Netflix’s The Sandman (surprisingly good)

In the mid 90’s my mother bought me a Sandman and Death T-Shirt. She knew it was a comic, I believe the shirt was on clearance or something, and I had absolutely no idea who these people were other than they sort of looked drawn in the style of the artist Patrick Nagel combed over with a heavy 1980’s flair.

Anime with Slime as MC or Familiars
Anime with Slime as MC or Familiars

TL;DR – my experience with The Sandman, and the Netflix adaptation. You do not have any requirement to read and rage comment.
TTL;DRIt’s good. Surprisingly so.
TTTL;DR – overweight white straight late 40’s southern man’s opinion is opinion.

My introduction to The Sandman

I got a lot of compliments on that shirt but had to admit I had no idea about anything on it. It often elicited people telling me that the comic had changed their lives and I really just did not understand. I also didn’t have any money and at the time $20 for a comic book compilation was a lot. It was also the 90’s and I was working on not really advertising that I was reading comics, because yeah, trying to hide my nerd for once as I was way, way, way too socially awkward around people.

So it was a few years later I bought Preludes and Nocturnes. This was the first 8 or so issues of the Sandman comic bound into one. I put it to read and probably didn’t touch it until 1999. This was after the initial run of the series had ended evidently. I was living in Long Island at this point with no money, had lost a lot of friends in a breakup, and was really attempting to figure out if I still wanted to pursue a dream that had sort of not been fun for a while.

Would you believe I was a comedian and wanted to teach improv?

I came to the Sandman series at about the same time I discovered Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus trilogy. This after having fed my brain a steady diet of pretty standard for the time nerd fare. These combined with Strange Days (1995), The Matrix (99), and a host of mind bending movies for the time made up my entry into 2000. Reality is what you could get away with.

I bought every book in the series, which I believe was a couple of hundred dollars at the time and doesn’t sound like a lot but yeah. That was my entertainment budget for two or three months. At that point I was struggling. I read the series front to back a couple of times and was astounded. Whether it was my situation or not, I don’t know. The stories were great, and I’ve been trying to figure out the Unkindly Ones for longer than I care to admit.

The follow up series Lucifer was amazing, I read and loved American Gods, and basically was a fan of quite a bit of Neil Gaiman’s written works. Not all, but you know what, some just didn’t connect with me. Happens.

Then the TV stuff started happening

I cringed at Lucifer. Buddy cop love interest drama was not what I was expecting. Before you jump on me I understand it was a good series, but it wasn’t the comic (I also read that entire series,) wasn’t the Dreaming, I watched a bit and it did not capture me. Rather than hating on it and rage watching I stopped. Maybe it would have gotten me, who knows. I gave it a few episodes but the feel was not there and episode to episode I was not interested.

And then American Gods came on and man it was amazing for the first season. Sometime in the second it strayed somewhere… it also was abandoned although I keep seeing that I only have a few more episodes left. I didn’t hate it, but I stopped caring and that really is not something I did with the book.

Coraline changed in ways on the big screen that kind of hurt to see. I mean, maybe not but it seemed to become a different story. Ah well. Maybe I misread it. Maybe it was for kids all along and Coraline needed saving by a character that didn’t exist in the book.

So we came to the announcement that The Sandman was coming to Netflix. I held little hope for a comic faithful adaptation.

Luckily I was mostly wrong.

That critic stuff

I started seeing commentary by people before this even came out, that the thing was “woke,” that everything possible that could be wrong with it was and it was somehow catering to a specific crowd. Gender swapped characters, race changes, a little more gaiety? What? The horrors!

Most of the complaints tended to be that it was ruining it somehow, or specifically catering to a protected crowd. Yeah, I’m sure seeing your protected class up there being violently murdered is empowering and owns the others.

I tentatively started watching with my wife a couple of days ago. We finished last night. I have three notes/complaints.

That I have only three complaints as someone who literally has a framed Dreaming poster in my living room, a plush Delirium somewhere in a kid’s room, a framed Sandman comic (the old one, not Gaiman’s – see The Sandman “Sandman” episode with what the kid was wearing,) and a box of Sandman comics, is pretty low. Let me tell you, if you follow anything I write you’ll notice that the more I tend to like something the more criticism I manage to throw at it.

And I have three notes, maybe four, after a remarkably well done beast of a series.

Lucifer’s facial expression (actually having one,) when faced with Hope, Mazikeen’s voice (half a face, comics depicted the problems,) and Death’s walk (something in the comics screamed Material Girl saunter but who knows).

That was that. Of those only the facial expression bugged me.

When Lucian walked out I was “that’s not Lucian” for all of about two sentences out of her mouth and then had to admit it indeed was. John Constantine gender swap? Whatever. Adding a few more people to the diner? Eek.

I’m sure if I wanted to re-read the entire series and go panel by panel I’d discover something in it that was glaringly wrong in the adaptation, but for most of my memories I’m kind of amazed it worked.

My wife watched along with me and I had that nerd joy of introducing her to mostly what I remember.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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