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.

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I remember seeing the first part of that story, but never seeing the rest of it.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

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.

While James Robinson ignored All Star Squadron #18, he kept Last Days of the Justice Society and All Star Squadron Annual #3, picking whatever Roy Thomas tidbits he wanted.

Sandman Mystery Theatre made the yellow and purple Sandman a comic book inspired by the gasmask Sandman until JSA said the Wes Dodd did wear that outfit though it had Sandy being the sidekick of the gasmask Sandman! 

Pick and Choose!

Now that we’re discussing all of the “Sandmen,” I’d like to re-visit the cover blurb on the Bronze Age version: “HE’S BACK! The man who brought you all those wonderful stories and HORRIBLE DREAMS!” What was that about? How could a character who had never appeared before be “back”? Unless…

And just to continue dumping on the story from Secret Origins #7, why would Wesley Dodds have chosen a costume with a gas mask if he didn’t have a gas gun in the first place? that seems… oddly random.

Adventure Comics #40 (July 1939) “The Tarantula Strikes”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: The Tarantula kidnaps actress Vivian Dale and holds her for ransom.

 

  1. Wesley has a friend named Tom who looks a bit like Arthur Fiedler dressed like an Old West lawyer and who thinks of the Sandman as a great detective.
  2. Wesley has a manservant named “Humphries”.
  3. Wesley has an underground lab accessed by a secret wall panel.
  4. Caption: “Then he dons all black apparel”. The Sandman is then shown wearing a brown jacket, green hat, purple cape and yellow gloves.
  5. Vivian’s house also has secret underground rooms.
  6. The sandman’s gas smells like violets.

 

Overall:  Another OK but implausible story.

Read a lot over the weekend:

 

Adventure Comics #41 (August 1939) “On the Waterfront”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: The Sandman and a girl reporter break up a waterfront narcotics den.

 

  1. The girl reporter is Janice Blue of the Daily Express. She might have made an interesting recurring character, but we don’t see her again.

 

Overall:  Another standard crime story.

 

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Adventure Comics #42 (September 1939) “The Three Sandmen”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis:  Wes and two old Navy buddies battle a vengeful killer.

 

  1. When they were in the Navy together as aviators, Wes, Doctor Clyde “Clipper” Dunlap and artist Happy O’Shea were known as “The Three Musketeers”.
  2. Six years before, five men in their flight got a man named Teeter Sneed done for manslaughter when someone named Mark was killed. Sneed was sent up for ten years but got time off for good behavior. Three of the men – Frank, Snip and Swisher – had been recently killed, and Wes recruited Hap and Clipper to save another one, Steve Webber.
  3. Hap and Clipper know that Wes is the Sandman, and Wes says that they’ve helped him before.
  4. It is clear that Steve knows who the three “Sandmen” really are.

 

Overall:  An odd one, it feels more “Scorchy Smith” than “The Sandman”.

 

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Adventure Comics #43 (October 1939) “Island Uprising”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: While vacationing in the South Seas, the Sandman encounters a villain who’s stirring up the natives.

 

  1. The natives are of the “Aieee, metal bird from sky!” type common in Golden Age comics.
  2. The “good” white guy’s daughter’s name is “Australia”, which just struck me as an odd name.

 

Overall: Another odd one that feels more like a generic “adventure” story than a “mystery man” story

 

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Adventure Comics #44 (November 1939) “The Sandman Meets the Face”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis:  The Sandman battles a master of disguise.

 

  1. Wes had a pal named Billy Winnslow who used to swim and play with him back in Hilltown. Billy had a sister named Sue.
  2. Wes’ butler is called “Feathers”.
  3. The Sandman doesn’t hesitate to wreck a car to catch the Face. (Presumably there’s nothing in it to tie it back to Wes.
  4. He also kills the Face without any noticeable qualms

 

Overall:  Back to a more traditional “mystery man” story.

 

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Adventure Comics #45 (December 1939) “The Golden Gusher”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: The Sandman breaks up a fake kidnapping plot.

 

  1. The antagonist is nightclub singer Gloria Gordon, the Golden Gusher, who fakes her own kidnapping.
  2. Wes has a country house staffed by an Asian man named Toki, who knows he’s the Sandman.
  3. Wes has a pal named Doug Nye, who works in the insurance industry. Wes tells Doug that maybe the Sandman will look into the kidnapping, which he then does, which strikes me as kind of an incautious hint that Wes and the Sandman are somehow connected.

 

Overall:  Another OK story.

 

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Adventure Comics #46 (January 1940) “The Sandman Meets With Murder”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: The murder of a college pal leads the Sandman to a counterfeiter.

 

  1. The murder victim is Charley Hall, who became an artist and married a girl named Dora. Charley and Wes rowed together at the university.
  2. The counterfeiter is the Coin, who is secretly Wes’ other college pal, Dud Jones.

 

Overall: The Sandman doesn’t have a great rogues’ gallery.  Interesting how many mystery men of that time were insanely rich guys who fought crime.

 

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Adventure Comics #47 (February 1940) “Lady in Evening Clothes”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: The Sandman acquires a valuable partner.

 

  1. Wes had a friend named Anson Port who was murdered.
  2. Dian Ware was kidnapped as a child and was raised by a criminal. She is an expert safecracker. She breaks into Wes’ home and figures out that he’s the Sandman. She asks him to find her real father, who turns out to be District Attorney Belmont.

 

Overall:  a good introduction of a fun new character.  Dian is presented as strong, brave and capable.

 

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Adventure Comics #48 (March 1940) “Death to the D.A.”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Bert Christman

 

Synopsis: The Sandman and Dian protect her father from criminals who are out to kill him.

 

  1. Wes reveals his secret identity to Dian’s father.
  2. Amusing typo: “Off to bleep you go!”

 

Overall: Another OK story.

 

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Adventure Comics #49 (April 1940) “Common Cold – Uncommon Crime”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis: The Sandman protects a scientist who’s cured the common cold.

 

  1. Flessel’s art’s OK, but I liked Christman’s art better.

 

Overall: Another one of those stories where something that would change human history is used as a throwaway plot device.

 

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New York World’s Fair Comics #2 (1940) “Sandman Goes to the World’s Fair”

Writer: Unknown

Artist: Chad Grothkopf

 

Synopsis: The Sandman rescues Dian from crooks with a grudge against her father.

 

  1. Grothkopf’s art is OK, but again, I like Christman’s art better.
  2. Dian has an Aunt Agatha who’s essentially a Central Casting “little old lady”.

 

Overall: An OK story, but not really much to do with the Fair.

 

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Adventure Comics #50 (May 1940) “Tuffy and Limpy’s Revenge Plot”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis:  The Sandman and Dian battle two crooks with a grudge against her father.

 

  1. The cops have a tendency to do what the Sandman tells them to.
  2. Dian’s father seems to have forgotten that he knew the Sandman’s secret identity.

 

Overall: “Crooks seeking vengeance on Dian’s father” seems to come up a lot.  Do real D.A.’s get much of that?

 

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Adventure Comics #51 (June 1940) “The Van Leew Emeralds”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis: The Sandman and Dian recover stolen emeralds.

 

  1. The crooks’ plan to store the emeralds in a random rich guy’s safe seems really dumb to me. It doesn’t help that they randomly choose Wes’.
  2. Amusing My “Inner Beavis”: A boss crook suddenly has a noose slung around his neck.

 

Minion: “Chee, Boss you’re hung!”

 

Overall:  Another standard story.  None of these stories is that bad by themselves but reading one after the after shows the sameness of a lot of them.

 

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Adventure Comics #52 (July 1940) “Wanted! Dead or Alive”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis: The Sandman and Dian break up a gang of gold thieves.

 

  1. The Amber Apple Gang is led by Caludia Norgan, a rare female villain.

 

Overall: Another OK story.

 

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Adventure Comics #53 (August 1940) “The Loan Sharks”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis:  The Sandman breaks up a loan sharking operation.

 

Overall:  More of the same.

 

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Adventure Comics #54 (September 1940) “The Case of the Kidnapped Heiress”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis:  The Sandman and Dian rescue a kidnapped heiress.

 

  1. A tombstone in a graveyard scene reads “Here lies Flessel” Another reads “Anders Petersen”, if that has any significance.

 

Overall: Another standard story.

 

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Adventure Comics #55 (October 1940) “The Star of Singapore”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis:  The Sandman recovers a stolen jewel.

 

Overall: another standard story.

 

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Adventure Comics #56 (November 1940) “The Crook Who Knew the Sandman’s Identity”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis: The Sandman and Dian deal with a criminal who’s figured out that Wes is the Sandman.

 

  1. Dian poses as the Sandman to save his secret identity.

 

Overall: An OK story. Dian shows her worth as a partner here.

 

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Adventure Comics #57 (December 1940) “To Hammer the Earth”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis: The Sandman battles a scientist who’s invented a uranium-based super weapon.

 

  1. The scientist intended to hold the world to ransom by threatening to knock the Earth out of its orbit by bombarding the Earth with a stream of uranium atoms.

 

Overall:  It’s interesting that even that early the idea that uranium was the key to some sort of super weapon, even if they didn’t have the details right.  The first really “science fictional” story that they did.

 

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Adventure Comics #58 (January 1941) “Orchids of Doom”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis: The Sandman and Dian defeat a spy who uses poisonous flowers.

 

  1. Wes has a friend named Bill Howard, who’s a horticulturist and an Army man.

 

Overall:  another story with a “fantastic” element.

 

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Adventure Comics #59 (February 1941) “The Story of the Flaming Ruby”

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Creig Flessel

 

Synopsis:  The Sandman and Dian battle a criminal who has a jewel that can hypnotize people.

 

  1. The criminal is Henry Jenks, a bank teller that Wes knows.

 

Overall:  Another oddball story. It seems like they were going in a new direction

Bob, I finished reading GA Sandman Archives over the weekend and I followed it up immediately with “Sand & Stars” from Starman #20-23. If at all possible, I suggest you do the same. I don’t really have anything to add to your comments about the GA stories; they’re pretty straightforward. I noticed that “all black apparel” line, too; perhaps we’re supposed to accept it as “given” (as with the blue areas on Spider-Man’s costume in the early days)…? About the New York World’s Fair Comics, I’m sure you know that they were required to either start there, end there, or take place there. Some connections were tenuous, indeed.

I read two additional “Sandman” comics over the weekend.

This was one of several one-shots released to coincide with Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. It features two, out-of-continuity, what I would call “Tangent” stories: one about Jacob Kurtzburg being visited by the Sandman as a boy, and the other of Jed returning home for his grandfather’s funeral. Oddly, his grandfather is named Ezra Walker rather than Paulson. I’m sure they got the “Walker” from his sister in Neil Gaiman’s version, Rose, except in this story Jed is a male model. Maybe it’s his other grandfather. (As Paul Mc Cartney once said, “Everyone’s entitled to two, this is me other one.”)

This one is part of a “fifth week” event from 1999. The first issues introduced the threat, then the members of the JSA broke into pairs to deal with their respective assignments in one-shots, then it all came together in issue #2. This one was pretty good and provided yet another explanation why Sandman changed his costume from the gas-masked one to the purple and yellow one. First, Wesley thought homefront heroes should maintain a more visible presence during WWII; second, the tights engendered more cooperation from the police. But it was actually Sandy who designed the look.

The cancelled Sandman #7 was supposed to appear in an issue of Kamandi then that got axed as well! So it got included in Best Of DC Digest #22 (Ma'82) though left off the front cover completely! But at least he made the back cover!

Santa has made so many appearances in DC Comics that I'm surprised that he was left out of Who's Who!

Wonder Woman #238 (D'77) guest-starred the Sandman and Sandy in what I think was the Master of Dreams' only new appearance in his yellow & purple outfit until the All Star Squadron preview in Justice League of America #193.

The funny thing was that the Sandman had previously appeared in his gasmask/business suit combo with Starman, the Atom, Johnny Thunder and Mister Terrific in a Justice Society roster that never existed in Wonder Woman #231-232 (My-Ju'77). They had to use whatever members weren't in the then-current All Star Comics.

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