Sandman Re-Blog: Issue #15 Into the Night, or, Sandman meets Infinite Jest




Part of the reason I've been a little lax about these Sandman Re-Blogs is that I've been sucked into the bottomless abyss that is Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. These are not two works that you would imagine a lot of crossover with, but more and more I can't help thinking what a great comic book series Infinite Jest would make. In fact, Wallace's trademark footnotes would work perfectly well as the sort of asides that are common in Sandman: quick cuts to the Dreaming, stray thoughts invading, passages and passages of loving description converted into art, etc.

In this issue, especially, the parallels leap out, particularly in regard to our friendly gothic sisters, Chantal and Zelda. Here, as with Joelle van Dyne, we have two beautiful girls with no outward deformity hiding behind veils. Chantal dreams of perfect sentences, as does Avril Incandenza. They are both willfully committed to this Doll's House.

In many ways, the Doll's House is the equivalent of Ennet House in IJ: these people aren't trapped there, they aren't locked in, they can leave at will, but for various reasons they don't (at least not yet). They are drawn body and soul to this place, whether that's because of Rose or whether that's because of something else within themselves. (Does this make Don Gately a vortex?)

We meet Gilbert the same way we meet Lenz: in a dark alley, dressed as a vigilante superhero. Like Lenz, Gilbert has other places to be, but he's content to be here (more than content, actually). Gilbert is not a serial killer in training though, of course.

But apart from the superficial similarity, there's a larger confluence in theme: these are people regarded as grotesques by mainstream society and are searching to find their true humanity, which seems only accessible in non-reality i.e. dreams in Sandman or addiction in Infinite Jest.

Likewise, dreams reveal lack of humanity. Look at Ken, going through the motions. In his dreams he is everything he wants to be, and what he wants to be isn't human at all, it's a caricature, it's a Bret Easton Ellis stereotype.


I said I'd come back to the whole issue of space and city and domain, and here we are. 
We are introduced to the necropolis in Zelda's dream: the city of the dead.

I believe I'd discussed before how the Dreaming appears to operate as a quasi-feudal system, with Dream sitting in the throne room, not micro-managing, but broadly guiding the kingdom. So it's interesting when Rose says "Each mind creates and inhabits its own world, and each world is but a tiny part of that totality that is the dreaming..." and then proceeds to break down the boundaries to create a single dreaming. So that suggests me that rather than executive ruler, Dream is more of a judiciary leader, a Supreme Court of sorts dedicated to maintaining the separation of different dreams. He creates and administers the rules, (and punishes offenders like the Corinthian) but does not govern the whole of the Dreaming. He just governs his judicial branch, as it were, with Lucien, Matthew, et al.


I'm probably not the first to comment on this, but I do wonder about Zelda being drawn explicitly in the style of John Tenniel's original Alice in Wonderland illustrations: See Alice Here. Going by the stories being told, it would be more fitting for Barbie to be drawn in that style, as she enters a sort of late Victorian fairytale herself, complete with anthropomorphic animals and magical talismans.

Next Issue: We Conclude The Doll's House

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2 Responses to “ Sandman Re-Blog: Issue #15 Into the Night, or, Sandman meets Infinite Jest ”

  1. I think Zelda is a much better fit for Alice; Barbie's dream is very different from a Carrollian story. In her fantasy she's a heroic and beautiful princess in a childish fairyland; Martin Tenbones is a very different creature from the Cheshire Cat. It's no accident that Barbie is imagining is a wise and faithful companion for herself.

    We'll see more of him later of course, but I never knew that 'Secret Brides of the Faceless Slaves of the Forbidden House of the Nameless Night of the Castle of Dread Desire' had a root in Sandman too.

  2. You're probably right that Zelda is a better fit for Alice. At the moment, I can't remember where her story goes though.

    Seriously though, wtf is up with Ken?


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