Greetings, friends! Welcome to this week’s celebration of literacy and libations! It is I, C, the nerd in Nerd Cactus. Wait. That makes A the cactus. Never mind, let’s leave that one be. We’ll forget I ever went there, shall we?
No one has forgotten my love for Neil Gaiman, right? I’ve mentioned it often enough that I’m sure the image of whatever it is you think I look like develops hearts for eyes when I bring him up. Well, I’m bringing him up again. And this week, I’m going comics.
But, C! Surely comics don’t count toward Boozy Books, right? What? Are we going to be drinking Independence cocktails to Captain America? Spilling coffee all over ourselves with Hawkeye? (Aw, coffee…no.) I came here for books, dammit! We can’t go from Papa Hemingway to obsessive nerds arguing that Black Canary needs her fishnets for added agility!
Have no fear, mes amis! As much as I would love to drink anything with Captain America (his inability to get drunk notwithstanding), I am well aware that not everyone comes down on the side of superhero comics. I don’t understand it–comics are capable of greatness just as readily as they are suckitude, which makes them no different from novels–but I am aware of it.
No! This is Gaiman doing comics, and that makes all the difference! Seriously, it does. Why? Because he says so and I am a firm believer in the Gospel of Neil. But also because it tends to break a lot of the rules of comic books. So…let’s talk Sandman.
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is not the character from the 30s, though that version does show up in a couple of issues. No, the Sandman in question is Dream, also called Morpheus, one of the Seven Endless. These are the anthropomorphic personifications of the concepts of Death, Dream, Despair, Desire, Delirium (who was once Delight), Destiny, and Destruction. The series begins with Dream being captured and held prisoner for seventy years, and it follows his escape and subsequent attempt to repair his kingdom and undo past sins. This proves, to no one’s surprise, difficult for a creature who’s been around for billions of years, and Dream finds himself confronted with the inevitability of change. Along the way, he meets gods, faeries, historical figures, and other comic book characters (DC), contributing to spin-offs galore (including the beloved Lucifer series). As Dream changes, so too does the series, evolving from horror to fantasy until it’s basically just…sublime.
This comic changed things. It is revered among comic book lovers because of how seriously it took its storytelling and how intellectual its subject matter and approach to character were. It was dark fantasy in a way that most fantasy wasn’t at the time and told a story that was meant to end. It wasn’t an arc; it was a novel with pictures, divided into multiple volumes. Heck, one of its issues–A Midsummer Night’s Dream–won the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction! (It should be noted that the award in question later changed the rules so no comic issue could win again. Stuffy literary types don’t like comics.) Sandman brought new readers to the world of comic books, especially women (which, let me just tell you, is a big deal) and people who’d never read another comic. It was voted the #1 Best Vertigo comic of all time and has won more awards than Jesus, including the Eisner Award and the Bram Stoker Award. It was nominated for a damn Hugo. This comic is LEGENDARY. It should be required reading for students. It should be required reading for EVERYONE.
Damn, but I love this series.
But what to drink? What could possibly be worthy? Well, I’m going to start with a drink created by none other than Papa Hemingway himself. (I figured it was a nice continuation from last week. Woo!) It’s called Death in the Afternoon and it’s a mixture of Absinthe (guaranteed to make you dreamy) and Champagne. Hemingway’s instructions are as follows: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” I feel like it’s exactly the sort of thing Death might enjoy, especially if she could enjoy them with Hemingway himself.
If that’s not to your taste, there’s Delirium Tremens. No, not the affliction commonly experienced by those who drink too much; it’s the Belgian beer named AFTER the affliction commonly etc etc. It’s a damn good beer, too, and often finds itself rated one of the best beers in the world. Get lost in Delirium. Also, as I have just been made aware, there is a brandy called Morpheus, so if you want to sip your snifter, seize your knees, and sneeze…go right ahead. (Moses supposes his toeses are roses…) Whatever floats your boat. For my money, I’d say some Death in the Afternoon is the best bet.
Well, that’s it for us today! We’ll be back tomorrow for Shakespeare Saturday!
Buy the Book:
http://www.amazon.com/Sandman-Vol-Preludes-Nocturnes-New/dp/1401225756/ (This is the first volume.)
Buy the Booze:
Delirium Tremens- http://www.totalwine.com/beer/ale/belgian-style-ale/belgian-strong-pale-ale/delirium-tremens/p/94096817?s=906&igrules=true (This is the only new link. We’ve done Champagne and Absinthe before.)