The first time I encountered Lord Morpheus was at the tender age of 18, when one of my fellow RPG buddies put a copy of one of the Sandman graphic novels in my hands. "Here, read this, you'll like it," Nenad said.
Generally when people tell me I must read a book and that I'll like it, they have absolutely no idea about my particular tastes--but in this case Nenad was spot on. I didn't just like the Sandman's epic saga, I FUCKING LOVED IT. So much so that I don't even have to bat an eyelid when someone asks me about my favourite stories.
When it comes to masterful storytelling, Neil Gaiman, in my mind, rates right up there with JRR Tolkien. He *understands* storytelling the same way Joseph Campbell laid out the monomyth, and George Lucas brought us Star Wars.
Ever wondered why these stories leave us so, well, satisfied?
I believe they tap into the very essence of our unconscious hopes, dreams and desires. And Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels visited with so many of the epic stories already in existence, almost as if he gave an eclectic "the story of everything" all wrapped one. The characters and story arcs are too numerous to mention, and an in-depth look is way beyond the scope of this blog post.
What Gaiman taught me, however, was to allow my imagination free rein, to look into the past and conceive of possible futures. He taught me that reality, in my fiction, is a malleable thing, and I can make up the rules as I go along, and write the kinds of stories that skirt around the edges of mystery then duck down pathways half-remembered from childhood, all wrapped up in the dreams of boundless possibility.
So, Neil, thank you for the Dream King, Lord Morpheus, and for offering me a glimpse into the power of dreams. And your fantastic news about the upcoming prequel, a quarter of a century since the beginning of this saga is as exciting as the day I held a printed copy of my first novel in my hands. Your way of looking at storytelling taught me so much about the power of imagination.