Sandman Universe 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Sandman Universe 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew: Of the “graphic novel” canon — that is, comics that non-comics readers have (however begrudgingly) deemed worthy of their time and interest — Sandman is far and away the longest. Persepolis and Maus constitute two volumes apiece, and Watchmen just the one, but Sandman spills into ten (or more, depending on how you count decades-later follow-ups like this one). However we diagnose that oddity — either as an unusually long, but no less novelistic “literary comic,” or as a more humble ongoing that was elevated to the pantheon of comics grownups aren’t afraid to read — I think the explanation is the same: the flexibility of Dream and his kingdom. Everybody dreams, affording Dream excuses to interact with every corner of the world, from kittens to serial killers, from William Shakespeare to the demons of Hell. And because of Dream’s role as a storyteller of sorts, the only guarantee in any issue was that it would contain a story (often wrapped up in a love letter to stories and storytelling). That is very much true of Sandman Universe 1, which spins its story off into four supporting series, but not before pausing to simply luxuriate in their worlds. Continue reading

Epistolary Irreverence in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The provenance of epistolary texts are always weird. Actually, it’s probably less weird than traditional narratives, where we might somehow be privy to the private thoughts of the protagonist or even the perspective of an omniscient narrator, but epistolary texts necessarily draw our attention to the weirdness in a way that more traditional narratives don’t. Because we’re reading documents composed within the diegesis of the epistolary narrative, the ostensible writer of those documents are a character, even as the actual writer attempts to become invisible. That tension, between our hyperawareness of the fictional author, and purported obliviousness of the actual author, puts epistolary narratives in this weird netherworld of headspace, embracing the self-awareness of postmodernism in an attempt to produce an entirely un-self-aware story. It’s a concept that already folds in on itself, but writer Ryan North adds a few more wrinkles, confusing the notion of self-awareness enough that the confusion starts to be to point. Continue reading