Sandman Archives volume one (and only) features the first 22 Sandman stories from Adventure Comics #40-59 and New York World’s Fair Comics #1-2. NYWFC #1 beat Adventure Comics #40 to print, but Adventure Comics #40 was probably prepared first. In any case, neither was an origin story per se. Bert Christman was that artist through Adventure Comics #48, and Creig Flessell drew all but one #49-59. Gardner Fox wrote the ones in the latter group, and probably some of the earlier ones as well, which remain uncredited.
When the original gas-masked version (a combination of the Green Hornet and the Shadow) began to lose steam, artist Paul Norris was directed to transform the character into a Batman clone, complete with a yellow and purple costume, a cape and a teen age sidekick. This version lasted only three issues (#69-71) before Joe Simon and Jack Kirby took over with #72.
The first thing S&K did was to lose the cape. The final redesign of the costume came in #76 when the purple of the hood was extended down over the shoulders to end mid-chest. The most significant non-visual change was to switch from a “sleep” motif to a “dream” motif. The changes wrought by Simon and Kirby were so sweeping that, for all intents and purposes, Sandman became an entirely different character. The makeover was so extreme that is was not unlike those ordered by Julius Schwartz for the Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom when he ushered in the Silver Age… but in 1942!
I am really curious how Sandman's assistant Dian Belmont was written out and his sidekick Sandy was written in but, to my knowledge, Adventure Comics #69 has never been reprinted.
It seemed to me that there were endless characters called "Manhunter" at DC, and none of them were interesting to me.
All right, that’s enough! Time to get this discussion back on topic.
In 1989 Neil Gaiman pitched an idea to revive Simon & Kirby’s Bronze Age Sandman. Group editor Karen Berger approved the idea, but suggested Gaiman create a new character. That turned out to be a good suggestion (as well as a good example of how a strong editorial hand can shape a series). And talk about “continuity porn”! Gaiman was not only able to utilize his ideas for the ‘70s Sandman, but he also rolled in Wesley Dodds and Silver Age villain Dr. Destiny, as well as, eventually, intertwining many of the characters he himself introduced in early issues. Jed Paulson returned in #11, and Hector Hall and Lyta Trevor in #12. (Lyta, who was six months pregnant when she entered “The Dreaming” two years prior still hadn’t had her baby, but that’s a story for another time.)
For the original Sandman, who never did have a real origin story (not one I’m satisfied with, anyway), Gaiman provided one, elegant in its simplicity, by tying it in with the imprisonment of his own Sandman: “Wesley Dodds’ nightmares have stopped since he started going out at night. He puts evil people to sleep with gas, then sprinkles sand on them, leaves them for the police to find in the morning… the idea came to him in his sleep. He doesn’t dream about the man in the strange helmet anymore. Everything’s all right. Wesley Dodds sleeps the sleep of the just.”
One more thing while I’m thinking of it. I have heard that, over the years, fans have approached Gaiman at cons expressing a desire that he write something for Marvel utilizing Dr. Strange’s nemesis, Nightmare, a suggestion he has met with reluctance. What seems perfectly obvious (to me, anyway) is that Morpheus is Gaiman’s version of Marvel’s Nightmare!
"Too early to talk about it,..."
If have something to say, go ahead and say it. I've already said all I plan to about this version of Sandman.
In Neil Gaiman's A Game of You arc (The Sandman #32–37) the character Thessaly turns out to be an ancient, though young-looking, witch. One of her main magical skills was to remove the face of someone, hang it on the wall and ask it questions.
Philip, I remember the Zero Hour Manhunter. The one character worse than the Zero Hour version of Dr. Fate. Of course he lost the Dr. for Zero Hour.
I was also a big fan of the female Manhunter.
After checking with Jeff, I present:
What we learned from
The Golden Age Sandman Archives Volume 1
New York World’s Fair Comics #1 (1939) “Sandman at the World’s Fair”
Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Bert Christman
Synopsis: The Sandman must recover stolen plans for a “new government raygun” which is to be exhibited at the Fair.
Overall: OK. A bit implausible, but most Golden Age stories were a bit implausible.
I seem to have caused more confusion than I intended by continually changing the title of this discussion from day to day as I moved from Sandman to Sandman. In point of fact, I wasn’t trying to cause any confusion at all. My thought was, if I were to start a discussion of the Golden Age version of a particular character and, if someone didn’t like that version, might never again check in to discover I had moved on to the Silver Age version and beyond. Theoretically. I just wanted to show the thrust of the discussion was changing from day to day.
For example, last week I started a discussion of the Golden Age Hawkman, but when I finished the one GA archive I have, I changed it to the Silver Age Hawkman. I still have another volume of SA Hawkman to read, but eventually I plan to move to move on to Hawkworld and beyond. Now, let’s say someone hates the Golden and Silver Age Hawkman but absolutely LOVES Hawkworld. How would that person, after having read the initial post, know the conversation had moved on?
Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson.
To that end, I’ve changed the title of this discussion to “Sandmen” and the title of the other discussion to “Hawkmen” (which is what they both would have wound up being titled, anyway), and leave it that way. I hereby open up this discussion to any version of Sandman any of you would care to discuss.
Having said that, I’m going to go ahead and post what I had intended to post today to bring this discussion (my part of it, anyway) full circle.
“SAND & STARS”:
The success of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman sparked interest in the original, which let to 70 issues of Sandman Mystery Theatre, a period piece featuring Wesley Dodds in all his gas-masked glory. I read only the first two stories (i.e., the first eight issues) of that series. The story I really liked was “Sand and Stars” (Starman #20-23), which features the new Starman teaming up with the original Sandman and Dian Belmont, who turns out to be not so very dead after all. Does it bother me that this story contradicts the one that established her death? Nah, not really. All-Star Squadron #18 never made it into “Earth-J” canon.
JSA Secret Files & Origins #1 featured the death of Wesley Dodds.
JSA #1 featured his funeral.