiman Nutley, Sussex, England, rina epee io MAN 6 January 1989