Geeks Vs Loneliness: Mr Sandman, Bring Me a Dream

In which Jane talks The Sandman, adapting to changes and challenging yourself on occasion.

Early this year I wrote about how I’d parked the 90s rather unfairly in the dustbin of discontent. In 1991 I picked up my first Sandman comic, and fell headlong into The Dreaming. Welcome to a major crush on Morpheus.

The Sandman has been in the headlines recently, with the news that Netflix is to adapt it. There’s been an uneasy response to this – possibly because for some people (me!), The Sandman is a sacred text. Netflix has created some wonderful adaptations (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Umbrella Academy). It has spat out some duds too.

It comes with fandom territory that anything considered sacred can fall prey to adaptions we are not comfortable with. Change is not always welcome, nor always well executed. I had my first inner comic book nerd freak out with the film adaptation of Hellblazer into what became Constantine. Like, hell no.

Fast-forward a few years. I like Constantine now, and love the cinematic vision of hell it portrays. It’s not the comic book version I was envisaging – but it doesn’t have to be.

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Creativity isn’t static. Ideas spark ideas. There are entire canons of comics that have one starting point, but that then spin off into a completely different direction. Refreshed, renewed by a different focus, a different perspective. I’m thinking Batman, but you could name many others if you were so minded.

Where am I going with this? I’ve found it’s easy to get silo’d in life. To knit yourself into a certain mindset that doesn’t allow you to approach new ideas with an open mind.

I re-read The Sandman frequently. A lot of it is still valid thirty odd years on – persecution of the LGBTQ+ community, discord between siblings, misdirected hatred causing cataclysmic events, and an inability to change being just some of the themes running throughout the series. That said, many of the cultural references within it have dated and it will be interesting to see how the series approaches this, and if it has any impact on the narrative.

Life can box us in, cut down our visual field to what we are comfortable with. Take writing. You can be comfortable writing short stories, or articles but shy away from forms that you feel you don’t excel in. Yet if you challenge yourself to try writing in a new form – say haiku (at which I fail spectacularly) – you might find yourself surprised and impressed with the results.

I look forward to seeing what Netflix brings us. It’s a vast world to adapt. Like all fans, I hope they do it justice and retain that special kernel of brilliance that makes the source material so dear to so many people. But if it doesn’t work then it isn’t the end of the world.

Keep an open mind to creativity. Challenge yourself, step out of the silo if you find yourself caught in one. It may not be the journey you expected. But you might just enjoy the ride.

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Thanks, as always, for reading.

New to the Sandman universe? Check out James Hunt’s primer for Den of Geek on where to start.