Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Golden Bookshelf:

The Golden Age Sandman Archives

DC republishes the green-suited Sandman in a collection that includes early runs from Adventure Comics and New York World’s Fair Comics. Don’t miss out on The Golden Age Sandman Archives.

 

The Sandman was one of the earliest DC continuing characters, debuting concurrently in New York World’s Fair 1939 and Adventure Comics #40, around the same time Batman first appeared in Spring, 1939. The premise was simple and pulpy: playboy Wesley Dodds donned a green suit, orange fedora and purple cape to fight criminals that the police couldn’t or wouldn’t touch. His gimmick was a gun that dispensed sleeping gas. To avoid its effects on himself, he wore a World War I-style gasmask, which also concealed his identity. It didn’t take long for this approach to become stale even by Golden Age standards, and Sandman was revamped as a Batman-style costumed acrobat, complete with kid sidekick (Sandy), drawn by the dynamic duo of Simon and Kirby.

When DC brought back the Sandman as part of the JSA in the 1960s, it was the suit-and-gasmask version. Wesley Dodds received the definitive updated treatment in the 1990s Vertigo series Sandman Mystery Theatre, which used many of the original Golden Age stories as springboards for sophisticated mysteries set in the 1930s and 40s. Now modern fans can read the original rare, mostly never-before reprinted stories for themselves in the deluxe DC Archive edition format.

The Golden Age Sandman Archives reprints the earliest Sandman stories from Adventure Comics 40-59, plus the 1939 New York World’s Fair Comics story (also in DC Rarities Archives). While the stories are usually run-of-the-mill detective action, the art features two of the more underrated stylists of the era, Bert Christman and Craig Flessel. Both were heavily influenced by the comic strip art of Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles and Roy Crane, as well as pulp and magazine illustrators. Their distinctive approaches were more accomplished and interesting than a lot of Golden Age art, though both look pleasingly “classic” (or old-fashioned) to modern eyes. Perspective on the art and stories (by Gardner Fox) is provided in the informative introduction by Jim Amish.

 

The Golden Age Sandman Archives

DC Comics

Publication Year: 2004

Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Bert Christman, Craig Flessel


Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at rob_comics@yahoo.com. Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

The Golden Bookshelf Archives