Vidas Breves, o começo do fim, por Neil Gaiman e Jill Thompson

Segue a Colecção Sandman, publicada semanalmente pela Levoir/Público, com o 7º volume, Vidas Breves.

Delírio, a mais jovem da família, deseja reconciliar-se com o irmão Destruição, que 300 anos antes abandonou a família e desapareceu. Para tal, contacta Desejo e Desespero, mas estes recusam ajudá-la. Sonho, desiludido com a sua última paixão, é o único disponível para ajudar a irmã, mas para ele é apenas uma maneira de esquecer o seu amor perdido.

Na sua busca por Destruição, os dois irmãos irão encontrar inúmeras personagens fantásticas, desde antigos deuses esquecidos, a humanos imortais que estão vivos desde a aurora dos tempos, e que começam a morrer de forma misteriosa em acidentes inexplicáveis, tais como a deusa Ishtar, antiga amante de Destruição, que é aqui uma dançarina num clube de strip.

Escrita como sempre por Neil Gaiman, Vidas Breves é ilustrada por Jill Thompson, que nos consegue mostrar, no seu estilo elegante, desde o reino onírico aos mais sórdidos ambientes urbanos, estes acentuados pela arte-final de Vince Locke.

Vidas Breves 
Colecção Sandman, vol. 7
Argumento: Neil Gaiman | Lápis: Jill Thompson | Arte-final: Vince Locke, Dick Giordano
Cores: Daniel Vozzo | Capa: Dave McKean 
168 pág., cor, capa dura, 17 de Novembro 

Brief Lives foi publicado originalmente em The Sandman nº 41-49 (DC Comics, Setembro 1992/ Maio 1993). A partir do nº 47 (Março 1993) a série passou a ser publicada sob o selo Vertigo.

No The Sandman Companion (Vertigo, 1999) Hy Bender conversa com Gaiman acerca deste arco de histórias:

HB: In your script for issue 49, you say Brief Lives is about two things: "Change, and what change means to people. And life - its fragile, brief, impermanent nature... the way people come and go... the sheer wonderful teeming nature of human life.”

NG: It's also a journey; and probably the most linear storyline in the series, tying up a lot of plot threads. Brief Lives provides information on how and why Destruction left; it tells of how Orpheus finally comes to die; it resolves Desire's goal of getting Dream to shed family blood, which goes back to the Emperor Norton story and The Doll's House; and it reveals a lot about Delirium... who’s one of the few changers who comes out of it more or less unscathed. But most of all, its the Sandman's story.

Da mesma edição, reproduzo aqui as explicações de Gaiman sobre a forma como caracterizou as personagens Ishtar e Tiffany:

HB: That leaves Ishtar, the goddess with the show-stopping sequence that literally brings down the house.

NG: Ishtar's story was the only significant deviation from the linear progression of Brief Lives. In both The Doll's House and Season of Mists, I'd placed a tale in the center that thematically encapsulated the entire storyline. l didn't want to be predictable and so resisted doing that here: but Ishtar 's sequence is the next closest thing.

    Em The Sandman nº 45, Ishtar dança
    ao som de Sister Midnight, música 
    escrita por Iggy Pop e David Bowie, 
    do essencial The Idiot, de 1977.

I got the idea for it about eighteen months earlier, when I attended a friend's stag party. We all had dinner, and then we were herded onto a giant bus that took us to a strip club, which is something I'd never been to before. We went in at about 7:00 p.m. and I spent a fascinated fifteen minutes looking at the girls; and then an equally fascinated twenty minutes looking at all the customers. At that point it was 7:35 p.m., and I went to my friend and said, "What happens next?" And he said. The bus comes at eleven o'clock to pick us up. Isn't that great?"And I thought,"I'm in hell.” [Laughter.] I've got to sit here for another three and a half hours, and I've already seen everything there is to see: naked girl comes on, dances, writhes around a lot, stays in front of you as long as you give her dollar bills. Sad, upset-looking men scare at her.

The whole thing struck me as a shadow of genuine sensuality; a sort of falling away from something much deeper and more mysterious. So, with nothing else to do, I started wondering,"What would happen if the Sandman came in? Or if Delirium cone in? What would happen if this place blew up?" And from that idle pondering, I came to realize that yes, this is what I was going to do; I was going to bring Dream and Delirium into this place and blow it to pieces.

About a year later, I was in Hawaii fora signing tour, and my hosts had promised to show me a good time; so I said, "Let's tour the strip clubs." They probably thought, "That Gaiman, what a libertine"; but they went along. We'd go to one club for twenty minutes, and I'd say,"Okay, good, now show me another one": and we spent a couple of hours that way, strip club hopping.

Then I wanted to interview one of the girls. I asked how one does that and was told, “Give her money and you can talk to her.” So I did, and asked her what she did outside of stripping; and she told me she was a computer programmer who was putting her boyfriend through college. [Laughter.] We had a long chat; and I walked away with enough information to write the story.

The Sandman nº 45, pág. 2

HB: Where did you find Tiffany's horrifying tale of shooting up drugs through the eyeballs?

NG: From a friend of mine who used to be both a supermodel and a heroin addict. I asked her,"How can you be an addict when you're going practically naked down catwalks and in front of cameras, with people scrutinizing your every pore?" She told me that to avoid visible needle tracks, she shot up between her toes. And she added that friends of hers, who had used up the veins in their feet, were shooting into the red stuff under their eyes. I found that memorable; and it also fit in with Sandman's "injury to the eye" motif, which pops up throughout the series.

HB: What can you say about Ishtar herself?

NG: I liked the idea of the Babylonian goddess of lust and sensuality being reduced to dancing in a strip club. I also love what she tells Tiffany about her relationship with Destruction: "In the end we split up. Fights about his family and his job.You know how it goes." [Laughter.]

Em The Sandman nº 43, Jill Thompson representa-se a si própria na personagem Etain