Dream artists return to deliver the Big Bang that is The Sandman Universe relaunch, which will also include four new titles
First created for DC’s Vertigo imprint by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg back in 1989, The Sandman must surely be the main star in the Vertigo firmament. And so it is no surprise that for Vertigo’s relaunch this August Morpheus of The Endless is to be the natural figurehead to usher in a new era in the Vertigo constellation. Beginning with a one shot plotted by Gaiman himself entitled The Sandman Universe and featuring a cover by interior artist Bilquis Evely, this one shot will be the introduction to four new ongoing titles. And it is only fitting that some of the creative stars who made the Dreaming their home would also be returning with him, to bring us back to the world of the Endless, with four of the finest variant covers to launch the one shot into orbit.
First is Jill Thompson. As a prime Sandman Alumni she is no stranger to the world of the Endless, having been there from the early days and playing a major part in shaping the world of the Endless. From 1992 she began working with Neil on such titles as The Sandman #40-49 and The Dreaming #13-14 in 1997. She has also written and drawn the Little Endless Storybook in 2001 and went on to adapt characters from Sandman: The Season Of Mist into two Manga digest books entitled Death At Deaths Door and The Dead Boy Detectives in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Jill also returned to the kid friendly versions she created of these beloved characters with another entry to the Little Endless world with Delirium’s Party and so is a natural choice for the project.
“Sandman was a turning point in my comics career.” said Thompson “It will always be one of the most important pieces of comic storytelling that I was able to contribute to. I love that I was able to build a little bit on the Endless mythos and bring some whimsy to this Universe! Collaborating with Neil Gaiman has been and will continue to be, appropriately, a dream!”
Also Sam Kieth, one of the co-creators of the character back in 1989 said “Ever since I left my work on The Sandman, I’ve always been tempted to sneak back and do one more piece for Neil, I considered maybe a portfolio piece or some pin-ups. Years passed and I had to move on, and then lo and behold, the amazing DC Vertigo editor Molly Mahan popped into my life (and e-mail), asking if I’d be interested in drawing this cover for The Sandman Universe. And so, I presume, both Neil and Molly granted my secret wish and brought a compassionate sliver of my Sandy closure.”
P. Craig Russell also said of the project “Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stories have been a part of my creative life since the early ’90s when Neil first sent me the script, with its ‘Arabian Nights‘ setting, to Sandman #50. From there to the 18th century Italy of Death and Venice and then the Japanese fairytale setting of The Dream Hunters and numerous illustrations sprinkled throughout, it’s always been a delight to be asked to contribute to the Sandman mythos.”
And finally David Mack said “I’ve very much enjoyed working with Neil Gaiman and his characters on many other projects (covers to American Gods, our prints with Neverwhere) and it is a joy to create a cover for Sandman. In January 1993, I attended my first big New York comic con and I showed my work to then Vertigo editor Shelly Bond. She looked at my work and told me that maybe I should work on Sandman with her. I was just starting out, we had a great conversation, and she gave me her number to keep in touch. “I was so energized by the creative vibe of the convention experience, that on the ride back from New York, I began writing a personal story that would become my own creator-owned series Kabuki, which I was immersed in for the next several years,” Mack continued. “But I’ve often thought how cool it would have been to work on a Sandman project with Neil sometime. And now, 25 years later, I have turned in my very first Sandman cover for this series.”
Plotted by Gaiman and set after the original series ended, The Sandman Universe one shot will be released in August and also sets up four ongoing titles, due to appear the following month. It will feature Bilquis Evely on art with all four of the ongoing series writers delivering their vision of Gaiman’s overall plot.
Among the new titles will be the long awaited return of The Books of Magic. Helmed by the extraordinary Kat Howard (Roses And Rot, An Unkindness Of Magicians) and Tom Fowler, it will continue the story of Timothy Hunter from the original series, which was created by Gaiman himself with John Bolton and then later reimagined by John Ney Rieber and Peter Gross. “I was asked by editor Molly Mahan if I would be interested in working on a new Books of Magic ongoing series, and I was in,” Fowler reveals. “The original BoM has always been my favorite Gaiman book and held a special place in my heart, introducing and hooking me to the magic of the Sandman Universe.”
And so on to Lucifer (now also known widely to TV audiences thanks to Tom Kapinos and Fox, starring Tom Ellis), who will also be back, thanks to the amazing talents of Dan Watters (Limbo, Assassins Creed comic series) and Max and Sebastian Fiumara and will be about an amnesiac, elderly Lucifer. “Lucifer caught my attention the first time I saw him in The Sandman books,” Max says. “The mystery around him — his elegance, narcissism and cruel personality — are things I’m always drawn to work on, I couldn’t be happier being part of this project.” Sebastian adding “We have the opportunity to expand our creativity and share with readers what Sandman means for all of us.”
House of Whispers will be a new creation, about a sister house to the already well known House of Mystery and House of Secrets and will be visualised by Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber, New Moon’s Arms) and Dominike Stanton. “The world Neil Gaiman created presents an interesting, open environment and artistic freedom that artists don’t normally have,” Stanton says, “and as a storyteller, the nature of the series itself brings a challenge that I can have fun constructing and creating.”
And last but most certainly not least is The Dreaming, the flagship title, in the more than capable hands of Si Spurrier (2000 AD, Suicide Squad) and Evely. The narrative will be about the assembled characters of the Dreaming and the rest of the Endless, searching for their missing sibling, Dream. “I’ve always been a passionate fan of fantasy, and to be working with characters from The Sandman Universe is a dream come true,” said Evely “It is the right place for me, and the right style for my lines and likes.”
The Endless comprise powerful aspects of the universal human condition and imagination and are as old as the concepts they represent. With his brothers Destiny and Destruction, sisters Death and Delirium (formerly Delight) and twin sisters Despair and the androgynous Desire, Dream (the main character of Sandman, also known as Morpheus) is the head of the dysfunctional family to end all families.
Gaiman himself hand picked each of the writing talent for the ongoing series and said of the relaunch “The Sandman Universe has always been very close and personal to me and I am thrilled to open up the world once again to an extremely talented group of writers and artists, I get to see the joy in these brilliant people whom I’ve selected, as they get their chance to play in this world.”
Originally running for 75 issues, from 1989 to 1996, with various specials that ran from 1991 to 2001, popular demand would ensure The Sandman would keep going in trade paperback reprints until 2015. The title itself showcased the best of the best with regards comic book artists from Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Mark Hempel and Michael Zulli, with memorable and often mindbending covers by the incomparable Dave McKean. With the 6 issue Overture prequel in 2013 comprising art by JH Williams, which itself was the spark that drove this Big Bang we are to see in The Sandman Universe, it seems as though the Sandman has been in our dreams forever, as have all the Endless themselves.
THE SANDMAN UNIVERSE
Written by Kat Howard, Dan Watters, Nalo Hopkinson and Si Spurrier
Art by Bilquis Evely
Cover by Bilquis Evely
Variant Covers by Jill Thompson, Sam Kieth, P. Craig Russell and David Mack
On Sale 8th August 2018 with The Books of Magic, House of Whispers, Lucifer and The Dreaming following in September.
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