If DC Vertigo has a flagship comic book over its 25-year history, that book would have to be Sandman. Created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and a pantheon of the world's best comic artists, Sandman can best be described as human-interest stories with supernatural overtones, thanks to the seven Endless who make up the book's pantheon: Dream (the main character of Sandman, also known as Morpheus), Death, Destiny, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium.
Sandman came back in 2013, a full 17 years after its debut issue, with the publication of The Sandman: Overture, a prequel story about Dream, with art by the legendary JH Williams. That story was so well received that DC and Gaiman planned an even more ambitious relaunch for late 2018, called The Sandman Universe and consisting of four titles and a one-shot.
The Sandman Universe itself will be a one-shot set after the original series, featuring all four series writers and Bilquis Evely on art, setting up the ongoing series.
House of Whispers will be by Nalo Hopkinson and Dominike Stanton, and will be about a sister house to the House of Mystery and House of Secrets.
The Books of Magic, by Kat Howard and Tom Fowler, will continue the story of Timothy Hunter from the original series.
The Dreaming, by Si Spurrier and Evely, will be about supporting cast from Sandman searching for the missing Dream.
And, finally, Lucifer (who should be familiar to fans of the TV show with the same character), will be by Dan Watters and Max and Sebastian Fiumara and will be about an amnesiac, elderly Lucifer.
Here is an exclusive look at four variant covers for the Sandman Universe one-shot, along with comments from the cover artists themselves (many of whom contributed to Sandman in important ways during its prior incarnation).
"Sandman was a turning point in my comics career," she told SYFY WIRE. "It will always be one of the most important pieces of comic storytelling that I was able to contribute to. I love that I was able to build a little bit on the Endless mythos and bring some whimsy to this Universe! Collaborating with Neil Gaiman has been and will continue to be, appropriately, a dream!"
"Ever since I left my work on The Sandman, I've always been tempted to sneak back and do one more piece for Neil," Kieth said. "I considered maybe a portfolio piece or some pin-up. Years passed and I had to move on, and then lo and behold, the amazing DC Vertigo editor Molly Mahan popped into my life (and e-mail), asking if I'd be interested in drawing this cover for the Sandman Universe. And so, I presume, both Neil and Molly granted my secret wish and brought a compassionate sliver of my Sandy closure."
P. Craig Russell
"Neil Gaiman's Sandman stories have been a part of my creative life since the early '90s when Neil first sent me the script, with its 'Arabian Nights' setting, to Sandman #50," Russell said. "From there to the 18th century Italy of Death and Venice and then the Japanese fairytale setting of The Dream Hunters and numerous illustrations sprinkled throughout, it's always been a delight to be asked to contribute to the Sandman mythos."
"I've very much enjoyed working with Neil Gaiman and his characters on many other projects (covers to American Gods, our prints with Neverwhere), and it is a joy to create a cover for Sandman," Mack said. "In January 1993, I attended my first big New York comic con and I showed my work to then Vertigo editor Shelly Bond. She looked at my work and told me that maybe I should work on Sandman with her. I was just starting out, we had a great conversation, and she gave me her number to keep in touch.
"I was so energized by the creative vibe of the convention experience, that on the ride back from New York, I began writing a personal story that would become my own creator-owned series Kabuki, which I was immersed in for the next several years," Mack continued. "But I've often thought how cool it would have been to work on a Sandman project with Neil sometime. And now, 25 years later, I have turned in my very first Sandman cover for this series."