David hasn’t admitted he’s sick of me yet, so I’m continuing the conversation with him about the sixth issue of Sandman titled “24 Hour Diner.” At the end of our last talk (found here: http://www.kechalcomics.com/searching-sandman-6-david-brown-part-2/ ) I’d just asked David what he thought Gaiman did really well in this issue (spoilers ahead):
David: What Gaiman got right, for my tastes at least, is a sense of creeping dread, tension and finally, the bloody payoff. Also, the idea that these people know for a moment that something is not right before they are wrangled back under John’s control gets under my skin a bit. That’s important in horror…giving the reader a situation to subconsciously put themselves in only amps the horror up even more. We are very selfish creatures in that way. Imagine being “forced” to shove sharp objects into your own eyeballs! Gah!
Kevin: Really good point. The $ guy realizing he’s late and being manipulatted into staying. I hadn’t thought of that, but as a member of the audience I now know these people are stuck with John. They might realize they need to go at times, but they aren’t going to escape without his blessing. Causes a lot of anxiety in me as a reader. I think my favorite thing they do is make John Dee so unpredictable. From his childlike glee at the orgy, to his tasting the finger offered in sacrifice to the murder at the end. You know he’s doing bad things, but he’s still lovable in the most despicable way.
DAVID: You said something interesting there…causing the reader anxiety. I think that’s another incredibly important part of making effective horror. In my experience as a writer, it’s the most difficult aspect. It’s that impending doom…like seeing the needle prepared in those agonizing seconds before being buried into your flesh (if you’re a coward about those type of things like I am).
Funny that you say that John’s childlike behavior made him lovable. I agree but only after several readings did I feel that. I wonder if that effect was Gaiman’s intention or a (happy?) accident?
Kevin: I don’t know if you read issue five before diving into six, but Dee is at turns childlike in that. Until he blows a woman who he’s befriended head off. It’s that crazy sweet and innocent veer into monstrous murderer that kept me on my toes for the entire arc with John Dee. I think I’m going to cut it here so our talk doesn’t go too long, but I still have questions for you. So for the next part, can you think about if you think there is anywhere that Gaiman drops the ball?
All images from Sandman #6 and copyright DC Comics. Used within the Fair Use Doctrine.