Amusing Comic & Growing Pains

Neil Gaiman mentioned this on his blog. As a fan of both Sandman and Peanuts, I wanted to share it.

The artist is Evan Shaner. He also did a Schultz version of The Watchmen. Gotta love Snoopy as Rorschach.

If you don’t read Sandman, you may not get the first panel. And if you don’t read Sandman, shame on you. Yes, it’s a comic book, but it was a comic book full of literary, historic, mythologic, cultural allusions.

It’s where I picked up my concept of Hell (sinners are punished because they think they need to be, not because God said they should be), my instinct to look for a nearby mirror when I’m feeling particularly sad, my love of ravens and my confidence that at least somewhere you can read my books in a library.

The depiction of a funeral procession made me cry at the inevitable future. The secret origins of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest make sense to me.

Sandman introduced me to Neil Gaiman’s novels and the art of Charles Vess, which in turn led me to One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes.

One of the aspects I like about Morning Glory and many issues of Sandman is the necessary, yet heartbreaking, God-please-don’t-let-this-happen partings. Very reminiscent of Edward Eager, C.S. Lewis, Mary Brown and countless fairy tales where the heroes meet loyal friends along the way and must say goodbye to them because of death or returning to their own worlds in order for the story to be complete.

I always hated that. I didn’t understand why the Pevensies returned to England (and don’t get me started on why Susan grew up to deny everything) or the kids in Pamela Dean’s Secret Country worked so hard to get home. When I was their age, I constantly hunted for the secret door under the pine trees that would take me to Olympus, Narnia, Middle Earth or NeverNever Land. The field outside my back door took me to Walnut Grove; the basement to the March’s Boston with my mother’s prom dresses serving as costumes. If I had managed to get there, really there, I saw no reason to come back.

Then I got older. And while yes, I put away some childhood ideals and games, the thoughts of other worlds stayed with me. But this time I understood the part of getting home. The Journey (probably trademark Joseph Campbell) isn’t one way. It’s a round trip. And the seemingly mundane family dinners and sibling squabbles have their own magic and should be treasured just as much as a sword in a stone.

Anyway, you may not take the same things away from Gaiman, Vess or Barnes that I have. You may not even like them. But they’re definitely worth a look.

edited to add that this is my 50th post. Whoo hoo for me. And, yes, I’m fully aware I was a strange child.


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