The Dreaming (comics)

For the manga by Queenie Chan, see The Dreaming (Tokyopop comic).
The Dreaming

The Dreaming #1 (June 1996). Art by Dave McKean.
Publication information
Publisher Vertigo
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Publication date June 1996 - May 2001
Number of issues 60
Main character(s) Cain and Abel
The Corinthian
Matthew the raven
Creative team
Writer(s) Terry LaBan
Alisa Kwitney
Bryan Talbot
Caitlin R. Kiernan
Artist(s) Various Artists
Penciller(s) Various Artists
Inker(s) Various Inkers
Letterer(s) Todd Klein
Colorist(s) Various Colorists
Creator(s) Neil Gaiman (writer)
Sam Kieth (artist)
Collected editions
Beyond the Shores of Night ISBN 1-85286-904-6
Through the Gates of Horn and Ivory ISBN 1-56389-493-9

The Dreaming is a fictional place, a comic book location published by DC Comics. The Dreaming first appeared in the Sandman vol. 2 #1, (January 1989), and was created by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth.[1] The Dreaming is the domain of Dream of the Endless.

Publication history

The Dreaming was a monthly comic series that ran for 60 issues (June 1996 to May 2001). It is set in the same dimension of the DC universe as The Sandman and the stories occurred primarily within Dream's realm, The Dreaming, concentrating on characters who had played minor roles in The Sandman, including The Corinthian, Matthew the raven, Cain and Abel, Lucien the dream librarian, the faerie Nuala, Eve, and Mervyn Pumpkinhead (janitor of The Dreaming). It also introduced a number of new characters, most notably Echo and a new (white) dream raven, Tethys. There were brief (but often important) appearances by The Endless during the series, including cameos by Dream (both Morpheus and Daniel), Death, Destiny, and Desire.

The series was initially conceived as an anthology series edited by Vertigo editor Alisa Kwitney,[2] and as such it was written, drawn and inked by a variety of artists. The covers were all painted by former Sandman cover-artist Dave McKean, and Sandman's writer Neil Gaiman acted as creative consultant on the series - having a notional right of refusal on scripts and plotlines (which he never exercised) and suggesting developments or characters for exploration.[2]

Kwitney contacted several writers inviting them to submit stories for the new anthology, amongst them Peter Hogan on the basis of his work for British comic 2000 AD. He suggested the story that eventually became "The Lost Boy" (Issues #4-#7).[3]

Following the completion of Al Davison's "The Dark Rose" story (issues #20 - #21),[4] The Dreaming underwent a change of direction: it changed from an anthology series to an ongoing series concentrating on a small group of core characters. Kwitney decided that the series needed to develop its own internal continuity, with irregular The Sandman Presents mini-series being introduced to present stories told outside of that continuity.[3] Gaiman explained the need for the change by saying:

The main thing is making it [The Dreaming] a story that is going somewhere, that feels like it's going somewhere and it will be one huge story that is going somewhere rather than these sorts of little stories that basically go 'Person A, who you've never met before nor do you care about, has a problem. They are going to go into The Dreaming and come out and their problem will be ... resolved from their experiences ...,' which was becoming the default plot. You didn't really feel that anything was necessarily going anywhere even though a lot of these stories were competently written. They also didn't display an awful lot of feeling for the characters. Many of them were very, very forgettable.[4]

Initially, the writing duties on the revamped series were to be shared between Caitlin R. Kiernan and Peter Hogan,[2] who had recently impressed with their stories "Souvenirs" (Issues #17 - #19) and "Ice" (Issue #16) respectively.[4] However, Hogan's increasing commitments with other work[2] and the perceived pre-existing fanbase that Kiernan had brought with her to the title meant that she was offered the position as sole writer from the "Many Mansions" story (issues #27-#34),[2] despite Kiernan herself admitting that there didn't seem to be much crossover between the two readerships.[5] Peter Hogan would be made a semi-regular writer for the series The Sandman Presents by way of compensation.[6]

The series suffered from its ties to the original Sandman series throughout its run, with Kiernan saying "from the start, The Dreaming has been saddled with living up to what Neil Gaiman did with The Sandman. It doesn't take long to get puking sick of hearing 'It's just not the same,' or 'It's not as good as The Sandman,' or 'Why is it so much darker than The Sandman,' or even 'It's almost as good as The Sandman.' I know the comparisons are inevitable, and even logical, but it's been an uphill battle trying to get readers to look at The Dreaming as a series separate from The Sandman, with its own tone and atmosphere and concerns."[5] Kiernan received strong criticism for the direction she took the series in, with commentators placing the blame solely on her despite the involvement of many others - including original Sandman writer Gaiman - in the creative process.[7]

However, Kiernan found the experience genuinely satisfying - despite the stress and comics not being her first love - and the series continued for 60 issues before being cancelled[5] to focus on the more successful The Sandman Presents and Lucifer series.[4] Kiernan contributed a story to this new post-Dreaming era, the three issue The Sandman Presents: Bast featuring the cat goddess introduced in the Season of Mists storyline.[8]

The Domain

The Dreaming is the world where people go to dream, and is a vague, shifting realm of symbol, belief, and imagination. It is named after another name for the Dreamtime, a central concept in Australian Aboriginal mythology.[9]


The Dreaming is vast, and its landscape varies greatly from place to place. Some of the important locations of The Dreaming include:


The following is a list of the stories published over the series' 60 issues.[4]

Goldie (Abel's pet golden gargoyle) runs away, as a result of Cain's constant abuse of his brother, and almost falls prey to Mephisto in Eden. Goldie remains in Eden and does not return to The Dreaming until issue #26. Scripted by Terry LaBan.
Features an aged Johanna Constantine as well as Mad Hettie, working with Destiny and Cain. A story of a man losing his life and then finding a better one. Scripted by Peter Hogan.
Features the long lost brother of Cain and Abel, Seth, who wishes to uncover the truth behind the mystery of Cain's first murder of Abel. Scripted by Alisa Kwitney.
Scripted by Bryan Talbot.
Scripted by Terry LaBan.
Scripted by Jeff Nicholson.
Scripted by Peter Hogan.
A Corinthian storyline, introducing Echo. Scripted by Caitlin R. Kiernan.
A tale of the Corinthian set in the Victorian era. Scripted by Al Davison.
A sequel to "Souvenirs". Scripted by Caitlin R. Kiernan.
The story of Aristeas of Marmora's return to life after being Dream's raven. Scripted by Peter Hogan.
Focuses on Abel accusing Cain of murdering him again and again before Judge Gallows. Scripted by Len Wein.
Scripted by Caitlin R. Kiernan.[11]
The House of Mystery burns down. Scripted by Peter Hogan and Caitlin R. Kiernan.
A story of W. B. Yeats and Christina Weston, a woman from Lucien's past.
Features an introduction by Neil Gaiman.
Features an appearance by Daniel, the new Dream.
The House of Mystery is rebuilt by Merv Pumpkinhead, while Eve and Abel attempt to convince Cain to return to The Dreaming.
Goldie and Danny Nod are featured, interrupting historical and literal moments.
Featuring Edgar Allan Poe's cat.

Collected editions

Two English-language trade paperbacks have been published:


  1. Archived January 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Kallies, Christy (February 1999), Traveling Through Dreams: Caitlin R. Kiernan (2), Sequential Tart
  3. 1 2 Kallies, Christy (January 1999), Peter Hogan (1), Sequential Tart
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Darius, Juliani, The Continuity Pages: The Sandman - The Dreaming Era (1996-2001), retrieved 28 November 2008
  5. 1 2 3 Guran, Paula (April 2000), Caitlin R. Kiernan: Refusing to Surrender Passion and Sincerity, Universal Studios Horror Online
  6. Handley, Rich (October 2007), The Sandman Presents: Marquee Moon by Peter Hogan - Putting It All in Perspective: An Interview With the Author (Oct. 2007), retrieved 28 November 2008
  7. Kiernan., Caitlín R. (August 14, 2003), Low Red Moon journal
  8. Darius, Juliani, The Continuity Pages: The Sandman - The Lucifer Era (2001-Present), retrieved 28 November 2008
  9. Irvine, Alex (2008), "The Dreaming", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 64–65, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015
  10. Gross, Peter (August 1998), The Books of Magic: A Thousand Worlds of Tim (51), DC Comics
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Dreaming (vertigo comic book), comicvine, retrieved 4 December 2008
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