Neil Gaiman has been on a roll, lately. After the adaptation of American Gods (Starz) and Good Omens (Amazon Prime), his next work to be picked up as a series will be the comic book fan-favorite, The Sandman. Today, Netflix announced Sandman is getting an order for an 11-episode series that will place Gaiman and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) as executive producers for the show. Allan Heinberg, of Wonder Woman and Grey's Anatomy, is listed as the showrunner.
This news is incredibly exciting to comic fans. The Sandman is a sprawling comic book series that follows a character named Dream — who also goes by Morpheus, Onieros, Dream of the Endless, and other names — as he engages with humans and various entities during his personal quest to reclaim his realm. Each graphic novel features stories that weave complex tales about people, historical and mythological figures, and mature themes such as loss and responsibility.
The series has earned awards and high praise for its detailed and thoughtful storytelling. In characteristic Gaiman fashion, much of the story contains a weight and impact that leaves a lasting impression on readers as they are drawn into a fairy tale-tinged, multi-layered world.
Despite its rich story, however, previous attempts to bring The Sandman beyond comics have been fraught with difficulty. Companies have tried to adapt The Sandman into a movie since the '90s, only to fail as executives struggled to fit the stories into a feature-length film. Reports of creative differences between actors and executives were all too common. The project was passed from writer to writer, until the script had been mangled into a low quality product. Even Gaiman rejected it, saying it was "not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read.”
As the years went by, the status of the movie never improved. In a 2016 report from Gizmodo, one of the screenwriters for the movie, Eric Heisserer, finally declared that The Sandman wouldn't fit as a movie at all.
"[I] came to the conclusion that the best version of this property exists as an HBO series or limited series," he said, "not as a feature film, not even as a trilogy."
After grappling with the concept for a while, he sent the project back. "[I] said here’s the work that I’ve done. This isn’t where it should be. It needs to go to TV. So I talked myself out of a job!"
Thankfully, it looks like Netflix has the same idea. Channing Dungey, VP of Original Series for Netflix, stated in a press release that the company is "thrilled to partner with the brilliant team that is Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg to finally bring Neil’s iconic comic book series, The Sandman, to life onscreen.”
Dungey also acknowledged the complexity of the series, expressing Netflix's desire to do the comic justice. “From its rich characters and storylines to its intricately built-out worlds, we’re excited to create an epic original series that dives deep into this multi-layered universe beloved by fans around the world.”
A release date and any cast info has yet to be set. But fans are hopeful that, finally, they'll be able to see the adaptation this series deserves.