Welcome back to Searching Sandman, my personal journey into my favorite comic series ever (well tied, as I have Bone and Locke and Key on my personal comic Mount Rushmore next to it) with the direct goal of learning from the Sandman team how they made anything this frigging good. If this is the first time here, you should either go back to the first Searching Sandman post ( ____ ) or at the very least the first post of this section as it is a conversation between me ( Kevin Joseph ) and my favorite horror comic writer going (David Brown) about Sandman #6 “24 Hour Diner (that post can be found here: _________ ). I approached David because this issue is straight up, gruesome horror. Though I’ve watched and read Horror, it is not my go to genre. I felt I, and by extension anyone reading, would learn more from his educated musings than my guesswork.
If you are caught up with us, then you know David and I are finishing our talk. As a reminder, we left off with the tease that we’d try to find bits and pieces of this particular issue that don’t work as well as intended (Spoiler Alert: neither of us finds much). My last question to David was, “Do you think there is anywhere (in this issue) where Neil Gaiman drops the ball?”:
David: I don’t know if ‘drops the ball’ is the term I’d ever use about Gaiman’s writing but for my tastes, the story takes a little too long to get started. That’s not really a mark against the tale as much as it is a peak into my impatient nature. I also didn’t like that nobody seemed freaked out that there was basically a boogie man sitting in the corner…red eyes and everything. I had to dig for those two things because this is a pretty perfect horror story.
Kevin: I bet Gaiman would agree with you that it takes him too long to get into the story. I’ve read that he envisioned this story as each page being one hour. So in 24 pages, you’d have 24 separate horrors happening. He quickly realized that was not going to work. I bet if this issue had come in the time when Neil had proven himself as a sales juggernaut, he could have delayed the issue to monkey around and do some things differently. Here at the beginning he had to hit those awful things called deadlines.
If I’m going to nitpick about anything, I have to go back to each victim deserving their fate. I hear what you said before, but to me, true horror is when a person gets a grim fate, and has shown no reason to deserve it. It’s why your stories unnerve me. I fear for the good characters in them.
With all that said, this is a pretty amazing issue and was unlike anything I’d ever seen (and I’m not sure I’ve seen much like it since). Like you, I’m pointing out these small issues just to look objective.
David: I agree, it’s a great issue and more than that, it’s sort of a horror time capsule. A lot of classic ideas at work here that would inspire a ton of writers down the line.
I thought that was the best place to leave the discussion, because it really is true. Neil Gaiman has been such a boon for the comic industry in terms of not just his great work, but in what his great work inspires. There have been a ton of amazing creators to lift up this industry, but Sandman is the series that, more than any other, smacked me in the face and said, “Comics doesn’t have to be fist fights to be great.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action sequence, but Gaiman showed you can write a story about a bunch of cats listening to another cat tell them to dream they rule the world. And it can be captivating.
Next week it’s back to learning more as I hit the pavement reading Sandman issue 7 and continue to find inspiration in this great work.
Thank you again to David Brown. You can follow David on twitter @spiralizer. You can get a taste of his sick and twisted world view in Obscura #1 his volume of horror short stories with art by the incomparable D.N.S. and letters by Sean Fagan at
Which leads me to the part of this blog I didn’t want to have to write, but really do. Sean Fagan, known on twitter as @potatowaste, passed away early this week. His death has hurt me and a lot of people I’ve been lucky enough to come into contact with.
He has been preparing us for it on twitter. His doctors had told him he had less than a year to live because of complications from Celiac Disease and kidney failure. As much as I liked Sean, and I hope he liked me, we did not have a relationship where I pried, so I don’t have better information than that.
Sean was a passionate person. He was funny. Incisive. Opinionated. He loved comics and wanted his hands in them any way he could. Reading, writing, lettering, coloring. He did it all. He podcasted about comics and D&D and would have an insanely funny line every single show he was on. He was also not afraid to upset anyone if his opinion didn’t line up with the crowd.
Speaking for myself, I know that trait can be good and bad, but I’ll say this about Sean, if he told you he liked your books, he wasn’t lying.
I wrap this up thoroughly unimpressed with my words for an impressive man. I didn’t get to meet Sean in real life, but someday I’ll take the trip he’s on. I hope when I do, we can crack a beer and talk comics and laugh about the absurdity of the world again.
You all take care of yourselves.