“A change in direction, but an old gambit”

I suppose now is as good a time as any to opine on the connection between a certain Neil Gaiman comic book and certain book and movie about a boy wizard.  I, of course, refer to Gaiman’s Sandman and the T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone.

In Sandman, Dream engages in a sort of wizard’s duel with the demon Choronzon.  It is one of the great moments in comics, so let’s take a look at it for a moment.

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To me, there are three really “wow” moments in there: “I shall be an anthrax,”  Dream’s relinquishing the offensive, and of course the final line.  I was reminded of two of these when nerd-stuff news-aggregator io9 posted their list of favorite wizard duels from movies.  In Disney’s Sword in the Stone movie Merlin uses Choronzon’s germ gambit.  He also more or less sticks to a defensive strategy.

And in the awesomely hammy final battle from Roger Corman’s The Raven (how do you make a movie of Poe’s most famous poem? simple, make it about dueling wizards) Vincent Price more or less only acts to render harmless Boris Karloff’s evil magic.

Actually, this all reminds me of Crowley’s theory of white magic from Moonchild, which of course takes some inspiration from Taoism.  An old gambit indeed.  Am I driving at a point here?  Well, I think its only natural to adopt ideas from one’s predecessors, its the little tweaks that are important.  “I am hope” seems to be all Gaiman, and it really is the lynchpin of the whole sequence.

If you were looking for a post about Harry Potter and Tim Hunter, there are plenty on other sites that a quick search will turn up, but Gaiman himself thinks the similarities come mostly from their mutual inspiration by T.H. White.

Also:  Look!  I figured out how to embed things!  Oooooh.

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Published in: on July 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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