Stylistic Meanings and Importances of Sandman

25 Feb

By:  Andrew Schuster

The illustrations used in The Sandman: Fables & Reflections are very important in portraying the desired atmosphere and tone of the individual stories told.  Gaiman’s choice to use different art styles between each tale reflects on the significance placed in capturing the actions of the characters within the story.  Environments can also be drastically changed depending on whether the textures are smooth and colorful or messy and grey.   

The first story in Sandman, Fear of Falling, does a great job of capturing the emotions the character Todd is feeling in his situation.  The broken line patterns coupled with the grotesque attention to detail give a sense of hyper-alertness to ones surroundings, a characteristic of feeling afraid.  In recalling his traumatic dream as a child, panels that are red and confusing to the eye are used to disorient and mimic the fear a confused child would have in such a situation.  After Dream helps Todd overcome his fear, the final panels actually reflect this change in mood by being clearer and less erratic.  The design becomes a lot more calm and confident as a way to mirror Todd’s newfound courage.  This change, however, can also be used for more negative purposes, such as in August.

August alternates between two major art styles within its story; the first represents the present while the second represents dreams and memories.  The first design is in color and emphasizes imperfections and blemishes along the human body, which is most evident when Caius and Lycius are preparing themselves to be beggars.   The second design is in black and white and presents the characters being focused on as being flawless in their physical display.  The contrast between the two designs emphasizes the difference between reality and memory, showing how over time certain superfluous details are lost leaving only the important people and their general features.  The real importance of the dream and memory design is not the way people look, but the actions they’re doing.  The art design can also leave an impression of the personality of the person it reflects.

In A Parliament of Rooks, each character that tells a story has visuals that reflect their personality.  Cain’s story was the darkest of all three, with the color palate being mostly represented by black and brown.  The grim demeanor of the story gives insight into the nasty nature of Cain, who treats the other characters very disdainfully.  Eve’s story was a lot more colorful, but the context was actually similar in darkness to Cain.  Her gentle nature is a product of the fact that Adam was unsatisfied with women of his equal, so Eve was made to fulfill his wishes.  The final story by Abel was drawn completely differently than the other two and in almost a cartoonish manner, making all the characters look and seem like children.  Abel likens his own murder by his brother’s hands as nothing more than a mere fight, showing that Abel is either incapable of understanding the graveness of the event or his gentle nature took over while telling a story to a young child.

The utilization of differing art styles aides in the understanding of the characters is a crucial aspect of Sandman.  Instead of simply writing out the thoughts of each individual character, an artistic representation both allows for a concise emotional experience in addition to leaving room for interpretation.  Ranging from physically perfect beings to grotesque monsters, the wide spectra allow for a more immersive and complete feeling regarding the progression of the novel.

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