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I have written about as much as I ever need to write about The Sandman series itself. I think that’s pretty clear.
Part of me thinks Jill Thompson’s Little Endless is absolutely wrong and “Delirium’s Party” is no exception to that. But in Thomspon’s hands, it’s also beautiful and wonderful and childlike, like the original The Little Endless Storybook before it. But The Endless was meant to be pretty permeable and adaptable. They are archetypes you tell stories about, even if those stories aren’t necessarily adult. Why not tell children’s stories featuring them?
Delirium, the youngest of The Endless, was always the most immature and the one that mostly remained in her own little world. She never thought much beyond herself. With her love of color and excess, it makes sense she’d be the focus of Endless stories for younger readers.
In Delirium’s Party, Delirium throws a surprise party for her sad sister, Despair to cheer her up. She invites all her siblings and attempts all kinds of things — a gigantic cake, presents — to get Despair to smile.
Yes, there are plenty of jokes if you’ve read The Sandman (part of Thompson’s skill is that the characters basically behave as you’d expect them to, even if this is a kid’s tale), but it’s also innocent and completely charming. Delirium’s guileless oblivion is sweet — she doesn’t realize that you’re not really going to make an embodiment of Despair happy — and her (mostly) unwavering optimism is delightful. Even the talking dog Barnabas, who provides a voice of practicality, is kind to Delirium. In Thompson’s hands, he’s never making fun of Delirium but just trying to reason with her (and maybe get her to let him take a nap).
Thompson’s watercolors are gorgeous and playful, as always. Sure, the chibi Endless are ridiculous, but she revels in that. Delirium’s penchant for rainbows and insanity gives Thompson freedom to paint cakes covered in everything from action figures to flowers and feathers as well as Delirium’s insane “thinking cap” that consists of musical organs and pencils and bubbles. Studying the art for surprising elements is part of what makes this so much fun.
I realize that the appeal of this may just be for people who are fans of The Sandman or people who are fans of The Sandman with children, but it’s a joy in its own right. If The Sandman gave us this (and the original Little Endless Storybook), that’s a good legacy. I’d love if people pick this up without even knowing about what came before it. It’s that much fun.