5636 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Jack Kirby's Sandman (DC Comics) (Sanford)

Sandman

(Dr. Garrett Sanford)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“Somewhere, between Heaven and Earth, there is a place where dreams are monitored.
This is the domain of a legendary figure, eternal and immortal, who shares with man and beast all the secrets of the age.
He is… The Sandman.”


Context

Oh, dear. Okay, *this* Sandman was a 1974 minor creation by the great Jack Kirby . He’s a DC Comics super-hero who protects dreamers, and had a short-lived series.

This is straightforward enough, but this profile integrates all retcons . This means the Roy Thomas material (in Wonder Woman in 1982 and Infinity, Inc. in 1988) and the Neil Gaiman material (in Sandman in 1989). It ends up being complicated, but our profile takes the time to explain it all.

This profile includes S P O I L E R S about Sandman vol. 1 (1974), Sandman vol.2 (1989) and the Rise arc in The Dreaming in 2001, among others.


Background

  • Real Name: Dr. Garrett Sanford
  • Other Aliases: The universal master of dreams, the fearless dream-master
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: The Dream Dome in the ‘Dream Dimension’
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 177 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Key persons in the stories

Dream of the Endless, aka the Lord Shaper, aka Morpheus and many others

A primordial entity ruling over dreams. Dream has sometimes been referred to as the “Sandman”, and the humans who wore the Sandman costume had their role loosely patterned after Dream’s. For clarity’s sake Dream is never called “the Sandman” in our Sandman-related entries, and “Sandman” always refers to the human heroes.

The Sandman

A human hero operating in dreams and protecting dreamers from bad stuff. He wears a costume and uses gadgets such as his Hypnosonic Whistle. At least 3 persons were recruited to be the Sandman — Dr. Garrett Sanford, Hector Hall and Sandy Hawkins.

Brute and Glob

Two senior nightmares, and former servants of Dream. They pretend to be “nightmare demons” captured by the Sandman and helping him with his jobs, but are actually the ones who set up the whole Sandman deception. See the Brute & Glob profile.

Jed Walker

A little boy whose mind had been invaded by Brute and Glob. Brute and Glob turned Walker’s dreams into a false ’dream dimension’ so they’d have their own little dream reality, separate from Dream’s province. Jed Walker is the kid brother of Rose Walker, a young woman of complex parentage who interacted with Dream and other Endless on several occasions.

Jed Paulsen

A friend of the Sandman (Sanford) – a boy prone to abnormal nightmares who later became his sidekick.

Jed Paulsen didn’t actually exist. It was a character whom Jed Walker dreamt of being, the role his dream-self usually played.

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was revealed that in timelines marked by the Great Disaster Jed Paulsen grew up to become Kamandi, and in other timelines he grew up to become Tommy Tomorrow of the Planeteers. Whether that means anything for post-Crisis Jed Walker is unknown.

Dr. Garrett Sanford

A dreams researcher at UCLA. He was the first known person who was duped by Brute and Glob into becoming the Sandman. He had by far the longest career as the Sandman, but this damaged his sanity and he came to believe that he was an eternal, immortal, supernatural guardian of dreams — essentially the Sandman of folklore with a super-heroic slant. This entry is about Dr. Sanford.

Hector Hall

The ghost who succeeded Dr. Sanford as the Sandman. In life, Hall was the super-hero called the Silver Scarab, and he was much later resurrected as the new Doctor Fate. Hall came with his pregnant wife Hippolyta (a.k.a. the Fury), and their son Daniel later became the new Dream.


Dimensions in the stories

The Dreaming

This is the realm of dreams and nightmares, the domain of Dream of the Endless, and the dimension of origin of Glob and Brute. It might be the same thing as the Dream Stream.

The Dream Stream

The Stream is something halfway between a shared dream world for humanity, and a Jungian collective unconscious/objective psyche . It seems transversal to all dreaming minds. The Nightmare Wizard and the nightmare demons, who can pose a genuine threat to a dreamer when things go awry, live there.

All sorts of fantasy entities are also found there – clichés and stock elements from the collective unconscious, symbolic beings, old myths and legends, and basically anything that can appear in a dream. Several stories imply that the number of nightmare demons is oddly small – probably less than 50.

’Dream Stream‘ was probably the name that Brute and Glob used for the Dreaming when interacting with their Sandman. Our Sandman-related entries posit that the Dream Stream is the Dreaming – probably the fringes of the Dreaming, where intrusions and anomalies are much less likely to be detected.

The DC Universe

The bulk of the Sandman’s adventure did not involve the DC Universe, though it is the dimension of origin of most characters.

Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, this was more specifically Earth-1.

The Sandman cover art on a white background

The Jed Paulsen reality

Dr. Sanford thought that this reality (where Jed Paulsen lives) was the waking world – that is, the DC Universe. He was being deceived by Glob and Brute, since the Jed Paulsen reality actually existed in the dreams of Jed Walker.

The Jed Paulsen reality was more or less similar to Earth in the 1970s. Dream versions of persons from the DC Universe existed in it, such as General Electric.

It seems likely that the Jed Paulsen reality was an unique form of what Dream of the Endless calls a “skerry”. This is a tiny realm within the Dreaming with somewhat fixed properties and inhabitants.

The ‘dream dimension’

A pocket dimension where the Dream Dome, the satellite-like base of the Sandman, exists. It seems to be mostly empty, but is apparently an ideal spot from whence to monitor the Dream Stream and the “waking world” (actually the Jed Paulsen reality).

In actuality, the ‘dream dimension’ had been installed within Jed Walker’s mind by Brute and Glob. The ‘dream dimension’ is always in single quotes in our Sandman-related writeups, to prevent any confusion with the Dreaming.

The fantasy dimension

This one is just mentioned a few times. It is apparently the fringe where the ’dream dimension’ touches the real world – or rather, the Jed Paulsen reality.


Characteristics of the ‘dream dimension’

It’s hidden

Detecting its existence, and finding people within it from the outside, is difficult (in DC Heroes terms, perhaps 12 APs of Obscure as a dimensional property). It was first and foremost a hiding place.

It’s locked

Entering it is difficult. The ’dream dimension’ is fortified, and specific methods must be employed to get inside. Furthermore there are nightmare-like defenses attacking travellers who try to enter.

A powerful enough magician could force open the boundaries of the dimension, but that would destroy Jed Walker since the ’dream dimension’ is essentially his mind. Glob and Brute knew that cosmic rules would prevent Dream from doing that.

How difficult it is to enter is impossible to pin down. Dream, still somewhat weakened by his captivity but equipped with his Mask and his Ruby, apparently took something like 15 minutes to get in. The Lord Shaper thought that the maze of traps and pitfalls around the ’dream dimension’ was admirable construction and arduous and strange to navigate, so most would presumably find it impassable.

Based on Dream’s official DCH stats, 22 APs in Security Systems might be a good approximation.

It dazes people

Humans (living and dead) within the ’Dream Dimension’ were plunged in a sort of stupor. Their mind was clouded and they obeyed the narrative structure imposed by Brute and Glob, acting “in genre”.

For instance, Hector Hall was behaving like a dopey Silver Age  hero in a sort of unreal fairy tale (an exaggerated version of the original Sandman series). Lyta Hall was the pretty pretty princess, forever pregnant but never actually giving birth and walking around in a haze whilst endlessly brushing her long hair.

Even Wonder Woman was briefly swept off her feet by the Sandman and accepted his narrative, though it was the early 1980s version of the character.

This stupefying effect seems to be about 14 APs of Hypnosis – with an AV equal the amount of time spent in the “dream dimension”, to a maximum of 14. This Hypnosis is Mystic-Linked and attacks AUR/SPI.

This mind-clouding effect may not have been deliberate. Glob and Brute considered that people falling prey to it were very much dumb. It may just be that human minds are ill-equipped to cope with the onirical nature of the ’dream dimension’, whereas creatures from the Dreaming are thoroughly unfazed by it.

The effect may also have been caused by the numbness resulting from Jed Walker’s nightmarish real life.

It damages people

This unreality seems to inflict psychic damage to persons and ghosts spending too many years in the ’dream dimension. Sanford was apparently driven to suicide by it, and after Hippolyta Hall was ejected from the ‘dream dimension’ she remained borderline insane for years.

It’s dimensionally close

Since it is set in the mind of a human, the transdimensional  distance to the ’dream dimension’ is likely but one AP from Earth in DC Heroes terms.

It doesn’t need no time zones

Apparently there’s no notion of Earth time zones in the ‘dream dimension’. It’s always the same hour everywhere on Earth.

The likeliest explanation is that the Sandman never monitored the entire world, but only Jed Paulsen and areas close to him, and never found it strange due to the dulling effects the ’dream dimension’ had on his mind.


Equipment within the Sandman’s dream dome

The Dream Dome had lots of equipment. It is supposedly derived from the experimental machines developed by Sanford and unnamed researchers that were used at Walter Reed. This gear included:

UDMs (Universal Dream Monitors)

Those had Awareness (Discerning): 20 (in DCH ; in DCA that’s be Senses 9 (Analytical Ranged Detect (Mystical events and menaces) with Extended 6) within the Dream Stream, detecting dangerous nightmares and their heinous deeds.

The severity of those crises was expressed much like a fire’s – for instance a four-alarms nightmare. The gear did detect and properly assess the arrival of Dream of the Endless, so it apparently actually worked rather than being another fabrication by Brute and Glob.

The dream monitors also allow Remote Sensing: 20 (in DCH ; in DCA that’s Senses 11 (Extended 6 and Penetrate Concealment for vision and hearing). This is done with audiovisual displays of the situations picked up by the dream monitors. These screens can also monitor the Jed Paulsen reality – and the DC Universe if Glob and Brute allow it.

With this equipment, the Dream Dome was essentially panoptical. It can even pick radio transmissions and other forms of technological communication.

Sandman recap splash page

Dream Tubes

These are a pair of pipes into which the Sandman can jump and slide to be transported elsewhere. The tube labelled “Dream Stream” will send him to the desired dreamscape to rescue a person endangered by a nightmare, presumably after the dream monitors picked a situation up.

The tube labelled “Reality Stream” will take him to the Jed Paulsen reality (which Sanford thinks is reality).

There actually is a third tube labelled “Ejector Tube” which leads to the DC Universe. Due to mind-clouding, neither Dr. Sanford or Hector Hall realised the existence of this third pipe. Brute and Glob controlled whether the Sandman jumped into the Reality Stream tube or the Ejector Tube pipe depending on the needs.

Note than originally Sanford can stay in the Jed Paulsen reality or the DC Universe for as long as he needs – the one-hour limitation only appears in 1983.

When the Sandman exits from one of the tubes he appears to be falling from the sky of the reality he just entered – though he usually starts flying after a few seconds of free-fall.

Teleporters

There is some sort of teleportation technology inside the Dream Dome. When the Sandman’s Hypnosonic Whistle is blown in a certain way, the Sandman (and allies if desired) will be teleported back to the Dream Dome.

Thought transference equipment

This console and microphone allowed the Sandman to speak to dreamers. He usually told them to wake up right after he had spoken to them, so they couldn’t remember about him once his work was done.


Jed and the evil wizard

Various characters from the book have their own profile, such as the Bizarre alien dimensionals or the Tyrannical Count. Here are two we know something about, but not enough to make a profile for :

Jed Paulsen

Originally, Jed Paulsen is but a boy with mediocre health (“a spindly lad wracked by an asthmatic wheezing cough”) and little education. His parents died at sea when he was but a toddler. He was raised by his grandpa – living alone with him on a tiny, isolated island in the South Atlantic.

Jed is always referred to as “Jed” or “little Jed”. No family name is mentioned until 1989. It is uncertain whether his name is Jed Paulsen or Jed Walker — he’s the son of Burt Paulsen and Miranda Walker, and the grandson of Ezra Paulsen, but whether Burt Paulsen ever married Miranda Walker is unrevealed. His sister went by Rose Walker.

We’ll use “Jed Walker” to denote the person and “Jed Paulsen” to denote the dream-self, so as to avoid confusion. Readers of the 1974 stories assumed that Jed shared his grandpa’s family name, and readers of the 1989 stories usually assume that Jed has the same last name as his sister.

When Jed Walker’s dreams shift away from Dolphin Island, he suddenly becomes a physically adept, older boy. Furthermore in the Dream Stream he can fly and has great strength just like the Sandman, essentially serving as his sidekick and fighting at his side.

This version of Jed Paulsen has 02s for DC Heroes game stats. However in the Dream Stream those become DEX 04 STR 06 BODY 05, Flight: 08 and Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV/RV against Blindside attacks). There’s no trace of asthma, and he had a simplified Hypnosonic Whistle that was chiefly useful to call for help from the Dream Dome – but would also make unauthorised users fall asleep.

The Nightmare Wizard and the Fantasy Forest

There is an an aged, evil hermit called the Nightmare Wizard, who lives in a caves near the Fantasy Forest. The Wizard seems to know about all sorts of things going on in the Dream Stream, particularly when it comes to nightmares. It is once stated that he has absolute authority over nightmare demons.

He’s reluctant to help the Sandman, as he resents his efforts to save children from nightmare demons. But when the Sandman roughs him up he’ll always talk and give him valuable intelligence. The Wizard even knows when outside forces, such as Dr. Spider, tamper with the Dream Stream.

The Fantasy Forest has numerous animated, carnivorous plants with a STR of 08 (in DCH – in DCA that’s Strength 07), and perhaps other nightmare demons roaming it. Brrr ! As to the Nightmare Wizard he’s apparently a very powerful occultist , but is essentially powerless if he doesn’t have the time and components to set up a Ritual.

The writeups.org crew suspects that the Nightmare Wizard is what remains from Dr. Sanford’s predecessor in the Sandman role, driven insane by the ’dream dimension’. This is but a guess inspired by the retcons, though.


Powers and Abilities

Sanford was the foremost expert in the US on dreams research, and superlatively skilled in electronics. He invented a revolutionary technology to directly observe dreams. He presumably had in-depth knowledge of psychology.

When he entered the ’dream dimension’, Sanford acquired superhuman powers. He had the “strength of ten men” and could fly, even when outside of the ‘dream dimension’. The Sandman’s strength seemed to increase over time, to the point where he could open a large breach through a thick stone wall through repeated punching.

His ally Brute mentioned having taught him “muscle exercises” so Sanford could grow stronger. Sandman’s strength score apparently grew by three or even four points during his early career.

Sandman leaps into action

He also was superhumanly durable – being run over by a Jeep did not wound him, though it knocked him out for a while. He also seemed to be able to endure underwater far longer than a human, and with little apparent discomfort.

Doctor Spider once stated that the Sandman was “virtually indestructible as long as he remains within the dream dimension”, which seemed to be true. Since Sanford eventually died, I took the liberty of making it a function of the Dream Dome in our game stats. This way the Sandman is very hard to kill as intended, but he could deactivate his indestructibility when he wished to.

The Sandman also once displayed the ability to, without any equipment, create small items, apparently by summoning them from dreams. In the documented example it was the key to Clark Kent’s apartment.

He can also apparently freely creates warps to and from the ‘dream dimension’, even when without equipment or access to the Dream Dome. These are not things that he does often, but neither did they seem to require special effort.

Sandman twice remarks that his presence in the waking world is soon forgotten by onlookers, fading like a dream. Nothing along those lines actually happens in the stories, though. For instance, Jed remembers the Sandman and his exploits just fine.

Equipment

The Sandman had cartridges filled with sand, which could be used to spray people in the face. This will put almost anyone asleep – even people with an altered physiology (Nuklon), massive superhuman durability (Wonder Woman) or a robotic body (Red Tornado) were flawlessly affected.

Another tool is the Hypnosonic Whistle. It can be used to open the containment tubes of his allies Glob and Brute, to emit destructive sound waves, to knock people out or put them to sleep, to melt objects (once dissolving a large combat robot into a ’warm puddle of molten goo’) or to shatter and annihilate through sheer hypnosonic power.

The potency of the Whistle seems immense. It could dispel Gojira-sized nightmare demons with a line-of-sight range, and Dr. Spider seemed certain that it could be used to raze Washington, D.C. – albeit one large building at a time, and for some reason the attack had to take place at midnight. One caption calls it “the most powerful weapon of law and justice the world has ever known.”

The Whistle was once used to summon Jed Paulsen to another dimension, to establish a telepathic link across dimensions with a sleeping mind (which could be maintained even after the person woke up). It was once used to summon an unicorn from Wonder Woman’s dreams.

It could also create “ultrasonic bridges” between the Dream Dome and the Jed Paulsen reality – usually to have Glob and Brute come in. The advantage of these bridges is that they lead to the exact location where the Whistle was blown.

The sand and the whistle completely failed against Dream of the Endless despite their enormous power. This probably means that these are artifacts from the Dreaming and thus by definition unable to affect the Lord Shaper.


History

(This section assumes that you have read the background explanations above, and are nevertheless still alive).

The convoluted history of the Sandman (Dr. Sanford) began when Dream of the Endless was captured by the human occultist Roderick Burgess. The Dreaming was thrown in disarray, and various nightmares, dream creatures and archetypes seized the opportunity — such as the Fashion Thing escaping to Earth.

Two fairly powerful nightmares, Brute and Glob, were among the rogue entities who decided to have fun whilst Dream was away.

They ended up in the mind of one Jed Walker. Walker was an abused boy living locked in the basement of his legal guardians, among the rats and his own excrement. It was in this mind that Brute and Glob, who apparently knew quite a bit about dream shaping, created an otherdimensional space they called the ‘dream dimension’.

This pocket dimension was hidden and fortified, to ward against Dream were he to return. It also gave Jed Walker peculiar dreams.

A dream within a dream

When Jed Walker slept, he usually dreamt that he was Jed Paulsen, ’a spindly lad wracked by an asthmatic wheezing cough‘. This Jed originally lived on Dolphin Island – within sight, on a clear day, of Cape Kennedy. The only other inhabitant of Dolphin Island was his granddad, a fisherman named Ezra Paulsen. Ezra was a nice, aged man who looked after his grandson and raised him.

’Jed Paulsen’ also had dreams – in other words, Jed Walker dreamt that had dreams as Jed Paulsen. During those dreams of dreams, Jed would often encounter a sort of super-hero called the Sandman, who acted as a guardian angel and protected Jed during his oft-dangerous dreams. Paulsen had high levels of unconscious angst, making him prone to nightmares of exceptional potency.

In Brute and Glob’s story, ’the Sandman’ was the mythological guardian of dreams, eternal and immortal, clad in yellow and red. However, this entity was not a dream creature. It was actually another person from the DC Universe, Dr. Garrett Sanford.

Enter Sanford

Sanford was the head of a sleep research project at UCLA, likely in the early 1970s or late 1960s. He devised techniques to monitor the sleeping brain that were deemed revolutionary. He could either read or view (this is unclear) the dreams of experimental subjects sleeping while wearing EEG-style electrodes.

One morning, Federal types arrived and took him to Washington, D.C. without any explanation. Once brought to a secured wing of Walter Reed Hospital , Dr. Sanford was introduced to the President of the United States (likely Mr. Nixon), who had been inexplicably asleep for 48 hours straight.

The Federal scientists assembled Sanford’s dream-reading technology in the hospital. They then hooked it to other advanced machines to build a dream projector. It could send a man within the dreams of the POTUS and discover what was going on – then bring him back to the land of the wakeful.

The Sandman and Jed are given a parade

As the premier dream researcher in the US, Dr. Sanford was selected to be the man sent into the President’s dreams by Project: Sandman. He was outfitted with a yellow-and-red suit and sent in. Sanford immediately discovered that an enormous, hideous humanoid nightmare monster was holding the President prisoner.

With the “fury of his own disgust and revulsion”, Sanford attacked the nightmare with “the strength of ten men”. The monster had to drop his prisoner and flee, and the President immediatly woke up.

However, the military had neglected to tell Dr. Sanford that their dream projector was a one-way street. Once sent into the “dream dimension”, there was no way for him to come back. They covered up his intervention and disappearance, but sent him the equipment via another dream projector, in the vague hope he could use it to come back.

Dream on

Sanford used the equipment to reach the dreams of other people. Since he was now trapped into the ‘dimension of dreams’, he decided to become a guardian angel helping people who, like the President. People who were victims of nightmares so powerful as to genuinely threaten them.

Dr. Sanford also tinkered with the equipment to try to return to Earth. He achieved partial success, modifying it so it could send him back to the ’real world‘ – though for but one hour at a time.

Sanford found or built a satellite-like base called the Dream Dome, where he kept two “nightmare demons”. These became his weird but not really evil helpers and captives, Brute and Glob. Early on it seemed that Brute and Glob had been captured. But later on there’s a mention of them having left home to become full-time assistants to the Sandman, implying a voluntary recruitment.

The whole thing was a machination, however. As explained in our profile for Brute and Glob, they were actually the ones manipulating Sanford as part of their project to have their own Dreaming and their own Dream. As far as can be determined, Dr. Sanford never learned the truth.

The Sandman receives an alert in his Dream Dome, with Brute and Glob

In any case, the odd properties of Brute and Glob’s false ’dream dimension’ eroded Dr. Sanford’s sanity over the years or decades. Though he still rationally knew that he was a man thrust into a bizarre situation, he apparently came to consider himself a paranormal guardian angel for dreaming mortals (particularly children) — the Sandman.

Though the vast majority of these missions of rescue had to do with the dreams of Jed Paulsen, the altered mentality of Dr. Sanford meant that he did not find that strange. Sanford and Paulsen met in dreams so often that they became friends.

Please turn on your magic beam

The first crisis the Sandman (Sanford) was seen intervening into took place in 1974, in the Jed Paulsen reality. Japanese evil genius General Electric, along with other war criminals from the Axis, triggered a catastrophic earthquake at Cape Kennedy using horrible dolls. These dolls all popped up in the nightmares of numerous children, alerting the Sandman.

Dr. Sanford jumped to the “real world” to perform a super-hero style intervention. He helped the police and fire-fighters evacuate the wounded before rescuing Jed from General Electric and his co-conspirators. The Sandman was captured along with Jed, but an intrigued Nazi blew the whistle they found on Sandman, conjuring Brute and Glob who rescued everyone.

General Electric was seemingly killed by the ultrasonic attack from the Whistle.

(The continuity status of General Electric is a bit complicated as a result of Sandman retcons – see his profile for a discussion of this).

Jed Paulsen ran afoul of another super-villain, Dr. Spider. He was kidnapped by Spider’s agents because he registered as being 12th level on their “angst-meter”. The horrific Dr. Spider drugged and sedated Jed, then used his machines to make the monsters in these nightmares real.

Doctor Spider let two enormous nightmare monsters rampage kaiju-style  in the Jed Paulsen reality, killing numerous National Guardsmen. The Sandman intervened and disintegrated the demons, but that was a trap and he was captured. Dr. Spider’s plan failed when Glob and Brute secretely freed the Sandman, who rescued Jed. Doctor Spider was seemingly killed in an explosion.

Dance of the dream man

Many more surreal menaces were defeated by the Sandman. These included the flying brain of a tyrannical Count and his cyborg zombie gorillas, or bizarre aliens who wanted to kill humans by capturing all nightmare demons so they could enter sleeping human minds and destroy them.

The Sandman, Brute and Glob in the Dream Dome

Jed Walker’s dire existence then started twisting his rich dream life. Jed Paulsen’s Grandpa Ezra was killed in a sea monster attack, and his sinister Uncle Barnaby and Aunt Clarice came to lure him to their farm. Despite their promises, all they wanted was somebody for them and their children to bully, and a free farmhand to do their work.

Perhaps to compensate, the dreams of Jed Paulsen became different. His friend the Sandman would now come to take him to the Dream Stream and they would have amazing adventures together. Jed Paulsen no longer was an asthmatic little boy, but a fairly capable sidekick. In the Dream Stream, Paulsen even had flight and superstrength like the Sandman.

The Sandman and his allies also subtly helped their friend in the Jed Paulsen reality, where he was assigned endless chores by his uncle and aunt.

The first “new school” dream adventure was taking Jed along to fight the Frog-Men along with the winged people of a tiny island kingdom. The evil Frog-Men captured the queen of the winged people, but Jed and the Sandman invaded their undersea city and rescued her. With the location of their city exposed thanks to Jed, the Frog-Men were forced into a lasting peace with the winged people.

The nefarious Doctor Spider then returned, using a Jed Paulsen android to capture the Sandman. He stole the Hypnosonic Whistle, turning it into a weapon of mass destruction. Spider was thwarted again in the nick of time, but escaped.

After a whimsical millionaire promised to give a huge sum to the needy if Jed Paulsen could prove the existence of Santa Claus, the Sandman took Jed to meet Santa. However, he had been kidnapped by furious Seal Men, and Sandman and Jed soon followed suit. After solving the misunderstanding, the Sandman ensured that the Christmas of 1976 took place normally.

Don’t dream it’s over, part 1

In 1983 — several years after the previous sighting — Sandman intervened anew. He detected that a nightmare that Earth-1’s Wonder Woman was manifesting itself in the waking world, and helped her fight it off.

However, by that point Dr. Sanford was starting to go insane. He came across as creepy and stalkerish, admitting that he’d been spying on Wonder Woman’s dreams for a while (with, implicitly, a particular attention toward the sexual ones).

In an attempt to lessen the creep factor caused by his thorough knowledge of Wonder Woman’s dual identity and personal life, Dr. Sanford recounted his own origin to her.

(This 1983 story is the first time that Dr. Sanford is introduced – prior stories depicted Sandman as a mythological creature acting like a super-hero. The concept that he can only stay on Earth for at most an hour at a time is also introduced at this point.)

The Sandman sees nightmares invading the Earth

This didn’t quite work, as Dr. Sanford then haphazardly confessed his love, leaving when Diana told him that she loved Steve Trevor and he knew that as well as she did. When Diana’s marriage to Steve Trevor didn’t take place as scheduled, Sanford essentially kidnapped Wonder Woman with a dose of sleeping sand and took her to the ’dream dimension’.

Oddly befuddled, Wonder Woman didn’t quite repulse the creepy Sandman – but was soon attacked by the nightmare again. In the ‘dream dimension’, the shadow nightmare was solid enough for her to fight, and she soon defeated it.

The fight brought Wonder Woman back to her senses. The Sandman admitted that he knew about the shadow demon all along and how it was created by her repressed anxieties. Seeing how badly he had behaved, the Sandman apologised and left.

Don’t dream it’s over, part 2

Mere months later, Sandman was attacked in the Dream Dome by Doctor Destiny, who blasted him unconscious by surprise and stole his resources. Destiny imprisoned Dr. Sanford in a transparent tube along with Glob and Brute. Using the Dream Dome, the Whistle, the sand cartridges, etc. Dr. Destiny harassed and ambushed the JLA until he captured them all within the Dream Dome.

However the Elongated Man ejected the Sandman into reality, and Sanford came back with Superman. As they fought Destiny’s nightmares, the JLA used the diversion to free themselves and Destiny was defeated. Sanford kept Destiny imprisoned in a dreamless sleep.

His sanity and will to live damaged by decades spent in the ‘dream dimension’, Dr. Sanford eventually committed suicide. The exact date is unclear, but late 1987 or early 1988 is the most likely.

Looking for a replacement, Glob and Brute recruited the ghost of Hector Hall, and had him possess the corpse of Dr. Sanford. As time went by, the reanimated (but perfectly preserved, and having apparently resumed its life functions) body was reshaped to resemble Hall’s body.


Description

The hourglass symbol is a late development, and only features in the early 1980s appearances. The Sandman wore his full costume at all times. He only ever appears unmasked in his retconned origin sequence.


Personality

A daring, two-fisted Silver Age  hero, like a 1950s TV dad crossed with a heroic 1960s fireman. The Sandman is a good guy action man and protector living in a very strange world that is a sort of haphazard mashup of archetypes, myths and clichés.

Though this world often swerves past the border of ridiculousness, the Sandman is totally oblivious to that aspect. To him all of this is normal, and often Serious Business. He pours all of his heart into his job and responsibilities, leaving no time for introspection and reflection.

The Sandman has very idealised-1950s morals. He fights to protect the children above all, will not resist the authorities in an extended manner (though putting a few to sleep with a throw of sand is fine) even if they’re acting stupidly, never expects to be attacked from behind, etc.

Generally, he’s not quite a character, except perhaps toward the end. He’s more of a slightly ridiculous archetype himself, though he means well and protects people.

In the final years of his ministry Sanford had a marked creepy stalker vibe. It seemed to be a combination of crushing loneliness and having been raised during — presumably — the 1940s.


Quotes

“Thought transference completed. Now to push the ‘awake’ switch ! Wake up, Jed ! Wake up !”

“That does it : this night’s bad dream is over ! Now, where’s that team of nightmares I know and love ?”

“Quiet, you nightmares ! You both know what will happen if people are prevented from coping with their nightmare demons while they’re asleep !”

“Quiet, Brute ! If I can save the world from destruction, it’s the least I can do !”

“We’re not licked yet, Jed ! Not as long as you’ve got your yo-yo !”

“Something’s wrong here ! Dead wrong ! That nightmare is not passing into Jed’s perceptors through the proper fantasy channels !”

“I won’t do it, boys ! It’s always wrong to take a human life, even when it’s an evil life like Doctor Spider’s !”

“Release her, fiend ! You’ve just trespassed beyond your rightful sphere – and the Sandman is here to send you back again !”

“I know it looks hopeless, Jed — but we’ve got to keep on fighting ! Unless we can rescue Santa Claus from the Seal Men, Christmas throughout the world is as good as dead !”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Sandman III

Dex: 06 Str: 10 Bod: 07 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 07 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Guardian of the Dream Dimension
Inf: 07 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 020 HP: 035

Powers:
Dimension travel: 03, Fabricate: 04, Flight: 08, Invulnerability: 10, Sealed systems: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Dimension Travel apparently only to return to the ’dream dimension’
  • Invulnerability is granted by the Dream Dome – it can be deactivated from there, and disappears if the Dream Dome is destroyed. It takes about an hour per roll, and is apparently only active in the Dream Stream and the ’dream dimension’.
  • Sealed System has the Free Diving Only Limitation

Skills:
Gadgetry: 06, Scientist (Drawing plans): 06

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Dream Stream), Expertise (Psychology, dreams), Headquarters (the Dream Dome, Expansive — see below), Stroke of Genius (Dreams-reading technology)

Connections:
Brute and Glob (Low), Nightmare Wizard (Low), Jed Paulsen (Low)

Drawbacks:
Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV/RV against Blindside attacks), Exile (Involuntary, from the wakeful world), Mistrust (Authorities in the Jed Paulsen world always try to arrest him)

Equipment:
The third Sandman carried the following pieces of equipment with him:

  • Sand cartridges (x4) [BODY 01, Sleep (ML): 22, Limitation: Sleep has No Range ; each cartridge may have something like Ammo: 06, Note: Sleep attacks AUR/SPI]
  • Hypnosonic Whistle [BODY 04, Dimension travel (Summoning): 04, Disintegration (ML): 22, Sleep (ML): 11, Sonic beam: 12, Telepathy (ML): 12, Bonuses & Limitations: Sonic Beam has Autofire, Telepathy is Transdimensional, Note: the Whistle must be blown for any effect to be triggered.] The Whistle can also be blown to return to the Dream Dome, by remotely activating machines there. Any unauthorised user will be subjected to the Sleep effect after blowing it once.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Chiefly the 1974 Sandman series (DC Universe)

Helper(s): Frank Murdock, Kal El el Vigilante, Darci

Subscribe to our newsletter!