General Information

The Sandman is an epic comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published in the United States by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo. It chronicles the adventures of Dream of The Endless, who rules over the world of dreams, in 75 issues from 1989 until 1996. Critically acclaimed, The Sandman was the only comic to ever win the World Fantasy Award, and is one of the few comic books ever to be on the New York Times Bestseller List, along with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Norman Mailer has described the series as “a comic book for intellectuals.”

Instructors’ Teaching Experience

I frequently teach two Sandman stories – “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” (issue #18, collected in the paperback Dream Country) and “Ramadan” (issue #50, collected in the paperback Fables and Reflections). Both have gone over well with my classes, though “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” works best. “Dream” is about the power of collective belief, which has transformed the world from one where cats ruled to one where humans rule, and one cat is attempting to harness the power of other cats’ dreams in order to change the world back. “Ramadan” is about Caliph Haroun al-Raschid in an Arabian Nights version of Baghdad, who makes a deal to preserve the glory of his magical kingdom forever (though perhaps not in the way he intended). Both have plenty to talk about on a visually stylistic level, and “Dream” always sparks a good discussion about why Gaiman uses cats as the focus of the story. I usually teach it alongside a selection from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics…the concept of “closure” that McCloud talks about works especially nicely with the transitions used in the story, allowing for an in-depth discussion of the comic format and how it is working differently from other literary forms. (This can be especially nice as an intro before diving into a longer graphic novel like Watchmen.) [Joseph Rodriguez,]