Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is one of the few comic/graphic novel series I’ve read in its entirety. I reveled its references to other creations, writers, artists and art forms; Oftentimes an image, song lyric, or quote, a historical figure or a famous face. And no face more famous perhaps than that of David Bowie whose countenance makes an appearance a number of times though-out the story arc, from inception to ending. Here’s my potted guide to Bowie spotting in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman….
SANDMAN PRELIM ART
While for the most part Morpheus looks like a younger @neilhimself but the influence of Bowie was always there. Hy Bender’s Sandman companion shares the background and inception of lots of the characters including these early artist sketches by Leigh Baulch of what the Sandman might look like. He looks a lot like Ziggy. The later ‘non Bowie’ sketches sport handwritten notes to that effect.
So Bowie’s likeness is passed over for the final version of Dream, but his influence still leaks into the Sandman’s baby sister Delirium as drawn by various artists, in the form of her mismatched eyes… the one constancy in her ever-changing image.
This is where Bowie makes his first proper appearance, as the angel Lucifer Morningstar guardian of Hell. Artists Keith and Dringenberg’s Lucifer is blonde and blue-eyed, god’s prodigal golden child. Who better to embody this other worldly beauty and weirdness than our Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud?
Dave McKean’s cover art for ‘A Hope in Hell’ featuring Lucifer, has a Bowie-esque quality too.
WHITE SANDMAN 0.2
I’m not sure how we refer to the dream child Daniel, Dream 0.2? Morpheus Metamorphosed? I mostly call him the White Sandman. It seems fitting that for the end of the cycle we return to the beginning. Where that early inspiration finally shines through in Dream’s appearance in Exiles illustrated by Jon J Muth. Instead of the familiar black bird’s nest hair we have white blonde… Bowie in his Goblin King aspect. (P.s Master Li is a dead ringer for Morgan Freeman.)
I’ve been wanting to write this post since Bowie’s passing and it seemed like as good an excuse as any to look back through these beloved tomes. Back in the pre-Amazon days, and before comic shops were on every high-street, I read the Sandman series in whatever order I could get my hands on. I allowed myself the luxury of a trade paperback per term at uni in the late 90’s, and I eventually caught up with the story arc’s ending in real-time. The Sandman comics left an indelible mark on my memory, influenced my art and writing, and they call like postcards from the past on my shelf. Worried they wouldn’t stand the test of time I paused to take in one-off short ‘A dream of a thousand cats’. I was unexpectedly moved to tears. The dream realm has not lost his potency for me then. Reading casually will not be possible. I may have to tread softly….