Desire (DC Comics)

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Desire is a fictional character from the DC comic book series The Sandman (1988 - 1996). The character first appeared in The Sandman vol. 2, #10 (November 1989), and was created by Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg.[1]


Publication history

Desire is first featured in the second issue of The Doll's House (the second trade paperback collecting The Sandman series). Gaiman claims to have drawn inspiration for Desire from "the sexy, androgynous" prints created by Patrick Nagel in the 1980s, and Annie Lennox circa 1987 while she was a member of the Eurythmics.[2] Dringenberg recalls differences he and Gaiman had in their view of Desire's visual appearance. While Gaiman saw Desire as being somewhere between David Bowie and Annie Lennox, Dringenberg saw it more in terms of Duran Duran (what he describes as "sort of two-dimentional and slightly vapid"). Dringenberg also cites his then girlfriend as being a visual inspiration for Desire; rendering the character in her likeness but with very short hair. Dringenberg points out the primary difference between their vision for Desire being that Gaiman's idea for the character was essentially sexless and unsatisfying. Dringenberg, on the other hand, saw it as being omni-sexual and perennially tempting. According to Dringenberg, his vision calls for a Desire with breasts and a bulge between its legs, and Gaiman's calls for nothing.[3] Gaiman agrees with Dringenberg's view by explaining that Desire had to be made both male and female, because the character represents everything someone might desire. He adds that Desire being both male and female (or neither male nor female) provides symmetry to the Endless family: three males (Destiny, Dream, and Destruction), three females (Death, Despair, and Delirium), and Desire.[2]

Todd Klein was asked to develop unique lettering styles for many of the main characters featured in The Sandman series. When he designed the typeface used for Desire's lettering, he rendered the letters in the style of Art Nouveau posters and ads to correspond with its Patrick Nagel visuals.[4]

When Desire is first introduced in The Doll House, it is shown within the Threshold: a giant, flesh and blood replica of itself which it calls its home.[5] Gaiman admits that he stole the name for the Threshold from a story Clive Barker had been planning to do in which Gaiman was going to be included as a character. He liked the name because threshold contains hold, meaning home or fortress. The idea for Desire living in its own body came from Gaiman deciding that desire lives under the skin.[6] The conclusion of The Doll's House culminates in a confrontation between Dream and Desire. The reader has learned that Desire rapes Unity Kinkaid as part of a plot to ensnare its brother Dream.[7] During an interview, Hy Bender asks Gaiman why Desire sleeping with a mortal woman isn't against a rule in DC continuity stating that the Endless aren't allowed to mate with mortals. Gaiman corrects him by pointing out that the rule is that the Endless cannot love mortals, and that rape is something altogether different. He goes on to point out that these plot devices help set up the Dream versus Desire conflict that spans The Sandman series.[6] Bender also asks Gaiman about Desire appearing as an antagonist in The Sandman. Gaiman explains that Desire's role as a "villain" is due to its personality conflict with Dream. With Dream being the main character of the series, Desire was shortchanged. He goes on to say that if he were to write Desire Comics, that readers would have seen Dream in more of an antagonist role.[2]

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