Audible’s acclaimed adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series has offered fans new and old a fresh take on Morpheus and his siblings in The Dreaming. For New York Comic Con 2020 Metaverse, Kevin Smith moderated the panel featuring Gaiman, director Dirk Maggs, composer James Hannigan, and actor James McAvoy, who voices the titular character.  

The Sandman
Neil Gaiman

The theme of sound and how vital mastering the right tone was to the finished piece were the topics of the discussion. The guests chatted about how even when reading the comic, there was a specific voice to Morpheus, mainly in how the lettering was presented and how his balloons were distinctly different from the rest of the characters. Having McAvoy play him was a smart decision, and it was interesting to hear the actor’s take on finding the character’s voice when delivering dialogue.

The Sandman
James McAvoy

McAvoy explained, “It’s difficult because he is a protagonist in the sense that the audience follows him through so much of the story. But he can’t just be an everyman because he’s not. He’s not any man. He is his own man and he’s putting his own mind back together…so he’s still trying to figure out who he is, who he’s going to be, who he used to be. He’s got to be other. He’s got to be outer. He’s got to be alien. But he can’t be Spock. He can’t be emotionless, he can’t be humorless. His emotion and humor are not reactive to the same thing as you or I, but it’s got to be enough that we still connect to the guy.”

Music is always a crucial part of a movie, heightening tension and giving the audience clues about what emotion to feel as they watch the action, but in Audible’s production where there is only sound, the score must be subtle yet effective. Composer Hannigan was tasked with developing a score that represented The Dreaming but was strong enough to create an atmosphere without visual cues that cinematic scores often rely on. And for the world of The Sandman where the lines between real and ethereal often crisscross, atmosphere is everything.

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