Bill made up a cartoon sketched on a series of tea leaves. What I have is a set of pages that were not published as part of the Absolute Sandman series. Neil Gaiman, hitting the crest of his early comics career, did not contact an aging Jack Kirby and, in a fit of sentimentality and cross-talent brand promotion, persuade him to illustrate the gala fiftieth issue of Sandman, which was not titled “Uneven Hills” and did not concern Morpheus fallen among the Amazons and embarrassed by his long-ago affair with Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother, with implications for Lyta Hall’s eventual vendetta against him.
Imaginary Comics, part 2: “Uneven Hills”
by Tom Crippen
Kirby did not draw a Morpheus with doorknob-sized cheekbones and a forehead reaching three feet above his nose. The following elements did not appear: Amazons with cantaloupe-sized muscles and shoulders the width of Victorian cabinets; sly references to Kirby’s part in creating the previous Sandman, Lyta Hall’s late husband; playful juxtapositions of Morpheus’s cheekboned languor and the Amazons’ beefy force; a four-page sequence, tailored to Kirby’s skills, in which Amazons hauled the stricken Morpheus on a massive chariot past trophies of the ages.
Kirby did not balk at Gaiman’s idea, which he did not have, of a row of Amazons archers, each one missing a breast because of Gaiman’s fidelity to classical sources. Roz, Kirby’s indomitable wife, did not have to intervene and did not spawn a winsome anecdote Gaiman retailed in later interviews about a telephone being wrestled from one Kirby to the other while Neil reasoned with the elderly artist. The nonresulting Amazon chests did not resemble the Astrodome standing next to a parking lot.
The nonexistent project did not have to be aborted because of Kirby’s illness, and there were no rumors that Walt Simonson would finish the art so the issue could appear in a Sandman trade paperback. In the late 1990s, Vertigo did not transplant a character from the nonexistent issue, a spunky and undernourished teen Amazon named Hy (for Hyacinth), into The Dreaming and then give her a pocket-size manga series written and drawn by Jill Thompson.
The 17 more or less fully drawn Kirby pages and three remaining penciled roughs were not given pride of place in volume 3 of Absolute, the lines’ charcoal black not glowing against pages the color of whipped cream.
All that happened was that I wrote this post.
UPDATE: Big Barda should be in there someplace, possibly a big fight sequence between her and an Amazon (some old rival of Wonder Woman’s?) in which Kirby could draw big fists and Gaiman could do some destabilizing of gender patterns.