‘Sandman’: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaiman’s prequel comic

July 01, 2013 | 8:46 p.m.
An image of Morpheus for "The Sandman: Overture." (J. H. Williams III / Vertigo)

An image of Morpheus for “The Sandman: Overture.” (J. H. Williams III / Vertigo)

DC Entertainment imprint Vertigo has released the first image for Neil Gaiman’s upcoming “Sandman” prequel comic series, as well as its title, release schedule and Comic-Con International plans.

“The Sandman: Overture” unites Gaiman and artist J.H. Williams III (“Batwoman,” “Promethea”) for a new six-issue miniseries set before “Sandman” No. 1, the critically acclaimed comic series that ran from 1989 to 1996. Gaiman’s series, which garnered 19 Eisner and six Harvey Awards, followed the mysterious Lord of Dreams, also known as Dream or Morpheus, after he was captured and held prisoner for 70 years. Morpheus escapes his imprisonment and enters modern times, and works to rebuild his now-rundown kingdom in the dream realm.

“Overture” will explore Morpheus’ world before he was captured.

“This is the one story that we never got to tell,” Gaiman said in a statement. “In ‘Sandman’ No. 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.”

“Overture” will launch Oct. 30, Vertigo executive editor Shelly Bond announced Monday, beginning with an oversized issue No. 1. The comic will be published bi-monthly, each with covers by Williams and original series cover artist Dave McKean.

In the alternating months starting in November, Vertigo will release “The Sandman: Overture Special Edition” deluxe issues, which will include original scripts by Gaiman, concept art and sketches by Williams, Q&As with the creative team and other special features.

Gaiman praised Williams’ artwork for the book, calling it “the most beautiful thing in the world.”

“They are the most beautiful pages I have ever seen in periodical comics,” Gaiman told the New York Times. “I ask him to do the impossible, and he gives me back more than I asked for.”

gaiman3 Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

The prolific Neil Gaiman is well known for his work in fantasy. His writing has won many awards including the Newbery Medal, the Nebula Award and the Carnegie Medal in Literature. (Jennifer S. Altman/Los Angeles Times)

1984 duranduran Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman's first book was his 1984 biography of the British band Duran Duran. (Proteus)

1988 dontpanic Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

In addition to writing for many British magazines (sometimes under pseudonyms), Gaiman wrote "Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion" about the books by Douglas Adams. (Simon & Schuster)

1987 mckeancollabs Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

In the late 1980s and early '90s, Gaiman collaborated with illustrator Dave McKean on three graphic novels. "Violent Cases," about a young boy's experience being treated by an osteopath, was released in 1987. "Signal to Noise," about a filmmaker suffering from terminal illness, was first serialized in a British magazine, then released as a graphic novel in 1992. And in 1994, "The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch" was published. The graphic novels paved the way for Gaiman to work on "Black Orchid" for DC Comics. (Escape Books; Dark Horse Comics; and Vertigo)

1988 sandman Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman made his mark in fantasy with "The Sandman" comics, which ran from 1988 to 1996. The stories chronicle the adventures of Dream, who goes by many names, including Morpheus, and rules the world of dreams. (Vertigo/DC Comics)

1990 goodomens Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman's first novel was "Good Omens," published in 1990. The comedy was a collaboration with fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett. (Guild Publications)

1993 thebooksofmagic Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

In the four-part series "The Books of Magic," first published in 1990, Neil Gaiman explores the magical places and elements in the DC Universe through a young character who has the potential to be the greatest magician in the world. (DC Comics)

1990s marvelman Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman picked up writing the Marvelman comics (released as Miracleman in the U.S.) after Alan Moore finished his run, but the publisher folded before Gaiman could finish his planned storyline. (Eclipse Comics)

1993 deaththehighcostofliving Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman's 1993 comic book miniseries "Death: The High Cost of Living" was a spinoff of his Sandman series. The books followed Dream's older sister, Death. A film version is in the works, with Guillermo del Toro reportedly attached to the project. (Vertigo Comics)

1996 neverwhere Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman wrote the teleplay for the 1996 BBC Two television series "Neverwhere," set in a magical realm called London Below. He also wrote a novelization. (BBC Books)

1999 stardust Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

In 1998, Gaiman and Charles Vess release the storybook "Stardust." The tale was then released as a traditional prose hardcover in 1999. It was then adapted for the big screen in 2007. (Avon Books; Paramount Pictures)

2001 americangods Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman's "American Gods," published in 2001, became a bestseller and earned Hugo and Nebula awards. The story followed mythical gods from across the globe who were transplanted to America when their believers immigrated. "Anansi Boys," a spinoff of "American Gods," was published in 2005, debuting at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on "American Gods" has been announced for 2013. (William Morrow)

2002 coraline Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman's Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker award-winning 2002 novella "Coraline," about a girl who finds a secret doorway to another world in her new house, was made into a stop-motion film in 2009. The film was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. (Harper Collins; LAIKA)

2005 mirrormask Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman and his friend Dave McKean cowrote the screenplay for the 2005 film "MirrorMask," about a young girl from a circus family who finds herself trapped in a fantasy world. (Jim Henson Company)

2007 beowulf Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman and Roger Avary cowrote the script for the Robert Zemeckis film "Beowulf." (Paramount Pictures)

2008 graveyardbook Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

In "The Graveyard Book," published in 2008, Gaiman told his own version of "The Jungle Book." The story follows an orphaned boy who grows up in a cemetery, raised by the ghouls and beasts there. (Harper Collins)

2009 batman Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman's two-part Batman story "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" was published in 2009. (DC Comics)

2011 doctorwho Sandman: Vertigo unveils details for Neil Gaimans prequel comic

Gaiman wrote an episode of the long-running time travel series "Doctor Who" titled "The Doctor's Wife," about the Doctor's relationship with his only steady companion. The episode ran in the show's sixth season, starring Matt Smith as the titular character, and was well-received by fans and critics. (BBC)

More details, including artwork, are to be unveiled at Comic-Con International in San Diego this month, where Gaiman, Williams and McKean are special guests. The trio will join Sam Kieth on Vertigo’s 25th anniversary panel, and Gaiman will be spotlighted in a stand-alone panel.

Also, the cover of this year’s SDCC souvenir book will feature new “Sandman” art by McKean.

Click through the gallery above for a look back at Gaiman’s career.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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