Neil Gaiman stated his intentions with translating his classic tales starring his hottest property, The Sandman, into a new medium – and the trouble he’s had doing that over the years.
In a virtual press roundtable with ComicBook.com, Gaiman explained the show will be a serious update, bringing the characters and stories into 2020.
He said when “doing the Netflix TV series, we’re very much looking at that as going, ‘Okay, it is 2020, let’s say that I was doing Sandman starting in 2020, what would we do?”
The writer added he is considering changing character genders. “How would we change things? What gender would this character be? Who would this person be? What would be happening?'” he said.
Then Gaiman discussed why it took so long to get a live-action adaptation of Sandman made when it’s been pitched and attempted for decades.
“For Netflix right now, people have tried making some movies and TV adaptations for 30 years, and actively tried making them for 25 years, and they’ve never worked,” Gaiman said.
He continued: “And they never worked because of all the special effects and what would be needed to do the special effects. They never worked because you were making something that was adult.”
Making a big-budget R-rated movie was a stumbling block. “People would write Sandman movie scripts, and they go, ‘But it’s an R-rated movie, and we can’t have $100 million R-rated movies.’ So, that wouldn’t happen,” said Gaiman.
As is the case with other complex comic properties, Gaiman explained things had to reach a point where long-form content was preferable to features and the FX technology would be right.
“You needed to get to a world in which long-form storytelling is an advantage rather than a disadvantage,” he said. “And the fact that we have seventy-five issues of Sandman plus — essentially, 13 full books — worth of material, is a really good thing.”
“It’s not a drawback. It’s on our side,” he continued. “And the fact that we’re in a world in which we can take things that only existed in comic book art, and that can now exist in reality.”
Gaiman then commented on the concept designs he sees from the producers and how encouraged he is by them:
“They’re incredibly confidential, but I look at them, and I glow. The other day they sent me Lucifer’s castle and the gates to Hell and all of these Hell designs, and I’m just like, ‘This is amazing. Oh my gosh.’ It’s like watching Kelly Jones’ nightmares and Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg’s nightmares just coming to life.”
He doesn’t believe a live-action Sandman of the quality he feels we’re getting could’ve been done 5 or 10 years ago. The means – technology, budget, delivery systems – and the audience weren’t there, he says.
Gaiman also seemingly teased what we can expect from the first ten episodes. “The idea of going off and doing Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House as our first 10 episodes, nobody would’ve let us do that,” he said. “The world wasn’t ready. So, it’s ready now. They caught up with us.”
We know from a leaked audition tape the show will stay close to the essential premise of the comic. Sandman must venture to the mortal realm to capture his escaped creations.
Gaiman also promoted the new Sandman audiobooks, which he narrates, that will reflect his narratives from 1989 to the letter. They hit Audible on July 15th.
The Netflix series has no release date yet. It is executive produced by Gaiman, Allan Heinberg, and David Goyer.