If the setting of a comic book is in our universe or a universe that applies the same rules as ours, then it can be referred to as a science fiction comic. However, if the world in the comic book does not obey the same rules; the comic book is referred to as Fantasy. While fantasy is about idealism or what cannot be, fiction is relatively more rooted in reality. On the other hand, fantasy can be differentiated from horror through the experience each provides. Fantasy creates a completely different and the experience or adventure is primary. In horror, however, the focus is on fear and blood. In fantasy, the characters’ reaction to the supernatural is mild, and they are more rational when dealing with supernatural elements. Horror characters have a more realistic reaction to the supernatural; they tend to panic, make questionable decisions and even go mad.
In this paper, the specific texts that will be addressed are Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ and Moribito: the guardian of the spirit (anime). Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is undisputedly a classic in the comic book world. It ran for seventy-five issues, and its legacy includes the establishment as well as the growth of comics whose primary target was the adult population. It utilizes imagination, literature and intricate plots that set the standard for adult comics. The comic Sandman is built around the theme that dreams not only shape your life, they also alter its course. The third installment of the comic book is aptly named ‘Dream a little dream of me.’
Gaiman’s Sandman focuses very little on events; the events in the comic provide suspense and climax. However, the primary focus of the comic is the characters and their development. The main character, Morpheus is a physical manifestation of a dream, and his job is to ensure the people of the world dream on. Characters in this comics find themselves in situations where they have to confront dreams. These dreams are either the characters’ or the dreams of others. How the characters react to the dreams above, represents the power of dreams; the power to shape and change the course of lives.
The Sandman sets out as a horror comic with graphic portrayals of violence and death. Slowly the horror comics becomes more fantasy, and the violence seems to fit perfectly into his narrative. By utilizing both horror and fantasy in his comic, Gaiman is able to increase the complexity of the story. The blending of genres in Sandman blurs the line between horror and fantasy. The effect is a narrative that is full of action and exciting events. It moves away from being a horror story full of senseless violence to a fantasy narrative full of multiple storyline and great characters. This is the story of an anthropomorphic incarnation of imagination trying to find where he fits in this universe (Castaldo 96). By the eighth collection, the comic becomes more revealing as details from previous editions begin to make more sense. The tone used in the comic is that of a bedtime story. Except for the violent beginnings, the story is gentle and moderately sad.
Moribito is also a fantasy comic about a girl atoning for the death of eight men. She meets up with a young man, a prince with a price on his head and is tasked with protecting him. It turns out, Chagum, as the emperor’s son is known, is a physical manifestation of a water spirit. The comic explores themes of gender roles, family, blood ties and the nature and beauty of life. The setting of this fantasy is unique, in addition, the main character is also female. This is a departure from the norm where male characters take on the role of the protagonist as well as the antagonist. Despite what most people think, Moribito is not mayhem of martial arts. The violence is just part of the heroine, hinting at a backstory from which the comic draws deeper meaning.
According to Scott McCloud, the Big Triangle is a way of simplifying the visual vocabulary of comics by mapping out the possibilities. The Big Triangle consists of Resemblance, meaning and the picture plane. These three vertices once connected represent a map of possibilities for all forms of communication and visual art. Although not a scientific tool, it provides a refreshing way of looking at how different forms of art are interrelated with written language. Comic books utilize both illustration and writing. This means they provide a visual where novels just provide a description. The characters in Sandman and Moribito do not bear a perfect semblance to a human being but are neither are they abstract motifs or symbols. They let the reader attaching meaning by relating to their language and action.
In conclusion, both the Sandman and Moribito display an amazing ability by the authors to effortlessly hop from one genre to another and blend to or more genres. The end result is not only a gripping narrative full of wonderful plots and twists but also a narrative that is punctuated by exciting highlights throughout (Castaldo 94). Both of these comics touch on the beauty and nature of life. Morpheus is imprisoned after a case of mistaken identity, and the comic follows him rediscovering a universe he once knew seventy years before. On the other hand, Chagum is an heir who has to discover life outside the walls of his father’s palace. Both characters are thrown outside their comfort zones by events outside their control. Now they have to learn from scratch.
Castaldo, Annalisa. “No more yielding than a dream”: The Construction of Shakespeare in “The Sandman.” College Literature. Fall2004, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p94-110.
Neil Gaiman. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (anime)