UPDATE: I changed the post’s heading in honor of Anonymous, who I believe may be the ghost of Lionel Trilling.


A while back in Comments I said this about Neil Gaiman:

IMO he’s done a couple of good female characters (Element Girl, for example), and a couple more with decent schtick (Death, Thessaly), but his female leads tend to be hard to tell apart, at least in the Sandman series. For instance, what’s her name, Rose Hunter, or that other one, Barbie. They struck me as placeholders for the imagined Vertigo reader.

But his men aren’t all that great either, except when it comes to schtick.

Judging from some of the other Comments, there are people who can tell Barbie apart from Rose Walker and Rose Walker apart from Lyta Hall. I can’t, beyond such obvious markers as age, height and maternity status. Lyta had her kid taken away and is mad as hell, but I guess Rose would be too. Barbie is adrift and mopes around; then again Lyta doesn’t have much to say for herself until her kid gets yanked, and then she’s mainly just gritting her teeth. Barbie paints her face; Rose writes in her journal. I can’t remember anything any of them said. In The Kindly Ones, Rose writes in her journal that she’s a cold sort of bitch. Well, all right, but she didn’t seem that way in The Doll’s House or even Kindly Ones. She didn’t seem much of anything except a skinny kid with decent bone structure.

Above I refer to the girls as “placeholders for the imagined Vertigo reader” or, more properly, the imagined Vertigo reader’s imagined ideal self. That’s tough to prove, except for the moping, the face painting and journal writing, the low body fat and pleasing cheekbones, and the flattering sense of being important for reasons that are rationally undefinable (I’m a dream vortex!). So I’ll let it lie.