Sandman: Dream of the Endless

by JoHarrington

Morpheus (aka Dream) is the main protagonist of Neil Gaiman's amazing Sandman graphic novels. Discover why he's such a memorable character.

Where do you go when you dream? And who built it?

Fans of 'The Sandman' know. We've walked into the heart of the Dreaming and gazed upon the realm of the Dream King. In imagination, of course, what other way is there to enter such a place?

Worlds of such vivid construction; weird and wonderful characters that you swear your subconscious could never have birthed without help. You didn't. Morpheus was there, sprinkling dust into your mind, and what dreams ensued.

Take my hand, let me introduce you to the Sandman.

Meandering into the Dreaming with the Sandman

"I have a dream that one day this nation..." "Mr Sandman, send me a dream...." "Go out on a limb and just dream..."

Image; The Sandman by Neil GaimanThere is a difference between living and being alive. Dream is that difference. Any mindless single cell can grasp that spark of life and survive. To rise above takes vision.

It's a mistake to believe that dreams only come at night, when you're sleeping. Those technicolor moments of strangeness are the work of Morpheus, but so are the waking dreams.

We glimpse and reach for ideas, thrown up from the firmament of our minds, things that no-one ever conceived before, but one. We distract ourselves from boring reality with daydreams cast into a wondrous world. He planted those seeds too.

Dream is one of the Endless, in Neil Gaiman's graphic novel series The Sandman. The third eldest, there was only Destiny and Death before him. Sentient things lived and died, that was all. Morpheus made reality a much more interesting place in which to reside.

He is the monarch of imagination; the being who flicked each spark of inspiration. He is awen - architect of the weird and wonderful; creator of nightmares; and deliverer from the dreary and the dangerous. He takes us out of ourselves, shows us things, then sets us back into the world.

Sometimes we flee. Sometimes that flight is into his mercurial embrace.

Edgar Allan Poe once wrote that 'all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream', and Morpheus is the Dream.

The Sandman Deluxe Collector Figure

The Many Names and Aspects of Dream

I've use the names Dream, Sandman and Morpheus interchangeably throughout this article. They're all the same being.  He has many, many more titles, labels and faces than that.

It's said that we all make God in our own image, and it's no different for the Endless. He is Oneiros, Kai'ckul, Murphy, Lord L'Zoril, Prince of Stories, my Lord Shaper. His name changes with those who look upon or otherwise encounter him.

For cats, he is a gigantic black tom with eyes blazing as stars; to the Dream Hunters of ancient Japan, he appears as the spirit of a fox. In other dimensions and other worlds, he might seem as a glittering dust cloud, or the uncanniest of brightly sentient plants.

Wherever someone or something has conceived of such an omnipresent being - the overseer of dream and reality - then he gained another name and aspect.

As for his true form, they are.  All of them.

The Endless Tributes: Dream

A fan-made homage to Morpheus from 'The Sandman'. This includes many pieces of artwork depicting Dream, official and fan art alike.

Sandman Figurines of Dream

There are some truly exquisite Sandman sculptures. After all, Morpheus would be the one who inspired the artistic visions necessary to create them.

Absolute Sandman Statue

Dream in the Sandman Graphic Novels

The first time we meet Morpheus, he looks a sorry sight. Magically abducted by humans - who were after his sister Death - he can see the joke in that, but doesn't exactly show it.

He's curled up inside a charmed circle, clad in all the accoutrements of his position. Unresponsive, unmoving, just waiting.

Without him, people still dream, a world of imagination goes on. But the Dreaming runs amok. Nightmares are released into reality without any checks nor balance. Nothing to reign them in.

Such strange dreams abound, and instinctively humanity knows that their imagination is in free-fall.

The Sandman Incarnations Deluxe Action Figure

This is the age in which Freud popularized the search for meaning within the subconscious; and Jung hypothesized about the collective unconscious. 

Humanity embarked upon rational journeys into the dream world to find out what was wrong. Sensing the loss of the Dream King without any frame of reference.

And what of encephalitis lethargica, the sleeping sickness, which spread across the world in the 1920s. So many people falling asleep for years on end. No explanation was ever truly found. It never happened again.

Meanwhile, the Sandman remained trapped inside a magic circle, musing upon eternity, contemplating his place within infinity.

The decisions that he made there would have implications for all that saw or seemed. The consequences would ricochet throughout every plane of existence.

The Sandman: Story about the Prince of Stories

I've been a fan of these graphic novels for over twenty years. They never, ever get old.

Image: Sandman art by Dave McKeanWhat happened next? You will have to turn to The Sandman graphic novels to discover that. I could waffle on all day here and still never do it justice.

Neil Gaiman told his epic tale of Dream's capture and resultant destiny across 75 issues of his comic book series. Those chapters were collected together into ten graphic novels.

Another is playing out at the time of writing - a 25th anniversary story called Overture.

Though Dream is undoubtedly the main protagonist of these stories, he's not alone. Rich, vibrant characters weave their own Fates around him. His hand only lightly discerned at times, practically a cameo appearance that changes everything. Or, at least, provides insight into the bigger picture.

These are intelligent tales, drawing upon a wealth of real world mythology and legend, as well as historical events. But true genius lies in the fact that Neil Gaiman can make us view entities, as divine or ethereal as the Endless, as thinking, feeling, emoting creatures just like us.

When Death throws a loaf of bread at Dream's head, basically telling him to stop being so emo about things, siblings everywhere find empathy.  When the Muse of Epic Poetry berates Morpheus for his deficiencies in romantic relationships, there's nothing too different than in a billion worldly love affairs gone wrong.

The Sandman is an infinite being who controls the fabric of reality itself. Yet he seems so very human. It's only natural. We all see the aspect best suited for us to understand the visions on offer. We all make Morpheus in our own image.

Sandman T-Shirts | T-Shirts of Dream

Updated: 02/24/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 02/11/2014

There's cool! You're so going to love it. :D

Ember on 02/11/2014

I'm going with the yes and waiting then XD

JoHarrington on 02/08/2014

No plot spoilers, other than setting up the first panels of the first book. If you want the nature of the Endless to gradually be told, then yes, but that's not any major plot line, just character development.

Ember on 02/08/2014

Okay, I've only read the intro, because I want to ask if these contain any spoilers :O

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