Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Peculiar Olympians: Dream

“The Peculiar Olympians” is a series of blog posts about my most favourite fictional characters. They are each here for some combination of sympathy, empathy, inspiration, humour, quality, staying power, and/or significance to my relationship with fandom. These are not all the characters that I like, but they are the ones that have stood out to me the most. The list is also alphabetical and nothing more.

In some cases, I pick a character for this list even when I find their series mediocre. In other cases, the choice is as much about the series as the character. Such is the case with the title character of Neil Gaiman’s. The Sandman. The Sandman is my favourite comic series (including manga, webcomics, and newspaper strips), because it resonates with me deeply as a writer and a storyteller. It is also what reminded me that western comics could be as great as manga.

Referred to as “conceptual entities” and “manifestations of primal truth”, the Endless are seven sibling beings who stand for various aspects of the living condition. Though technically not gods, they are sometimes worshipped as such, and may interact with mortals as well as with various supernatural entities.

Dream is the third oldest and part of the "Elder Three", with his older siblings being Destiny and Death, and his younger Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium, all of whom are known by other names depending on the language or culture they are interacting with. Also called Morpheus, Onieros, Kai'ckul, Lord Shaper, and Prince of Stories, he stands for dreams, nightmares, the imagination, and the act of artistic creation. His realm is The Dreaming, an intricate and dangerous world populated by fanciful beings and presided over by Dream's castle.

Though he can appear as virtually anything, the aspect of Dream seen most often in the series is a tall, gaunt man with chalk-white skin, a wild mane of black hair, and abstract black holes  for eyes (in which colour may flicker), who favours dark clothing of whatever era. This Dream initially appears as proud, stoic, and ruthless, though also devoted and thorough in his duties. He comes to learn more “humanity” slowly, even as he denies this change.

Dream might be less popular than his sister, Death, and not play a major role in every issue, but his is a felt presence, and without him I wouldn’t love the series as much. He is fascinating: what drove this callous but stoic character to orchestrate an elaborate suicide, if that was indeed what happened? Is it true that supernatural beings, unlike men, cannot change, and so must be made into new stories instead?

Naturally I mean the character of the “black” Dream. The “white” Dream, Daniel, is a character that I still like, but he is seen so briefly and more exists to prove a point (perhaps answering the questions I asked above), than to be a character in his own right.

On a final quirky note, since Dream's realm is populated by creatures from myth and legend, it might be fair to infer that Dream rules over fictional characters as well, making him king and father of all the characters on this list. Furthermore, as a symbol of storytellers, of course I feel some natural affinity towards the character. I want to be a writer, and even if I’m not one yet, I’m engaged with writing and literature.

No comments:

Post a Comment