Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has found life again as a Netflix Original Series.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has “signed what sources describe as a massive financial deal” to turn the comic book series into a straight-to-series television show. Published from 1989-1993, The Sandman told the tale of a being known as Dream of the Endless — aka Morpheus, aka The Sandman and a host of other titles as he collected names the way most people collect friends, but he was himself nearly friendless. Captured near the beginning of the 20th Century, Morpheus (the name we prefer for him) finally escapes captivity towards its end. He returns to his domain, The Dreaming, to find it in shambles. But before he can set things right, he must collect his badges of office: his gas-mask-like helm, his ruby necklace, and a bag of sand.
Initially drawn by Sam Kieth, the story soon grows beyond that premise into an exploration of duty, personal freedom, and the nature of story itself. The heady mix of Gaiman’s plots and artwork from an assortment of people like Jill Thompson, P. Craig Russell, Colleen Doran and Kelly Jones made the series a favorite among college students and a least a few clove cigarette smoking high schoolers.
The series ended with its issue #75, though Gaiman would return to its characters from time to time. He would also authorized other creators to utilize the cast now and again. In the meantime, various producers were keen to adapt the series into a feature film. These attempts always foundered and one of these adaptation, which turned the thoughtful, but wan Morpheus into a superhero, proved the material was best left on the comic book page. Throughout the decades, Gaiman was reserved, but magnanimous about each attempt to turn his work into a movie.
But with the arrival of the Warner Bros. Television/Netflix partnership, Gaiman will be an executive producer on the series as will Krypton EP David S. Goyer — both were set to be EPs on the last attempt to make The Sandman into a film. Wonder Woman screenwriter Allan Heinberg will write the pilot and serve the series showrunner.
To be honest, The Sandman‘s best destiny was always television, if it need be adapted at all. With its varying styles, epic scope across centuries, and cast of fantastic characters, a feature film was always too small a format to contain the series’ depth and themes. Of course, one has to wonder why Warner Bros. Television was unable to sell the series to the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service, but the hefty price-tag mentioned in the THR article may offer us some clues.
And no matter the inner workings of the deal, The Sandman is finally on its way to becoming a prestige TV drama; a plot twist with the potential to make Morpheus himself smile. Then again, the news is somewhat bittersweet as DC Comic’s Vertigo imprint, which published the comic from issue #47 to its end, will be closing at the end of the year. It is the sort of development befitting a story within the pages of The Sandman.