365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Friday, January 31, 2014

T-shirts #316 - Sandman - the Logo

T-shirts #316 - Sandman - the Logo

"I would not recommend Sandman to anyone." - Andrew Boehme, "nerd" at Fanfare.

I would not go this far to exclude Sandman from a comic book recommendation list. I am reprinting my comic book recommendation list for non-comic book readers here today, and you will see that Sandman gets an honorable mention.

Sandman has earned many accolades. It has made the New York Times bets seller list. It ranked on Entertainment Weekly's best reads list fro 1983-2008. Norman Mailer has praised it as a "comic for intellectuals" if that means anything.

My criticism stems from the way comic book readers have adopted Sandman as the "go to" comic book to recommend to non-comic book readers. Boy comic geeks were all excited when they discovered that girls would actually read comics like Sandman. Suddenly, Sandman became the entry comic into comic reading. And as I described when I made my list of


it's not the only comic book in the universe and certainly not the best choice to recommend to new readers wanting to try out comic books. My list may be a bit biased, and it is surely limited to comics books I have read, but Sandman is not the best entry into comic reading. Really, the best comic depends on the person. I would probably choose Sandman for some readers. Since Gaiman wrote in story arcs, each collected in a separate volume, with TEN volumes in 75 issues, my two favorite volumes are the ones I am seen holding in the picture on the right: the first story and the "short stories" known as Dream Country. Usually, I recommend Dream Country to new readers because most new readers are not ready for a sustained reading experience. People who want to try comic books out want something easy to digest, usually. One should not recommend the 300 issues of Cerebus to a new reader. Dream Country works great because it contains several short, easy to digest stories, some of the very best work in the series (art by Charles Vess), and a story featuring Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In my discussions with Andrew at Fanfare that provoked his comment about Sandman, we both agreed that too much hype is a turn off. I love comics, and I love Neil Gaiman as a writer, and yet, I am wary to avoid overhyping Gaiman, Sandman, or any comics for fear of turning off a potential new fan. Sandman is good stuff, but let's not get carried away. People treat it like the holy find of the Nag Hammadi texts. Seriously?

What follows are some reprints and quotes (plus my weekly comics list). First, Comic Vine's Sandman description because it's just as good if not better than what I would write on my own. Then the reprints of my LIST OF COMIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NON-COMIC BOOK READERS  and my comments on the character of DEATH from an earlier T-shirt entry, and last a cover gallery. This is two days late, but it's up. Don't hassle me.


The award-winning Sandman follows the return of Dream , the personification of hopes and dreams, to his domain after being trapped and held prisoner for 70 years and his quest to regain the powers he once possessed. It also follows his family, known as the Endless .
The concept of The Sandman emerged fromNeil Gaiman's idea to revive Jack Kirby's 1970's Sandman series after his Black Orchidmini series at DC. Editor Karen Bergersuggested he keep the Sandman name but create the rest of the series entirely from scratch. Using ideas he had of a character that lived in dreams, Gaiman created the character of Morpheus, a literal take on the folklore concept of the Sandman and a personification of dreaming itself. With this, Gaiman revived several dormant DC horror and mystery characters and populated his world of The Dreaming with them. The series soon evolved beyond its DC Universe horror origins and became one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy comic series of all time, regularly outselling its superhero counterparts toward its end and introducing comics to whole new audiences outside of the comics mainstream. The collected editions have been reprinted numerous times and remain best sellers for DC/Vertigo.
The series was originally a DC book, but was one of the original titles moved onto the new Vertigo label with issue #47. Gaiman ended the series at 75 issues, but the run also included The Sandman Special (1991).
The series proved so popular that numerous spin-off titles were written, both by Gaiman and those that emerged after Gaiman's initial series ended. They include:
In 2012, Gaiman announced he would return to pen a prequel series.

Trade Paperbacks/Hardcovers

All ten of the main Sandman trades are available (at least if you are willing to buy used) in hardcover and trade paperback format as well as multiple editions of both formats. The most recent edition features the Absolute Edition Re-Coloring.
Also of note, although it's not part of the main Sandman series, The Sandman: Endless Nights is often advertised as "Sandman Vol. 11".

Absolute Editions

Annotated Editions

*Solicited for a December 25, 2013 release


  • Vol. 1: #1-37 and The Sandman Special #1
  • Vol. 2: #38-75 and stories from Vertigo Jam #1 and Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #3***
***Solicited for a November 2013 release

  1. Optic Nerve - Adrian Tomine (all the collected editions)
  2. Marvels - Busiek/Ross (for those wishing an introduction to super-heroes)
  3. Bone - Jeff Smith
  4. Concrete - Paul Chadwick (all collected editions)
  5. THB - Paul Pope (all collected editions)
  6. Fables - Willingham/Buckingham/others
  7. Tale of One Bad Rat - Bryan Talbot
  8. Ed the Happy Clown and all the other books by Chester Brown
  9. Blankets - Craig Thompson
  10. Maus - Art Spiegelman
  11. Jar of Fools and Berlin - Jason Lutes
  12. Planetary - Warren Ellis/John Cassady
  13. V for Vendetta - Alan Moore/David Lloyd
  14. Cerebus - Dave Sim (first three volumes to start: CerebusHigh SocietyChurch and State)
  15. Y the Last Man - Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra
Honorable mentions: Phonogram (Gillen/McKelvie), Watchmen - Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons, From Hell - Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell, Box Office Poison - Alex Robinson, Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi, Sandman - Neil Gaiman and various, Black Hole - Charles Burns. UPDATE 1311.30: I think Honorable mention should be given, also, to Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomicwhich I would rank ahead of almost all the comics in the honorable mention list except The Watchmen and Black Hole.

Added 1401.11: Madman Comics and all various work by MIKE ALLRED, especially Red Rocket 7.

The list above has many obvious omissions, many of which I did not add to the honorable mention list either. It's my list. It's hardly THE DEFINITIVE list. And the recommendations would have to be tailored to each individual and what the individual wants from sampling the comic book world. If the person is interested in superheroes, I would start her with Marvels. But if the person specifically is interested in Batman, I might suggest Batman: Year One to start followed by Batman Earth One and then The Dark Knight Returns and Hush. If the person is a fan of horror, I might recommend The Walking Dead, which did not even make my list this time around. Fantasy lovers would hear me suggest Bone and Fables. Those with more science fiction interests should start with Planetary and Y The Last Man. Alt-kids and those with fine art and/or a European bent should sample THB, Optic Nerve, and the work of Chester Brown first. Some of these comics just would not work for some readers. I know my wife would love Bone andFables much more than Optic Nerve or Blankets.

I would welcome suggestions for comic books that should be on this list and are not.

Did I mention that the character on the t-shirt is called "Death"? Of course, I did.

See DEATH(DC Comics) at Wikipedia.

In this incarnation, Death is the creation of Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg, though the entire visualization of Death came from Dringenberg, and no, despite popular urban legends, she is no way based on Gaiman's friend Tori Amos.

Death is one of the "Endless," the family of anthropomorphic beings who are the main cast of Gaiman's Sandman comic book, one of whom is the eponymous title character. The Endless, whose names all start with the letter D, are the most powerful beings in the universe, more powerful than gods. The Endless family consists of Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, and Delirium.

Though in Gaiman and Dringenberg's incarnation, Death originally appeared in The Sandman #8, the character achieved her most vivid and potentially best loved characterization with the art of Chris Bachalo in two limited series--Death: The High Cost of Living (1993) and Death: The Time of Your Life(1996)--one of which was published immediately after The Sandman ended its publication run. The Sandman had become wildly popular and had a huge cult following, fans rabid for more stories of the Endless gobbled up the book in droves. Death as has also appeared in other related books in the VERTIGO line from DC Comics, including Lucifer and The Books of Magic.

Here's a sampling of some fan ravings about one of the DEATH books: Pai Picks Blog.

The whole rabid fan reaction to The Sandman invokes my contrary and oppositional personality. When faced with too much pushing, too much popularity, something being "jammed down my throat" as Andrew at Fanfare said, I react by going the other way.

Let me start by saying that I like Neil Gaiman's work very much. I have actually corresponded with Neil, and I think he's a super guy and a very talented writer. So, let's just put that out there, shall we?

Yes, I can be critical of him as I was after finishing his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I reviewed in T-shirt #138.

I also addressed my feelings about The Sandman, somewhat, in T-shirt #160, which contains my list of comic book recommendations for non-comic book people.

It's not that I think The Sandman is a bad comic book. Not at all. It's a very good comic book, and one I enjoyed immensely.

BUT PLEASE, comic book fans need to stop making it the single go-to comic book recommended to non-comic book fans (often women). Even when it was first published in the 1990s, it was not the ONLY comic book that people (often women) who do not usually read comic books would read and like.

And today, with the large selection of both super-hero books and non-super-hero books to choose from, there is no reason to make The Sandman the single most recommended comic book. With our current wealth of comic books to choose from, as I hope I made clear in T-shirt #160, the recommendation should be tailored to the individual. Not everyone is going to LOVEThe Sandman. Some readers may prefer Fables and others may prefer The Walking Dead.

With all of that said, I must say that I count Chris Bachalo among my current favorite artists and I may love the Death: The High Cost of Living (1993) and Death: The Time of Your Life (1996) books more than the regular Sandman comics.

There's always a weekly comics list, and it always happens on Friday. Though now that Ultimate is over, I could pick up comics on Wednesdays, though I probably won't.

It is sort of fitting that I featured Death today (and not just because of Halloween) and discussed The Sandman because a new Sandman comic book was released this week, a prelude to the seminal comic book series. I have two other Sandman shirts, so I will delegate future comments to those blog posts.


It is sad to see Superman fall so low in the weekly lists. Miracleman is reprints, which I am interested in re-experiencing, but not high on my list.

I had to buy the World's Finest annual because of the cover (seen right).

Aquaman continues to top my list both because I love Aquaman and because the comic is damn good. The Bendis/Bagley Cataclysm issues rank highly, even if I have not read the Ultimates or X-Men issues (and I have not). With Remender writing and McNiven on art, Uncanny Avengers is going to rank highly when it comes out.

Most interesting in this week's list is the books that I usually rank lower simply to be able to take my time with reading, like Fables, Saga, and Uber all rank very high and higher than some standard superhero books that I usually read before those issues.

I have an insanely huge and ever growing pile of comic books I want to review, but I am supposed to be in hiatus and building content for future posts, which is not wholly successful yet. I still have one outstanding post (T-shirt #304), which is still unfinished. SIGH.

COMICS FOR 1401.31

Aquaman #27
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #004
Inhumanity #002
Uncanny Avengers #016
Guardians of the Galaxy #011.NOW (The Trial of Jean Grey #1)
The Superior Spider-Man #026
Clone #14
Fables #137
Saga #18
Uber #9
Thor: God of Thunder #018
Flash #27
Thunderbolts #021
Teen Titans #27
Earth 2 - Annual #2
World's Finest - Power Girl and Huntress Annual - (First Contact Prelude) #1
Catwoman #27


Superman #27
Miracleman #2

HIATUS TEXT: I am taking a short hiatus. A "hiatus" for the 365 T-shirts Blog does not mean that there will not be shirts or that I will skip posting on any forthcoming day. There will be shirts. But the shirts will not be exciting or the featured shirts will not require me to write a small novel to properly generate the content I feel is sufficient. I created a category for my hiatus so as to group together those "easy" shirts that I consider to be "hiatus shirts." The goal of the hiatus is to fill in many blog days with easy shirts in order to complete longer love letters to beloved popular culture icons on more special shirts and to write more complex entries AHEAD OF TIME. The daily grind is becoming too much and causing me to fall behind and to be forced to post incomplete entries. I am hoping that a series of hiatus shirts will allow me to catch up, get ahead, and stay ahead. Ideally, I would like to be writing the bulk of each entry three days ahead while always working on at least one other. I have a lot of great shirts to share before the end of my blog year (after all I was just given SIXTEEN shirts for my birthday). Stay tuned. I promise to post the more interesting and longer T-shirt entries as I finish them. Thanks for reading. BTW, this is the standard HIATUS TEXT that I will include in every "hiatus shirt" entry.

Important note: The URL for just this page is goofed. I accidentally typed "216." Once the URLs are set, they can't be changed (at least not that I could figure out).


Dave McKean did all the covers for the run of Sandman. These are among my favorites, though it was a tough call at times, and I did not want to post too many.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 49 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1401.31 - 20:34
final publication - 1402.02 - 9:47