Author Neil Gaiman recently treated social media users to a display of one of his favorite pastimes — waving away criticism of his upcoming Sandman series by Twitter users who are obviously completely unfamiliar with the show’s source material, Gaiman’s original comic book series, published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint from 1988 to 1996.
In his latest virtual eye-roll, the author addresses an obnoxious claim that the show will fail due to its progressive values, described, of course, as “woke.”
Gaiman responds that “Sandman went woke in 1988, and it hasn’t gone broke yet.” Indeed, the series is one of the most critically acclaimed comic book series ever and rarely fails to turn up on any list of the most essential graphic novel reads of the last century.
Gaiman commented later in the thread that whatever Sandman was it was the same thing now — though no longer ahead of its time.
The Sandman, a product of DC’s adult-oriented Vertigo imprint was able to tackle a number of issues that may have been considered progressive at the time such as mental health and sexuality and featured principal characters that were people of color, LGBTQ. and, well, immortal.
One of the principal players in the story is the sister/brother/sibling of The Sandman — Desire. Desire, like her elder brother who is the personification of the Dreamworld, desire is an avatar of the endless, a group of immortal reflections that embody aspects of existence. Desire, who is literally the embodiment of everything anyone has ever wanted, is neither male, female or even strictly non-binary but inhabits every shade of the spectrum of gender at once. And they were written in 1989.
Gaiman isn’t exactly plugging in 2020s values for the likes.