Just as Comic-Con celebrated the 20th anniversary of Jeff Smith’s Bone comic book series in 2011–and every year seems to bring another landmark to celebrate something–Neil Gaiman will be attending panels at Comic-Con this year promoting the 25th anniversary of his popular Sandman series, which ran until its 75th issue published ten years ago. Comic-Con will be featuring artwork by original Sandman artist Dave McKean on a new convention T-shirt and his work will be featured on the cover of the 2013 SDCC Program Guide, handed out to guests with one of several giant swag bags as with past years. Tied to the anniversary, DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint has amped up the promotion of a new six-issue prequel series to Sandman, titled Sandman: Overture.
Another follow-on to a classic comic book property? The difference between Sandman: Overture and Before Watchmen is Gaiman’s participation–he is not only endorsing the concept but unlike Alan Moore’s absence and disapproval of Before Watchmen, Gaiman is writing the story, with artwork by the stylish Batwoman artist J.H. Williams III and covers by both Williams and McKean. “This is the one story that we never got to tell,” Gaiman said in a Vertigo press release. “In Sandman #1 Morpheus is captured somehow. Later on in the series, you learn he was returning from somewhere far, far away – but we never got to the story of what he was doing and what had happened. This is our chance to tell that story, and J.H. Williams III is drawing it. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”
But an oddity with Sandman: Overture is the timing of the series release. Issue #1 will be released in October 2013, but instead of a monthly release schedule Vertigo will release each issue every other month. In the months with no publication Vertigo will issue “Special Editions” of each issue, including Gaiman’s script, and Williams’ concept art and sketches, as well as interviews with the creators. Although this has the strange feeling of similarity to the follow-on series to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which had a release of its three issues with painfully long gaps between issues (Issue #3 came out 8 months after issue #1), it seems Sandman: Overture is “in the can” and ready for release, unlike Miller’s then work in progress.
Gaiman recently released his adult book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which is receiving positive reviews. Gaiman’s works spans many audiences–in 2009 he won the coveted Newbery Award and Carnegie Medal for his children’s book The Graveyard Book. Last year he wrote a well-received episode of Doctor Who, “The Doctor’s Wife,” showing the TARDIS in the form of a woman.
You can get caught up on trade editions of Sandman by ordering via your local comic book store or all are available here at Amazon.com.