The Sandman Papers - Ed. Joe Sanders

Since its first publication in 1989, The Sandman has been a subject of endless praise and popularity amongst both comic book fans and strangers to the medium. Many has credited Neil Gaiman's masterpiece for drawing fresh crowds into comic book readership with its elaborate plots and complex characters. When the sheer amount of historical and mythological themes that are intertwined within the long arc of the work is considered, it is no surprise that The Sandman is a very popular comic book for academics as well.
The Sandman Papers (2006), edited by Joe Sanders is an attempt to collect a series of essays written about Gaiman's famous work. Even before coming to the quality of the individual essays and the depth of the book, I think it should be acknowledged that publication of an essay collection that is solely devoted to a single comic book title sends out a very optimistic message for the study of the comic books in general and proves how much comics have come their long struggle to be recognized.
The Sandman Papers is organized into two broad categories according to the scope of the issues that are dealt within the articles presented. The first category, "Episodes & Themes", contain articles that take up a specific aspect of Gaiman's work and analyze it from a certain perspective.
Titles of the papers included in this section are as follows;
-"The Origin of The Sandman" by B. Keith Murphy
-"Of Stories and Storytellers in Gaiman and Vess's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'" by Joe Sanders
-"A Game of You-Yes, You" by David Bratman
-"The King is Dead, Long Liv the King: Orientalism, The Sandman, and Humanity" by Renata Sancken
-"Illusory Adversaries?: Images of Female Power in Sandman:The Kindly Ones" by K.A. Laity
-"Prospero Framed in Neil Gaiman's The Wake" by Joan Gordon

It should be noted that a common theme among the essays presented here is the focus on the multi-layered structure Gaiman has composed within the narrative of the Sandman. For all the readers of the comic book who are interested in possible ways of exploring some of the themes Gaiman presents, these essays offer a very interesting starting point and illustration of what can be done.
For those who want to go further, the second section of the book, "Larger Contexts", offers studies of the Sandman narrative within broader literary and theorethical frameworks. The essays presented here are;
-"Aether/Ore: The Dreamworld Descends to Earth" by Alan Levitan
-"Of Parents and Children and Dreams in Mr.Punch and The Sandman" by Joe Sanders
-"Imaginary Places and Fantastic Narratives: Reading Borges Through The Sandman" by Leonara Soledad Sousa e Paula
-"Reinventing the Spiel: Old Stories, New Approaches" by Stacie Hanes and Joe Sanders
-"Omnia Mutantur: The Use of Asian Dress in the Appereance of Dream from The Sandman" by Lyra McMullen
-"Lesbian Language, Queer Imaginings, and in Death: The Time of Your Life" by Joe Sutliff Sanders
As mentioned earlier, these articles provide interesting examples to the possibilities of studying Gaiman's work with relation to larger contexts.

Although some of the texts lack a certain degree of cohesiveness and integrity, what they all succeed in achieving is to prove the overall depth and suitability for academic scrutiny of The Sandman in particular and comics books in general.
It goes without saying that any fan of The Sandman, or Gaiman, would be curious to read the findings of these articles on their beloved works but The Sandman Papers also appeals highly to all who are interested in the academic study of comic books for The Sandman is one of the richest sources for any intellectual inquiry and Sanders' book goes a long way of doing it justice.