06 April 2011

E is for... the Endless, A to Z Challenge

As many regular readers of this blog know, I'm really into graphic novels.  Of late, most of my GN reads have been of the Superhero variety in general, and the DC world in particular.  But, while my first foray into graphic novels was through Vertigo, a DC imprint, it was not a superhero comic.  It was Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.  After reading the first book my husband put in my hands (The Sandman Vol. 3: Dream Country (New Edition) (Sandman (Graphic Novels))), I had to know more about the main characters of this world, the Endless.

For those who have not read the books before (and if you haven't, I'll provide links to all of them at the bottom.  Get thee hence to reading!), I'll provide a little tutorial on the Endless.

There are seven siblings and they are the personification of 7 major factors in the world.  Like most siblings, they don't always get along.  They don't always make the smartest choices.  And they aren't always themselves.

The oldest is Destiny.  He walks the paths of his garden, blind beneath his hood.  With him, he always carries his Book, chained to his wrist.  It tells what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.  Destiny knows all.  But chooses what to tell very carefully.

Next comes Death.  In the "present" (for the series anyway), Death is a perky Goth Girl.  She's wise and fun and, honestly, if I had to have Death coming for me, I'd want it to be her.  She is often the confidant for Dream (the main character of the series).  When the world ends, she will be the last one to leave.

Dream is the main character of the series.  He is the Lord of Dreams, the owner of the realm that you wander to while you sleep.  But it is rare that you see him there.  He is a very complex man, our Morpheus. Sometimes moody, sometimes angry, he will often be in black and has stars in his eyes. And his journey is a sad one.  But one well worth learning about.

Destruction by ~comocarajomellamo on deviantART

Next is Destruction, the absentee brother.  After a family argument, he left his realm to go... elsewhere.  Wander the world, see what could be created, see what he could find.  He left his realm with no guardian, knowing that it needed none.  It would continue on whether he watched over it or not.  He has the laugh of an amused giant, and the heart of a poet.  

Despair by ~comocarajomellamo on deviantART

Then come the twins, Desire and Despair.  No one knows whether Desire is male or female.  And anyone that meets Desire does not care.  Desire lives in a heart shaped home and is very antagonistic toward Dream. She is, in many ways, as responsible for the things that befall him as is Dream himself.

Despair is the second of that name.  When her first incarnation died, this Despair took the mantle.  It is rare that she leaves her realm of smoke and mirrors, instead using those mirrors to look out upon those who seem to call to her.  While she sometimes sides with her twin, she is the quiet one.  Her voice is rarely more than a whisper.

delirium by ~comocarajomellamo on deviantART

Finally, we come to the youngest of the Endless - Delirium, who was once Delight.  She can rarely keep herself together, sometimes floating out in multi colored butterflies as her mind wanders tangled pathways.  She is the madness of the mind, the unpredictable.  And you rarely will see her the same way twice.  She always has one eye blue and one eye green, but even they don't know which eye is the right and which is the left.  It is still unknown why she changed from Delight to Delirium, only that it was so long ago that even Destiny cannot say.  Her moods can change from one moment to the next, happy like a 3 year old playing in the sun or angry enough to cause chaos around her.  She is my favorite of the Endless.

Why do I love them so?  Part of it is because Gaiman created, for lack of a better word, real people for these 7 personifications.  They have strengths and flaws.  They make mistakes, hurt themselves and hurt others.  Some have agendas, some just take life the way it was meant to be lived, one day at a time.  Some are complete and utter bitches while others, I'd want as my friend.

I don't feel as though I'm reading a story when I read Sandman.  I feel like I'm reading a history that only Neil Gaiman has been allowed to write.  A history written by someone who was there and can tell the story that needs to be told first hand, rather than trying to reconstruct it years later.  And I can bury myself in that history as I turn the pages filled with Neil's words and the art of so many talented artists like Jill Thompson, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberger, and the rest.  It becomes real to me.  I want to browse through the library in the Dreaming to see all the books that have never been written. (How many of my titles lie there in wait for a dreamer to happen upon it?)  I want to run into Death on the street, not because she's there for a final visit but because she's a friendly lady that I'd like to get to know.  I want to find Destruction and see his paintings.  I want to watch Delirium from a distance, because I'm afraid that if I get too close I will get sucked into her realm.

Because of Neil Gaiman penning Sandman, I have a new place to visit.  It isn't a place that I want to live.  It isn't a history that I want to experience first hand.  But reading Gaiman's view from the trenches has helped me through some dark times.

Below are the links to Amazon for the Graphic Novels in the Sandman Series.