Sunday, April 20, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 110: The Sandman's Universal Dream Monitor

Santa Claus knows if you're naughty or nice because that #^!&@% snitch The Elf on the Shelf rats on your actions to the Man in Red at the North Pole. All the more reason to take the Elf on the Shelf and turn him into the Elf in the Blender. On the other hand, The Sandman...the Kirby variety, not the Gaiman guy (altho' we'll see Mr. G. in this feature), gets his info by honest and decent means, by looking into our homes and our dreams. The same process as the National Security Agency! The Sandman, however, has cooler equipment that the NSA, namely the Universal Dream Monitor! Also included: his dandy cool Eisneresque logo, upon which unfortunate boats at sea have been shipwrecked.

Panel from The Sandman (1974 series) #1 (Winter 1974); script by Joe Simon, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer
(Click picture to Brute-size)

Yes, it's Dr. Garrett Sanford, DC's 1970s Sandman (altho' Kirby intended, despite the superheroic uniform, for his Sandman to be the actual archetypical and mythical Sandman and to not have a human identity. For a mythological figure he's certainly well-equipped on KirbyTech, especially his apparently multidimensional Universal Dream Monitor (it's handily labelled here so you can tell what it's called) which allows him to keep track of both "real life" (altho' on that matter, more later) and dreams. Especially the dreams of young Jed Walker, the original Harry Potter. That's Harry Potter as in "abused horribly by repulsive adoptive relatives" and not "savior of the entire wizard world." Also, at no point in his adventures does Jed Walker kiss Cho Chang.

As you might expect for a device to keep track of everybody's wacky dreams (including that one last night where I was running a Lego store, hooray!), the UDM is pretty large and has many multiple screens. What appears to be one of the main viewing screens (above) also has a microphone that transmits straight to the dream world, but there are many other monitors which can examine this monster, apparently Ben Grimm's vegetarian cousin, from diverse close-up angles. Man, the Sandman must have a ton of cameras mounted inside all of our heads. The UDM will also alert the Sandman to high-level nightmares, so that thing must be going off all the time, considering all the melted cheese I eat just before bedtime.

And here, from ish #2, is a comfortingly consistent portrayal of the UDM by Ernie Chan closely following Kirby's original design. That big screen in the background is an interesting tilt to it which must be also as good as Sensurround™. Also pictured: the Sandman's nightmares-in-residence, his apprentices Brute and Glob, who are kept in giant test tubes until they can be released to aid Sandman in his adventures, and, presumably, help him out around the place...I dunno, washing the dishes evilly, or preparing monstrous canapés.

Panel from The Sandman (1974 series) #2 (April-May 1975); script by Michael Fleisher, pencils by Ernie Chan, inks by Mike Royer, letters by Ben Oda

Here's another angle, showing the Sandman's Captain Kirk-brand command chair, plus a circular viewer and many other small, television-shaped picture tubes. Nowadays I'm guessing the Sandman has all flatscreens, altho' probably he just gets the dreams on his KirbyPhone. There's an app for that.

Yes indeed, the UDM can even keep track on Zombie Gorillas. Which, I think you will all agree, is something we oughta be keeping track of.

Panel from The Sandman (1974 series) #3 (June-July 1975); script by Michael Fleisher, pencils by Ernie Chan, inks by Mike Royer, letters by Ben Oda

A windshield-shaped UDM viewscreen, which really could use some Windex: it's got Kirby Krackle all over it.

Panel from The Sandman (1974 series) #5 (October-November 1975); script by Michael Fleisher, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer

Brute and Glob: the Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo of the Universal Dream Monitor.

Panels from The Sandman (1974 series) #6 (December 1975-January 1976); script by Michael Fleisher, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Wally Wood, letters by Ben Oda

Although the Sandman series was cancelled abruptly with issue #6 (so abruptly that issue #7 was virtually done and published in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade), the Sandman and the circular screens of the UDM reappear when the Dream Dome is captured by Skeletor. I mean, Doctor Destiny.

Panels from Justice League of America Annual (1983 series) #1 (August 1983); plot by Paul Levitz, script by Len Wein, pencils by Rick Hoberg, inks by Dick Giordano, colors by Gene D'Angelo, letters by John Costanza

Considering he could have spent all that time spying on Wonder Woman, how much of a sap is Doctor Destiny for switching the channel to the Elongated Man network? Please submit your answers on a postcard to "MTV's Doctor Destiny for a Day Contest," Box 1200, Grand Central Station, New York, New York, 10168.

Garrett Sanford is eventually replaced in the role of the Sandman by Hector Hall (and for how and why, stay tuned), who's manning the UDM by the time Neil Gaiman seizes control of the DC Universe and the entire comics industry. By this point the Universal Dream Monitors have been updated to 1980s cable television equipment level, which means he can get both HBO and The Movie Channel for one low, low price monthly, not to mention the (pictured) Bullwinkle Network.

Panel from Sandman (1989 series) #12 (January 1990); script by Neil Gaiman, pencils by Chris Bachalo (?), inks by Malcolm Jones III, colors by Robbie Busch, letters by John Costanza

Apparently now Brute and Glob are allowed out of their stinky, stiny cages to roam the Dream Dome at will. They've definitely got something up their non-existent evil sleeves, tho', but what can it be?

For the answer to that and all the other Sandman-related questions I've teased you with in today's installment, you're just going to have to come back tomorrow when we look at yet another one of his KirbyTech devices as well as place a few more puzzle pieces in the riddle wrapped enigma wrapped in a tortilla that is the Sandman. As E.G. Marshall woudl say...pleasant...dreams???


Jon Jermey said...

Little did Dr Destiny realise that somewhere in England, a little boy called Declan was drawing inspiration from his comic panels...

Blam said...

// For a mythological figure he's certainly well-equipped on KirbyTech //

Aw, come on. You've read Thor, Bully.