One of DC Comics' first superheroes, he was created by Gardner F. Fox and Bernard Christman and made his debut in "Adventure Comics" #40 in April of 1940.

Wesley Dodds was born rich, bookish, and frightened of his stern and aloof father. After his mother died, Wesley was sent to live abroad, mostly staying with people his dad did business with -- mainly in the Far East, where he learned yoga and a number of languages and martial arts techniques.

He graduated from Princeton with honors, but he began to have bizarre nightmares about criminals, injustice, and an imprisoned man in a strange helmet. Though Wesley didn't know it, the man was Morpheus, the Sandman himself, whose imprisonment by Roderick Burgess was causing bizarre dreams and sleep disorders worldwide. Fearing that his nightmares would drive him mad, Wesley took his dreams as inspiration to start working against injustice and crime.

He bought a number of gas masks similar to Morpheus' helmet and developed a green gas that functioned as both a truth serum and a sleep gas. Wearing the gas masks, a trenchcoat, and a fedora, and firing his sleep gas through a specially-designed gas gun, Wesley became the Sandman in 1938 and began fighting crime in New York City.

Wesley later met and fell in love with Dian Belmont, the daughter of a district attorney. Dian discovered the Sandman's secret identity and began assisting him on some of his cases. He later became a founding member of the Justice Society of America (and started wearing more stereotypically superheroish costumes, which I never ever liked -- that original retro gas-mask-and-fedora look was cool) and even acquired a sidekick -- Sandy Hawkins, who was known as Sandy, the Golden Boy. Sandy eventually became the ward of Dian Belmont, and since Dian and Wesley had been shacking up together long enough to become common-law husband and wife, Sandy became the equivalent of Wesley's son.

The Sandman later joined the All-Star Squadron, but began to curtail his superheroing activities after suffering a heart attack. Sandy was also gravely injured when a "silicon gun" he was working on exploded and mutated him into a giant sand monster. Wesley placed Sandy into a state of suspended animation and worked for nearly fifty years trying to cure him. During this time, Wesley was also using his fortune to better society, and Dian became a best-selling author, even winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Sandy was eventually captured and cured, completely by accident, by a supervillain -- since he hadn't aged in the time that he'd been transformed, he is still in his early-to-mid-twenties. He has become a silicon-based life form and adventures under the codename of Sand with the current incarnation of the JSA. Wesley, however, had suffered a stroke and finally retired from crimefighting. However, retirements in comic books are never completely permanent, and the Sandman was cast, along with the rest of the old Justice Society, into an alternate reality, where they had to battle the Norse gods for two whole years! After they got out of that, Wesley immediately had another stroke, and after that, he was aged to over 80 years old by the villain Extant in DC's Zero Hour crossover.

After Dian died, Wesley was stalked and attacked by a supernatural menace called the Dark Lord. Fearing that the Dark Lord wanted to use him to gain more power, Wesley threw himself off a cliff and died. Not that death in comics is in any way permanent, as he has made a couple of revivals since then.

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"The Sandman" was started back in 1989 by Neil Gaiman, and at first glance it was merely a graphic, messy, dark comic book put out by DC Comics to appeal to the more gorey- and occult-minded reader. And for the first few issues, it continued to look that way.

But the attentive reader soon knew better. By the second issue, Gaiman was already introducing Cain and Abel (yes, the Biblical ones) as regular characters in this series; Lucifer Morningstar and the rest of Hell were introduced not long after. The three Fates of Greek mythology showed up early on as well. The first "normal" characters were something else, too: a young lesbian, a druggie ex-girlfriend, an ex-cultist who met the wrong kind of woman. The main character, Dream, was a brooding and vaguely scary gentleman, but his sister Death was downright perky and enjoyable, along with dressing like a Brit goth and keeping goldfish as pets. Clearly, things weren't going to be usual comic-book fare in Gaiman's universe.

Gaiman was using "The Sandman" to tell a complicated story, one piece at a time, and simply chose to use comic books as his medium. Since comic books were and are perceived as "kiddie" entertainment in the United States (in contrast, manga was already a long-established way of doing this in Japan), this took some getting used to. It wasn't until an issue of "The Sandman" featuring William Shakespeare and the entire cast of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" won a World Fantasy Award for short fiction in 1991 that everyone realized what was really going on.

"The Sandman" ran for seventy-five issues, plus a special, coming to an end in 1997. As a whole, it tells a tragic story about a nearly omnipotent "man", a cosmic king, who was limited by who he was, his sense of responsibility and propriety. His pride, long ago, caused him to make certain decisions, and centuries later these decisions came together to cause his unfortunate downfall, even after they had been reconciled for and his aloofness considerably moderated. The tragedy is all the sadder because we know, without a doubt, that if he were put in the same circumstances again he would still make the same decisions.

But it was the characters that made "The Sandman" what it was, and not just the main ones. Gaiman had, and still has, a deep fascination with religion and mythology throughout human history, and just about every major one worked its respectful way into "The Sandman" at one time or another. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the "ordinary people" -- humans who get caught up in the events surrounding Dream and his family, who live through those extraordinary circumstances, and still come out just as human on the other side -- but perhaps a little wiser for the experience. The parity reminds the reader that Dream and his kind are remarkably human in their ways, and that humans can be secretly magical in others.

Together with all of this, Gaiman created an entirely new mythology, one which has lived on long after he has stopped writing "The Sandman" and moved on to other projects. That alone is a testimony to the depth and intricacy of his creation, a proof of how real and alive his people and places were in the minds of his readers.

It's still possible to buy "The Sandman" collected in ten trade paperbacks; the interested reader is encouraged to start at the beginning and go through the series, book by book, with long pauses in between to mull over what has been uncovered so far. I still pick up my favorite "Sandman" stories from time to time, and every time I do I see some other subtlety that I never picked up before. These stories are definitely the sort that are worth keeping.

The Sandman was a comic book series from 1989 to 1997 written by Neil Gaiman with a host of talented artists throughout its run. Lasting seventy-five issues in total, it has spun off two mini-series about Death, the legendary older sister of Morpheus, King of Dream and also other series like The Dreaming. The Sandman told the story of The Endless' existence, focusing on the life and times of Dream himself. It was a melodramatic epic tragedy of macabre environs and universe shattering proportions, where Morpheus was forced to come to terms with his own faults and frailties despite his near god-like status. His actions led to the death of his own offspring, due to a complex set of events which included the fall of Rome, the exodus of Hell, a murder of crows, and far more elements to detail here. A breathtaking tale both visually and for the mind, which took the reader everywhere from the distant past to the uncertain future at the end of the universe as we know it. Quite enchanting. Should be a classic praised among Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but even though it has recieved many awards and positive criticism, it's just a comic book so most dismiss it without proper consideration.

Sandman was originally a two-bit costumed vigilante in comic books back during World War Two. Neil Gaiman was asked by DC Comics to revitalize the character because they stilled owned the copyright and wanted to modernize it to make it a financial commodity, and he took it in a completely different direction which led to it being more rewarding than they had originally anticipated. Even though Gaiman has not worked directly on anything Sandman-oriented in years, the story's popularity is still strong and other talents have carried on the tradition of storytelling as rekindled from Gaiman's work.

Neil Gaiman explained the original Sandman DC character in Preludes and Nocturnes. Amongst the people afflicted with the sleepy sickness when Morpheus (the original Morpheus, which is the name for The Sandman, not the matrix character) was captured, one named Wesley Dodds found salvation by putting criminals to sleep, and sprinkling them with sand.

The Sandman is a 75 issue comic by Neil Gaiman written from 1988 to 1996. The title character is also known as Dream, one of The Endless along with his siblings Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delerium (formerly Delight) and Destruction.

These 75 issues are available in ten graphic novels:

  1. Preludes and Nocturnes issues 1 to 8
  2. The Doll's House issues 9 to 16
  3. Dream Country issues 17 to 20
  4. Season of Mists issues 21 to 28
  5. A Game of You issues 32 to 37
  6. Fables & Reflections issues 29, 30, 31, 38, 39, 40, 50, Vertigo Preview #1 and Sandman Special #1
  7. Brief Lives issues 41 to 49
  8. World's End issues 51 to 56
  9. The Kindly Ones issues 57 to 69
  10. The Wake issues 70 to 75.

Other books about Morpheus and his family include

Here are some of the many names that Dream of The Endless has collected over time.

Season One (2022)

"If dreams disappear, so will humanity."

In an interesting parallel with its title character, The Sandman sat in development hell for decades. During this time, author Neil Gaiman and others interested in adapting it as a TV series could consider how such a conversion of the source material might work. The task was daunting. The source material, created for the elastic, highly stylized, and often crazed medium of comics, features unconventional narrative structures, a range of settings fantastic, historical, and contemporary, and a cast of characters ranging from godlike superbeings to William Shakespeare to the hash-slinging waitress at the corner diner and your neighbours' cat. It featured a diversity of sexualities that, until this century, was not typical of mainstream American and British media. The main characters also interact with figures from DC comics' history, from superheroes to horror comic hosts.

By the 2020s, the platforms, technology, and culture existed to create such a series. The first season dropped ten episodes, and then a surprise eleventh a week later, in August of 2022. The season retells the stories from Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll's House, and some of Dream Country.

The short version: in 1916, a corrupt mage and his followers try to bind Death. Less talented than they imagine, they instead capture Death's little brother, Dream, the Sandman. His decades of captivity have dire consequences. After he frees himself, he must rebuild his kingdom and undo the damage wrought by its destruction. These include, but are not limited, to dreams and nightmares on the loose in the waking world.

While the first season remains generally faithful to the source, changes were made for many reasons. The Netflix Sandman tightens plot connections: while some of these feel forced, many improve the story. Dream escapes in 2022, creating a different timeframe and historical context to which the stories must adjust. I really liked how they used this fact in the tale of Hob Gadling. They maintain his history and timeline, changing only the conclusion, since the TV Sandman missed 1989. The clever handling of this difference arguably works better than the original. The more ethnically and racially diverse casting generally works well. Cain and Abel, for example, are played by actors of Middle Eastern and western Asian descent. That makes sense, since they appeared in another source before they were DC characters, one that is a product of that region.1

The main reason the series changes, of course, is that comics and TV are two very different media.

A good example of why things needed to change may be viewed by comparing the episode "24/7" with "24 Hour Diner," a 2017 fan film, unauthorized but praised by Gaiman, which adapts the same story. The 2017 film, well worth seeing, presents a faithful and darker version of the story, but also one that plays very like a comic book being acted out. The Netflix ep has its flaws, but it plays like a conventional short narrative film, which is what they were after. Fidelity to the source proves problematic. Dr. Dee in the fan film looks exactly like the comic-book rendering. My wife, who had to avert her eyes a few times at the horror elements, had trouble not laughing any time the fan film showed Dee close up. His exaggerated visual design works fine in a comic, but it looks, well, comical in live-action, and not in a good way. The more understated, though clearly disturbed, Dee of the series (David Thewlis) works better in live-action. Dee also has a different origin, one connected to the series' established universe, and disconnected from mainstream DC characters.

The superheroes do not appear to exist in this version. They would clutter an already difficult plot; even the source material largely drops them as the story progresses.2 We see some Justice League toys, but young Jed's love of four-colour heroes gets connected to his love of comic books.

Some stories remain problematic in adaptation. "Collectors" is nicely done, but it always seemed a stretch, more a satiric yarn than anything that makes literal sense, and some viewers may find it beyond the pale even for a fantasy series. "A Dream of a Thousand Cats," an excellent adaptation of another story that pushes boundaries, eschews live-action for a blend of animation and rotoscoping. That is for the best.

With these changes, some aspects are lost, of course. In particular, some of the interesting complexities and rougher edges are absent. We still see wonders. Most of the visual effects are solid. Others are obviously effects, but I did not find this distracting. The show also features farmloads of quiet allusions and Easter Eggs.

The series features, overall, a strong cast. Tom Sturridge as Dream/Morpheus has to deliver some poetic lines, things people would not normally say, and he does so effectively. Several actors-- Patton Oswalt as Matthew, for example, and the main cast of the Doll's House arc— are pretty much perfect. While I once had hoped to see Aubrey Plaza for the role of Death, time has moved along, and I like how Kirby Howell-Baptiste handles the part. We get a great sense of her compassion for the human race, despite her particular role in our lives.

The Sandman was always going to be chaotic—grains of sand blown at the viewer—but this version works well. Like the source, it is more a series of connected stories with a very broad overall arc than a single piece. For better and for worse, this story cannot be disconnected from its own epic chaos and meandering tone.

I'm a huge fan of the graphic novels, while my wife has never read them. We both enjoyed season one of The Sandman. It differs from the source material, but it's not like the source material isn't still there to read, in its original form. It remains similar enough, however, that, if The Sandman was your thing, you'll probably enjoy this version. If it wasn't, you're not going to like the TV show.


1. Typical of current American/British media, the diversity casting mostly ignores people of Pacific Asian background. If they're going to make a point of touting the greater diversity of the adaptation—and they did-- they might consider whom they're not including. Some people have been particularly galled by the fact that the one significant Pacific-Asian character strongly recalls the Dragon Lady stereotype.

Elsewhere in the series Sandra Oh gives a strong performance, but as the voice of an animated cat. A Siamese.

2. In any case, I'm not certain stronger connections to the DC Cinematic Universe, in its contemporaneous states, would do much to increase viewership.

Cast and Crew:

Directors: Mike Barker, Jamie Childs, Mairzee Almas, Andrés Baiz, Coralie Fargeat, Louise Hooper, Hisko Hulsing.

Writers: Neil Gaiman, S. Goya, Allan Heinberg, Jim Campolongo, Austin Guzman, Ameni Rozsa, Lauren Bello, Heather Bellson, Alexander Newman-Wise, Vanessa James Benton, Jay Franklin, Catherine Smyth-McMullen.

Adapted from the graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman (and various artists)

Tom Sturridge as Dream/Morpheus
Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian
Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven (voice)
Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death
Vanesu Samunyai as Rose Walker
Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine / Lady Johanna Constantine
Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall
Sandra James-Young as Unity Kincaid
David Thewlis as Dr. John Dee
Joely Richardson, Niamh Walsh as Ethel Cripps
Stephen Fry as Gilbert
John Cameron Mitchell as Hal Carter
Lloyd Everitt as Hector Hall
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Cain
Asim Chaudhry as Abel
Ferdinand Kingsley as Hob Gadling
Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar
Mason Alexander Park as Desire
Donna Preston as Despair
Dinita Gohil as Fate Maiden
Nina Wadia as Fate Mother
Souad Faress as Fate Crone
Mark Hamill as Merv Pumpkinhead (voice)
Nicholas Anscombe as Merv Pumpkinhead (body)
Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess
Benedick Blythe as old Roderick Burgess
Laurie Kynaston as Alex Burgess
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth young Alex Burgess
Melissanthi Mahut as Calliope
Sandra Oh as Prophet (voice)
Rosie Day as Tabby Kitten (voice)
Eddie Karanja as Jed Walker
Aryel Tsoto as Young Jed Walker
David Tennant as Don
Lily Travers as Barbie
Richard Fleeshman as Ken
Daisy Badger as Chantal
Cara Horgan as Zelda
Isla Gie as young Zelda
Jill Winternitz as The Good Doctor
Kerry Shale as Nimrod
Dan Matteucci as Armed Officers Don
Sarah Niles as Rosemary
Cassie Clare as Mazikeen
Ansu Kabia as Ruthven Sykes
Ann Ogbomo as Gault
Joe Corrigall as Sam
Danny Kirrane as Fun Land
Andi Osho as Miranda Walker
Sam Hazeldine as Barnaby
Lisa O'Hare as Clarice
Ben Wiggins as Carl
Dickie Beau as The Shredder
Zora Bishop as Myth America
Peter De Jersey as Mr. Holdaway
Desiree Burch as Grass Widow
Shelley Williams as Eleanor Rubio
JP Conway as The Connoisseur
Jimmy Essex as Carrion
Joe Frost as The Choirboy
David Menkin as The Hammer of God
Daniel Quirke as Moon River
Kirris Riviere as Adonai
Matthew Sim as The Crooner
Daniel Tuite as Hello Little Girl
Michael Walters as The Water Boy
Gianni Calchetti as Death Stalker
Lenny Henry as Martin Tenbones (voice)
David Gyasi as Grey Cat (voice)
Bill Paterson as Dr. John Hathaway
Joe Lycett as Black Cat (voice)
Martyn Ford as Squatterbloat
Meera Syal as Erica
Samuel Blenkin as Will Shakespeare
Emma Duncan as Bette Munroe
James McAvoy as Golden-Haired Man
Clare Higgins as Mad Hettie
Munya Chawawa as Choronzon
Steven Brand as Marsh Janowski
Deborah Oyelade as Nada
Angus Yellowlees as Christopher Marlowe
Roger Allam as Azazel (voice)
Eleanor Fanyinka as Rachel
Laurie Davidson as Mark Brewer
Lewis Reeves as Philip Sitz
Sarah Twomey as Lushing Lou
Ernest Kingsley Junior as Kai'ckul
Georgia Tennant as Laura Lynn
Daisy Head as Judy Talbot
Hannah van der Westhuysen as Princess
Sam Strike as Todd
Curtis Kantsa as Franklin
Stacy Abalogun as Nurse Edmund
Anna Lundberg as Marion
Michael Sheen as Paul
James Udom as Garry
Kieron Moore as Crispin
Stephen Odubola as Kevin Brody
Lourdes Faberes as Kate Fletcher
Marcus Fraser as Agilieth
Sia Alipour as Aiden
Stevie Hutchinson as Alex Logue
Roger Ajogbe as James Kincaid
Nina Galano as Astra Logue
Sarah Quist as Lindy
Nonso Anozie as Wyvern (voice)
Diane Morgan as Gryphon (voice)
Tom Wu as Hippogriff (voice)
Jon Rumney as Harry
Graham Bohea as Hangman
Rebecca Night as Esme
Martin Bishop as Neurologist
Arthur Darvill as Richard Madoc
Crystal Yu as Jackie
Kirsten Foster as News Anchor Annie
Marcus Adolphy as Cab Driver
Jay Rincon as Meteorologist Mike
Leemore Marrett Jr. as Tourist Husband Sam
Liberty Buckland s Tourist Wife Tabitha
Georgia Goodman as Rebecca
Stanley Morgan as Charlie
Harry Burton as Geoffrey Chaucer
William Chubb as Edmund
Amita Suman as Nora
Derek Jacobi as Erasmus Fry
Sacharissa Claxton as Officer Sandra Davis
Alex Akindeji as Louis
Christopher Colquhoun as Paul McGuire
Justina Kehinde as Sofia
Kelsey Cooke as Tara
Kirsty Rider as Emanuela
Angus Castle-Doughty as Devin
Ruchika Jain as Clara
Amy Rockson as Margaret Kincaid
Neil Gaiman as skeletal raven (voice)

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