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                          The Annotated Sandman

                Edited by Ralf Hildebrandt and largely written by Greg Morrow

                      Issue 9:  "Tales in the Sand"
           Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III

                     Not a part of any long storyline
               Second story reprinted in _The Doll's House_

General:  When asked about this story, Gaiman has  said that he did some
research on African oral tradition, and then went out and made this story
up from beginning to end.  The Gaiman statement is from an  interview which
appeared in the Comics Buyer's Guide, a trade journal.  To me, the story sounds
absolutely authentic as an example of oral tradition.  Little seems to make it
essentially "African", however, except the clothes, hair, and skin color.  I
see here two of Gaiman's best traits as a writer:  primarily, storytelling
ability (and I mean storytelling as an art, not technical skill); secondarily,
the ability to _sound_ right even when he's making it all up.
	One correspondent has noted a great deal of similarity to Australian
Western Desert Aborigine tradition.  In particular, the manhood ritual and the
sacred sites are quite close.  However, the story, from context, is quite
clearly meant to be African; for example, page 1 refers to apes and lions, page
14 panel 1 to gazelles, and so forth.

Page 1:  The Trickster is a cross-cultural archetype, most familiar to modern
audiences in the form of Bugs Bunny. 
This reference to the "Trickster," knowing Gaiman, may be more
important than one might expect... I mean, who causes so much pain to
Morpheus (as well as, eventually, having no small part in his death)?
Loki, of course: the Trickster.
Now, sure, "Tales in the Sand" was written about four years before
Loki is introduced to the story, but we're talkin' about Neil Gaiman
here. Maybe Gaiman was using parallel structure (albeit a very sparse
form), maybe it is just as foreshadowing, but i do not think it is a
coincidence that the next story arc Nada shows up in is also monsieur
Loki's debut. It is obvious that this idea isn't fully formed, and i
don't have access to my library right now (all in cardboard boxes
-just moved) but i think this should be at least pondered.
(thus writes oshinsky@webspan.net)

Page 2 panel 1:  It is impossible for tale to only be told once as described in
this issue, because attrition would eventually cause it to be lost, as people
died before they could tell it.  However, twin births are common among
Africans, and it is likely that the tale is told to both twins at the same
time, which would help alleviate losses.  I suspect that the tribe is willing
to forego custom and have a storyteller repeat the story if no other
appropriate teller is available.  But none of this really has any relation to
the story.
	Panel 2:  Circumcision as a rite of passage is common in many
societies.

Page 4 panel 6:  Grandmother Death:  This is the same Death we saw in issue 8.

Page 6 panel 1:  We saw Nada in Hell in issue #4.  We will see her again in
later issues.

Page 8 panel 3:  The King of Birds appears to be either an all white ostrich,
or perhaps some sort of moa (moas being a now extinct line of giant flightless
birds of approximately that bodyshape).

Page 10 panel 2-3:  This has the flavor of one of Kipling's Just-So stories.

Page 11 panel 3:  These are Cain and Abel (see #2 of this series); the dispute
is approximately the same as is given in Genesis.
	Panel 5:  Kai'ckul is what Nada called Dream in issue 4.

Page 12 panel 5:  First reference to Dream and his siblings as the Endless, who
are not gods (but who have occasionally been worshipped as gods; Dream is
L'Zoril to the Martians, "a very old god", and Oneiros, the god of dreams, to
the Greeks).

Page 13 panel 1:  The threefold repetition of a word like "coughed" is a common
motif in oral tradition.  It provides rhythm and reinforcement.
	Panel 4:  It is not clear why mortals cannot love the Endless.

Page 14 panel 5:  Desire is one of the Endless; this is the first
characterization of Desire as "always cruel".

Page 15 panel 4:  Virginity is often a requirement of a bride.
	Panel 5:  More Just-So stylings, although most myths would have
specifically named the flowers.

Page 16 panel 2:  Dream does not care about virginity; this sounds to me too
much like a 20th century character speaking.

Page 24 panel 1-2:  So what could be the differences in the women's story?
JBird66680@aol.com says:
I always thought that it had something to do with the fact that
she refused dream three times, but the men thought it was because of
her sense of duty.
Perhaps the women felt that she really refused him and didn't give in, but was raped by Dream, then killed herself. Maybe the women would realize that the reality behind the story would not be so romantic as the tale that the men idealized, because their [the women's] own reality would be less of a fairy tale [with the hardships of marriage and childbirth and caring for the family] than the fantasies that the men embraced. but anyway, i always thought rape would be the major difference between the stories.
Contributors: Joanna -- for the women's story William Sherman and Mike Fessler (mikef@brownvm.brown.edu) commented on the traditional nature of this story. Michael A. Stoodt (stoodt@cis.umassd.edu), and others, confirmed the contents of _The Doll's House_. Chris Siebenmann thinks that Dream came off pretty well in this story, but in the women's story is portrayed as a real bastard. I was under the impression that Dream was a bastard in the men's story....

© by Ralf Hildebrandt
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This file was last modified 27. Jan 2007 by root