Book Review of:
THE KINDLY ONES’
by NEIL GAIMAN (Story) & MARC HEMPEL (Art)
(Titan Graphic Novel, April 1996 £12.99 ISBN 1-85286-683-7)
There’s a Candy-Coloured Clown they call the Sandman. Tiptoes to my room ev’ry night. Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper ‘Go to sleep, ev’rything is alright’. Roy Orbison sang that in 1963. Nothing to do with this hefty and lavish book. But then again, it just might be. Neil Gaiman’s five-year ‘Sandman’ story-arc (of which this is the last chapter, probably), deals in a heavy traffic of Jungian archetypes and the awkward tendency of myth-figures to lap over into reality. There’s the real world of AIDS and incinerated babies. But there’s also ‘a downstairs in everybody. That’s where WE live’, the Gods, the Goths and the talking Ravens of ‘Raw Dreamstuff’. A place, but perhaps also an attitude, where gravity is ‘not so much a law, as one of a number of suggested options’. Where a makeshift barge made of dead flesh is slowly poled down a river of cold semen.
It all began in 1988 when Gaiman launched ‘Sandman’, who – like god, liberty, and Boyzone, is the corporeal manifestations of an idea, a desire, a metaphysical transference tripping through a series of ‘Vertigo Jam’ and DC comicdom editions, then collected into previous Titan covers blurbed by the generous recommendations of Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison and Samuel Delany. It allegedly ends – here. Sandman dies. ‘Can’t say I’ve ever been too fond of beginnings, myself. Messy little things. Give me a good ending any time’ says one of Gaiman’s Fates. But you can’t kill a Candy-Coloured Jungian archetype. Go to sleep. Ev’rything is alright.