Between Doctor Who, Lucifer, American Gods and Good Omens, this is starting to look like the age of Neil Gaiman. Now Gaiman's most critically acclaimed work, the graphic novel series The Sandman will be airing on Netflix sometime in 2020.
The Sandman ran for 75 issues and surrounds the protagonist, Dream. Also known as Morpheus and a few other names, he is one of the seven Endless. The other Endless are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium and Destruction.
I actually only read the first of the ten paperbacks - Preludes and Nocturnes which includes The Sandman #1–8. In these first stories, Dream has been imprisoned for decades when a ritual attempting to contain Death goes array. After escaping, he has to track down his objects of power and put his kingdom back together.
The Sandman is difficult to describe
Even if you wouldn't describe yourself as a comic book fan, I would thoroughly recommend it. It's incredibly intelligent and well written (it's Gaiman, of course, it is). It's a dark and gritty urban fantasy, if you force me to put it in a genre.
But it's a lot more than that. Gaiman has a particular gift when it comes to storytelling - he tells stories about stories. Haunting ideas which get lodged in your head. It's also just amazingly beautiful. The illustrations of #1-8 are Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg.
The Sandman is part of the DC universe and through #1-8 we see cameos from several well-known characters including John Constantine, the Batman, The Green Lantern and the Scarecrow. It also features the Lucifer who'd go on to inspire Gaiman's Lucifer graphic novels and, of course, the TV series which I am a huge fan of.
From page to screen
The Sandman journey from page to screen has already been a tricky one. Originally, HBO were considering turning it into a series. When that fell through, Eric Kripke - a name fans of Supernatural will know well, was going to do it. That fell through too. In 2013, Gordon-Levitt was considering directing as well as starring in it. As you might have guessed, that fell through too, Levitt saying:
A few months ago, I came to realize that the folks at New Line and I just don’t see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be. So, unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward. Neil Gaiman's Sandman: maybe a film adaptation just isn't meant to be
If you've read any of Sandman, you might be able to see what he's talking about. It's one of those stories which has a heart which wouldn't necessarily translate to the big screen. On the other hand, I thought the same of Good Omens and was proved completely wrong.
Now, I'm not as emotionally attached to Sandman as I am to Good Omens, so I'm not coming to this in a panic they're going to screw it up. However, I'm sure there are people who will be. The only Gaiman adaption which has fallen flat for me has been American Gods. But that was because Gaiman didn't have as much creative control as he should have. In Good Omens, he did.
So the good news is that Gaiman will be writing the first episode. The showrunners will be Allan Heinberg and David S Goyer. The slightly less good news is he will be less involved with Sandman than he was with Good Omens. But more involved than he was with American Gods. Make of that what you will. After the roaring success of Good Omens and the relative flop of American Gods, you'd think Netflix would back off, but oh well.
When can we expect it?
There's no date as yet. However, it looks likely we'll have a date by the end of 2019. As Gaiman is one of my literary crushes (if you couldn't tell) I'll be revisiting Sandman when we hear more.