The Sandman (Vertigo)
Cover of The Sandman #1 (January 1989). Art by Dave McKean.
|Publication date||The Sandman
January 1989 - March 1996
The Sandman: The Dream Hunters
January 2009 - April 2009
The Sandman: Overture
December 2013 - Present
|Number of issues||The Sandman 75 plus one Special
The Sandman: The Dream Hunters 4
The Sandman: Overture 3
|Main character(s)||Dream of the Endless|
The Sandman is an American comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. Artists include Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel, and Michael Zulli, lettering by Todd Klein, and covers by Dave McKean. Beginning with issue #47, it was placed under the Vertigo imprint. It tells the story of Dream of the Endless, who rules over the world of dreams. It ran for 75 issues from January 1989 to March 1996, with Gaiman's contract stipulating that the series would end when he left it.
The main character of The Sandman is Dream, also known as Morpheus and other names, who is one of the seven Endless. The other Endless are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium who was once Delight, and Destruction who turned his back on his duties. Each of the brothers and sisters inhabit and are the anthropomorphic personifications of their concepts. The Sandman is a story about stories and how Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, is captured and subsequently learns that sometimes change is inevitable. The Sandman was Vertigo's flagship title, and is available as a series of ten trade paperbacks, a recolored five-volume Absolute hardcover edition with slipcase, in a black-and-white Annotated edition, and is available for digital download. Critically acclaimed, The Sandman was one of the first few graphic novels ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list, along with Maus, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. It was one of five graphic novels to make Entertainment Weekly's "100 best reads from 1983 to 2008", ranking at #46. Norman Mailer described the series as "a comic strip for intellectuals."
Various film and television versions of The Sandman have been developed unsuccessfully since the 1990s. In a panel at the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2007, Gaiman remarked that "[he'd] rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie." In 2013, Warner Bros. Studios announced that David S. Goyer will be producing an adaptation of the graphic novel, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Summary
- 3 Themes and genre
- 4 Collected editions
- 5 Reception and legacy
- 6 Adaptations into other media
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The Sandman grew out of a proposal by Neil Gaiman to revive DC's 1974–1976 series The Sandman, illustrated by Jack Kirby and Ernie Chua and written by Joe Simon and Michael Fleisher. Gaiman had considered including characters from the "Dream Stream" (including the Kirby Sandman, Brute, Glob, and the brothers Cain and Abel) in a scene for the first issue of his 1988 miniseries Black Orchid. While the scene did not make it into later drafts because Roy Thomas was using the characters in Infinity, Inc., Gaiman soon began constructing a treatment for a new series. Gaiman mentioned his treatment in passing to DC editor Karen Berger. While months later Berger offered Gaiman a comic title to work on, he was unsure his Sandman pitch would be accepted. Weeks later, Berger asked Gaiman if he was interested in doing a Sandman series. Gaiman recalled, "I said, 'Um ... yes. Yes, definitely. What's the catch?' [Berger said,] 'There's only one. We'd like a new Sandman. Keep the name. But the rest is up to you.'"
Gaiman crafted the new character from an initial image of "a man, young, pale and naked, imprisoned in a tiny cell, waiting until his captors passed away ... deathly thin, with long dark hair, and strange eyes." Gaiman patterned the character's black attire on a print of a Japanese kimono as well as his own wardrobe. Gaiman wrote an eight-issue outline and gave it to Dave McKean and Leigh Baulch, who drew character sketches. Berger reviewed the sketches (along with some drawn by Gaiman) and suggested Sam Kieth as the series' artist. Mike Dringenberg, Todd Klein, Robbie Busch, and Dave McKean were hired as inker, letterer, colorist, and cover artist, respectively. McKean's approach towards comics covers was unconventional, for he convinced Berger that the series's protagonist did not need to appear on every cover.
The debut issue of The Sandman went on sale November 29, 1988 and was cover-dated January 1989. Gaiman described the early issues as "awkward", since he, as well as Kieth, Dringenberg, and Busch, had never worked on a regular series before. Kieth quit after the fifth issue; he was replaced by Dringenberg as penciler, who was in turn replaced by Malcolm Jones III as inker. Dave McKean was the cover artist for the series through its entire run.
The character then appeared in two of DC's "Suggested for Mature Readers" titles. In Swamp Thing vol. 2 #84 (March 1989), Dream and Eve allow Matthew Cable to live in the Dreaming, because he died there, resurrecting him as a raven. He then meets John Constantine in Hellblazer #19 leading into the latter's guest appearance in Sandman #3 (March 1989).
Gaiman revisited Hell as depicted by Alan Moore in Swamp Thing, beginning with a guest appearance by Jack Kirby's Etrigan the Demon in issue #4 (April 1989). The story introduces Hell's Hierarchy (as their entry is titled in Who's Who in the DC Universe), headed by Lucifer (who would spin off into his own series in 1999), Beelzebub (later adversary to Kid Eternity), and Azazel, whom Dream defeated later in the series. Dream visited the Justice League International in the following issue, #5 (May 1989). Although DC superheroes appeared in the series as late as issue #72 (November 1995), this would not be the norm. Gaiman and artist Mike Dringenberg introduced Death, the older sister of Dream, in issue #8 (August 1989).
Gaiman began incorporating elements of the Kirby Sandman series in issue #11 (December 1989), including the changes implemented by Roy Thomas. Joe Simon and Michael Fleisher had treated the character, who resembled a superhero, as the "true" Sandman. The Thomas and Gaiman stories revealed that the character's existence was a sham created by two nightmares who had escaped to a pocket of the Dreaming. Brute and Glob would later attempt this again on Sanderson Hawkins, sidekick to Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman. Gaiman gave Jed Walker a surname and made him related to several new characters. The Thomas Sandman was Hector Hall, who married the already-pregnant Fury in the Dreaming in Infinity, Inc. #51. It was explained that Dr. Garrett Sanford, the 1970s Simon and Kirby version of the Sandman, had gone insane from the loneliness of the Dream Dimension and taken his own life. Brute and Glob put the spirit of Hector Hall, which had been cast out of his own body into Sanford's body, and it eventually began to resemble Hall's. Fury, in her civilian guise as Lyta Hall was the only superhero recurring character in the series. Even at that, her powers had come to her via the Fury Tisiphone, and the Furies, under the euphemism, "the Kindly Ones", a translation of "Eumenides", a name they earned during the events of Aeschylus's Oresteia trilogy, are major characters in the series.
Pencillers for the series included Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, Matt Wagner, Stan Woch, Bryan Talbot, Shawn McManus, Duncan Eagleson, John Watkiss, Jill Thompson, P. Craig Russell, Alec Stevens, Mike Allred, Shea Anton Pensa, Gary Amaro, Marc Hempel, Glyn Dillon, Dean Ormston, Teddy Kristiansen, Richard Case, and Jon J Muth. In addition to Malcolm Jones III, the inkers were Steve Parkhouse, George Pratt, Dick Giordano, Vince Locke, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Tony Harris, and D'Israeli.
The series follows a tragic course in which Dream, having learned a great deal from his imprisonment, tries to correct the things he has done wrong in the past. Ultimately, this causes him to mercy kill his own son, which leads to his own death at the hands of the Furies. Dream, having found himself a replacement early on in Daniel Hall, dies in issue #69 (July 1995). The remaining issues deal with Dream's funeral, Hob Gadling choosing to remain immortal in spite of Dream's passing, and two stories from the past. The series wraps with the story of William Shakespeare creating his other commission for Dream, The Tempest, his last work not in collaboration with other writers.
The Sandman became a cult success for DC Comics and attracted an audience unlike that of mainstream comics: much of the readership was female, many were in their twenties, and many read no other comics at all. Comics historian Les Daniels called Gaiman's work "astonishing" and noted that The Sandman was "a mixture of fantasy, horror, and ironic humor such as comic books had never seen before." DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz observed that "The Sandman became the first extraordinary success as a series of graphic novel collections, reaching out and converting new readers to the medium, particularly young women on college campuses, and making Gaiman himself into an iconic cultural figure." By the time the series concluded in 1996, it was outselling the titles of DC's flagship characters of Superman and Batman. Gaiman had a finite run in mind for the series, and it concluded with issue #75. Gaiman said in 1996, "Could I do another five issues of Sandman? Well, damn right. And would I be able to look at myself in the mirror happily? No. Is it time to stop because I've reached the end, yes, and I think I'd rather leave while I'm in love." The final issue, #75, was dated March 1996.
Additions and spin-offs
The Sandman has inspired numerous spin-offs. While most of these are not written by Gaiman, he did write two miniseries focusing on the character of Death. Death: The High Cost of Living was published from March 1993 to May 1993 and was based around the fable that Death takes human form once a century, to remain grounded and in touch with humanity. This was followed in 1996 by Death: The Time of Your Life, featuring the characters of Foxglove and Hazel from A Game of You. Other spin-offs include The Dreaming, Lucifer and Dead Boy Detectives.
In 1999, Gaiman wrote The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, a novella illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. As in many of the single-issue stories throughout The Sandman, Morpheus appears in Dream Hunters, but only as a supporting character. In Gaiman's afterword to the book, he describes the story was a retelling of an existing Japanese legend. There is no trace of it in the primary source he cites, and when asked, Gaiman has stated that he made up the "legend". The novel was later adapted into a four-issue miniseries by P. Craig Russell and released by Vertigo from January 2009 to April 2009.
Gaiman and Matt Wagner co-wrote Sandman Midnight Theatre, a 1995 prestige format one-shot in which Dream and Wesley Dodds meet in person after the events in the storyline, "The Python," which ended with Dodds's lover, Dian Belmont, going to England, which eventually brings both her and Dodds to Roderick Burgess's mansion. In 2001, Dream appeared in a flashback in Green Arrow vol. 3, #9, which takes place at a point during the 70 years of the first issue, as does
Gaiman wrote several new stories about Morpheus and his siblings, one story for each, which were published in 2003 as the Endless Nights anthology. The stories are set throughout history, but two take place after the final events of the monthly series. It was written by Gaiman and featured a different illustrator for each story. This collection was the first hardcover graphic novel ever to appear on the New York Times Hardcover Best Seller list.
Writer/artist Jill Thompson wrote and illustrated several stories featuring the Sandman characters. These include the manga-style book Death: At Death's Door, one of DC's best selling books of 2003, set during the events of Season of Mists, and The Little Endless Storybook, a children's book using childlike versions of the Endless.
To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Sandman, Gaiman wrote a new tale involving the battle that had exhausted Morpheus prior to the beginning of the original story. Written by Gaiman and with art by J. H. Williams III, Overture tells the previously hinted story of Dream's adventure prior to Preludes and Nocturnes which had exhausted him so much that it made Burgess' actions capable of capturing him. The limited series will have six issues in total. Issue one was released on 30 October 2013, and although it was planned to have a bi-monthly release schedule, issue 2 was delayed until 26 March 2014, which Gaiman explained was "mostly due to the giant signing tour I was on from June, and me not getting script written on the tour, with knock-on effects". Special editions are to be released approximately a month after the original editions, which will contain interviews with the creative team, alongside rare artwork.
The Sandman's main character is Dream, the Lord of Dreams also known, to various characters throughout the series, as Morpheus, Oneiros, the Shaper, the Shaper of Form, Lord of the Dreaming, the Dream King, Dream-Sneak, Dream Cat, Murphy, Kai'ckul, and Lord L'Zoril, who is the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. At the start of the series, Morpheus is captured by an occult ritual and held prisoner for 70 years. Morpheus escapes in the modern day and, after avenging himself upon his captors, sets about rebuilding his kingdom, which has fallen into disrepair in his absence. Gaiman himself has summarized the plot of the series (in the foreword to Endless Nights) as "The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision."
The character's initial haughty and often cruel manner begins to soften after his years of imprisonment at the start of the series, but the challenge of undoing past sins and changing old ways is an enormous one for a being who has been set in his ways for billions of years. In its beginnings, the series is a very dark horror comic. Later, the series evolves into an elaborate fantasy series, incorporating elements of classical and contemporary mythology, ultimately placing its protagonist in the role of a tragic hero.
The storylines primarily take place in the Dreaming, Morpheus's realm, and the waking world, with occasional visits to other domains, such as Hell, Faerie, Asgard, and the domains of the other Endless. Many use the contemporary United States of America and the United Kingdom as a backdrop. The DC Universe was the official setting of the series, but well-known DC characters and places were rarely featured after 1990. A notable exception is Lyta Hall, formerly Fury of the 1980s super-team Infinity, Inc., who figures prominently in the "Kindly Ones" story arc, and her superhuman abilities are not ignored.
Most of the storylines take place in modern times, but many short stories are set in the past, taking advantage of the immortal nature of many of the characters, and deal with historical individuals and events such as in the short story "Men of Good Fortune."
Themes and genre
The Sandman comic book series falls within the dark fantasy genre, albeit in a more contemporary setting. Critic Marc Buxton described the series as a "masterful tale that created a movement of mature dark fantasy" unseen in the fantasy genres before it. The comic book also fall into the genre of urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical drama and superhero, and is a metaphysical examination on the nature of fiction. The series is also famous for Neil Gaiman's artistic use of unique anthropomorphic personifications, mythology, legends and historical pieces. Unlike other fantasy genre, Neil Gaiman also used real life occult history in its horror setting. In its earliest story arcs, the Sandman mythos existed in the DC Universe, and numerous DC characters make an appearance. The series would later move further from referencing the DCU, but still exists in the same universe nonetheless.
Critic Hilary Goldstein described the comic book as "about the concept of dreams more so than the act of dreaming." Dreams in the series becomes the core of every story told, and the protagonist's journey is distinct and deliberate. In the early issues, responsibility and rebirth became the primary themes of the story. As Dream finally liberates himself from his occultist captors, he returns to his kingdom which had fallen on hard times and faces his other siblings, each with their own reaction to his return. The story is structured not as a series of unconnected events but to be like an incoherent dream, and many of its panels have its specific purpose in the story. Many Vertigo books since such as Transmetropolitan and Y: The Last Man, have adopted Gaiman's finite format.
The Sandman was initially published as a monthly serial, in 32-page comic books (with some exceptions to this pattern). The stories within were usually 24 pages long, with eight exceptions within the main story arc: issue #1, "Sleep of the Just" (40 pages); issue #14, "Collectors" (38 pages); issue #32, "Slaughter on Fifth Avenue" (25 pages); issue #33, "Lullabies of Broadway" (23 pages); issue #36, "Over the Sea to Sky" (39 pages); issue #50, "Distant Mirrors—Ramadan" (32 pages); issue #52, "Cluracan's Tale" (25 pages); issue #75, "The Tempest" (38 pages). As the series increased in popularity, DC Comics began to reprint them in hardcover and trade paperback editions, each representing either a complete novel or a collection of related short stories.
DC first published "The Doll's House" storyline in a collection called simply The Sandman. Shortly thereafter, the first three volumes were published and named independently and collected in an eponymous boxed set. (Death's debut story, "The Sound of Her Wings" from issue #8, appeared both at the beginning of early editions of The Doll's House and at the end of Preludes and Nocturnes, creating overlap between the first two volumes. This overlap is not present in newer editions.) Further collections would then be released shortly after their completion in serial form.
In 1998, the cover images from The Sandman were released as one compiled volume titled Dustcovers: The Collected Sandman Covers. Dave McKean's covers use techniques such as painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, and computer manipulation.
The Sandman library
A total of ten trade paperbacks contain the full run of the series and have all been kept in print. In 2010, Vertigo began releasing a new edition of Sandman books, featuring the new coloring from the Absolute Editions.
- Preludes and Nocturnes collecting The Sandman #1–8, 1988–1989, ISBN 1-56389-011-9: Dream is imprisoned for decades by an occultist seeking immortality. Upon escaping, he must reclaim his objects of power while still in a weakened state, confronting an addict to his dream powder, the legions of Hell, and an all-powerful madman (Doctor Destiny) in the process. Guest starring several DC Comics characters including John Constantine, Mister Miracle, the Martian Manhunter, the Scarecrow, Etrigan the Demon, and the original Sandman. It features the introduction of Lucifer, with a cameo by Batman.
- The Doll's House collecting The Sandman #9–16, 1989–1990, ISBN 0-930289-59-5: Morpheus tracks down rogue dreams that escaped the Dreaming during his absence. In the process, he must shatter the illusions of a family living in dreams, disband a convention of serial killers, and deal with a "dream vortex" that threatens the existence of the entire Dreaming. Features Hector Hall as the Bronze Age Sandman.
- Dream Country collecting The Sandman #17–20, 1990, ISBN 1-56389-016-X: This volume contains four independent stories. The imprisoned muse Calliope is forced to provide story ideas, a cat seeks to change the world with dreams, William Shakespeare puts on a play for an unearthly audience, and a shape-shifting immortal (obscure DC Comics character Element Girl) longs for death.
- Season of Mists collecting The Sandman #21–28, 1990–1991, ISBN 1-56389-041-0: Dream travels to Hell to free a former lover, Nada, whom he condemned to torment thousands of years ago. There, Dream learns that Lucifer has abandoned his domain. When Lucifer gives Hell's key (and therefore, the ownership of Hell) to the Sandman, Morpheus himself becomes trapped in a tangled network of threats, promises, and lies, as gods and demons from various pantheons seek ownership of Hell. Wesley Dodds and Hawkman (Carter Hall) appear in one panel.
- A Game of You collecting The Sandman #32–37, 1991–1992, ISBN 1-56389-089-5: Barbie, a New York divorcée (introduced in The Doll's House), travels to the magical realm that she once inhabited in her dreams, only to find that it is being threatened by the forces of the Cuckoo. This series introduces the character of Thessaly, who will play a key role in Morpheus' eventual fate.
- Fables and Reflections collecting The Sandman #29–31, 38–40, 50; Sandman Special #1; and Vertigo Preview #1, 1991–1993, ISBN 1-56389-105-0: A collection of short stories set throughout Morpheus' history, most of them originally published directly before or directly after the "Game of You" story arc. Four issues, dealing with kings and rulers, were originally published under the label Distant Mirrors, while three others, detailing the meetings of various characters, were published as the "Convergences" arc. Fables and Reflections includes the Sandman Special, originally published as a stand-alone issue, which assimilates the myth of Orpheus into the Sandman mythos, as well as a very short Sandman story from the Vertigo Preview promotional comic.
- Brief Lives collecting The Sandman #41–49, 1992–1993, ISBN 1-85286-577-6: Dream's erratic younger sister Delirium convinces him to help her search for their missing brother, the former Endless Destruction, who left his place among the "family" three hundred years before. Their quest is marred by the death of all around them, and eventually Morpheus must turn to his son Orpheus to find the truth, and undo an ancient sin.
- Worlds' End collecting The Sandman #51–56, 1993, ISBN 1-4176-8617-0: A "reality storm" (see Zero Hour: Crisis in Time) strands travelers from across the cosmos at the "Worlds' End Inn". To pass the time, they exchange stories. Guest-starring Prez and Wildcat.
- The Kindly Ones collecting The Sandman #57–69 and Vertigo Jam #1, 1993–1995, ISBN 1-56389-204-9: In the longest Sandman story, Morpheus becomes the prey of the Furies, avenging spirits who torment those who spill family blood.
- The Wake collecting The Sandman #70–75, 1995–1996, ISBN 1-56389-287-1: The conclusion of the series, wrapping up the remaining loose ends in a three-issue "wake" sequence, followed by three self-contained stories. Features a guest appearance by Wesley Dodds, and cameos by Batman, the Martian Manhunter, Clark Kent, Darkseid, the Phantom Stranger, Doctor Occult, John Constantine, and the Black Spider.
The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by J. H. Williams III, returned in October 2013 as a limited series. The six part prequel, Overture, tells the previously untold story that lead to Morpheus' capture by Roderick Burgess in the first issue of the monthly series.
The DC Comics Absolute Edition series are large 8" by 12" prints of a considerably higher quality and price than the library edition, and include a leather-like cover and a slipcase. Many of the early stories have been extensively retouched and/or recolored with Gaiman's approval.
- The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1 collecting The Sandman #1–20, November 2006, ISBN 1-4012-1082-1
- The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 2 collecting The Sandman #21–39, October 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1083-X
- The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 3 collecting The Sandman #40–56, along with Vertigo Preview #1 and Sandman Special #1, June 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1084-8
- The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 4 collecting The Sandman #57–75, November 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1085-6
- The Absolute Death collecting The Sandman #8 and #20, Death: The High Cost of Living, "Death Talks About Life" AIDS pamphlet, Death: The Time of Your Life, Vertigo: Winter's Edge 2, "Death and Venice" from Endless Nights, "The Wheel" from 9-11 and extras from A Death Gallery, November 2009, ISBN 1-4012-2463-6
- The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 5 collecting The Sandman: Endless Nights plus The Dream Hunters and Sandman Midnight Theatre, November 2011, ISBN 1-4012-3202-7
The first volume of The Absolute Sandman was published in November 2006; it collected the first 20 issues (Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll's House, and Dream Country). The volume features a copy of the original series outline and other bonus features, such as a new introduction by the president of DC Comics, a new afterword, and a reproduction of the original comic draft and notes for "A Midsummer Night's Dream". In promotion of this reissuing, DC issued a refurbished edition of the first issue of the series.
While initially hesitant about releasing annotated editions, Gaiman eventually changed his mind when he forgot a reference when asked about it by a reader. The task of annotating the series was undertaken by Gaiman's friend Leslie S. Klinger of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes who worked from the original scripts given to him by Gaiman.
The first volume of The Annotated Sandman was published by DC Comics in January 2012 as a large 12" by 12" black-and-white book with an introduction by Gaiman and included issues #1-20. The annotations are presented on a page-by-page, panel-by-panel basis, with quoted sections from Gaiman's scripts and insight into the various historical, mythological and DC Universe references included in the comic. The second volume annotating issues #21-39 was released in November 2012. The third volume covering issues #40-44, The Sandman Special #1 and the story "How They Met Themselves" from Vertigo: Winter's Edge #3 is scheduled for release in October 2014.
The Sandman Omnibus, a massive two-volume hardcover edition was released in 2013 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Sandman. Volume 1 collects issues #1-37 and The Sandman Special #1 with Volume 2 collecting issues #38-75 with stories from Vertigo Jam #1 and Vertigo: Winter's Edge. Both volumes are printed with the Absolute edition recoloring, feature a leather-like cover in black and red, and have over 1000 pages.
A special Silver version of The Sandman Omnibus was released as well. Limited to 500 copies and autographed by Gaiman, the Silver edition includes both volumes with a slipcase, silver-like finish and a numbered page with Gaiman's signature.
Reception and legacy
The Sandman #19, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", won the World Fantasy Award in 1991 for Best Short Fiction. The Sandman and its spin-offs have won over 26 Eisner Awards, including three for Best Continuing Series, one for Best Short Story, four for Best Writer (Neil Gaiman), seven for Best Lettering (Todd Klein), and two for Best Penciller/Inker (one each for Charles Vess and P. Craig Russell). The Sandman: The Dream Hunters was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Related Book in 2000. The Dream Hunters and Endless Nights won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative in 1999 and 2003, respectively. That same year, Season of Mists won the Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize for Scenario. In 2005, IGN declared The Sandman as the best Vertigo comic ever. Marc Buxton of Comic Book Resources rank it as the #1 in its list of "The 10 Greatest Fantasy Comic of All Time", commenting that the series "broke new ground" and describing it as "the greatest and most daring fantasy comic of all time." The Sandman was also one of the first few graphic novels ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Hillary Goldstein of IGN praised the comic book, saying that it "is truly the cream of the crop when it comes to Vertigo books. Neil Gaiman's work on the series is considered legendary for a reason. This story, in its entirety, is every bit as good as Watchman and of equal (if not greater) literary merit. Were I to list the 100 best single comic-book issues I have ever read, three would come from this collection. Whether you have read The Sandman before or are a first timer, this is the one book you need to buy this fall. The stories within are magnificent and the care taken in reproducing Gaiman's work is the same you'd expect for any great work of literature."
Adaptations into other media
Throughout the late 1990s, a movie adaptation of the comic was periodically planned by Warner Bros., parent company of DC Comics. Roger Avary was originally attached to direct after the success of Pulp Fiction, collaborating with Pirates of the Caribbean screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio in 1996 on a revision of their first script draft, which merged the "Preludes and Nocturnes" storyline with that of "The Doll's House". Avary intended the film to be in part visually inspired by animator Jan Švankmajer's work. Avary was fired after disagreements over the creative direction with executive producer Jon Peters, best known for Batman and Superman Lives. It was due to their meeting on the Sandman movie project that Avary and Gaiman collaborated one year later on the script for Beowulf. The project carried on through several more writers and scripts. A later draft by William Farmer, reviewed at Ain't It Cool News, was met with scorn from fans. Gaiman called the last screenplay that Warner Bros. would send him "not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read." Gaiman has said that his dissatisfaction with how his characters were being treated had dissuaded him from writing any more stories involving the Endless, although he has since written Endless Nights. By 2001, the project had become stranded in development hell. In a Q&A panel at Comic-Con 2007, Gaiman remarked, "I'd rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man." That same year, he stated that he could imagine Terry Gilliam as a director for the adaptation : "I would always give anything to Terry Gilliam, forever, so if Terry Gilliam ever wants to do Sandman then as far as I'm concerned Terry Gilliam should do Sandman." In 2013, DC President Diane Nelson says that a Sandman film will be as rich as the Harry Potter universe. It has been announced that David S. Goyer will be producing an adaptation of the graphic novel, alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Neil Gaiman. Jack Thorne has been hired to write the script. The film is scheduled for a December 2016 release.
- Due to the prolonged development period of the film, in 2010 DC Entertainment shifted focus onto developing a television series adaptation. Film director James Mangold pitched a series concept to cable channel HBO, whilst consulting with Gaiman himself on an unofficial basis, but this proved to be unsuccessful. It was reported in September 2010 that Warner Bros. Television was licensing the rights to produce a TV series, and that Supernatural creator Eric Kripke was their preferred candidate to adapt the saga.
- In March 2011 it was announced via Neil Gaiman's web blog that while he and DC liked Eric Kripke and his approach, it didn't feel quite right. The author hoped to launch the series in another form but plans for a television adaptation are on hold as production moves forward on the movie.
- DC and Fox are currently developing a TV series based on the Sandman character Lucifer.
- List of The Sandman characters
- Sandman (Wesley Dodds), the Golden Age DC character
- Sandman (Garrett Sanford/Hector Hall), the Bronze Age DC character
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