All Things Sandman



Dream a Little Dream: All Things Sandman


Greetings from the surf and turf of Del Mar, CA fellow CBSI members. I have read that above quote several times from Gaiman as it’s a profound way to reflect on something we really all will be faced with at some point, our own mortality. This subject among many is brought into the brilliant world created by Neal Gaiman known as The Sandman. This universe, and complexity finally will be shown its vision within the small screen on Netflix. With this, it’s time to take a dive into The Sandman and educate ourselves on the story, key appearances & books, and interesting facts.

Alright, I will start by saying it would be remiss of me not to first of all give a huge thank you to Mike Morello and Topher for their fact checking, usage of time, personal comics, and overall expertise on tackling this vast subject. With something of this size and scope, it truly needed a group effort. The CBSI community is greatly appreciative to the great minds it has on all things comics. The Sandman is not an easy subject to navigate as it’s intricate in details, and elaborate in meaning. So how do you describe just what The Sandman is about without rambling on and just confusing an audience more? Well, just go directly to the source. Mr Gaiman was asked himself just how the hell do you summarize what this is about in under 25 words?

Neil’s response that only he could say so eloquently was:

The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.”

Now, a more expanded version? Well, The series tells the story of Morpheus, who is the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. It begins as he breaks out of magical captivity after decades of imprisonment and begins searching for the lost relics of his power. The series' mythology spans human history and also includes the creation of the Endless, a group of ancient beings who are the living embodies of Dream, Death, Destiny, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction

Okay on with the show —


First Ad:

DC Direct Currents # 10 Oct 1988

*Photo courtesy of Mike Morello’s personal copy


2nd Ad:

Ran in DC titles Ex. Hellblazer Jan 1989


OA (Original Art) for 2nd Ad


1st appearance Morpheus aka Dream

Sandman # 1 Jan 1989


The following breakdown is provided in volumes with a brief synopsis of the storylines and panels to give an idea of the flavor of this specific content. It is vague for a reason as to not give away key plot occurrences, etc.

The first eight issues are under the volume Preludes and Nocturnes Issues 1-7 form the More Than Rubies story line. The eighth issue, The Sound of Her Wings, acts as an epilogue. “In 1916, the magician Roderick Burgess attempts to attain immortality by capturing the embodiment of Death. Mistakenly, he binds Death's brother Dream instead. Fearing retribution, Burgess keeps Dream imprisoned. In 1988, after Burgess has died and his son Alex has been charged with watching Dream, Dream is able to escape. Dream punishes Alex by cursing him to never dream again.”



The second volume Issues 9 – 16 consists of The Doll’s House. The overarching story, the guts of The Doll’s House, from Sandman #10-16, is the saga of Rose Walker, young woman with rainbow-colored hair. By the end, we learn that we’ve been following Rose through her journey because she’s central to Dream. She’s the “vortex,” and that means she’s going to have to die. The vortex “destroys the barriers between dreaming minds; destroys the ordered chaos of the Dreaming”  the myriad of dreamers are caught in one huge dream. Morpheus’s pursuit of Rose Walker, the vortex, and the eventual decision about her final fate all are keys to this second arch.



The third volume of the Sandman Dream Country issues 17 – 20 is a series of four short comic book stories. In each of these otherwise unrelated stories, Morpheus serves only as a minor character. Here we meet the mother of Morpheus's son, find out what cats dream about, and discover the true origin behind Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night Dream



The fourth volume Season of Mists consists of issues #21-28. The fourth collection belongs with the first as perhaps one of the two collections most focused on Morpheus himself.



The fifth volume issues 32-37 is titled A Game of You. The central character of A Game of You is Barbie, introduced as a resident of the house where Rose Walker stayed during the events of The Doll's House

Gaiman often characterizes Sandman stories as “male” or “female” A Game of You, dominated by female characters and points of view, is one of his female stories. Gaiman described A Game of You as “probably” his favorite volume in the series, “because it's most people's least favourite volume, and I love it all the more for that.”

The sixth volume issues 29-40 titled Fables and Reflections is a story from Vertigo Preview #1. It concerns a theatrical author/director who is afraid of the consequences of his new play, be they success or failure

The seventh volume issues 41-49 titled Brief Lives.  The story revolves around Delirium's wish to reconcile with her brother Destruction. To this end, she first contacts Desire and Despair, each of whom refuse to accompany her on her quest; and finally persuades Dream.

The eighth volume issues 51-56 titled Worlds End Like volumes 3 and 6, Dream Country and Fables and Reflections, Worlds' End is a volume of predominantly single-issue short stories, often only obliquely related to the principal story of the series

The ninth volume issues 57-69 titled The Kindly Ones belongs with the second collection, The Doll's House, and the seventh, Brief Lives, in that it finishes off a story that mostly originated in these collections; but includes elements of Season of Mists and the story of Orpheus, told mostly in Fables and Reflections


The tenth volume issues 70-75 titled The Wake. The conclusion of the series, wrapping up the remaining loose ends in a three-issue “wake” sequence, followed by three self-contained stories.

*No panels provided as there is a zero chance in spoiling the conclusion!


Key issues and appearances


Sandman # 3

Constantine appearance


Bonus Panel:

Great reference to the “Newcastle incident” with John and asking The Sandman for help with the nightmares


Sandman # 4

1st appearance of Lucifer


Sandman # 5

1st appearance of Mervyn Pumkinhead (Unnamed)


Sandman # 8

1st appearance of Death


Sandman # 10

1st appearance of The Corinthian

1st appearance of Despair

1st appearance of Desire


Despair and Desire


Sandman # 11

1st appearance of Matthew the Raven


Sandman # 13

1st appearance of

Johanna Constantine

Ancestor of John Constantine


Sandman # 17

1st appearance of Calliope

– Mother of Orpheus,

whom was fathered with Dream


Sandman # 21

1st appearance of Delirium


Sandman # 22

1st full appearance of Mervyn Pumpkinhead

1st appearance of Daniel Hall

1st appearance of Mazikeen (Maze)

Daniel Hall


Mazikeen (Maze)


Sandman # 24

1st appearance of Bast


Sandman # 25

1st appearance of

Dead Boy Detectives


Sandman # 29

1st appearance of Orpheus (Dream’s only child)


Sandman # 41

1st appearance of Destruction


Weird Mystery Tales # 1

1st appearance of Destiny


Other books of interest


Captain Atom # 42

1st appearance of Death in DC Continuity


Hellblazer # 19

Dream cameo appearance

Hellblazer # 120

Death cameo appearance


Swamp Thing # 84

Dream cameo appearance


Swamp Thing # 118

Matthew the Raven appearance

Dream word bubble appearance


Ambush Bug Nothing Special

Dream cameo appearance


Who’s who in the DC Universe # 5

Sandman mention


Merv Pumpkinhead: Agent of Dream

One shot


Amazing Heroes Swimsuit Special # 1# 3

Sandman mentions


Comics Interview Sandman Special


Sandman # 8

Karen Berger Editorial Error

This issue was first planned with an introduction by Karen Berger entitled “The Stuff that Dreams are made of…” on the inside front cover and a next issue teaser on the inside back cover. However, according to CBG (Feb 9, 1990), DC decided not to use these and instead went for a main print run with a Jenette Kahn “Publishorial” on the inside front cover and an American Cancer Society ad on the inside back cover but, unfortunately, DC omitted the copyright info with the revisions.


Sandman # 19

Printing error

Pages 18 & 19 were printed out of order


Well that’s it folks! A long journey thru the world known as The Sandman. Although we covered a ton of material, don’t let this intimidate you from reading one of the very best comics of all time. A suggestion would be to pick up a TPB and give it a shot. It was a great time gathering all this information together in order to bring you the most detailed, relevant content on all things The Sandman. Although this was quite long in length, the subject material deserved this treatment. and frankly was necessary to help articulate just what is going on within the panels.

As news of characters, storylines, etc. come to the surface with the Netflix series, keep this as a good reference. Undoubtedly if it becomes a reality within the TV series, it was probably covered in the above. At the very least it prevents having to comb through thousands of pages of material. Hell, consider it the Cliffs Notes!

Oh and thanks again gents (Mike and Topher) for your help! These guys give you a big salute too as they did a movie about dreams too right?!?



Finally, my sincere appreciation to those who continue to read these weekly column.

Talk soon,


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    Great, great, great article on one of the best reads in comics! The whole series was plotted out so well and everything just ties together beautifully. This is the series that got me back into comics when I took a break in the early 90s.

    In my opinion, The Sandman Universe was always a part of DC continuity. The series has direct ties with Swamp Thing and its offshoot Hellblazer, and all three series began pre-Vertigo as a part of DC’s ‘For Mature Readers’ Direct titles. When Vertigo was launched in 1993, the first Death mini series was its first title. It wasn’t until Sandman #47 when Sandman switched over to the Vertigo imprint. Up to that point, there had been many DC Continuity characters who appeared in the title. Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman is in Issue #1. Other characters that made appearances, Batman, Green Lantern (and multiple mentions of the Justice League), Etrigan The Demon, Martian Manhunter, Scott Free (aka Mister Miracle who even graces the cover of Issue #5), Granny Goodness, Doctor Destiny and Scarecrow, and that’s just in the first seven issues. Some may agree with my position, others may not, but to me there’s just too many tie-ins and interactions for Sandman not to be considered In-Continuity. I’m curious what other people think.

    I see Sandman and his siblings as part of the whole fabric of the DC Universe, kind of like gods, kind of like the very essences of their namesakes, existing regardless of having actual human form and being drawn on the page. When any DC character dies, Death is technically there. Same goes for any character that has a dream, or experiences desire, etc. That was part of Neil Gaiman’s genius where he not only ret-conned many things to tie the Sandman into DC’s history, but also linked it to many things in our real world history.

    I think also, sometimes people assume that DC’s and other creators’ only including references and/or appearances of the Sandman characters after getting Neil Gaiman’s permission as being a continuity thing when really it’s just a respect thing.

    Regardless of which side you’re on, Sandman is a must read. I’ve introduced Sandman to lots of people, many who aren’t even comic readers and just about everyone has loved it whether or not they got all of the DC references.

    For all of you Death collectors, another cameo appearance she makes that many people don’t know about is in Legion of Super-Heroes #38 from December of 1992.

    And a heads up for the author, it seems that some words were deleted and/or switched around in your paragraph about the Sandman # 8 Karen Berger Editorial Error.

  • Topher

    This is a must read for anyone who is new to Sandman. Well done.

  • Mike Morello

    Dude! Just amazing, brother. An excellent and in-depth look at this complex world. One of my favorite (if not my all-time favorite) titles/characters and it gets weird and complicated. This is a great unraveling of it all. Thanks for all of the hard work, Clint, as well as for the shout out. Glad I could help a little.

  • Avatar

    Amazing research. What a great resource!

  • Avatar

    Thank you for this!

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    I like all the adverts and cameo appearances. The info on the Fables & Reflections TP isn’t up to snuff though. This TP actually collects two single issues stories arcs that appeared throughout the series, based on two themes: Distant Mirrors (#29 through #31) and Convergences (#38 through #40). The collection rounds up with the Sandman Annual, and Sandman #50 (which could be considered to be a continuation of the king/ruler theme of Distant Mirrors.) The actual story description given in your roundup only alludes to the Vertigo Preview, which is only a small part of the TP.
    Now I’m not just mentioning this to appear smart, but because my personal reading experience of Sandman benifits from not reading this TP in order, but breaking it up and reading the parts in original publication order.

  • Avatar

    Three other issues of note:

    1) Sandman #18 also has a printing error edition where the first three panels were printed in blue ink instead of yellow ink. Quite rare as the error was caught early on in the printing process and corrected with the errors destroyed though a handful of copies did manage to make it out to the open market.

    2) Sandman #69 is the first appearance of Daniel, Morpheus’ successor, son and the current incarnation of Sandman.

    3) Death: The High Cost of Living #1 is noteworthy for being the first comic published under the Vertigo imprint. It comes in a standard Direct Edition and also a Platinum Retailers Appreciation Edition that was allocated based on orders of Vertigo titles. It is notoriously difficult to find in high grade as most copies have spine creases and the black and platinum cover is very unforgiving when it comes to even the tiniest of flaws.

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