This image was not originally intended to be a signed print, and for a long time it wasn’t. In the spring of 1994 I was preparing for my second trip to the San Diego Comics Convention, and had once again been given a space in Artist’s Alley. This time, though, they asked me to contribute something to their art auction, which was a fund-raiser. Not sure which charity, it might have been the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I thought about it, and came up with the idea for this picture. The figure is a good example of why I almost never contributed any art to comics, I’m really bad at figure drawing! The proportions of the arms are way off, the handling of the clothing folds is strictly amateurish, and the hair looks like some sort of jungle plant. Well, all I can say is I did the best I could. But what really interested me about the idea, being an avid book-lover, was depicting the wall of books in Dream’s library.
Neil Gaiman first introduced the nature of the library and some of it’s contents in SANDMAN 21, and I loved the idea of a place where one could find unfinished or completely unwritten books by well-known authors. The panel above is the one that explains the idea, and the first one showing some of the titles therein. Here, and in later issues, Neil put titles in the script for me to letter on the books shown, but there were sometimes more spaces than he’d given them for, and that’s when I got to add a few of my own ideas. I haven’t seen the script for many years, but I’m pretty sure the Tolkien title above was my contribution.
Once I had the idea for my print, and designed it, I had way too much fun coming up with all the titles showing on the shelves. Of course I put in all the ones that appeared on books in the Sandman series, and then added books that might have been written by The Endless. Next I put in titles suggested by various storylines, books that the characters might have written at least in their dreams, such as “Hell and Back” by Lucifer. When I’d done all those I could think of, I began adding imaginary or unfinished stories by authors Neil and I both liked, such as “Chanticleer’s Dance” by Hope Mirrlees. When I’d run out of those ideas, I just put in books by authors I liked, books that hadn’t been written but that I’d like to read. Oh, and the one Dream is holding? Somewhere I’d read, or perhaps been told by Neil himself, that a recurring dream for him was to be moving through a large house of many rooms, meeting and talking to friends and acquaintances.
Other items in the print worth noting are a cup and pot of dream tea, surely the finest brew, a depiction of a Japanese carving that sits on one of my own bookshelves, and a few small, nearly unseen visitors.
Knowing that I’d be giving away the original art, I took it with me on a visit the the DC Comics offices, where someone in the Production Department kindly made some photostats of it. Above is an untrimmed one, showing the placement grid on the image platform of the stat camera. The stats are high-quality photographs that capture the art perfectly (too perfectly in the case of the figure), and gave me copies for my files. I believe I sent a few to Neil at the time, and to the best of my recollection, he thanked me but never commented on the content. At least he didn’t say he thought it was a terrible idea.
In 2004 I was invited to be a guest at the first Sandman/Neil Gaiman themed convention, Fiddler’s Green. I was delighted to be asked, and once again tried to think of things I could bring to sell and raise some money for The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I brought some of my Lettering Sampler prints, and some of The Library of Dream as well, but printed on regular copy paper rather than card stock, as I hadn’t figured out how to print those myself yet. I think I sold 20 of each, raising a few hundred dollars for the cause. But the real shocker was that I hand-colored one LoD print and mounted it on illustration board, to offer at a CBLDF auction taking place during the con (not the big one that Neil MC’d, another one). And that print sold for $1000! I couldn’t believe it, and apologized to the buyer, but he seemed pleased.
So, when rummaging around in my files for things to sell when preparing to launch this blog and my website in June of 2007, I decided to offer prints of The Library of Dream. At first I did them on decorative but regular weight paper, but when I figured out how to print on cardstock for my new prints, I began printing this one that way too, first on the cream-colored stock used for ALPHABETS OF DREAM, then on the pale gray stock used for BEFORE YOU READ THIS, the Neil Gaiman print. I’ve continued to use that stock ever since, as it makes for a good pairing. Throughout I’ve sent half of the funds collected to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a worthy cause, and one of Neil’s favorite charities, which seems fitting. Some Sandman fans have wanted it, despite the bad figure work, which makes me happy. Thanks, folks! You can find it on my BUY STUFF page if you’re interested.