29 November 2013
The Sandman: The Dream Hunters/Endless Nights
The product of Gaiman's immersion in Japanese art, culture, and history, Sandman: Dream Hunters is a classic Japanese tale (adapted from "The Fox, the Monk, and the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming") that he has subtly morphed into his Sandman universe.
Like most fables, the story begins with a wager between two jealous animals, a fox and a badger: which of them can drive a young monk from his solitary temple? The winner will make the temple into a new fox or badger home. But as the fox adopts the form of a woman to woo the monk from his hermitage, she falls in love with him. Meanwhile, in far away Kyoto, the wealthy Master of Yin-Yang, the onmyoji, is plagued by his fears and seeks tranquility in his command of sorcery. He learns of the monk and his inner peace; he dispatches demons to plague the monk in his dreams and eventually kill him to bring his peace to the onmyoji. The fox overhears the demons on their way to the monk and begins her struggle to save the man whom at first she so envied.
Had the introduction not spoiled it for me, I am sure I would have pegged The Dream Hunters story as having a Japanese origin. It's such a nice addition to the Sandman series and lends credence to the idea that Dream/Morpheus doesn't not exist solely as a single concept but is viewed in different shapes and forms by different cultures. Lovely. Apparently the edition I read has new art, so I want to track down the original to see that version of illustration.
Featuring the popular characters from the award-winning Sandman series by best selling author Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Endless Nights reveals the legend of the Endless, a family of magical and mythical beings who exist and interact in the real world. Born at the beginning of time, Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction are seven brothers and sisters who each lord over their respective realms.
This highly imaginative book, the first graphic novel to be listed on the New York Times best-seller list, boasts diverse styles of breathtaking art, these seven peculiar and powerful siblings each reveal more about their true being as they star in their own tales of curiosity and wonder.
Endless Nights is more like volume six of the Sandman series - Fables and Reflections - in that it pulls together a series of short stories. It does a lot to fill in some of the gaps about Dream's other siblings. I'm very glad that Despair's chapter only had fifteen portraits - they were so sad, kudos to the artist.