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SDCC 2012: New Neil Gaiman Sandman With J.H. Williams III


By Todd Allen

It’s the 25th anniversary of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.  Could DC let this go by without new material?  No.  And not only did they get Gaiman to agree to do a new tale, they got a real artist’s artist to illustrate it in the form of J.H. Williams III.  Technically, this sounds like it will be a prequel, if not a prologue, to the original series.  It should end just as the original issue #1 is about to begin.

This is one of those books where the above information is probably all you really need to hear and you’re already either interested or not.

It’s interesting that DC has handled their relationship with Gaiman better than with some other creators.  There have been times when Gaiman has declined to another story and DC has left the property alone.  This time he agreed to do it.  It’s nice to be able to see a creator return to “his” property.

Official PR follows (though I’d add that Gaiman’s Sandman would show up on the NY Times list in the “regular” list, not the comics-specific lists they have now — it caused quite a stir at the time):

Twenty-five years after one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all-time hit shelves, award winning and critically acclaimed author and screenwriter, Neil Gaiman, announces his return to THE SANDMAN. Gaiman made the surprise announcement, via video, at DC Entertainment’s Vertigo panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.  Karen Berger, Executive Editor of Vertigo, then revealed that Gaiman is paired with artist, JH Williams III (BATWOMAN) for the series, who appeared on stage to an already stunned and elated crowd. THE SANDMAN mini-series will be published by Vertigo in 2013.

One of the few graphic novels ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list and lauded by critics the world over, THE SANDMAN is credited with changing the path of storytelling in the comic book industry. Gaiman will pick up his pen for the first time in more than 10 years since ending the series to continue a story that he feels still has yet to be told.

“When I finished writing THE SANDMAN, there was one tale still untold. The story of what had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in THE SANDMAN #1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war. It was a story that we discussed telling for Sandman’s 20th anniversary… but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman’s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told,” said Gaiman.

“There’s nothing like a Neil Gaiman story,” said Berger, “and there’s nothing like having Neil back home on THE SANDMAN, his dark, soulful, literary epic that transformed comics and continues to captivate countless new readers year after year. Working with him again, and with JH Williams, the extraordinary and groundbreaking artist, is truly the stuff dreams are made of.”

DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio added, “As accomplished as Neil Gaiman is in other media—whether it be novels, film and even music—he still has an incredible passion and love for comics. It’s exciting to have him back. J.H. Williams will be the perfect complement to Neil’s writing. He has a history of creating art that pushes the boundaries of the medium.”

Each issue of THE SANDMAN mini-series will be published day-and-date digitally.  The title will be announced at a later date.


  1. Wow Neil is doing a prequel of Sandman on the 25th anniversary to sell more TBPs. Holy cow, I would have never guessed and a meaningless prequel from DC? I can’t for the V for Vendetta prequel U is Umbrage.

  2. Jesse, this is a story that Neil Gaiman has talked about existing for quite some time. That he had worked out a backstory when he hinted this story early on in the Sandman comic, but it just didn’t fit into those early issues. Afterwards as the comic went forward he never went back to tell it.

    There was talk about him writing it a few years ago, but DC & Gaiman couldn’t agree on the contract. DC wanted Gaiman work off the same contract he had when he was an unknown in the 1980’s and first signed up for Sandman. Gaiman apparently wanted a bigger cut, since he now has quite the same and they disagreed so he walked away from the project. It’s good to hear that the 2 sides manage work it out.

    However, as soon as I saw that it was a new Sandman series, I knew exactly what story it was going to be before reading about it.

  3. too bad neil didnt get the memo that DC doesnt care about creators and will only crush their spirit under their corporate boot of profit seeking. he’ll learn eventually tho. if not on this project then on a subsequent one.

    jk guys!

  4. Whats wrong with you people?! Vertigo has offered the consumer wonderfully innovative, creative and intriguing books that have transcended the medium. We are now looking forward to a continuation of a treasured character from a man who could easily make a lot more money workin on other projects. Appreciate this if you liked the original story and support a great genre that’s not very prevalent. Pricks.

  5. PS. Jesse has probably been waiting a long time to launch that lame joke. I’m sure you and Comic Book Guy crafted that bit of genius together.

  6. “too bad neil didnt get the memo that DC doesnt care about creators and will only crush their spirit under their corporate boot of profit seeking.”

    Yeah, this totally validates any unethical behavior on DC’s part, ever. If Neil Gaiman writes a SANDMAN prequel, DC can’t ever have been wrong on anything.

  7. This is one of the few announcements from DC in the past year or two that I’m actually looking forward to reading.

    I agree with Mr. Fabb. As soon as I saw the announcement, I knew exactly what story it was going to be.

  8. A few years ago I did a mock-up for the cover of a sequel to V for Vendetta, set in fascist America in the early 21st Century, called W for Warfare. Yes: that “W”. :) (Click my name to see it.)

  9. How long before DC announces “Before Sandman”?

    I have a feeling that Gaiman and Williams will work very, very well together.

    But I confess I’d rather see Gaiman finish Sweeney Todd.

  10. That logo is a MONSTROSITY. Seriously, what is up with DC’s New 52 logo work, who are they hiring?! College students who are still in college? Geesh.

    I hate to be harsh, but I’m a designer, and man…

  11. Vertigo and the main DCU have split into two very different entities over the years. Yes I know they’re both owned by the same company, but I’m not convinced it’s fair to lump Vertigo in with this Before Watchman business. I think Karen Berger has done a good job of trying to sheild Vertigo from the more cashgrab centric attitude of the New52. Cause you know if Dan Didio was doing this, it would written by Geoff Johns with 5 varient covers & Dream would be a Lobo-esque alien from Venus or some other BS.

  12. How long before DC announces “Before Sandman”?

    That’s exactly what this is by another name, right? It’s being described as the events right before the first issue.

    All the retcon mania makes me wonder whether Roy Thomas is the father of modern superhero comics, or at least their storytelling choices. We apparently need to explain/retcon EVERYTHING (often poorly).

  13. Are we having some kind communications breakdown here or what? Neil explicitly stated that he’s telling a story that he had planned to write since the first Sandman run ended. It’s not a retcon and it’s not part of the New 52 nonsense. This is something that absolutely belongs in the Sandman mythos, as stated by the creator of said mythos.

    Gah, between this crap and the hate The Legend of Korra is getting I’d swear the internet is just getting worse.

  14. “How is this a retcon?”

    It’s creating continuity retroactively without invalidating earlier stories. It will inevitably have *something* original to add to the Sandman story. Otherwise I trust that Gaiman wouldn’t waste his time (or ours).

  15. Geeze…

    Here are the bullet points:
    1. It’s a new Sandman story from the original creator.

    2. He’s collaborating with J. H. Williams III (Batwoman, Promethea), who is new to the mythos. Seeing as how Mr. Williams can draw just about anything Gaiman can imagine, and that Gaiman tailors his storytelling to the illustrator’s strengths, it looks to be an amazing story.

    3. It’s a story Gaiman has been contemplating for quite some time, perhaps as long as the series itself.

    4. It’s a new story from Neil Gaiman.

    What’s to complain about? The price?

    If memory serves, Gaiman was also considering a Superman “sun god” story. There is one panel of Death and Destruction on Krypton, but any story where Superman appears turns into a Superman story, so this would probably be more similar to his Batman two-parter.

    Too bad we’ll never see his Swamp Thing arc.

  16. As soon as fans start arguing about what constitutes a “retcon”, the discussion is pretty much over. :(

    The more important point is that this is a story by the original writer who thinks it adds to the original story. Whether it’s set before, during, or after that original series is pretty much beside the point.

  17. I was just joshin’ around. No offense but it is somewhat hard to take the piece out of the context of the last year. I am pretty sure DC is publishing these things for profit and if you can’t see the connections and you think it’s art of art’s sake, cool. Either way I am sure it will be fun.

  18. God, even with the original creator writing this prequel, people complain. It makes me think people would of winged about Before Watchman even if Moore WAS involved.

    Who am I kidding, of course they would have!! haha…

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