Why I Love Comics: Part Two

by lauren atkinson


Of course I must write about The Sandman. . . 

There is a cathartic feeling you get from watching someone else experience what you've been through and might not have dealt with the emotions of that situation just yet. And that exists not only in support groups or counseling. You don't have to go to emotional rehab to find people that are thinking and feeling the way that you are. Sometimes when you need to battle emotions, it takes opening a book and thinking that you are outside of yourself. Once you are in someone else's story and mind, you might start seeing things from the outside.

My counseling came from the pages of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. If you've read it and talked to other people about it, you might have learned that everyone takes away something different from this series. There are parts that stand out to one person and not to another, and then if you read through it another time different arcs of the story mean something else. That is probably my favorite part about this series, but also about comics in general. Comics can be personal with raw, overwhelming emotions.

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The series does this amazing thing. It opens up an entire new world yet there is something unbelievably universal about the story: a man is struggling with reclaiming his identity and seeking to square wrongs that might have happened while he was lost. Without giving too much away, the story rides on a theme of change: how to deal with changes that have occurred within oneself as well as adjusting and flowing with the changes that go on in life and your environment. 

"Omnia mutantur nihil interit" 

When I read this quote from The Sandman, it instantly felt familiar. The quote is originally from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Here's where another part of my world was colliding with comics and nurturing my love: Neil Gaiman knows his shit. One of my favorite things about comics is that it draws influence from the past and from literature. These aren't just silly stories about superheroes and god-like beings. These are stories about humanity.

But that quote wasn't familiar only due to it's source, it was familiar because of the meaning. "Omnia mutantur nihil interit" meaning "All things change nothing perishes." Life is constantly changing. Everything around us is changing. No one thing is stagnant. The relief of this thought is that any bad in our life is probably temporary. We may be mourning over the bad, but it is changing. Things pass and die from the form we recognize them, but they still exist in other ways: in memories.

 As a young adult, this made me extremely emotional. Whatever I was going through then has shaped me into who I am now but I am no longer battling those emotions. Sometimes what is needed to heal is to recognize the world changing around you and realize that you initiate change as well. All things are a catalyst of change in one form or another.

That sounds incredibly complicated, but it's not. 

The Sandman brought about powerful emotions inside of me and I knew that it had for others as well. After completing the series I took to reading message boards, articles on the series and sought out others that had read it to discuss. Every person that I encountered seemed to have their own personal attachment to The Sandman. I had never experienced this before. At first, I felt odd saying that a comic book helped me through some pretty dark times, emotionally, but looking back it's not weird at all. Comics can nurture and mend emotions. They can support change.