Volume 7: Brief Lives
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Jill Thompson, Vince Locke, Dick Giordano and Danny Vozzo
Join us as we take a trip with Barry Sandman and his Manic Dream Pixie Girl sister in the search for Destruction bumping into the following questions along the way: Do we really need to know the “Real Shakespeare”? Would you like to read some of my poetry? And how exactly does all this Endless nonsense actually work?
I don’t think Barry changed because he killed his son. The fact that he could finally let his son go and give him the closure/death he wanted is a sign that Barry has changed.
Though I did always wonder what happened to the priesthood when they were made redundant. How empty their lives would feel, the vigilance of years, just honorably dissolved, ‘job well done’, and what now?
The bit where you point out that someone standing in black robes in the rain looking morose, is really quite posey, is, as you say, lightened up by Melvin Pumpkinhead taking the piss out of this behaviour. Or at least moaning about how ridiculous it is.
This is probably one of the stories that Morpheus is most active in, beyond the first one. And there’re questions as to how the family influence each other, Morpheus questions Desire as to whether she made Delirium want to search for Destruction, Morpheus somehow takes on Death’s role to dispatch Orpheus and it could be argued that the automatic processes that Destruction left in his realm to destroy anyone trying to find him did a number on Morpheus too, putting him in a situation where he’s vulnerable to The Kindly Ones by killing a blood relative.
And I have to say, those of us who have met Joel in the flesh, can any of us really say we’re surprised he doesn’t like a character who tends towards observation rather than action whenever possible? I bet you’d want to be in Gryffindor as well.
To Loz: if “consistency, hobgoblins and tiny minds” is you dismissing the problem, I don’t think Gaiman should be let off so lightly. A fundamental aspect of the Sandman universe is unexplained, something that should animate the point / theme of this arc + the overall series arc.
Swinging back to the first point, (and to be an annoying tease) I think the Kindly Ones contains an admission of guilt on Gaiman’s part about how admirable his character really is as well as how smart he has been in trying to tell this story.
I don’t normally have truck with this kinda stuff – but it’s swimming in my head so: how much do you guys relate to Barry and all the rest of this duty stuff? (shades of: “I just couldn’t relate to any of the characters” = urg. But what the hey). I mean – I think you guys have hit nail on head with the stuff that you’ve said: the notion that the family have to duty and all that: but hey most of us aren’t kings or queens (right?): so why should we care about someone struggling with the burden of rule? I mean – we have jobs which is a whole different. Like: if we were all “I renounce my duties!” and march out of the office then that paycheck is going to stop coming each week and then instead of ranting about comics via email we’ll be ranting about comics on the side of the street (so yeah ok – maybe not that much difference).
“Is it true that George Lucas’s native tongue is Huttese?” – I mean: god (no offense or anything) but – who cares? Is it really going to change anything? Is it really going to help us understand the plays or the comics or the films better?”
I think it depends on whether what is behind the story is interesting. I heard Harper Lee (author of to Kill a Mockingbird, new book out this year!) would get really annoyed by people overinterpreting her book. E.g. someone once asked “what is the deep significance of you naming all the town children after confederate? Civil war hero’s” She replied “those characters were white trash, white trash people name their children after confederate heros” So here the ‘significance’ came from real life, she was reflecting something that already existed, but that thing looked like a authorial flourish for people who had never been to the South.
And I went to an art talk that compared two Madonna and child portraits, pointing out how THAT artist clearly used a sand stuffed doll to model the child, but THAT artist clearly used a real child as a model.
So on the one hand, the main thing about a story is does it stand on it’s own merits, but on a separate note, the question of ‘where to you get your ideas’ CAN be interesting. Also, something I wanted to ask you all. ‘Richard Steel’ wrote 60s thrillers about Parker, now being rereleased as graphic novels, which I recommend (can the first one go on our reading list?). He said that Parker was born as:
I walked across the George Washington Bridge … surprised at how windy it was out there (when barely windy at all anywhere else) and at how much the apparently solid bridge shivered and swung from the wind and the pummeling of the traffic. There was speed in the cars going by, vibration in the bridge under my feet, tension in the whole atmosphere.
… I slowly began to evolve in my mind the character who was right for that setting, whose own speed and solidity and tension matched that of the bridge. People I knew came and went, but he quickly took on his own face, his own hard-skeletoned way of walking; I saw him as looking something like Jack Palance, and I wondered: Why is he walking across the bridge? Not because he took the wrong bus. Because he’s angry. Not hot angry; cold angry. Because there are times when tools won’t serve, not hammers or cars or guns or telephones, when only the use of your own body will satisfy, the hard touch of your own hands.
Where have I read that before? Is some other comic book/character inspired by this???
Moving back to brief lives, having read it the other week and just now flicked through it; here is a list of the things that I like, that stand out to me.
- The architecture of the palace when Dream is standing on the balcony before Delirium arrives (p10). The high terraced buildings with a roof that becomes the garden for the higher buildings, This is what high density living should be.
- The crazy random food Delirium orders. What would you choose to eat if you didn’t need to and could have ANYthing? My imagination is not really up to this. Skittles would be involved though.
- The line, and also the facial expression: “She’s making little frogs”.
- How effective The Etain is in a crisis. Escaping with nothing but the clothes you are standing in, when those clothes are just your underwear but, with her bag and some convenient shops, being able to get dressed and escape, probably in about 10 minutes.
- All Delirium’s various looks, the way she changes her appearance all the time.
- The art style in the nightclub, both backstage and when dancing
- When Dream and Delirium arrive on the Island the way Andros and Kris hear him speaking Greek/English at the same time. Also the way Kris washed up on the island randomly but expectedly
- The two page spread of the night sky and the night sky in the rest of that scene.
- I like the jolt when we see Orpheus’s dream about his wife and grandchildren, at first you assume he is remembering a happy memory, but of course it was something that never had a chance to exist, she died on their wedding night, there were no children, let alone grandchildren. That one scene brings across the tragedy very well.
- The way the blood became the first entirely new flower in some time
I read this after reading the first two books of Swamp Thing, I believe Matthew is Abbey’s ex-husband after he died the second time? (The car crash was the firsttime). This is kind of weird as Matthew seems pretty cool and likeable, especially when helping Delirium drive (well it’s almost the only time he is in this book), which is NOT how he seemed in Swamp thing. Is he drawn differently (inconsistently)? Or are we seeing a consistent character from a different perspective. Do we (I) not like Matt in Swamp thing because he is the spare wheel and we are waiting for him to go so Abbey can get together with the Swamp Thing? or is he much less sympathetic there? I think my dislike for him in Swamp thing IS coloured by Abbey’s dislike for him. So is Matt ‘really’ nicer than we give him credit for in Swamp thing? The whole summoning Beelzebub thing wasn’t very sympathetic, but as I recall he is atoning for that stuff in his raven job (he mentions some of this in the Dolls House).
ALSO when Defoe is quoted talking about the Plague, that Despair was pleased with having engineered, it says he wrote ‘somewhat after the event’ I sort of always assumed the Journal of the Plague Year was a Journal! But Defoe was FIVE at the time. In fact it is a well researched novel. Also his grave is about a 15 minute walk from Barbican in Bonehill (Bunhill) cemetery.
I feel like I should now give some opinion on the whole novel, but in a way I feel like I know it too well and have zoomed in so much that I can’t give a good overview. I like it. I like Delirium, I like seeing Dream not being the only main character, I like the character development and the pieces falling into place for the greater plot. I DON’T think I got Destruction, what he was doing, why he wanted to live on a Greek Island, what his job involved. But hey, you can’t have everything
Hello everyone, how are you, I am fine.
Want to come back on this: