The other arc mentioned by Heinberg is “Brief Lives,” which is actually the first section of “The Sandman” I ever read, even though it’s volume 7, which collects issues #41 through 49. An acquaintance handed it to me when I was 16 and I instantly fell in love with Jill Thompson’s stunning art, as well as Dream’s younger sister, Delirium. The story follows the two siblings as they search for their brother Destruction, who had abandoned his post long ago. Delirium, who was once Delight, is an excellent foil for Dream — who we all know can be a little too self-serious — as she drags him from place to place. “Brief Lives” remains my favorite volume of the series, and I agree with Heinberg completely about how the meaning of this story deepens and changes over time. It still hits me the hardest, which is saying something, considering one of the comic’s best and most ambitious arcs, “The Kindly Ones,” isn’t far behind.
This story also includes one of the comic’s most gut-wrenching moments, which takes place between Dream and his son, Orpheus. When I closed the book I was crying, even though I didn’t completely understand what had just happened, having not read the preceding volumes. After that, I tracked down every volume I could find, reading them as a I went, and only going through the comics in order once I’d finally collected them all. I’ve reread the series many times since.
With “The Sandman” soon to hit our screens, now would be a great time for you to track down these books and read the entire series. There are plenty of formats for your reading pleasure, all of which are graced by Dave McKean’s spectacular cover art.