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Subject: [Sandman] January - P&N reread (expect spoilers) . . . rss

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Well, it is January the world around, so here we go with our Chit Chat Sandman Reread. In this first monthly thread, feel free to discuss the events, stories, words and art of Issues 1 through 8 (as collected in Volume 1, Preludes & Nocturnes).

As this thread is a RE-read, you can point out foreshadowing of any future events as you wish. If you are a first time Sandman reader wanting to join in the fun, there is another (spoiler free) thread here.

I expect the Rereaders will probably end up frequenting both threads - please be mindful not to post anything spoiler-y in the "first read" thread.

So, off we go to begin a journey that will hopefully last until Halloween. I am looking forward to rediscovering this favorite story, and delving deeper into the most elaborate suicide in literature . . .
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Issue 1, Sleep of the Just.

Man. I've read this issue *many* times. I'm sure there are going to be issues which I read once when the original comic came out and only once or twice more since, but this one? I've read it a bunch . . .

And I *still* spotted something I don't recall seeing before!

Page 24, the crossed out words on the Magus' headstone. Just another nice, subtle touch, right from the very start of the book.

Shoutouts to the Endless in issue 1? We namecheck 4 of 7 (not that we know there are 7 yet). Death, Dream, Destiny, Desire.

Sleep of the Just sets up a classic (classical?) story framework - the quest. In this case, a search for his tools (pouch, helm, ruby) and for revenge. He gets revenge out of the way quickly, in this issue. The quest for his tools shapes the rest of the opening story arc, so not an "origin story" but rather throwing the reader "in media res" (into the middle of things).

The (throwaway) stories of the five Dreamers are interesting. In the context of issue 1, they clearly show the effect on the waking world of Dream's captivity. I'll let someone else more versed in the history of the mainstream DC Universe to discuss the role of Wesley Dodds, pre Gaiman. In the larger context, I can't help but wonder, did he have the whole thing planned out from issue 1? The introduction of Unity Kincaid and the seeds planted by her mini-story right at the start suggest that he might have.

We know that Desire fathers (sic) Rose on Unity and puts Dream in a position to kill her, spilling family blood, and all this is set up in the first issue. Dream slips out of this first trap. Later on, I would argue that not only does her not sidestep the trap, but actually enables it. Hence my describing The Sandman as literature's most elaborate suicide . . .

Just one very early GENIUS moment from Neil Gaiman. Two others:

Dream reaching into to grab the sand off the dreaming guard's beach. GENIUS.

Marilyn Monroe checking out Dream's butt? GENIUS.

Not so clear cut is Dream quoting, "What fools these mortals be." Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream, right? And somewhat satirical. Hollywood didn't notice, and at least one movie script had this as indicative of Dream's character throughout. This led to Neil Gaiman describing said script as, not just the worst script he'd ever read, but the worst *thing* he'd ever read, period. I have to admit, I'm not sorry there hasn't been a Sandman movie to date . . .

I didn't recall that we see an alternate embodiment of dream this early - his cat form on pages 35 & 36. Sets up the many faces of Dream from the start.

That said, I always get an odd feling seeing Dream in "costume" for the first time (page 32). I went to college with a childhood friend of Neil Gaiman's, an old-school goth who dressed exactly like Dream does here. I'm sure there is some chicken and egg going on here, since The Sandman was beginning to hit when I first met Tony, but I don't think the look Dream is given here is very far at all from Tony in High School (when his Grandma lived next door to a young Neil Gaiman . . .)

My friendship with Tony led to me drinking with Neil in a pub after a signing at Forbidden Planet in London in 1995 or so. Neil is every bit as down to earth and genuine as you could possibly hope him to be.

My friendship with Tony did not survive my introducing him to his (now) ex-wife . . .

Looking forward to the next 70-some-odd issues!
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Edition read:


had forgotten so many bits and pieces.

Sam Keith did the art? Wow, had totally forgotten that. When Sandman goes to hell there are Keithisms all over the place - things that you'd see later in the Maxx, there was at least one of these guys in there...



The JLA/JLI stuff felt a bit out of place - something Gaiman acknowledges in the afterward of my edition.

Things remembered:

- What is Todd Klein doing these days? Gods, I'd forgotten about him.
- Cain/Able, Gregory and Goldie
- Eve
- Was that Merv as the bus driver?
- epilogue with Death is magnificent. In the afterward of my edition Gaiman says he felt that that is where he found his voice, and you can tell...

Edit: Oh 1 issue at a time oops...
So yea, I read the whole thing ha ha ha.

Ok ok Issue 1.

I really dig Sam's pencils, very moody. Writing sets a very macabre feel.
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nycavri wrote:
Issue 1, Sleep of the Just.

Man. I've read this issue *many* times. I'm sure there are going to be issues which I read once when the original comic came out and only once or twice more since, but this one? I've read it a bunch . . .

And I *still* spotted something I don't recall seeing before!

Page 24, the crossed out words on the Magus' headstone. Just another nice, subtle touch, right from the very start of the book.

Shoutouts to the Endless in issue 1? We namecheck 4 of 7 (not that we know there are 7 yet). Death, Dream, Destiny, Desire.

Sleep of the Just sets up a classic (classical?) story framework - the quest. In this case, a search for his tools (pouch, helm, ruby) and for revenge. He gets revenge out of the way quickly, in this issue. The quest for his tools shapes the rest of the opening story arc, so not an "origin story" but rather throwing the reader "in media res" (into the middle of things).

The (throwaway) stories of the five Dreamers are interesting. In the context of issue 1, they clearly show the effect on the waking world of Dream's captivity. I'll let someone else more versed in the history of the mainstream DC Universe to discuss the role of Wesley Dodds, pre Gaiman. In the larger context, I can't help but wonder, did he have the whole thing planned out from issue 1? The introduction of Unity Kincaid and the seeds planted by her mini-story right at the start suggest that he might have.



Doesn't the child come back into play at some point? Or am I confusing characters?
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nycavri wrote:
Issue 1, Sleep of the Just.

Man. I've read this issue *many* times. I'm sure there are going to be issues which I read once when the original comic came out and only once or twice more since, but this one? I've read it a bunch . . .

And I *still* spotted something I don't recall seeing before!

Page 24, the crossed out words on the Magus' headstone. Just another nice, subtle touch, right from the very start of the book.

Shoutouts to the Endless in issue 1? We namecheck 4 of 7 (not that we know there are 7 yet). Death, Dream, Destiny, Desire.

Sleep of the Just sets up a classic (classical?) story framework - the quest. In this case, a search for his tools (pouch, helm, ruby) and for revenge. He gets revenge out of the way quickly, in this issue. The quest for his tools shapes the rest of the opening story arc, so not an "origin story" but rather throwing the reader "in media res" (into the middle of things).

The (throwaway) stories of the five Dreamers are interesting. In the context of issue 1, they clearly show the effect on the waking world of Dream's captivity. I'll let someone else more versed in the history of the mainstream DC Universe to discuss the role of Wesley Dodds, pre Gaiman. In the larger context, I can't help but wonder, did he have the whole thing planned out from issue 1? The introduction of Unity Kincaid and the seeds planted by her mini-story right at the start suggest that he might have.

We know that Desire fathers (sic) Rose on Unity and puts Dream in a position to kill her, spilling family blood, and all this is set up in the first issue. Dream slips out of this first trap. Later on, I would argue that not only does her not sidestep the trap, but actually enables it. Hence my describing The Sandman as literature's most elaborate suicide . . .

Just one very early GENIUS moment from Neil Gaiman. Two others:

Dream reaching into to grab the sand off the dreaming guard's beach. GENIUS.

Marilyn Monroe checking out Dream's butt? GENIUS.

Not so clear cut is Dream quoting, "What fools these mortals be." Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream, right? And somewhat satirical. Hollywood didn't notice, and at least one movie script had this as indicative of Dream's character throughout. This led to Neil Gaiman describing said script as, not just the worst script he'd ever read, but the worst *thing* he'd ever read, period. I have to admit, I'm not sorry there hasn't been a Sandman movie to date . . .

I didn't recall that we see an alternate embodiment of dream this early - his cat form on pages 35 & 36. Sets up the many faces of Dream from the start.

That said, I always get an odd feling seeing Dream in "costume" for the first time (page 32). I went to college with a childhood friend of Neil Gaiman's, an old-school goth who dressed exactly like Dream does here. I'm sure there is some chicken and egg going on here, since The Sandman was beginning to hit when I first met Tony, but I don't think the look Dream is given here is very far at all from Tony in High School (when his Grandma lived next door to a young Neil Gaiman . . .)

My friendship with Tony led to me drinking with Neil in a pub after a signing at Forbidden Planet in London in 1995 or so. Neil is every bit as down to earth and genuine as you could possibly hope him to be.

My friendship with Tony did not survive my introducing him to his (now) ex-wife . . .

Looking forward to the next 70-some-odd issues!


ha ha ha ok re-read this properly.


In my edition in the afterward Gaiman says explicitly that he based dream's wardrobe on his own. "...it is a sensible colour. It goes with anything. Well, anything black."

Yea the Unity sequence is critical to the whole series.

Tons of Keithisms in this issue - fantastic stuff all the little whorls and borders - really amazing detail which adds a TON to the feel of the story. I guess he quit in #3 said he felt like "Jimmy Hendrix in the Beatles" (he was in the wrong band).

Gaiman states that #1 was intended to be a classic English horror story. I think he succeeds in that goal.
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Hmm. Not sure about "elaborate suicide." I haven't re-read this in years so I guess for the nonce, I'll just say the jury is out...
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Doesn't have to be one issue at a time. That's just the way I'm starting out. This is Chit Chat - the only rule is "Wait! What?".

I have always loved the "Hendrix in the Beatles" analogy. I don't dislike the art in the opening issues - it very much sets a tone - but I love how Gaiman later hand picked appropriate artists for the story arcs that followed. Later arcs look much "cleaner" to me, but I agree, that the little details in Keith's early art are neat, giving you something new to spot each time.

Todd Klein is still the premier letterer in comics, still lettering Vertigo books. He is the signature voice of Vertigo as much as any writer or artist.

If "the child" you're refering to is Unity's, then yes, Rose comes back. The star of A Doll's House, no? If you're talking about a different child, which one?

"Elaborate suicide". Keep reading with that phrase in mind, particularly after his encounter with Nala . . .

That said, I don't want to come off as sounding like an expert or discourage other ideas. I'm sure I've misread some things and am misremembering others. Feel free to correct me, call me out, throw down!

Haven't been this excited about reading a specific issue since the last year or two of this initial run, where a day or two before the New Comic Wednesaday when the new Sandman was due, I would reread the previous couple of issues so as not to miss a thing . . .

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nycavri wrote:
Doesn't have to be one issue at a time. That's just the way I'm starting out. This is Chit Chat - the only rule is "Wait! What?".

I have always loved the "Hendrix in the Beatles" analogy. I don't dislike the art in the opening issues - it very much sets a tone - but I love how Gaiman later hand picked appropriate artists for the story arcs that followed. Later arcs look much "cleaner" to me, but I agree, that the little details in Keith's early art are neat, giving you something new to spot each time.

Todd Klein is still the premier letterer in comics, still lettering Vertigo books. He is the signature voice of Vertigo as much as any writer or artist.


Ah, well, there ya go. I haven't read anything from Vertigo for years and years. I have a full run of the Dreaming series (for those who aren't sure - yes it is series based off characters from Sandman - more the background characters though. When that stopped I stopped.

Quote:

If "the child" you're refering to is Unity's, then yes, Rose comes back. The star of A Doll's House, no? If you're talking about a different child, which one?
Yea that was it, you actually addressed it in your post I just didn't catch it the first time I skimmed through.

Quote:

"Elaborate suicide". Keep reading with that phrase in mind, particularly after his encounter with Nala . . .


Just going on gut here and it will be interesting to see if I change my mind, but Dream never seemed to be "suicidal" in any way, perhaps more martyred in the classic sense of accepting his Destiny? That is more my remembrance. We shall see. Interesting food for thought...

I am also re-reading the Sandman Companion for good measure

It was fun, when I realized you were just looking at ish one to sit down with it at the computer and sort of go through it more objectively. I read the whole trade in one sitting last night ha ha ha.

I kind of like the one ish discussion so we don't go too far off topic. There are so many details especially when you know what comes down the pike. So I think discussion of ish one is the way to go until you tell us we can move on to ish two Just consider my earlier babble an excitable overview laugh

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Oh a word on Dave McKean...



Magnificent.
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some really interesting resources:

The Annotated Sandman

ye olde Wikipedia has a nice synopsis as well (includes link to dl of #1 from DC)
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Issue 2, Imperfect Hosts.

And in this issue we start to see a couple more of the many names Dream collects for himself; Prince of Stories and Morpehus. But the Furies (who we meet here for the first time) may have even more names than Dream does. Implication even at the very beginning that the Furies > Dream?

This reread is beginning to feel like a get together with old friends I haven't thought about in years. I love Lucien, the librarian who lost his library, but still held down the fort for his absent boss. It's like he's Sam to Dream's Frodo. Or not . . .

And Goldie! Amazing how much meaning and emotion she can impart with a simple, "awrk".

"You don't thank the fates." GENIUS

"Abel had been dead for a couple of hours but he was starting to feel better." GENIUS

But still, running smack into the JLA in the middle of a comic that is already creating it's own, separate mythos feels odd. And it is almost as if Gaiman felt that way too, having Dream shunt them off to the side saying (almost in as many words) "yeah - I'm not sure where they fit in, yet", and leaving them for another issue.

It reminds me a little of the Pilot episode of Babylon 5 where Ed Wasser, the actor who ended up playing the face of the villans of the piece, is an extra on the bridge. You just kind of pretend it never happened, and move on . . .

All this was pre-Vertigo, so although the book carried a "mature readers" label, all DC book were seen as somehow interrelated. Vertigo allowing creators to play in their own, seperate sandboxes may have been the single best thing that ever happened to comics as a legitimate mainstream artform, breaking past, "Look kids - comics.'
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Okay, I've read Issue 1! This is a great idea, Avri. Is it bad that I've only read the whole thing once before? blush

The first thing is Todd Klein is awesome! According to Hy Bender, he did all of the lettering for all issues except 11 and 12 because he was on his honeymoon.

The second is that I remember is how much I don't care for Sam Keith. At least it was only for five issues. (Sorry, Van!)

I love how he (almost) seamlessly fits Dream into the continuum of the DC Universe -- here he explains the origins and "purpose" of the "original" DC Sandman (Wesley Dodds) and he sets up the story of Doctor Destiny by having Dream's ruby stolen. I say almost, because having Batman and Superman appear in this sort of work is simply jarring.

nycavri wrote:
Issue 1, Sleep of the Just.

Page 24, the crossed out words on the Magus' headstone. Just another nice, subtle touch, right from the very start of the book.

See, I always just saw that as blades of grass that were obscuring the headstone.

nycavri wrote:
In the larger context, I can't help but wonder, did he have the whole thing planned out from issue 1? The introduction of Unity Kincaid and the seeds planted by her mini-story right at the start suggest that he might have.

I've read interviews and such from Neil, and he indicates that he had a sense of a general direction, and he had most of the end in mind, but he really didn't know where the story would take him. It seems that's how he writes most things -- they sort of just flow from his pen and write themselves.

nycavri wrote:
Not so clear cut is Dream quoting, "What fools these mortals be." Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream, right? And somewhat satirical. Hollywood didn't notice, and at least one movie script had this as indicative of Dream's character throughout. This led to Neil Gaiman describing said script as, not just the worst script he'd ever read, but the worst *thing* he'd ever read, period. I have to admit, I'm not sorry there hasn't been a Sandman movie to date . . .

Wait. What? Which script? A script for Sandman?

Oh, and yes, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" was said by Puck. Interesting that Neil didn't drop the "lord," since he's lord of The Dreaming. I wonder if he had "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (the issue) in mind, or if he played off this instance of the quote when he finally did write it.

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vandemonium wrote:
Just going on gut here and it will be interesting to see if I change my mind, but Dream never seemed to be "suicidal" in any way, perhaps more martyred in the classic sense of accepting his Destiny? That is more my remembrance. We shall see. Interesting food for thought...

I didn't take it as a suicide so much as a resignation. He knew it had to be done and accepted it. Not as a willful thing.
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Issue 3, Dream A Little Dream Of Me.

I rarely enjoy John Constantine as anything other than a supporting character, but for a single issue at a time he is fun to read. And Neil Gaiman writes him here as well as anyone ever has. I have always loved his little chat with London. Still makes me smile.

This is the first time we see Dream forced to interact with humans, and I am struck by how out of touch he is. Result of 70 years of imprisonment, or was he always like this? I think it's the latter, but I'm going to be watching the flashback issues closely to confirm. Juxtapose with his travels in the waking world come Brief Lives where, although he is still not the sharpest tack in the box, I seem to recall it was a self depreciating, self aware persona - he was almost playing aloof (for comedy, almost) at that point, rather than him actually being clueless here.

That said, when John claims Dream has no sense of humor, does anyone else think his changing into a dream-colored replica of John's trench coat is hysterical?

Another old friend - Mad Hettie. Her story intersects with that of my favorite character, Hob Gadling, and doesn't fully pay off until one of the Death mini-series (I forget which is which. Might have to reread those in November /December . . .) Going to be fun rediscovering all these (amazingly well realized) minor characters.

Love all the fun "Dream" songs throughout the issue. The only one I can't place (without resorting to Google) is the one that comes out of the jukebox in place of "Grapevine". Anyone?

Also like Dream's warning, "You have exceeded your bounds", foreshadowing the other, more important nightmares-gone-wild in his absence, which he'll have to deal with as the arcs progress.

Looking forward to people getting back to work tomorrow and chiming in!
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amwiles wrote:
nycavri wrote:
Page 24, the crossed out words on the Magus' headstone. Just another nice, subtle touch, right from the very start of the book.

See, I always just saw that as blades of grass that were obscuring the headstone.


But you see it now, right? Such a small thing, but adds a whole 'nother layer to Alex's character.

amwiles wrote:
Wait. What? Which script? A script for Sandman?


There have been a few. It's pretty ugly. the latest incarnation, a year or two back, was a pitch for a TV show. The Wikipedia page for The Sandman is as good a starting point as any for more info.

amwiles wrote:
Oh, and yes, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" was said by Puck. Interesting that Neil didn't drop the "lord," since he's lord of The Dreaming. I wonder if he had "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (the issue) in mind, or if he played off this instance of the quote when he finally did write it.


Apparently, Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a favorite of Neil's. And the "Lord" always implied to me that Dream was quoting Shakespeare, that the line is somewhat ironic, not to be taken literally . . .
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amwiles wrote:
vandemonium wrote:
Just going on gut here and it will be interesting to see if I change my mind, but Dream never seemed to be "suicidal" in any way, perhaps more martyred in the classic sense of accepting his Destiny? That is more my remembrance. We shall see. Interesting food for thought...

I didn't take it as a suicide so much as a resignation. He knew it had to be done and accepted it. Not as a willful thing.


And I'm going to argue throughout that he takes somewhat more of an active role - he doesn't let it happen, he makes it happen.

Let's see if I can persuade others, or if I will be persuaded otherwise!
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And we've got the 9th edition trade paperback for this one. Our whole series makes a nice rainbow!


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amwiles wrote:
And we've got the 9th edition trade paperback for this one. Our whole series makes a nice rainbow!


I'm reading the same Hardcover version - 3rd printing.

I initially had them all in the early edition trades, but upgraded to these as they were released. Still have some of the mismatched first editions at my folks' in England . . .
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amwiles wrote:

And we've got the 9th edition trade paperback for this one. Our whole series makes a nice rainbow!




Reading this edition as well. Was a bit surprised to see it was signed for Eggie!
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erak wrote:
amwiles wrote:

And we've got the 9th edition trade paperback for this one. Our whole series makes a nice rainbow!




Reading this edition as well. Was a bit surprised to see it was signed for Eggie!


By who? I haven't met Neil but I've met several of the artists. I've got Sam Keith's autograph on a trade copy of the Maxx.
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nycavri wrote:
Implication even at the very beginning that the Furies > Dream?


That may or may not be, but I always took Dream's attitude here as respectful simply because he was so weakened without his ruby, etc.

nycavri wrote:
when John claims Dream has no sense of humor, does anyone else think his changing into a dream-colored replica of John's trench coat is hysterical?


I had never gotten that visual joke before. Yes, hysterical!


I didn't mind seeing Sam Kieth leave, although I do like his version of Hell.

And speaking of Hell, Lucifer! Mike Carey FTW!
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vandemonium wrote:
erak wrote:
amwiles wrote:

And we've got the 9th edition trade paperback for this one. Our whole series makes a nice rainbow!




Reading this edition as well. Was a bit surprised to see it was signed for Eggie!


By who? I haven't met Neil but I've met several of the artists. I've got Sam Keith's autograph on a trade copy of the Maxx.


Mr. Amanda Palmer himself.
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jeffwiles wrote:
And speaking of Hell, Lucifer! Mike Carey FTW!


Can't leave Peter Gross out of that thought . . .
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jeffwiles wrote:
nycavri wrote:
Implication even at the very beginning that the Furies > Dream?


That may or may not be, but I always took Dream's attitude here as respectful simply because he was so weakened without his ruby, etc.


My impression has always been that they aren't greater than Dream per se, but that each of these various "gods" are more powerful when one is within their sphere of influence. Lucifer has more power in hell, Dream is more powerful within his own realm, and the Furies are more powerful when you run afoul of the rules they are in charge of upholding.
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radynski wrote:
jeffwiles wrote:
nycavri wrote:
Implication even at the very beginning that the Furies > Dream?


That may or may not be, but I always took Dream's attitude here as respectful simply because he was so weakened without his ruby, etc.


My impression has always been that they aren't greater than Dream per se, but that each of these various "gods" are more powerful when one is within their sphere of influence. Lucifer has more power in hell, Dream is more powerful within his own realm, and the Furies are more powerful when you run afoul of the rules they are in charge of upholding.


Yes, I agree strongly with this. I guess I was pondering out loud whether;

a) the Furies' role in Dream's demise was already planned at this early point, and

b) whether giving the Furies a huge string of names (alongside a character who is later descibed as "accululat[ing] names to himself like others make friends") was an early nod, a foreshadowing of their role to come.

One comment I've heard in studying Shakespeare is that he could not have meant everything that has ever been ascribed to his words, or he would never have been able to commit the first thing to paper. Reading Gaiman this closely has a similar feel.

Yeah. I just compared Shakespeare and Gaiman. Big whup. Wanna fight about it?
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