Our assignment was to read the fifth and sixth issues from The Doll’s House: Men of Good Fortune and Collectors. KatherineMW provides the former, Jason Tank provides the latter.

Glyph’s introduction to Sandman, in three parts, here, here, and here.

Preludes and Nocturnes recaps here: Glyph and Patrick tackled the first four issues, I tackled the fifth, Glyph recapped six and seven. Mike Schilling recapped number eight.

A Doll’s House recaps here: KatherineMW took on the first two issues, then the next two issues.

It’s very difficult to discuss this book without discussing the next one (or the one ofter that, or the one after that), if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.

We good? We good! Everybody who has done the reading, see you after the cut!

“Men of Good Fortune”

In Which we take a brief Intermission to pursue Dream’s Appointment, and are treated to a brief Historical Retrospective.


Two Endless walk into a bar.

One says to a man, “How would you like to live forever?”

This is the core of our story.

As is perhaps natural for the King of Dreams, it attracts other stories and storytellers to it – in this scene, one Geoffrey Chaucer. Whether his presence and Morpheus’ in the same tavern is coincidental is a question I do not expect to be answered, except to say that Rose’s story suggests that coincidences are not pure chance.

Morpheus, like other people throughout history dragged to bars by friends who hope they’d forget about work and just relax for once, has his mind on business. As do I, now – the idea of faeries abandoning the mortal plane is at least as interesting as Hob Gadling’s philosophy of death as elective.

But this is only the beginning of Gadling’s story.


One hundred years later, the same tavern is still there. This is unusual enough, and will become more so as we progress through the story. Perhaps the Endless have the power to preserve certain things they choose in the earthly world, or perhaps it’s simply a convenient setting.

Our characters meet as planned. The meeting is brief, with two notable points. In the first place, immortality is something of a cure for nostalgia; progress looks more like progress when you’re able to compare it to a true view of what came before. I’ve heard a good argument that the eras most people are nostalgic for are the ones when they were children, and the nostalgia is not for the period but for childhood. In the second place, Hob Gadling is now involved a curious trade called “printing”. If Chaucer wasn’t sufficient, this is our signal that this tale will see Mr. Gardner Forrest Gumping himself through history.


It’s the Elizabethan era, and we are following a story of stories. Of course Shakespeare is here. Hob, now “Sir Robert”, Gadling is living high, but this episode is about Shakespeare, and about Morpheus. The power of dreams, as some previous chapters have indicated, goes beyond the world of sleep. Dreams include imaginations, fantasies, stories, as we remember from Morpheus’ moniker of “The Prince of Stories” in the first book. Here we begin to understand better what that purpose entails; the gift of inspiration is his to bestow.

Morpheus, or humans’ view of him, has something of a sinister cast about him in this story. In the last episode, Hob asked if he was a demon; here, Shakespeare speaks of bartering his soul to the devil for artistic genius, and strikes a bargain with Morpheus; and before this tale ends a third person will make the same comparison.


The year after the Glorious Revolution; as a bit of a history buff, I’m a little disappointed that didn’t get mentioned, given all the other history strung through this story.

This is a brief episode. Fortune’s wheel has turned since last meeting, and Hob Gadling is now at the bottom of it. Wife and son dead, social position erased. He is, at this moment, an illustration either of hope or of man’s fear and hatred of death; after eighty years of nothing but misery, he still has no wish to die.

Also, the waitress in this one looks weirdly like the one a hundred years ago – at least her hair is the same – but that’s probably just this book getting to me. You never know what’s going to matter.


Another century, another revolution.

Previous episodes revealed that Hob Gadling is hardly a paragon of morality. Mercenary and bandit in the 1400s. Fought for the Cavaliers in the Civil War. He has degenerated since the last meeting; no longer a pauper and a drunk, but immured in the moral morass of the slave trade. And enjoying it thoroughly. The treatment of people as things is the theme of this episode. Lady Johanna Constantine is another such – a “wanderer amid the flotsam of lives she has sacrificed for her own purposes”. The Dreamlord is not one for her to trifle with, though, and leaves her trapped in her own ill memories. This is not the last time we will see her.

Between John Constantine’s own story and his ancestors, I’m becoming rather interested in him, given that my own prior knowledge of him was based on the trailer for bad-looking a Keanu Reeves movie.

Even before being imprisoned, Morpheus did have some ideas of morality; the slave trade at least he considers beyond the pale.


Victorian London.

As we’ve seen Hob Gadling have his ups and downs over the centuries, it only makes sense that the tavern would have them as well. It was a simple, though comfortable place in the 1300s through 1500s, and a luxurious one in the past two centuries, perhaps to provide a contrast with Gadling’s material and moral degeneration over the same two meetings. Now Hob is doing well enough, again, but the location has gone downhill.

The very interesting concept of other people left alone by Death is raised, one I very much hope to see pursued further in later installments.

The question of learning from experience is one very pertinent to the Endless. Just as Hob has not necessarily gained in wisdom over five hundred years, immortality need not give Morpheus and his siblings greater maturity or wisdom than humans have. If anything, immortality is detaching. Hob says he can never make up for the slave trade, but he doesn’t seem, on the whole, unhappy or particularly interested in atonement. Life is not something to be used, for great good or great ill, but simply something that continues. He is the Everyman. Which is, perhaps, what Death intended, given her desire that Morpheus get to know regular human beings.

Morpheus, however, is proud, and rejects out of hand the idea that he might wish for companionship or friendship.


Plus ça change, plus ça même chose. The conversations in the modern-day restaurant are the same as those heard in 1389 and 1689.

Some things, however, do change.

Morpheus has spent seventy of the last 100 years imprisoned. Perhaps this is what has humbled, softened him.

The tale ends with brief, but beautifully heartwarming words.

“I have always heard it was impolite to keep one’s friends waiting.”


The intermission ends, and the audience return to the theatre, with little idea what is in store for them.



Welcome to the “Cereal Convention”. Follow along with me as I try to run through the pages, pointing out sites of interest. You may find my style blunt, but I’m just a harried tour guide here, trying to show off everything before you get bored and wander off. Try to keep up!

Two pages in and we’re presented with two different methods of dichotomy. Gaiman describes the wind as being knife-sharp and cutting, and presenting the people as if this bitter wind brought them here. It’s elegant with its double meanings. Meanwhile, the you have the very title of “Cereal Convention”, and the way the conventioneers speak. “Killer”, “dead”, “murder”, “bloody”, “killed”, “died”, “die”. It’s very childish, asking you to find it clever, even as it buries itself under needless repetition. Right off the bat, we get a sense that these people think themselves better than everyone else.

Next page, we meet a large man handling registrations. His hat is modified to get around certain trademarks, which should become apparent later on. Another page and we have the hotel manager. He is not one of the conventioneers, but you can tell he is sympathetic by his choice of reading material. He informs us that Rose and Gilbert are still in the hotel. Her brother has gone missing, and the police want her to wait there until they can find him.

We move on now to Rose, lost in shades of blue. Gilbert is not able to cheer her up, but he does tell her an old version of Little Red Riding Hood, all black and white and red. Her story is mirroring it, but she doesn’t know it yet.

Next page and the Corinthian arrives. The man in the pointy hat identifies himself as “Fun Land”, and he now has a wolf on his shirt. Hmm. Anyway, he and Nimrod are searching for a guest of honor who hasn’t arrived. But here’s the Corinthian to save the day, looking like a knight in shining armor! Huzzah!

The title page pops up, “The Collectors”, a bleeding American flag over the faces of serial killers. I don’t know if any of them are actual killers dredged up from history, nor do I know if any of the characters in the story are based on actual people. Gaiman doesn’t strike me at the type of person to want to do a lot of exacting research on this subject. (In fact, doing so could undermine the message of the piece.) But if I’m wrong, please let me know.

The story moves along. The convention is pretty much like any other. People sit in halls and listen to panelists. Kinda dull. We see Nimrod and the Machinist’s inner, true selves in shades of black and red.

Rose and Gilbert share an elevator with the Corinthian, and Gilbert almost wets himself in fear. He can’t bring himself to tell Rose exactly why, but he writes her a name and tells her to say it if she’s in trouble.

Another convention panel (on a subject we can’t talk about), and we are yanked away as the Bogeyman is revealed as a fraud. The Corinthian is speaking, and there’s a jagged box around his head in “normal” color, his speech balloons talking of teaching, while beneath it the rest of the group is shown in shades of black and red, his speech balloons explaining how dark they really are.

Moving forward again, Fun Land is drunk, and talking about his “Fun Land”, in ways that might keep you from ever bringing your kids there again. He starts to fixate on Rose, whose name, by the way, is a shade of red. Hmm.

We’re interrupted by another couple of collectors. One shows himself off in black and white, holding a cigarette like a gentleman, while in the foreground is his victim, breasts on display, male genitals barely visible. There’s so much darkly beautiful art going on that just dares you not to be repulsed by it.

The Corinthian is driving back, and it’s mentioned that there’s something in his trunk. We know from before that he met Jed, and we have no reason to think he prefers dead victims, so we get a small ray of hope in the midst of this….

The convention continues, and we get what I think is one of the best art pieces in the story. The drawing isn’t spectacular, and the speech boxes are disturbing, but they create the perfect image: Here’s a young man, broken up inside by what he is doing, broken up on the page.

But the very next page is one of the worst art pieces in the entire Sandman. It feels like the painter tried to save what the drawer couldn’t accomplish, using a circle of color and a line to show that Fun Land is still fixating on Rose. (To be fair, this is probably something that is very hard to draw well. Later, in Seasons of Mists, there’s a moment where a character has a dotted eye-line to show that she’s angrily staring down her brother. But it’s the color bubble here that really ruins this image for me. It’s just tacky. Especially compared to other uses of selective coloring in this story.)

But anyway, Fun Land has decided he can’t wait any longer, and is adding Rose to his collection. Rose, on a journey to find her brother, is attacked by a wolf instead. There is a fight, but Rose is barely able to utter the name Gilbert gave her: Morpheus. He appears, puts Fun Land to sleep, and implants something of a post-hypnotic suggestion into Rose to make her leave.

The Corinthian is giving a speech, the highlight of the convention. Morpheus is sitting in the crowd. The Corinthian notices and stutters. He finally takes off his glasses, and there are two mouths where his eyes should be, which talk in raspy voices. (This is why I found this old Sprite commercial to be very disturbing.) He stabs Morpheus, but to no effect, and the Corinthian is unmade down to a pile of dust and a disturbing skull.

But here’s what I find truly disturbing about the Corinthian: he’s supposed to be a dark mirror to humanity, so he translates this directive into becoming a gay serial killer, preying on the promiscuous. It’s… odd. Gaiman is no homophobe, so I choose to see this as a reaction to the then-recently begun AIDS outbreak, and Morpheus’s dismissal of him as a dismissal of AIDS as a “gay disease”. (But maybe I’m reading too much into this…)

Morpheus ends the convention, taking away the dream the Corinthian gave them. Meanwhile, Gilbert has discovered Jed and brings him to Rose. He is unconscious, but Gilbert describes him as having been sobbing. It’s a little bit too “pat” of an ending, but I can forgive it, if only for that subtle implication that Gilbert didn’t really find him through conventional means.

So here we are at the end, gentle readers. Three dreams found, with only Fiddler’s Green to go. Have we seen this last dream yet? Morpheus said they might be drawn to Rose, but the three we’ve seen were more closely associated with her brother Jed. What could that mean? And will that pattern hold?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I think Men of Good Fortune might well be my favourite story in Sandman.

    It speaks to the long-range optimist in me, the idea that nostalgia doesn’t survive a realistic appraisal of progress, that even at the hight of his misery, Hob preferred life over death, that for all the talk of doom the world kept spinning.

    It is a story of triumph over death itself, and that’s a very small genre. It’s not the most powerful work on this topic – that award goes to chapter 45 of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (the audio version of this chapter can reliably bring me to tears). But it is a perspective rarely uttered, quests for immortality are generally played to be catastrophic or evil, but Hob just keeps on trucking.

      • Are you referring to the fact Yudkowsky hasn’t finished it yet?

        You could try the podcast, it’s well done and makes keeping up with it easier since you don’t have to sit down and read it.

  2. “Even before being imprisoned, Morpheus did have some ideas of morality; the slave trade at least he considers beyond the pale.”

    I have to wonder why this was a problem for Morpheus. He has not blinked an eye at how others have treated motrtal before, so why this one? Look at the very next chapter with serial killers, the only thing Morpheus does is take away their dreams, no concern for what they did and could still do.

    • I like the whole “find another line of work, it is a poor thing to enslave another” convo btw Morpheus and Hob, and I think it still works both because it is well-written, and because it fits in the *readers’* view of Morpheus’ arc (in which we see, post-Dream’s imprisonment, that he really, really dislikes imprisonment, and will often free a prisoner) – but in terms of Morpheus’ “real” linear timeline, it doesn’t quite work, since it takes place prior to his imprisonment. I wouldn’t expect him, at that point in his “life”, to view slavery as anything that he needs to be concerned with.

      • Also, I don’t know about anybody else, but my impression is that it is Morpheus’ imprisonment that humbles him and softens his anger and stung pride over Hob’s insinuation that he is lonely, and needs a friend.

        I like to imagine that one of the things that Morpheus brooded over those many years in that glass cell in Burgess’ basement, was how he & Hob had left things on their last meeting; and that he vowed to himself that if/when he escaped, he’d go and make things right.

        • I imagine during his time in the cell, he had a lot of time to understand what loneliness meant.

          Despite his offense at being called lonely, he seems to be the one most concerned with being liked by humans. It is his book, obviously, but there is not much mention of the other Endless getting in romantic entanglements. Morpheus gets involved in several, and they do not generally end well.

          • they do not generally end well.

            Understatement of the year.

            Just like in the real world, Dream-y guys attract the girls; but they usually make for bad boyfriends.

        • Holy crow, I read Katherine’s writeup last night before I went bed, but commented this AM, using almost the exact same words she did above, I see.

          So I think it’s fair to say that a.) this was no original observation on my part, and b.) I need to read or re-read a post immediately before commenting.


    • Well, Morpheus didn’t exactly go out and start freeing the slaves as soon as he heard about it. It’s just something he personally wouldn’t do, and as much as he wants to deny it, Hob is a friend, and he doesn’t like his friends doing questionable things.

  3. There have been previous comments that death is not something to be feared. Maybe loss of freedom is considered to be a greater evil. I never gave this much thought before, so I will keep it in mind as I read. I am not sure if it comes up again.

  4. But here’s what I find truly disturbing about the Corinthian: he’s supposed to be a dark mirror to humanity, so he translates this directive into becoming a gay serial killer, preying on the promiscuous.

    I don’t think the “gay” part is the part of him that went wrong. That is, he was a nightmare, who also happened to be gay, before he ever left the Dreaming. It was the “nightmare” (not the “gay”) portion of him that went wrong, moving from something abstract in the Dreamworld to something concrete (and in Morpheus’ eyes, petty and trivial – serial killing) in the real world.

    That his victims were (mostly) gay is just a “side-effect” of the fact that the nightmare happened to be so (but again, it’s not the “gay” that’s evil). The nightmare could just as easily have been heterosexual, and manifested in the real world as Jack the Ripper, killing female prostitutes rather than male ones , which would no more be “misogyny” than this is “homophobia”.

    • I never thought of the Corinthian as being gay. I always considered him to be asexual. He preyed on men, and his method is to cruise for gay men. It makes sense, if you want to get men alone and relaxed, to lure homosexual men with the promise of sex, or hire male prostitutes. As a straight man, I cannot think of too many reasons I would go to a hotel room with a guy I had never met before.

      • Not that I have studied serial killers all that deeply so could be wrong, but I believe the male ones that kill men are usually gay (your Dahmers), and the male ones that kill females usually are not (your Bundys). There is generally somewhat of a sexual component to serial killing, right?

        • Both David Berkowitz and Richard Ramirez killed men and women, though the latter seems to have killed the men to get at the women, and I believe both were straight.

          Yech. Looking these guys up has made me feel deeply unpleasant in my kishkas.

      • Well, it’s not really a spoiler, but the Corinthian has had a boyfriend in other series. They were published after this issue, and with a new Corinthian, so your interpretation can still be valid.

    • Well, I’m coming at this from Gaiman’s perspective. Is there any reason why he would choose to make this nightmare prey on men? Maybe he found the typical trope of men killing helpless women to be too trite. Or maybe he was trying to say something.

      It could be both. It’s just fun to think about.

      • On some level, I think the Corinthian is a nightmare for the dominant section of society. Just as we saw Morpheus Appear as a black man in an earlier story (and will see him appear as a png va n yngre bar), I think we might see the Corinthian appear differently and target different victims in, say, a Polynesian matriarchy.

  5. I find “The Collectors” the single most disturbing issue in the entire “Sandman” run. Those brief, sepia-toned windows into the killers’ minds are unsettling in the extreme. The man who considers himself a “connoisseur” and only kills pre-operative transsexuals (naq jr’yy frr oevrs ersrerapr gb uvz ntnva yngre), putting his predation in terms of finding ones he can “really talk to” gives me the howling fantods. One shudders to think of what it is he wants to say.

    A few points about The Corinthian. First of all, I don’t perceive that he goes after the promiscuous. The victims we’ve whose pre-mortem interactions we’ve seen either are those who have attacked him or (in my interpretation) hustlers who aren’t so much promiscuous by choice but rather because they are desperate. I would be shocked if Gaiman were using The Corinthian and his crimes as a kind of AIDS metaphor, which doesn’t seem his style to me at all. Prostitutes (male and female) have often been targets of real-life serial killers, as they are a particularly vulnerable population.

    Further, I don’t read too much into The Corinthian’s gayness. Gaiman has already introduced gay characters whose sexuality was incidental to their role in the story naq jvyy tb ba gb qrcvpg znal bgure tnl, yrfovna naq genaftraqre punenpgref jvgu terng pbzcnffvba naq flzcngul, and frankly (though I hate to say so) the whole “humanity’s dark mirror” line highlights what for me is a small weakness in the writing. Every so often I think Gaiman’s prose strays a bit into portentous territory. On the one hand, describing The Corinthian thusly allows for readers to interpret that in their own interesting ways. On the other, it reads a wee bit purple to me.

    And Morpheus’s punishment for the assembled killers (ur’f bayl nyybjrq gb xvyy zbegnyf va irel fcrpvsvp pvephzfgnaprf) is perfectly apt.

    • the whole “humanity’s dark mirror” line highlights what for me is a small weakness in the writing. Every so often I think Gaiman’s prose strays a bit into portentous territory. On the one hand, describing The Corinthian thusly allows for readers to interpret that in their own interesting ways. On the other, it reads a wee bit purple to me.

      Slightly OT, but this could be part of the reason that I think Gaiman’s writing generally works so well for me in Sandman, but can fall flat for me in his more straight prose works like American Gods.

      In comics, because it is literally a colorful medium where things can be epic, and larger than life and grotesque, a bit of purple prose here and there can be OK. Whereas on a printed page, it can really stick out unless well-done; conversely, I think sometimes on the printed page Gaiman may pull back, to avoid the purple, but then sometimes he seems a bit workmanlike and underwhelming.

      As a writer, he may just be uniquely suited to the comics medium. Similarly, I wonder if Alan Moore would seem like such a genius in a prose novel.

  6. The following is rot13’d due to the Mindless Diversions “no religion” rule, for the same reason KatherineMW kind of skipped it above.

    Jaybird, if you feel this crosses the line, feel free to delete please. I just think the panel is funny.

    Nyfb, gur cnary srnghevat gur cnary qvfphffvba jvgu gur Znafba ybbxnyvxr sebguvat naq pynvzvat gb or tbq, jvgu gur frrzvatyl zber-engvbany/ernfbanoyr ohggbarq qbja “Puevfgvna”* arkg gb uvz (“V jvfu gb qvfnffbpvngr zlfrys sebz guvf znqzna”, cbvagvat) xvyyf zr. Gurer’f penml, gura gurer’f PENML.

    * V hfrq fpner dhbgrf, orpnhfr V qba’g oryvrir, abe qb V guvax Tnvzna qbrf, gung gurfr thlf fubhyq or gnxra nf ercerfragngvir bs guvf be nal eryvtvba; abe qb V guvax Puevfgvnavgl, abe zbfg eryvtvbaf, ner vaureragyl penml. Ab bssrafr vf vagraqrq urer.

    • If anybody gets offended after they rot13 a paragraph or two with a warning about why it was rot13ed, it’s on their own head.

      So let it be written.

      So let it be done.

    • Argh, and it’s Jason who skipped it, not Katherine.

      In my defense, I have gotten much less than the required amount of sleep for the last week or so. Sorry for all the screwiness.

      Good writeups Jason and Katherine!

    • That moment, and the one with the discussion of female serial killers where Dog Soup is denouncing the cliche of thinking they’re all nurses or black widows, while flanked by a nurse and a black widow…both feel less like Gaiman insulting religion (or feminism) and more like him poking a little fun at cons. It’s as if he enjoys making this incredibly creepy con have as many of the usual elements of a convention, to enhance the weirdness through contrast.

  7. The very interesting concept of other people left alone by Death is raised, one I very much hope to see pursued further in later installments.

    Hob mentions “Mad Hettie”, whom we met way back in the John Constantine issue.

    • We meet quite a few long-lived humans throughout the series, with different reasons for their extended existences.

  8. You aptly observed: “If anything, immortality is detaching. ”

    I think Pratchet summed it up best. What cannot die cannot (on a fundamental level) change and what can’t change can’t really live.
    This is wrapped about immortality very well in my mind within many mythos’. The fascination of the immortal faerie with the music and crafted works that fallable mortals can make and that the faerie are unable (or just unable to very impressively) to do themselves. The bland world experience angels have, the lack of sensations and passions. Etc… Immortality then is, by these lights, an unending but arguably very grey existence.

  9. So, and we may have to tiptoe around the ‘no politics’ rule for this, what exactly is Gaiman trying to say about American culture in “Collectors”?

    We have the title page with the American flag, dripping blood, plus multiple visual & textual cues that just scream “Americana”: a “Tex” belt buckle; the car the Corinthian is driving is a big ol’ convertible gas-guzzler with fins, FunLand wears barely-altered “mouse ears”, makes references to what is obviously a Disneyland stand-in, and drinks a can of that most “American” of beverages, an obviously-recognizable Coca-Cola; the Corinthian’s keynote speech is like a Tony Robbins thing gone wrong (“we are entrepreneurs in an expanding field!”); the convention hotel is named “Empire”.

    Is he trying to say that there is something uniquely “American” about either serial killers, or the cultural fascination and commercialization of same? This would be a bit rich coming from a guy whose home country basically invented the modern serial killer in Jack the Ripper.

    Is it something about Dreams (The American Dream, the Corinthian Nightmare) gone wrong?

    Or was it just a sort of neat hook/framework to hang the story on, for irony’s sake?

    • Back in Michigan, there was a dinky little amusement park called “Deer Park Funland”. (“Deer Park Fuuuunland, you’ll have morefun! It’s the goodtime place!”)

      Being a kid, I asked Mom if we could go there. She explained that kids had been kidnapped from there.

      I have spent the last couple of decades believing that Funland was hinting at Disneyland, but was really about some of the lesser wannabe Amusement parks.

      • Well, FunLand makes reference to “Small World”, so the Disney references are definitely intentional.

        But I agree that calling to mind some lesser, crappier theme park is way creepier.

        • I suggest you not start looking up the giant labyrinths of workers’ tunnels under the Disney parks, then. The more you know about Disney, the creepier Fun Land’s story gets.

          • I’ve been IN those tunnels, my friend.

            But that’s a story for another day (and it’s nowhere as exciting or as creepy as that probably sounded).

    • Jack the Ripper may have been the first well-known serial killer, but that doesn’t mean much. Poe, an American, invented the detective story, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle perfected it with Holmes. In a sad way, America has perfected the serial killer. We have more people, more open space, more sense of personal privacy, fewer rules impairing a sensationalizing press… our “collectors” have bigger opportunities and get a bigger audience. There have been lots of serial killers out there in other countries, but the most press they get are articles on

      This comic was written before “The Silence of the Lambs” made it to the big screen (but after the novel it was based on). Today, we’ve got a couple of TV shows (Dexter, Criminal Minds, for instance) dealing exclusively with serials (and another one starring Kevin Bacon coming next year).

      • Yeah, I don’t know if I buy that idea that America is somehow unique in this regard. Sure, America probably produces more media (fictional and factual) about serial killers, but that’s at least because we produce more media about EVERYTHING. More TV shows, more movies, more books, of which more are about serial killing.

        And I have seen TV programs that touch on, for example, the top two guys in this list (and I just made an “Elizabeth Bathory” joke here a couple weeks ago). American media is no more sensationalistic than England’s (or the rest of the world’s) lurid tabloids, and I would wager there has been more ink spilled and celluloid exposed over Jack the Ripper, than almost any other serial killer in history.

        And as the story makes clear, the original versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” (and “Hansel & Gretel”, and many other old fairy tales) are not that different from, say, “Halloween” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or “Psycho” or whatever.

        Anyway, I enjoy the conceit here, and I think it works from the perspective of contrasting the idea of wholesome “America the idea”, against the darkness of the story.

        But I think serial killers are serial killers are serial killers; I don’t think there’s anything particularly “American” about the phenomenon, and I expect that the average percentage of them in any given human population is probably more or less constant.

  10. Partway through The Collectors, I realized who Gilbert is. Another immortal, apparently (naq gur fhogvgyr bs “Gur Zna Jub jnf Guhefqnl” vf “N Avtugzner”).

    Who, though is the collector in the plaid jackets who enters singing “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”? I couldn’t find him named anywhere in the story.

    • What clued you in about Gilbert’s ‘inspiration’? I didn’t realize that until I read something where Gaiman explicitly acknowledged that he was based on (person x). Is it his manner of dress or speech, or does he say something specific?

        • That was the big clue. His accent, manner of speech, and appearance clinched it.

          Also, given how Gilbert invited himself along for the ride, I’d had a vague feeling he might turn out to have sinister or at least ulterior motives. Knowing who he was allayed that suspicion.

          • I hadn’t remembered this but, Good Omens begins:

            The authors would like to join the demon Crowley in dedicating this book to the memory of T. X. Purfgregba, a man who knew what was going on.

  11. The nebbishy Woody-Allen-looking “fan” who crashes the serial killer convention and gets murdered for his troubles may be at least partially conceptually based on Peter Sotos, who published a similar-sounding fanzine called “Pure” in the 80’s, and who was interviewed in the same book (“Apocalypse Culture”, by Adam Parfrey) that also had an interview with Karen Greenlee, that Sacramento necrophiliac who was probably an inspiration for Kate’s story back in “24 Hours”. So it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Parfrey’s book is on Gaiman’s bookshelf.

    Gaiman is certainly an omnivore when it comes to reading and source material.

      • It’s not clear to me how much of his public persona and work is based on actual real personal interest/belief on his part, and how much of it is “shock artist” trying to make some meta point about art/media and violence or censorship.

        I am not interested enough to do the digging and find out. 🙁

        That Parfrey book was on the bookshelves of a few people I knew in college.

        ART STUDENTS!!! (read that as hissed and accompanied by clenched fist, “Newman!”-style)

        • One of the pluses of being a writer. Take someone you don’t like IRL, put ’em on paper, and give ’em what they deserve.


          • That got me wondering if the comic character’s appearance, which as I said has sort of a Woody-esque quality to me, was another jab by either Gaiman or the comic artist; but Allen’s scandal was in ’92, after this was written, so I guess that is probably coincidental (unless rumors were circulating amongst the artistic community before the scandal broke to the rest of the world or something).

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