Neil Gaiman returned to one of his seminal works this past year, putting together a gorgeous six-issue prequel comic to Sandman. So, what’s it like returning to this freaky world a full 25 years later?
Weird and filled with new perspective, mostly, at least according to what Gaiman told Vulture in a recent interview. Gaiman’s new Overture series serves as a prequel to the original Sandman comic arc and will lead right into that first story, more than two decades later. According to Gaiman, he’s revisiting ideas he had years ago, and learning new things he never even realized himself about the original story.
Check out an excerpt from his comments below:
"Are you plucking from the ether? Kind of. Are you making stuff up? Kind of. It’s more that you can do the equivalent of saying, ‘This character is behaving like this because he’s heartbroken.’ But then you go back and actually write the heartbreak, and you suddenly understand an awful lot more about what the character was doing. Even if nothing’s changed, you go, ‘Oh, this is because that reminded him of this, and that’s why he was exhausted.’ And so on and so forth.
There were things that I’ve known, in some cases, for over 25 years, that just never got into Sandman because there wasn’t a place for them in the monthly comic. Overture is very odd. Despite the title, it’s not really meant to be read before reading Sandman. But it’s also meant to be read before reading Sandman again. In a perfect world, for me, people would read Sandman, then read Sandman: Endless Nights, then read Sandman: Overture, and then go back and read Sandman all over again, and it would change things that they read, things they’d taken for granted, things they thought they knew.
There are stories that get explained, mysteries from the first story, mysteries from Sandman: The Doll’s House and even something from A Game Of You, things that didn’t get explained because there wasn’t room for it. And there are things about the idea of the Endless — who they were and their parentage — that I’ve been sitting on again, for 25 years. Most of what I did with Sandman: Overture was just regretting that we didn’t have a lot more pages. J.H. Williams is doing work of such glorious loveliness that asking to put in any more pages, he’d go, ‘Well, yes, but we need this finished before 2020.'"
Gaiman also touched on Sandman’s sometimes finicky place in the larger scheme of DC Comics’ canon, and confirmed that the series is most definitely still meant to be in the major DC universe inhabited by folks like Batman and Superman. Sandman is just set in the weirder and more fantastical corner of that universe:
"Because Sandman started out in the DC Universe, and even though it wandered a long way away from the DC Universe, that was always where it was set in my mind. I loved doing little things like sneaking in Mogo, the planet-size Green Lantern from the Green Lantern Corps, into Sandman: Overture, or the Space Canine Patrol Agents — these strange little DC Universe things — because it seemed fun to say, We are in deep space, but we’re in the deep space of the DC Universe, the place where the planet Krypton could be. I played with the DC Universe cosmology and whatever aspects of the DC Universe cosmology that, when I was young and strange, I added to, threw in, and created."
The first four issues of Overture are out now. Head over to Vulture to check out some preview art from the remaining issues What do you think of the Sandman prequel?