In the Sandman story, "The Golden Boy", we see a strange figure reappear a number of times called Boss Smiley. He is apparently "the prince in that world", and appears at the end of the issue in a God-like situation despite being portrayed as more like a mob boss through the comic. Was it ever revealed, in- or out-of-comic, what Boss Smiley was supposed to represent?

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    Prez was a real 4-issue DC comic released in 1973-1974. Boss Smiley was a character in the comic. If there is an answer to what you are asking, it would be in one of Gaiman's blog postings or interviews. Jul 8, 2012 at 1:22
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    Can you make your comment into an answer? It may just be that it's a reference to that comic, so I figure you're currently correct unless anyone provides a quote/blog to say otherwise. :)
    – dlanod
    Jul 8, 2012 at 1:35

4 Answers 4


Here is the quote from the Sandman Companion, pp. 181 - 182:

Neil Gaiman: Next is "The Golden Boy," my Horatio Alger story, of which I'm very fond.

Hy Bender: You're referring to your take on the hippie-type DC character from the early 1970s named Prez who, thanks to his moral character and diligence with clocks, became the first teenage president of the Unite States.

Neil Gaiman: Well, during that period -- the summer of 1993 -- I was still new to the U.S., and I was struck by how powerfully my friends reacted to Bill Clinton, who had become president about 8 months earlier. They had been so happy when Clinton was elected, as if he was going to fix everything. ..... It seemed clear to me that they were yearning for a savior, someone to sort it out all for them.

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    This explains who Prez is - but who is Boss Smiley? May 12, 2017 at 12:00
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    I don’t think this is really an answer. Nov 18, 2019 at 22:40
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    I fail to see how this relates to the question asked. It appears to be an answer to an entirely different question.
    – Valorum
    Nov 18, 2019 at 22:45

Boss Smiley represented the corrupt side of politics--hence the title "boss"--attempting to influence good, honest politicians like the titular character of DC's bizarre "Prez: the First Teen President". His face was a smiley-face in reference to the public face such politicians like Prez Rickard, a teenager who was elected president, for some reason. In-universe, however, there was no explanation for why a major politician had a spherical yellow head; just remember this is Silver Age DC (albeit very LATE Silver Age), and unless somebody later retconned it, you shouldn't push yourself to figure out the logic behind it.

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    Comics have never made photorealistic art their goal, it should suffice it to say that this was obviously a caricature meant to describe the person's character in a way that a more realistic depiction wouldn't.
    – John O
    Jul 1, 2013 at 19:53
  • Smiley is reminiscent of the style of dick tracy villains, none of which were photorealistic even though some of the good guys often were.
    – Abulafia
    Sep 16, 2013 at 16:48

In "The Golden Boy," Boss Smiley is pretty clearly a Satanic figure, at least of that world (which may not be a "mini-dreaming" at all but a universe in its own right, since the DC Multiverse is, well, a multiverse, and Boss Smiley doesn't treat Dream as even Brute and Glob did).

Boss Smiley is referred to, on multiple occasions, as "the prince of this world" (or, in your screenshot, "prince of that world"). This is a clear reference to Satan, who in the Gospel of John is referred to as the prince of this world:

  • John 12:31 - Now it is time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
    • John 14:30 - I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, [...]

(All verses taken from the New International Version)

This doesn't mean that Boss Smiley is related to the figure Lucifer, though, but may just mean that we should understand that he fits into the Satanic archetype, in the same way that Prez is a "type and shadow" of Jesus.

EDIT: I should add that there are several other clear parallels to Satan and Jesus: Prez's mother loses him, then finds him in City Hall, just as Jesus was lost as a child and found in the Temple, and in both cases the elders are astonished by the boy's wisdom; and Boss Smiley's offer to "show [him] all the cities and states of America" pretty clearly parallels the temptations of Christ in the desert.


This might be too late to reply... but i had some views about the same and I wanted to share them.

In my opinion, boss smiley is a representation of DESIRE. We see him trying to lure the PREZ at every step : in becoming president, in his fiance's death when he offers him to return her(though I don't understand how he could).

This is further explained when in the end Boss smiley says to dream and I quote "This is my world. I rule here. you have no power here. Leave this place -- NOW!" Here he might be referring to his realm(or his home), the THRESHOLD.

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