20th June 1999
Our cover girl this week, model Shivonie displays creations by Sonali White for the Haddai label.Cheryl and Ruwani of Ramani Fernando Salons handled her hair and make-up and she was photographed at the Culture Club hotel in Kandalama by Mettasena.
Comics for adults
Okay okay, simmer down and wipe that lascivious grin off your face. Not that sort of adult comics for God's sake. Honestly, can't even say the word "adult" anymore without everybody immediately thinking of titles along the lines of "The Adventures of Rodney The Redhead Dominatrix" and "The Three Little Whipping Boys"!
(Read above in a middle aged Sri Lankan housewife's accent)
No, adult as in for mature audiences...."oh so it's more like "Melody in Love" then?" NO NO NO!!! Mature as in it's not the sort of drivel one reads about in Superman comics...mature as in adult situations and themes. Many people would probably be surprised at this, comic books having traditionally been the domain of the young and the soft-headed, but it is fair to say that since the mid 1980s the comic book has come into the mainstream as a valid form of literature.
One of the chief reasons for this has been the addition of recognised writers such as James Herbert and Neil Gaiman to the ranks of talented comic book storyboarders. Even Eric Van Lustbader has written a Batman story (although in his case let's just stick to the "recognised" and leave aside the "talented" bit eh?).
Neil Gaiman has probably been the greatest influence behind the popularity of comic books amongst the 20 and 30 something readership of this decade and the last. Invited to pen a mini-series for comic book publishing giant DC Comics, Gaiman came up with a character in 1987 that was such a hit that the line spawned over 100 issues over a ten year period and created a massive cult following.
That character was Morpheus: The Sandman, The Dream King, lord of the metaphysical realm of Dreams, an anthropomorphic personification unlike any other. Along with Dream, Gaiman created a whole family of these personifications - "The Endless". As soon as the world was born there was Destiny, gaunt and hooded, the eldest sibling and lord of his own realm of never-ending, constantly divergent pathways. Destiny carries with him the great book, chained to his wrist; he reads as history writes itself across its pages: he knows all and tells nothing. As soon as the first life came into being, there existed Death, the second sibling of the family of The Endless.
There have been many incarnations of Death in the realms of literature - Ingmar Bergman's stoic chess playing reaper; the nervous bass-guitar playing death from "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey", the vaguely Woody Allen-like death in Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series - but none have even come close to the cutesy-pie faced teenage gothette that Gaiman came up with to represent life's great certainty. Gaiman's Death is cheerful, jogs, keeps goldfish and says "Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious!!!" with genuine enthusiasm. She wears nothing but black - fair enough - but she's a babe and she is closest to her younger brother Dream.
The other siblings are the twins "Desire and Destiny" - the latter androgynous and very chic, the former dowdy and prone to mushing her eyeballs with a fish hook - the bluff, gregarious "Destruction" and the understandably confused "Delirium" who started out as "Delight" but changed. The siblings are in many respects a typical soap opera family a la Dynasty, Dallas et al. They squabble amongst each other, they plot and they scheme against each other, they cry over each other's hurt and laugh at each other's joys; quite a normal bunch really if they weren't immortal personifications of a point of view...
The stories themselves are lavish in both culture and the richness of the artwork. Gaiman draws extravagantly from myth, folklore, fairy stories, history and even religion. Several characters recur throughout the ten year span and Gaiman mesmerises by his innovative spins on tales we are so well acquainted with. Lucifer, for example, grows weary of his kingdom and - handing over the keys to Hell to Dream - takes off to become first a beach bum in Sydney and later a Jazz Pianist in LA. William Shakespeare is commissioned by Dream to write "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as an exclusive open-air performance for Auberon and Titania of Faerie. Augustus Caesar spends a day impersonating a beggar in Rome so that he may plot against the gods. Marco Polo is rescued in the Gobi desert by Dream. Haroun Al Raschid sells the Golden Age of Baghdad to Dream. Orpheus is the son of Dream and the muse Calliope, etc etc etc
Unusually in comic book serials, every single issue is written by Gaiman. He pulls off this difficult task with some aplomb though, and far from becoming jaded, the characters and the stories become only more vibrant over the course of the series. Gaiman ended the series in 1998 with the death of Dream. Fortunately, all the Sandman issues are collected in 10 trade paperbacks and are widely available at online bookstores such as www.amazon.com or Barnes & noble.com.
If you are looking to broaden your appreciation of literature and are interested in something very different (and possibly cleverer) to most of what you've read before, I would heartily recommend the Sandman series. Other titles to try are "V For vendetta" by Alan Moore - a comedie noir about a post-apocalyptic Britain, "The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller - a seminal work about Batman's later years, "Black Orchid" by Neil Gaiman and "Watchmen" by Alan Moore - a satirical look at comic book "superheroes".
Alternative Poetry Part I
Are you sick of poems that start out with lines like "Love so tender..." etc? Well look no further for the alternative stuff machang! The Vulture intends to spotlight alternative poetry every Sunday in this very space. (Some I wrote myself but under pseudonyms...yeah yeah, finger lickin' good, I know I'm a chicken). Here are two little beauts:
The Happy Poem For S**j
I spent all day today
Someone asks me, casual dinner party jest
If anyone wants to send in their alternative poetry (no soppy sappy stuff please)dosoto "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to