Sandman (Golden Age)
at Dragon*Con 2005


Dan made the cape, gas gun, and gas mask himself - details below.

Below: With Black Canary and Huntress  -  Bottom: with JLA


History: The character is "the Sandman", who is a DC character from the Golden Age of comics.  He appeared about the same time as Batman (1939) and was one of the original members of the Justice Society of America.  He faded away by the late '40s but was brought back in the '60s when he made regular appearances in the Justice League of America (in the cross-over stories with the Justice Society) and other stories.  A series called Sandman Mystery Theater ran for about four years in the late '80s but it was a "mature" title and much darker than the Golden Age character.  A new version of the Sandman is the leader of the new JSA which has a regular book, and the original Sandman has appeared a number of times in flashback stories in that title, too. 

The Golden Age Sandman has been making fairly regular appearances in limited series, such as a recent four part story with the current Starman.  Still, he's a fairly obscure comic book hero but that was one of the things I liked about him.  There would not be a crowd of Sandman costumes as there are for the really popular characters like Superman, Batman and Spiderman (in fact, there was one other Sandman at Dragon*Con this year but he was portraying the character from SMT, the 1980's series).  Plus, he is a character that a middle aged man who is not in great shape and wears glasses can play.  The gas mask covers the glasses and he wears a double-breasted suit instead of a spandex tights.  I was pleasantly surprised by how many people at Dragon*Con did recognize the character.  Apparently, Sandman has a small but enthusiastic fandom.  So, in nearly all ways, the costume was a success.

Construction: The "gas mask" was made from a paintball mask.  Alex Toth has suggested that the Sandman's mask is based on the mask worn by a villain, the evil Captain Judas, in Milt Caniff's "Terry and the Pirates".  Although some latter-day artists draw it like a true vintage-1940 gas mask, it was never intended to be that.  Interestingly, much later Neil Gaiman in his highly successful series of graphic novel about another Sandman linked the two characters and indicated that the design of the original Sandman's mask partially mirrored the Dream King's battle helmet.  From a practical standpoint, using a paintball mask as the foundation for the mask meant it would fit over my glasses and would be reasonably comfortable and have adequate ventilation to keep the lenses from fogging.  The hat is an Australian bush hat with a silk ribbon replacing the original leather hat band.  I needed the extra brim width of the bush hat to compensate for the bulkiness of the paintball mask.  The narrow brim of a real fedora would have looked silly.  The gun was made using standard modeling techniques from a water pistol, a piece of vacuum ducting and sheet styrene.  (Click here to see photos of the gun and description of how it was made.) It is modeled on the gas gun from the Sandman Mystery Theater (SMT) series and is the costume's nod to that series.  Plus, I liked the design of the SMT gun.  It was based on real gun technology of the period and was a reasonable interpretation of what a gas gun might actually look like if it were made in the late 1930s.  The final factor was the existence of plans for the gun in one of the early issues of SMT.  As a modeler, it's hard to resist having plans from which to work.  Putting the rest of the costume together was straightforward, though a good deal of luck was involved in finding a green double breasted suit that fit me reasonably well, for $20 at a thrift store.

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