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The Sandman Cometh

Cappy

Great Northern Hotel
Aug 4, 2022
62
41
Tentatively curious. I'm guessing the first season is going to do the first 2 tpbs of material -- Dr. Destiny, Corinthian, etc? Wonder what this show will do with all the stand alone stories from the series though, like the Midsummer Night's Dream one.
 

secretlettermkr

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 12, 2022
115
86
I saw two episodes. The first one started very good, I was enjoying it.. and halfway through it started to decline. Second episode was not good. I'm obviously influenced by knowing the source material, and theyre making unnecessary changes to the story that are not good, and it turns me off.
 

Mr. Reindeer

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 13, 2022
148
222
I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, but to go a bit off-topic: For any Gaiman fans who aren’t aware, he and Mark Buckingham are finally slated to finish out their run on Miracleman after a thirty-year hiatus (and another eight years after Marvel first announced the continuation and started reprinting the original run!). After six years of silence from Marvel, apparently the legal rights issues are finally sorted out and the first issue of ‘The Silver Age’ (previously released in 1992 and completely redrawn by Buckingham for the new edition) is due out in October, with new stories to follow.
 

secretlettermkr

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 12, 2022
115
86
I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, but to go a bit off-topic: For any Gaiman fans who aren’t aware, he and Mark Buckingham are finally slated to finish out their run on Miracleman after a thirty-year hiatus (and another eight years after Marvel first announced the continuation and started reprinting the original run!). After six years of silence from Marvel, apparently the legal rights issues are finally sorted out and the first issue of ‘The Silver Age’ (previously released in 1992 and completely redrawn by Buckingham for the new edition) is due out in October, with new stories to follow.
Yeah, I know, never read Gaimans take on Miracleman, maybe I will when its complete. Alan Moore's MIRACLEMAN is perfect as it is in my opinion.
 

Mr. Reindeer

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 13, 2022
148
222
Yeah, I know, never read Gaimans take on Miracleman, maybe I will when its complete. Alan Moore's MIRACLEMAN is perfect as it is in my opinion.
True, ‘Olympus’ is a hell of a way to go out. It’s early to judge Gaiman’s run still, as I’m sure you’ve heard, ‘The Golden Age’ is very effective world-building but doesn’t advance the story at all. Only two issues of ‘The Silver Age’ were published back then, so we’ll see where that and ‘The Dark Ages’ end up taking things.
 

Rigpa

Sparkwood & 21
Apr 13, 2022
10
8

Oooh, yes! Thanks for the heads up. As a cat person, A Dream of a Thousand Cats is a favorite story of mine.

And just for the record, I am 99% satisfied with the season. I have read the source material countless times, but was determined to watch the series as if I hadn’t. So the small changes from the comics didn’t bother me a bit. I think it is the best adaptation of Gaiman’s work I have seen. My least favorite episode was 24/7. Loved The Sound of her Wings, Hob Gadling’s story especially.
 

Mr. Reindeer

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 13, 2022
148
222
I finished the series. SPOILERS for ALL EPISODES follow.

It was overall a very faithful adaptation. Until I saw the episode titles and realized that they were essentially adapting the comic issues in order, I was very much expecting something more along the lines of the Preacher TV series (i.e., honoring the broad story beats and themes and tone, but changing a lot around to suit a serialized TV format, which has a very different storytelling pace from a monthly comic book). I would have been fine with that. The choice to adhere pretty strictly to the comics is interesting since even Gaiman himself has admitted that the first seven issues (i.e., the first five episodes of the show) aren't really a good representation of what the comic ultimately became, since he was still figuring out what the overall style was and writing in a more standard horror-comic genre mode.

Another element of the early comic issues that mostly fell away quickly was the series being tied in directly to the DC Universe. Many of the writing changes in the first season of the show relate to essentially reimagining those characters' backstories in such a way as to keep the characters themselves and their roles in the Sandman story intact, but eliminating their direct ties to the DCU. The big one is obviously John Dee, as magnificently portrayed by the always great David Thewlis (who is unsurprisingly the MVP of the cast this season). Any connection to Justice League villain Dr. Destiny is dropped (including his incarceration in Arkham Asylum becoming a generic institution), and in the hands of Thewlis and the series writers and directors, Dee becomes a much less monstrous and more sympathetic figure. This works incredibly well, and makes him much more interesting than he is in the comic (I especially liked the reversal of him not killing the woman who drives him to the storage unit, but instead giving her the protection amulet; even after she betrayed him--a detail smartly added for the show which gives him even more motivation to kill her).

John Constantine becoming Johanna Constantine is the other obvious change in this vein, and that's more of a mixed bag. Jenna Coleman is perfectly fine in the role, but she's a little too pretty and poshly dressed to be a truly satisfying stand-in for John, and she never comes off as particularly tortured. Overall, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" felt like perhaps it could have been combined and condensed with the (very short 37-minute) second episode into one 50-minute episode, and neither story would have suffered much. As I said, those very early issues weren't exactly Sandman at its best, and the choice to stretch the 24-page second and third issues into two full-length episodes while (much more effectively) condensing most of the rest of the series into two-issues-per-episode is a little baffling. Many scenes in episodes 2 and 3 feel rather like filler very early on in the series.

The other downside in presenting Johanna Constantine in the present is that it's rather confusing when they then depict a comics-accurate character with the same name in the 18th century in a later episode, played again by Jenna Coleman. It seems to me that a lot of audience members will be confused and assume that Johanna is immortal, as opposed to the one Johanna being the descendant of the other (an issue exacerbated by Dream in the "Sound of Her Wings" episode when he tells Hob that he had further off-screen dealings with the 18th-century Johanna, which for a second made even me wonder whether Dream was implying that he and Death had granted Johanna the gift of immortality; I had to think back and recall that the modern-day Johanna clearly doesn't know Dream initially).

Johanna issues aside, I felt that almost all of the writing changes were for the better. For instance, Dream having to absorb the adorable gargoyle Gregory is much more effective than him simply absorbing Cain and Abel's contracts as in the comic.

I assumed that the "24 Hours" story would be toned down, and I was both right and wrong. They did keep many of the most grisly beats, and I enjoyed the way it almost played as a stageplay (I love bottle episodes). But it lost the format of the comic (showing quick "slices of life" from each hour as Dee toys with the patrons), and lost the sickly humorous edge of the comic issue, which I have always loved. The tradeoff is that, again, Dee comes off as more complex and with a clearer mission/character arc, as opposed to just being a sick fuck. This was probably the right choice for a TV episode, but part of me would have loved to see a more avant-garde attempt at truly adapting the comic issue and its odd storytelling format.

While this may be sacrilege to say, I felt the TV version of "The Doll's House" storyline was an improvement over the comics, story-wise, in almost every sense. Lyta and Hector Hall, in losing their myriad connections to the JLA and the DCU, are instead reimagined as a much more emotionally integrated part of Rose Walker's arc, which makes the story seem much more focused and character-driven (with the side-benefit that Rose's mother is killed off on the show, presumably to prevent character clutter, but also giving Rose's search for Jed that much more meaning). Replacing the two-dimensional Brute and Glob with the new character Gault (poignantly portrayed by Ann Ogbomo) is another wonderful change, introducing the beautiful idea of a nightmare who wants to be good, as well as nicely highlighting Dream's series-long arc in realizing that he himself can change (and in fact has). The Corinthian baiting Rose to the Cereal Convention in order to take advantage of the vortex is much better than the comic's double-contrivance of Rose and Gilbert simply stumbling upon the hotel because their car broke down, while the Corinthian just happens to pick Jed up hitchhiking.

Tom Sturridge has justifiably been getting praise for doing a good job of capturing the spirit of the character, although it took some getting used to for me to accept a very human-looking Dream (not to mention human-sounding...those shaky word balloons in the comic, with white text on black background, always caused me to imagine him sounding much more otherworldly).

The Corinthian has always been one of my favorite comic book villains; he's so wonderfully creepy. Boyd Holbrook's interpretation wasn't exactly what I would have imagined, but it was absolutely perfect.

Likewise, while nothing like I would have imagined, Kirby Howell-Baptiste perfectly embodies the role of Death, one of the best characters from the comic. I agree with Rigpa that "The Sound of Her Wings" was my favorite episode by far, adapting two very strong issues of the comic book flawlessly. All the performances, and the breathtaking sets in the different time periods of Hob's story, exceeded my best expectations for those stories. The decision to set the show’s present-day in 2022 but leave the rest of the backstory timeline the same as it is in the comics led to a few wonky storytelling moments (such as Unity Kincaid being apparently 118 years old in the present day!), but it also adds a really nice extra beat to the "Men of Good Fortune" storyline where Dream actually misses his 1989 meeting with Hob.

Mason Alexander-Park as Desire and Stephen Fry as Fiddler's Green also both deserve to be mentioned as being spot-on book casting, and both incredibly fun to watch. Patton Oswalt is fun too, although I couldn't help being reminded of him playing another CGI sidekick character in another comic book TV show, the unapologetically wacky and highly under-seen adaptation of Grant Morrison's Happy!

Cain was very toned down from the comic, and his dynamic with his brother was therefore much less fun. I guess the zanier Looney Tunes-esque approach may not have been a good stylistic fit for this version of the show, but I would have liked to see them try.

That's my biggest complaint about the show overall. In terms of tone and visual style, it feels very safe. Given the iconic, adventurous nature of the source material, and the limitless levels of pure imagination the dream realm could potentially depict, I wish they had taken more big swings in the manner of Legion or the first season of American Gods (both very imperfect shows, but stunning ones visually). Sandman mostly looks very much like any other glossy prestige streaming fantasy series. For instance, while the TV version of Hell is undeniably pretty to look at and full of perfectly gorgeous CGI, it pales in comparison to the irreverent, disgusting piles of lumpy deformed flesh that made up Lucifer's realm in the comic as drawn by Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg. (The comics-faithful depiction of Azazel was really cool though.) The end credits, however, are a great tribute to the wonderful abstract covers by Dave McKean throughout the comic's run.

And I loved the animation style of "A Dream of a Thousand Cats." Quite beautiful, that one. I really enjoyed “Calliope” as well, although the chyron “AUGUST 2020” displayed over a huge party of unmasked people not social distancing was really jarring! I’m so interested in how fiction and film will (and won’t) deal with covid in its depiction of our era going forward.

I'm looking forward to more of these one-shots, as those were in many cases the most iconic and wonderful stories in the comic series.
 
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Cappy

Great Northern Hotel
Aug 4, 2022
62
41
Haven't had time to watch yet, but I would be curious to see how they eventually adapt the Brief Lives story. That TPB blew me away back in 1999 or so.
 

Rigpa

Sparkwood & 21
Apr 13, 2022
10
8
I finished the series. SPOILERS for ALL EPISODES follow.

It was overall a very faithful adaptation. Until I saw the episode titles and realized that they were essentially adapting the comic issues in order, I was very much expecting something more along the lines of the Preacher TV series (i.e., honoring the broad story beats and themes and tone, but changing a lot around to suit a serialized TV format, which has a very different storytelling pace from a monthly comic book). I would have been fine with that. The choice to adhere pretty strictly to the comics is interesting since even Gaiman himself has admitted that the first seven issues (i.e., the first five episodes of the show) aren't really a good representation of what the comic ultimately became, since he was still figuring out what the overall style was and writing in a more standard horror-comic genre mode.

Another element of the early comic issues that mostly fell away quickly was the series being tied in directly to the DC Universe. Many of the writing changes in the first season of the show relate to essentially reimagining those characters' backstories in such a way as to keep the characters themselves and their roles in the Sandman story intact, but eliminating their direct ties to the DCU. The big one is obviously John Dee, as magnificently portrayed by the always great David Thewlis (who is unsurprisingly the MVP of the cast this season). Any connection to Justice League villain Dr. Destiny is dropped (including his incarceration in Arkham Asylum becoming a generic institution), and in the hands of Thewlis and the series writers and directors, Dee becomes a much less monstrous and more sympathetic figure. This works incredibly well, and makes him much more interesting than he is in the comic (I especially liked the reversal of him not killing the woman who drives him to the storage unit, but instead giving her the protection amulet; even after she betrayed him--a detail smartly added for the show which gives him even more motivation to kill her).

John Constantine becoming Johanna Constantine is the other obvious change in this vein, and that's more of a mixed bag. Jenna Coleman is perfectly fine in the role, but she's a little too pretty and poshly dressed to be a truly satisfying stand-in for John, and she never comes off as particularly tortured. Overall, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" felt like perhaps it could have been combined and condensed with the (very short 37-minute) second episode into one 50-minute episode, and neither story would have suffered much. As I said, those very early issues weren't exactly Sandman at its best, and the choice to stretch the 24-page second and third issues into two full-length episodes while (much more effectively) condensing most of the rest of the series into two-issues-per-episode is a little baffling. Many scenes in episodes 2 and 3 feel rather like filler very early on in the series.

The other downside in presenting Johanna Constantine in the present is that it's rather confusing when they then depict a comics-accurate character with the same name in the 18th century in a later episode, played again by Jenna Coleman. It seems to me that a lot of audience members will be confused and assume that Johanna is immortal, as opposed to the one Johanna being the descendant of the other (an issue exacerbated by Dream in the "Sound of Her Wings" episode when he tells Hob that he had further off-screen dealings with the 18th-century Johanna, which for a second made even me wonder whether Dream was implying that he and Death had granted Johanna the gift of immortality; I had to think back and recall that the modern-day Johanna clearly doesn't know Dream initially).

Johanna issues aside, I felt that almost all of the writing changes were for the better. For instance, Dream having to absorb the adorable gargoyle Gregory is much more effective than him simply absorbing Cain and Abel's contracts as in the comic.

I assumed that the "24 Hours" story would be toned down, and I was both right and wrong. They did keep many of the most grisly beats, and I enjoyed the way it almost played as a stageplay (I love bottle episodes). But it lost the format of the comic (showing quick "slices of life" from each hour as Dee toys with the patrons), and lost the sickly humorous edge of the comic issue, which I have always loved. The tradeoff is that, again, Dee comes off as more complex and with a clearer mission/character arc, as opposed to just being a sick fuck. This was probably the right choice for a TV episode, but part of me would have loved to see a more avant-garde attempt at truly adapting the comic issue and its odd storytelling format.

While this may be sacrilege to say, I felt the TV version of "The Doll's House" storyline was an improvement over the comics, story-wise, in almost every sense. Lyta and Hector Hall, in losing their myriad connections to the JLA and the DCU, are instead reimagined as a much more emotionally integrated part of Rose Walker's arc, which makes the story seem much more focused and character-driven (with the side-benefit that Rose's mother is killed off on the show, presumably to prevent character clutter, but also giving Rose's search for Jed that much more meaning). Replacing the two-dimensional Brute and Glob with the new character Gault (poignantly portrayed by Ann Ogbomo) is another wonderful change, introducing the beautiful idea of a nightmare who wants to be good, as well as nicely highlighting Dream's series-long arc in realizing that he himself can change (and in fact has). The Corinthian baiting Rose to the Cereal Convention in order to take advantage of the vortex is much better than the comic's double-contrivance of Rose and Gilbert simply stumbling upon the hotel because their car broke down, while the Corinthian just happens to pick Jed up hitchhiking.

Tom Sturridge has justifiably been getting praise for doing a good job of capturing the spirit of the character, although it took some getting used to for me to accept a very human-looking Dream (not to mention human-sounding...those shaky word balloons in the comic, with white text on black background, always caused me to imagine him sounding much more otherworldly).

The Corinthian has always been one of my favorite comic book villains; he's so wonderfully creepy. Boyd Holbrook's interpretation wasn't exactly what I would have imagined, but it was absolutely perfect.

Likewise, while nothing like I would have imagined, Kirby Howell-Baptiste perfectly embodies the role of Death, one of the best characters from the comic. I agree with Rigpa that "The Sound of Her Wings" was my favorite episode by far, adapting two very strong issues of the comic book flawlessly. All the performances, and the breathtaking sets in the different time periods of Hob's story, exceeded my best expectations for those stories. The decision to set the show’s present-day in 2022 but leave the rest of the backstory timeline the same as it is in the comics led to a few wonky storytelling moments (such as Unity Kincaid being apparently 118 years old in the present day!), but it also adds a really nice extra beat to the "Men of Good Fortune" storyline where Dream actually misses his 1989 meeting with Hob.

Mason Alexander-Park as Desire and Stephen Fry as Fiddler's Green also both deserve to be mentioned as being spot-on book casting, and both incredibly fun to watch. Patton Oswalt is fun too, although I couldn't help being reminded of him playing another CGI sidekick character in another comic book TV show, the unapologetically wacky and highly under-seen adaptation of Grant Morrison's Happy!

Cain was very toned down from the comic, and his dynamic with his brother was therefore much less fun. I guess the zanier Looney Tunes-esque approach may not have been a good stylistic fit for this version of the show, but I would have liked to see them try.

That's my biggest complaint about the show overall. In terms of tone and visual style, it feels very safe. Given the iconic, adventurous nature of the source material, and the limitless levels of pure imagination the dream realm could potentially depict, I wish they had taken more big swings in the manner of Legion or the first season of American Gods (both very imperfect shows, but stunning ones visually). Sandman mostly looks very much like any other glossy prestige streaming fantasy series. For instance, while the TV version of Hell is undeniably pretty to look at and full of perfectly gorgeous CGI, it pales in comparison to the irreverent, disgusting piles of lumpy deformed flesh that made up Lucifer's realm in the comic as drawn by Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg. (The comics-faithful depiction of Azazel was really cool though.) The end credits, however, are a great tribute to the wonderful abstract covers by Dave McKean throughout the comic's run.

And I loved the animation style of "A Dream of a Thousand Cats." Quite beautiful, that one. I really enjoyed “Calliope” as well, although the chyron “AUGUST 2020” displayed over a huge party of unmasked people not social distancing was really jarring! I’m so interested in how fiction and film will (and won’t) deal with covid in its depiction of our era going forward.

I'm looking forward to more of these one-shots, as those were in many cases the most iconic and wonderful stories in the comic series.
Fabulous post as always, Mr. Reindeer! I also found the animation of “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” amazing. The animators truly know cats—especially the way the cats blink—so true to life. A joy to watch.
 

Jordan Cole

Sparkwood & 21
Sep 22, 2022
13
13
One thing to keep in mind is that the first collection contains a storyline that prominently uses a DC Comics character who pre-existed the Sandman series. I think the storyline is still enjoyable on its own, but it might feel a bit more “insider baseball.” After that, the series settles firmly into its own self-contained universe and you won’t have to worry about knowledge of anything else.

Sandman, the comic book, features TONS of DC characters and references who pre-existed before Gaiman's series. One of the most fun things (to me) about Sandman was Gaiman's brilliant use of these things from DC comics, some obscure, some not, but how it all thematically works for what Gaiman is doing, peeling back the curtain behind reality. I often see people say they don't care about the DC references or think they have any value, that they are best ignored or not worried about, but I think that's a shame. It's putting aside such a fun, fascinating, dense layer of Gaiman's Sandman. I'm currently doing a read following Lyta Hall's character arc, starting in Wonder Woman #300, through Infinity Inc, then her story in Sandman and then everything after.

Here's a great site that goes through all of the DC stuff in Sandman. And yes, it's way more than you think, and no, I bet none of it will be in the Netflix show, which is obviously understandable, but for me will mean a loss of some of the magic that makes the comic so brilliant:

 

secretlettermkr

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 12, 2022
115
86
Sandman, the comic book, features TONS of DC characters and references who pre-existed before Gaiman's series. One of the most fun things (to me) about Sandman was Gaiman's brilliant use of these things from DC comics, some obscure, some not, but how it all thematically works for what Gaiman is doing, peeling back the curtain behind reality. I often see people say they don't care about the DC references or think they have any value, that they are best ignored or not worried about, but I think that's a shame. It's putting aside such a fun, fascinating, dense layer of Gaiman's Sandman. I'm currently doing a read following Lyta Hall's character arc, starting in Wonder Woman #300, through Infinity Inc, then her story in Sandman and then everything after.

Here's a great site that goes through all of the DC stuff in Sandman. And yes, it's way more than you think, and no, I bet none of it will be in the Netflix show, which is obviously understandable, but for me will mean a loss of some of the magic that makes the comic so brilliant:

Dont worry, the series has NO MAGIC AT ALL, its totally sterile
 

secretlettermkr

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 12, 2022
115
86
Sandman, the comic book, features TONS of DC characters and references who pre-existed before Gaiman's series. One of the most fun things (to me) about Sandman was Gaiman's brilliant use of these things from DC comics, some obscure, some not, but how it all thematically works for what Gaiman is doing,
I agree 100%
 

Cappy

Great Northern Hotel
Aug 4, 2022
62
41
Sandman, the comic book, features TONS of DC characters and references who pre-existed before Gaiman's series. One of the most fun things (to me) about Sandman was Gaiman's brilliant use of these things from DC comics, some obscure, some not, but how it all thematically works for what Gaiman is doing, peeling back the curtain behind reality. I often see people say they don't care about the DC references or think they have any value, that they are best ignored or not worried about, but I think that's a shame. It's putting aside such a fun, fascinating, dense layer of Gaiman's Sandman. I'm currently doing a read following Lyta Hall's character arc, starting in Wonder Woman #300, through Infinity Inc, then her story in Sandman and then everything after.

Here's a great site that goes through all of the DC stuff in Sandman. And yes, it's way more than you think, and no, I bet none of it will be in the Netflix show, which is obviously understandable, but for me will mean a loss of some of the magic that makes the comic so brilliant:

I always thought Infinity Inc. was a way cooler team name than Teen Titans.
 
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