The Sandman Volume 1
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by: Sam Kieth
“It is never a dream.”
DC Comics has rereleased Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book series for their 30th anniversary.
As an educator, I believe there are two crucial reasons to take note of DC’s decision to pay tribute to this legendary and ground breaking comic book series. First, longtime fans have been craving another chance to reread the unforgettable lyrical fantasy told through the comic book medium. Second, and with a historical and literary eye, the debut of The Sandman comic book series proved to play a crucial part in the growing historical movement to redefine what counts as literature in both the 20th and 21st century classrooms. Sandman was one of the first comic books to not only count and level-up as literature, but also prove worthy of literary canonical attention.
The first volume of the rereleased Sandman series offers readers, both old and new, an opportunity to explore the first creative depths the original Sandman team embraced in order to tell the now legendary series. Known for its dark, enchanting, mystical and myth-like stories and characters The Sandman: Volume One contains the first eight comic book stories the team brought to literary life.
A first of its kind and an award-winning series that deserves its spot on the 20th century’s literary canon is back again. So revisit or introduce yourself to The Sandman series to see why it is a crucial literary work for both the 20th century and beyon.!
Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: For its 30th Anniversary, DC collected and released Neil Gaiman’s legendary The Sandman comics in multiple volumes. Volume I focuses on the origins of The Sandman stories and points to why the series was not only well received, but also continued to be an epic fan favorite that certainly belongs in the literary canon for the 20th century.
Major Characters: Dr. John Hathaway, Roderick Burgess / The Lord Magus, Compton, Edmund Hathaway, Ellie Marsten, Daniel Bustamonte, Stefan Wasserman, Unity Kinkaid, Alex Burgess, Aleister, Ruthven Sykes, Ethel Cripps, Wesley Dodds, Paul McGuire, Ernie, Mort Notkins, Lord of this Realm of Dream & Nightmare / King of Dreams, Death, Nurse Edmunds, Gregory, Prince of Stories, Cain, Abel, House of Mystery, Prince Morpheus, John Dee, Mrs. Dee, Dr. Huntoon, the Hecateae (Cynthia, Mildred, and Morgaine), Lucien, John Constantine, the Justice League, Irving, Mad Hettie, Sandman, Chas, Rachel, the Morning Star, Lord Squatterbloat, Lucifer Morningstar, Etrigan, Lightbringer, Lord of Lies Beelzebub, Azazel, Choronzon, Duke of Hell; Hellfire Club, Agony, Ecstasy, Destiny, Auralie, Doctor Destiny, Rosemary, Lord L’Zoril, Bette Munroe, the Fletchers, Marsh, Marsha, Rose, Judy, Donna, Dino, Mary Gentian, the Amazing Herschel & Betty, Necrophiliac, the Oracles, Little Bernie, Bobby-Joe McCann, Harold Smith, Maude Carillon, Nan Flower, Barbara Wong, Joey Campbell, Caesar, Soothsayer, Eve, Professor Crane / Scarecrow, Harvey Dent, Franklin, Harry, Death, Esme’
Major Settings: July 6,1916 (Wych Cross, England), (Toronto, Canada), (Kingston, Jamaica), Verdun, France), (London, England); June1920 Royal Museum; August 1926; November 1930; December 1930 (San Francisco, CA); 1936; July 1939; 1955; House of Mystery; Arkham, Mayhew Asylum for the Criminally Insane; Dreamworld; the Brambles; Gates of Hell; the Wood of Suicides; Dis / Hellcity; Hell; Dining Hall; Murder Machine; J.L.I. Embassy, Manhattan; Mayhew Storage; All Nite Diner, Dino’s Kid-Vid Playhouse, Geriatric Ward, New York, Radio Room; Comedy Club, Old Man’s Apartment; a Park
Themes: Struggles for Power & Glory, Death, Revenge, Awakenings, Family, Dreams, Magic, Necrophilia, Armageddon, Sound and Fury, Justice
Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards
Craft & Structure: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.6
Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
*The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.com)
Directions for Lesson Plan
Before Reading: Talk to students about the importance of point of view, especially in The Sandman. Present students with a summary and some pictures of the Lord of Dreams and John Dee. Ask students to select between the Lord of Dreams and John Dee for their point of view character study.
During Reading: While they read, have students take extensive notes on what their chosen character says and does in both words and in images. Prepare students to really examine their character’s point of view and ask them to find at least five example quotations (with accompanying page numbers), five visual situations (with accompanying page numbers), and three actions that best represent their character’s point of view.
After Reading: Have students break into 4 groups. Two groups will focus on the Lord of Dreams and his point of view and evidence throughout the story. The other two groups will focus on John Dee and his point of view and evidence throughout the story.
In groups, students will present their character’s point of view on large construction paper that allows space for: five quotations, five visual situations, and three actions (supported also by their accompanying page numbers).
Finally, students will share their group poster boards regarding their character’s point of view and the evidence that supports it. After presenting, students should ask if their peers and teachers have something to add or to ask.
Dr. Katie Monnin is the author of eight books about teaching pop culture, comic books, and graphic novels in 21st century classrooms. Since 2010 she has written two monthly reviews and two corresponding lesson plans for her Diamond Bookshelf column: "Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools & Libraries." In 2018, Dr. Monnin founded "Why so serious? Productions," a consulting business that creates pedagogical materials for 21st century teachers, librarians, and publishers who want to teach pop culture. She served on the San Diego Comic Con jury in 2013, and she frequently travels the nation and the world to discuss teaching with pop culture in 21st century classrooms.