Populated by a cast of wild, wonderfully bizarre characters, The Sandman series tells the tale of The Endless, a group of siblings who exist outside time, embodying the central concepts of humanity – Dream, Death, Despair, Desire, Destruction, Destiny and Delirium. The plot of The Sandman is very long and complex, revolving around the story of Morpheus the Dream King, who returns to his realm after seventy years of imprisonment. Through innumerable twists, turns and digressions, Morpheus tries to keep his family together and safe from change, while his sibling Desire plots against him, ultimately causing him to bring about his own downfall. The series is required reading for anyone who has ever worn too much eyeliner, listened to The Cure or quoted a Greek tragedy. It is also extremely illuminating if one is a feminist.
The women of The Endless are a fascinating bunch. Of the seven siblings, three are men and three are women. The seventh sibling is Desire. S/he is genderless and androgynous, with a classic style and a suave demeanour.
The three women are visually very unlike the female characters comic audiences had grown accustomed to. Despair is nude, fat, grey skinned and has a bizarre habit of tearing at her own flesh with a hook. Delirium is a punkish, dishevelled redhead (bearing a resemblance to Gaiman’s BFF, Tori Amos) with mismatched eyes. Death is a raven-haired goth with a slouchy, casual look. These women are not superheroes or journalists, prostitutes or assassins. They are unique, odd and strangely real, like members of a family we can believe exists.