In 1997 I started a website to learn HTML. It felt like I was kind of late to the party. Mosaic had already come and gone. Internet Explorer was the next big thing. I remember thinking about a subject for my website. I was an avid reader of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, and since these were quite popular online, I decided to make that my subject. The site went through some design iterations and internet addresses, before finding a permanent address: dyve.net/sandman.
For a brief while, my site was a hotspot of Sandman information. That made me immensely proud. Someone gave me Neil Gaiman’s e-mail address and I actually worked up the courage to e-mail him. A missed opportunity for a cup of coffee at a Fantasy Fair in The Netherlands still haunts me occasionally.
Writing The Wake taught me the basics of HTML. Maintenance on the Sandman Annotations taught me that background research is hard work, and that a smart audience will not and should not let you get away with laziness. Also, asking smart people their opinions can be a rather cathartic experience. I remember a particularly honest reply from Neil when I asked him about the quality of the Death Annotations. If you want to do something, invest the time and do it right. That’s the main lesson I learned I think. And I occasionally have to relearn it.
I’ve always kept the site online, even though I stopped active development many years ago. Even a fantastic Sandman Prequel couldn’t bother me to update the site. That’s when I started thinking about taking it offline. There’s still a good amount of visitors finding The Wake through Google and other links, but looking at it now, it’s piece of nostalgia that consists mostly of carefully copied images and texts, with an occasional addition of my own.
So, time to let it go. If you come looking for the site, you’ll probably end up at this post. A eulogy for The Wake, if you will.
I have archived the sources to a public GitHub repository. If you want to see an archived copy of a nice Sandman site, you can visit The Wake at http://dyve.github.io/sandman/. It will probably work. If you want to use the original stuff I wrote, consider it CC-BY. Note that quite a lot of it is actually copyrighted material, by DC Comics and possibly others.
One more thing. While archiving the site, I discovered that a piece of original fan fiction I wrote was accidentally taken offline years ago. And that people were actually wondering where it went. It’s a short story in the Sandman universe featuring Delirium and Dream, and it’s back online now.