So yes, I have work to do. And I am not trying to whine about “writing a novel is hard.” But the book I’m working on takes up an enormous amount of headspace in order to produce things that are relatively small. Which I’m happy about, but it is a new thing, process-wise.

It’s also a thing that’s got me looking backward at my own past in a way I tend to avoid. …


I’ve been trying to think of a counter-argument to the assertion that Death is Neil Gaiman’s most iconic creation. What I’ve decided is that my view of Gaiman may be too rooted in the 90s to see any such argument as valid. Numbers-wise, more people have read American Gods, have seen Coraline— hell, have seen Mirrormask—than have read Sandman. This is true, and yet my brain will not accept it.

So perhaps Coraline is more iconic. Or her disturbing Button-Eyed Mother. Or Mr. Wednesday (Shadow Moon is too much of a cipher/POV character for me to think of him as…


In the recent finale of a popular television show, a group of characters get together to choose a king. There’s no precedent for this; none of them have any sense of how to go about it. One suggests they hew to the old way of doing things: the throne should go to the person with the strongest patrilineal claim, which happens to be him. He’s quietly asked to take his seat. Another suggests a new system whereby the votes of the people to be governed are tallied, and the most popular choice is given the throne. We know what the…


I have a particular affection for the collection title of this first group of issues. It’s one of two Sandman trades that adopt the X & Y title format, the second being Fables & Reflections, which swept up some of the self-contained shorts and collected them out of their original publishing order.

Looking back on the first eight issues of Sandman and collecting them as Preludes & Nocturnes acknowledges that these pieces don’t really cohere into a larger story, not in the way later arcs will. Morpheus hunting down his three objects of power is a bit “labors of Hercules”…


Ask a fan what the most successful Sandman spinoff is and they’ll tell you it’s Lucifer. And they’d be right. I’d tell you the same thing, matter of fact. Penned by Mike Carey and drawn (mostly) by Peter Gross and Dean Ormstead, Lucifer ran seventy-five issues, plus some miniseries and specials, and is a sort of tonal heir to Sandman.

And yes, there is a television series, which I confess I have not seen. …


It begins with a wrong number.

Pull back a few pages and it begins with someone waking. We’re not privy to his dreams, we’ll only be privy to descriptions of dreams for a while yet before we’re allowed entry into the kingdom proper, but yes, we begin by waking outside of Wych Cross, England, in the midst of war.

The first issue of Sandman is double-sized and sprawls across a century. It’s a bold opening move, and establishes the kind of scope we’re dealing with. A century gone in a snap, because what’s a hundred years to a being that’s…


All the most ridiculous stories are true.

And so we must believe that yes, in 1987, Neil Gaiman lost half the first draft of the original Sandman proposal to an electrical outage during a “once in a century” storm, and the proposal submitted was written after he was holed up in his house with no electricity for a week. There’s no reason to disbelieve this version of events; it’d be embarrassingly on-the-nose if he’d made it up.

Gaiman was already working for DC at his point, brought over by Karen Berger on the recommendation of Alan Moore. This is an…


Sandman displaying “fear in a handful of dust.” As one does.
“What I’m saying is that all we are is dust in the wind.”

Okay, so I’ve decided to re-read Sandman.

I don’t have a terribly good reason for this, other than I’ve been trying to keep one thing going that’s a sort of comfort food during all this (I briefly started re-watching LOST for chrissakes). Add to that the fact it’s been long enough I felt as if I might be coming back to it with new eyes, and that when the local library re-opened for requests, I ended up getting a couple of Gaiman’s later efforts for Marvel, which left me wanting to read better Neil Gaiman comics, frankly.

And because I’m…


Start with the beginning that comes at the end.

The idea was a nod toward the chronology of the narrative, but also novelty. I read Overture when it came out in 2013 but did not, from there, embark on a full-scale re-reading of Sandman. So why not, I thought, treat Overture as it bills itself and use it as a starting point.

It was a poor decision, but I’m also not sure where I could have incorporated this book in a re-read and had it feel satisfying, much less necessary.

Let me get something out of the way before I…


It was all for her. I cared before that. There was no way not to care. People die, you care. I guess there must have been away though. There were lots of guys who didn’t. She called them flagwavers the same way you might say someone was a leper. She probably would have preferred lepers. At least flagwaving wasn’t catching.

Burning though. Flagburning was catching. I caught it from her.

Before her, I cared different. It was all so far away and I was against it in the way I’d be against torturing puppies or erosion. But I wasn’t up…

Bob Proehl

“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.” -Frank O'Hara

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