I never got into comic books. But even so, it was impossible to miss The Sandman comics because all my depressed and cynical friends were into them in the 90s. Still, I didn’t pay much attention. I always had a hard time figuring out which panel to read next, and anyway, there wasn’t much actual writing in the thin pages of the comic books.
So I knew who Neil Gaiman was–just some comic book guy–long before I bothered to read his novel Good Omens. But once I did read Gaiman’s prose, I was hooked. Neverwhere is absolutely brilliant. American Gods? Fucking amazing!
I still carry my teenaged comic-book prejudice to this day, so I never read The Sandman. But, having just endured episodes four through six of the new Netflix rendering of the classic comic, two truths come to mind.
The first is, it’s entirely possible to make a great film or television show from a great book. The FX version of American Gods is a perfect example of this truth. That small screen version of the epic book is just as compelling as the original text.
The second truth–and before I say what I’m gonna say, let me be clear that I don’t have anything, per say, against gay sex . . . as long as it doesn’t involve me–springs from the first. Which is, since it’s clearly possible to produce a faithful and compelling TV version of a great book, you have to assume that when the TV people deviate from the original text, they do it for a reason.
So then the question becomes, why all the homos and trans people in The Sandman on Netflix? Obviously, someone wanted them there. But why is that? Did Neil Gaiman feel like his original comics were deficient in that department?
There no such thing as good woke art. Almost good, yes. The Sandman is certainly that. Like American Gods, it’s visually stunning. But it seems like some Netflix executives decided to sprinkle in some extra helpings trendy ideology . . . for what reason, I can’t imagine. Money, I guess. Social pressure, maybe. Hell, they might even believe it makes the story better.
But it does not. The truth is that these injections of woke nonsense into otherwise reputable pieces of art are transparent to . . . well, if not to all of us, then at least to many of us.
I like my art to come straight from the fingertips of the creator, without influence from focus groups and whatever the latest trends in mass consumption are.
But before I condemn Neil Gaiman and the people who paid him for his original story that so many of my cynical teenage friends loved (some of whom were gay), maybe I should go back and read The Sandman. Will I find panels of gay porn mixed into the pages?
Come on. We both know better than that.