Sandman Re-Blog: The Doll's House Part Two


Alright kids, I'm giving you a break from the marathon length of the past couple of posts, because this is another "in-between" issue. Granted, it's very very important that you pay attention, but this is a case of the infantry taking formation rather than engaging in battle.

So guys? Remember the creatures that had disappeared from the census in the previous issue? Keep an eye on them. We will learn much about their shenanigans.

Rose, again displaying the total self-involvement  of youth, responds to the recent discovery of her grandmother and the accompanying unreality by...moving out! And like any teenager with family troubles, she gets involved with a circus of freaks (I say that with love!).

Of course I kid, because Rose is in town to find her missing brother, Jed. (And in case you weren't already convinced of the importance of Jed to the story, note the raven at Rose's window when she mentions his name.)


You know what really jumped out at me on my third re-read? That the "Land of Marvellous Dreams," where we meet Jed and Lyta,  has numbered panels. This is not an issue with Doll's House, and I don't remember it being an issue in subsequent issues, but did anyone else have trouble with following the panels in Preludes and Nocturnes? They weren't intuitive, and not in a clever, subversive way, but a vaguely annoying sort of "i don't know whether to look right or down" sort of way.

I freely admit, I am not a frequent denizen of the comics universe, and I wonder if there's some code that other readers have that I'm not aware of. But like I said, it's clear in this trade and in subsequent trades.

Which is odd because the artists are much more experimental with the format of the panelling than in the first trade.



Of course the raven is a spy, and of course Rose is the vortex (this was very very strongly hinted in the previous issue, but now it's official).


I have tried and failed to articulate this point on other occasions, both here and in real life, about why I'm not totally convinced about the overt horror in Preludes (and I'm making no promises for clarity now). There's a lack of agency in that type of story; humans are powerless against a super-villain, which is not the easiest story to engage with on a personal level, because we all like to believe we won't just succumb like that. And I like to think most of us don't have such a negative view of humanity, that we'd just roll over and be manipulated.

So take the scene where Rose takes a dark alley as a shortcut; when she's accosted by a gang of hoods, she stands up to them. Which is not only awesome, but revealing of her character. Sure she gets rescued by someone else, but it's the attitude that counts (although it is the 1980's and I doubt that a gang of skinheads would react to a foppish man with a cloak and a cane with an "aw shit," rather than try to attack him right away

My god that action scene is written so well. In just two pages we know so much about Rose, about how she copes with trouble, about her values, about her own mercy. (Caveat: I love it even though it's an impossible coincidence that her savior is her absent roomate...)

So then, knowing that the Sandman world is not in fact a world of outright horror, the Corinthian does in fact become a terrifying presence to the reader. This isn't one of a million human feelings, this is specifically a dude who plays with eyeballs while booking a place at a convention.

Coming up: The Cereal Killer Convention! One of the greatest things in the history of ever.

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3 Responses to “ Sandman Re-Blog: The Doll's House Part Two ”

  1. Moving In, or “My god, it’s full of dolls!”

    A few things to file under stuff I Never Noticed Because I Am A Doofus:

    Barbie and Ken get five panels of dialogue and they never move a muscle. D'oh.

    The boiler casts a shadow over Jed that looks like a huge black spider.

    I’d never heard of Winsor McCay before I read Sandman, so the Little Nemo dream sequences went right over my head. Didn’t help that I’d never heard of Hector Hall either. The story works fine without that knowledge, but I did feel there was something important happening that was invisible to me. Hell, the first time I read this I’d never even heard of G.K. Chesterton.

    Morpheus's raven is another character from the DCU I didn't encounter until years later. Matt Cable was Abby's husband in Swamp Thing, but I don't think knowing about his story is all that important to Sandman. He's virtually a new character; at least, that's my recollection. Damn, now I want to read Swamp Thing again too.

    I still can’t tell if the faceless nightmares scare me more than the Corinthian. Gaiman has such a great instinct for the creepy. They appear to have cocked up the colouring during the Corinthian’s phone call, so the business with his eyes wasn’t clear to me until we met him in the flesh (as it were). There’s something about the efficiency of the knots he uses on the boys that makes their deaths that much more awful. Imagine waking up in that state to a man with a knife. You’d look for any means of escape, but you’d know before you even tried that he’s done this before.

    As to the coincidence of Gilbert's rescue, it's explained by Rose being a vortex - she draws the absent dreams towards her. If that seems too pat, Gilbert seems like just the sort of fellow who would keep a protecting eye on a young lady in a dangerous part of town.

  2. One thing I forgot to mention is that apparently Gilbert is based on G.K. Chesterton.

    I've never read Swamp Thing! But that was Neil Gaiman's first comic project, yes?

    The faceless nightmares are very scary indeed. You get a sense that this hasn't happened before, the escape of Dream's nightmares, in that he takes such pride in creating such terrifying things.

    I did wonder if Rose being a vortex drew Gilbert to her! I'm happy to accept that.

  3. Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing is held in high esteem, and rightly so. He was the one who killed off Matt Cable, who later turned up in the Dreaming. If you're interested in Matt's backstory, I recommend checking out the comic rather than the Wikipedia page. Brutal, amazing writing. Come to think of it, there's another call-back to Moore's run coming up in a couple of issues.

    Gaiman did a one-off issue of Swamp Thing in 1990; you can see his bibliography here.


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