A Dream Journal, As It Were: Too Many Thoughts on “The Sandman” Season 1

Tom Sturridge IS the Sandman!

Remember, kids: don’t dream angry!

I was in high school when The Sandman #1 hit comic shop shelves in the fall of 1988. Springing forth from the mind of Neil Gaiman, whom I chiefly knew from Miracleman and Black Orchid, it was unlike anything I’d read before in comics or other media, and was a must-buy over the next seven years — through its transition to DC Comics’ subsequently inaugurated Vertigo line, in its rise to alt-culture superstardom, and even during some of the least favorite parts of my life. The Sandman lasted longer in my life than I lasted in college. I still have all 75 issues, the special with Orpheus’ story, the two Death miniseries, the lovely hardcover edition of my favorite arc (Season of Mists), and some (not all) of the other ensuing spinoffs. (Of most recent vintage, I loved the Gaiman-approved two-issue crossover with Locke and Key, which may have meant more to fans of the latter but contained key prequel scenes to the world of Dream, including front row seats to the fall of Lucifer.)

I rarely allow myself high expectations for anything anymore, but The Sandman left a deep enough mark on my psyche that I insisted the all-new Netflix adaptation — closely supervised by Gaiman — simply had to be The Greatest Netflix Show of All Time. Nothing less would do. The jury’s out on that for now, but after having watched all ten episodes within a 21-hour span (with wasteful intermissions for sleep and life, not necessarily in that order), I can enthusiastically say for now it’ll do. It’ll very much do.

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Nichelle Nichols, 1932-2022

Nichelle Nichols!

The last time we met Nichelle Nichols, at Indiana Comic Con 2017.

Today we were saddened to hear of the passing of Nichelle Nichols, a.k.a. Lieutenant Nyota Uhura from Star Trek, life-changing inspiration and role model of millions. Millions of actors, creators, celebrities, fans, and news sites are online to explain who she is or what she meant to so, so many. For me as a youngster who caught the OG Enterprise crew in reruns, she was an integral part of a stellar interstellar ensemble who showed us, despite innumerable obstacles in their path, that theirs was a potential future for humankind, in which everyone works, lives, and succeeds side-by-side in forging new paths together.

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Yes, There’s an Ad After the “Nope” End Credits

Nope Alien!

Cowboys vs. Aliens, but way better.

The following thoughts on Jordan Peele’s new film Nope are entirely about spoilers from start to finish except the two obligatory postscripts at the end of every MCC entry, which cover additional cast and the end credits. While Get Out remains his best film so far, Nope is a rare treat for me: a film which, the more I dwelt on it, the more I loved. This is a welcome opposite of my previous summertime theatrical experience, one more deserving of fun exploration. Courtesy spoiler alert in advance, then.

We do love to watch, and under the right circumstances we love to be watched. Among the most thrilling and obvious ways to chase fame and/or fortune is to be among the most watched. Young or old, regardless of your assorted demographic memberships, anyone can be among society’s celebrated objects of attention with the right combination of talent and luck. When one ingredient is lacking, push the other to its limits. The talent doesn’t have to be great if circumstances usher the would-be idol past the velvet rope anyway. And the luck doesn’t have to be good.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Thor: Love and Thunder” End Credits

Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman in "Thor Love and Thunder".

“Y’know, if we let Gorr end him, we could have the movie all to ourselves…”

Unlike some actors we know who used to earn eight-figure paychecks from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now probably have to subsist on seven-figure residuals, Chris Hemsworth isn’t going anywhere. The star and Executive Producer is back for Thor: Love and Thunder, as is Taika Waititi, costar and director of Thor: Ragnarok, the Best Thor Movie Ever and possibly the funniest MCU film to date. Perplexingly, he’s followed up with my least favorite Waititi film to date.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 4 of 4: Stargirl and the Hobbits

Hobbits jazz hands!

Frodo! Pippin! Merry! Sam! And two humans searching the Shire for pizzazz!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

It all comes down to this: Saturday, July 9th, our final day at the all-star four-day show. At least, we hoped it would be our final day. We had to work Monday. We didn’t want to come back Sunday. We’re getting old and we need more recuperation time after these super fun pop-culture endurance tests. Conventions are the one place where we can hang out with fellow geeks who get our interests. Back home, people like us seem like an extinct species. But after a while hanging around with the hobbyist crowds, and walking for miles up and down the geek habitat of exhibit hall aisles, is wearying. Also, there’s that pandemic thingamabob people worry about sometimes.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Apollo and the Clone Wars

Ashley Eckstein and Matt Lanter!

“Snips and Skyguy”, as the delightful Star Wars panel was billed.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

If we reused headline formats from our past comic-con write-ups, this one would be the Friday edition of “What We Did and Who We Met”. Once we emerged impatient and unscathed from Chicago construction traffic, Friday was a laid-back stroll around the exhibit hall because most of the action was scheduled for Saturday, when nearly all the scheduled guests would be around. Friday, they weren’t so much, but we had the pleasure of attending a pair of Q&As with actors who graciously dropped in a day early.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Fandom Artifacts

Black Label me!

Now I come in a deluxe version with slightly more points of articulation! Soon to be on clearance at Target!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: this past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

Before we attempt any real storytime and show off our latest round of jazz-hands photos, why not run through a gallery of Stuff We Saw Around the Show Floor. In hindsight we took far fewer exhibit hall pics than expected because we’re well acquainted with what comic-con booths look like and weren’t in a constant state of mind-blown-ness. We did dawdle a bit more than usual at the handcrafted displays of two charitable fan clubs, who brought their homemade replicas of props and vehicles and whatnot, which as usual made us regret letting our own artistic skills atrophy since high school.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 1 of 4: A Dash of Cosplay

Moon Knight!

TV’s Moon Knight welcomes you to a comic-con resurrection!

Once upon a time in 1972 humanity invented a major entertainment show commonly called the Chicago Comic Con, and comics collectors saw that it was good. In the late ’90s it was taken over by Wizard Entertainment, previously a specialist in geek magazine publishing. Wizard World Chicago continued the comic-con tradition for the next two decades, though with a decreasing emphasis on the “comic” aspect as nearly all the publishers withdrew their participation one by one and the show became all about meeting actors, with a nominal Artists Alley still attached in mild deference to its distant origins. Anne and I first attended WWC in 1999 (a Major Life Event for us), then made it an appointment getaway every year between 2010 and 2018. The company had been hemorrhaging cash and fan loyalty for years even before we decided to skip the 2019 edition in favor of our very first Dragon Con, which we consider yet another Major Life Event. The subsequent pandemic did Wizard World no favors, as you can imagine.

After one last gasp of a WWC in late 2021 that we understand was a pale shadow, Wizard World handed off their entire nationwide comic-con portfolio to Fan Expo HQ, a British-owned company whose Canadian comic-con wing has roots dating back to 1995 and who began acquiring inroads into the U.S. market in 2016. This past weekend, that corporate consumption process culminated in the very first Fan Expo Chicago, which is technically the inaugural edition and yet self-branded as a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, with a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

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My 2022 Reading Stacks #1

Barry Windsor-Smith Monsters!

Maybe not the best place to start while writing over July 4th weekend…or is it?

Welcome once again to our recurring MCC feature in which I scribble capsule reviews of everything I’ve read that was published in a physical format over a certain page count with a squarebound spine on it — novels, original graphic novels, trade paperbacks, infrequent nonfiction dalliances, and so on. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text, though I do try to diversify my literary diet as time and acquisitions permit.

Occasionally I’ll sneak in a contemporary review if I’ve gone out of my way to buy and read something brand new. Every so often I’ll borrow from my wife Anne or from our local library. But the majority of our spotlighted works are presented years after the rest of the world already finished and moved on from them because I’m drawing from my vast unread pile that presently occupies four oversize shelves comprising thirty-three years of uncontrolled book shopping. I’ve occasionally pruned the pile, but as you can imagine, cut out one unread book and three more take its place.

I’ve previously written why I don’t do eBooks. Perhaps someday I’ll also explain why these capsules are exclusive to MCC and not shared on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites where their authors might prefer I’d share them. In the meantime, here’s me and my reading results, which I should’ve begun tracking months ago…

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Lightyear” End Credits

Lightyear!

To finity and no farther!

“In 1995 Andy got a new toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”

That’s paraphrasing (i.e., possibly misquoting from fading memory) the first lines from Lightyear — its high-concept, low-bar mission statement and its disclaimer to deflect any viewers who might’ve refused to relax without some form of canonical context, no matter how tenuous or superfluous. Critics’ memories of the exact verbiage differed from one site to the next. The erstwhile animation trailblazers at Pixar were hoping those same fuzzy memories might forgive/forget the shamelessly unnecessary Toy Story 4 and embrace this, their latest merchandise revival to be contrived from the greatest animated film trilogy ever.

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